Clérigos wins the Vilalva Prize

The restoration and refurbishment of the Clérigos Church and Tower, in Oporto, has won the 9th edition of the Vasco Vilalva Prize.
13 sep 2016

The restoration and refurbishment of the Clérigos Church and Tower, in Oporto, has won the 9th edition of the Vasco Vilalva Prize, a distinction awarded to benchmark interventions on objects and properties of cultural value and thus stimulating heritage preservation and recovery.

The Clérigos built heritage and the general quality of the conservation and restoration interventions carried out to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the tower’s construction – its main visual icon – was the choice of the jury appointed for this award attributed annually by the Gulbenkian Foundation with the prize of fifty thousand euros. Classified a National Monument in 1910, the Clérigos Church and Tower in Oporto are the property of Irmandade dos Clérigos.

The conservation and restoration project was drafted by a multidisciplinary team and in June 2015, following the installation of the visitor route and the museum project, the work came to an end.

The Vilalva Prize jury highlighted “the respect for the physical integrity of the existing built systems, preserved and restored using traditional techniques whilst appropriate to the integrated conservation and restoration of the artistic heritage”, which enabled the recovery and revaluing of altarpieces, organs, pelmets, pulpits, balconies, plastering and painted features among other iconographic and decorative features. This furthermore highlighted how the valuable heritage items, which include numerous liturgical pieces, sculptures and paintings on canvas and on wood, “were subject to the appropriate treatment and replaced and therefore returning dignity and lost value to the surroundings”.

Also contributing towards the awarding of this prize was the conservation and restoration intervention work coupled with the introduction of the necessary infrastructures, especially in terms of access and security that in turn have transformed the visitor access conditions to the Clérigos Church and Tower. “Beyond the possibility to fully enjoy visits by diverse audiences, the works carried out provide this heritage site with its due role in the process of enriching and developing culture and tourism in the city of Oporto”, the jury highlighted.

Irmandade dos Clérigos, represented by its president, Father Américo Aguiar, dedicated this prize “to the workers who built the Clérigos Church and Tower, with the most diverse areas and competences, capable of transforming the drawings of the artist [architect Nicolau Nasoni] into extraordinary buildings that still remain today the motive for jubilation among all those who visit them”. Also receiving praise in the prize acceptance speech were the workers who, between December 2013 and December 2014, “returned the Clérigos to Oporto, to Portugal and to the world”. “We continue to be blessed by excellent workers, dedicated and competent”, stressed the Irmandade dos Clérigos president.

The Vilalva Prize amount award (fifty thousand euros) is to be made out to the first Pediatric Continuous and Palliative Care Unit on the Iberian Peninsula – “Kastelo”, Irmandade dos Clérigos then revealed. “The happiness of those children and their families shall represent the greatest return that Irmandade dos Clérigos might ever desire”, stated Father Américo Aguiar.

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