The facilities for tourists at southern Portugal's main cruise port have been further expanded by the opening of Portimão Museum. The new cultural venue, which recreates a fish canning factory just a few metres from the Port of Portimão, is in the running for the European Museum of the Year Award.
Since it opened in May, the Museum's originality has been attracting an extraordinary number of visitors. Located on the bank of the River Arade, it was the result of a project to convert one of the city's most emblematic fish canning factories, which had been deactivated during the 1980s. From the very outset, the intention was to create a hands-on museum, where visitors could relive the city's main activities.
And so, the "La Rose" fish canning assembly line was born, recreating part of the former factory's activities and featuring one of its primary products.
The fish canning industry was the region's foremost business activity in the early 20th century prior to the development of tourism. It employed thousands of people in an area which was one of the sector's focal points in Portugal, in terms of both capture and transformation.
The Museum goes a step further, therefore, portraying the entire economic relationship between the local population and River Arade, the same river which today serves as a gateway to thousands of cruise ship passengers.
The features of the original building have been retained, with a hall for a permanent, up-dateable exhibition in the Main Sector and the former "washing and beheading" room and two other exhibition areas off to the side. The permanent exhibitions are: "The Origin and Destiny of a Community", "The Industrial Life and the Challenge of the Sea" and "From the Depths".
Underwater archaeology also plays a special role at the museum, with an extensive collection of items that have been recovered from the waters of the River Arade during successive underwater research projects. The estuary of this river is one of Europe's foremost archaeological sites; among the items that have been found here are artefacts and sunken ships from civilisations dating back over three millennia, who settled and visited the region.
Portimão's development as a tourist destination has made it one of the busiest cities in the Algarve and one of the most sought-after destinations in southern Europe. The city's vibrant cultural and artistic activities, the frantic rhythm of its nightlife in clubs and the casino, and the rich natural landscape are responsible for attracting thousands of visitors to what is considered "the beating heart of the Algarve".
There are opera performances and new circus shows, music concerts at every corner, fashion festivals, beach parties and glamorous clubs that attract the jet set from all over the world.
The museum brings added spice to a blend that captivates every visitor to Portimão. Due to its importance and significance in the context of European museums, its candidacy for the European Museum of the Year Award is currently under preparation.