A little piece of history was lost this weekend

For the past 100 years or more, there has been a little capella (like a little church) in Carris. Probably no bigger than 6m by 4m it sat at the side of the road hosting services for no more than 20–30 parishioners while Carris grew around it. In front appeared the Edificio Santo Antonio, an ugly block of flats that is the first thing that anyone driving up the hill away from the railway station sees as they speed towards Carris.

Then, about 10 years ago next to the Edificio the church built a new capella for their congregation. A much larger, modern building, the new capella could seat probably up to 100 people and the old capella fell silent, a monument to Carris’s past. It was still preserved, though, and was lit up every Christmas and opened for the annual festival in the village.

And so it has remained for years, until last week. On my daily (most days, then) walk around the village I noticed first one man, then the next day two men, gently hacking away at the sandstone front of the building removing the tiled mosaic of (I think) St. Antonio, the patron saint of the village. I thought that they were just renovating the front, so I didn’t think much about it. On Thursday (13 December), the scaffolding they had erected had been removed, leaving a gaping sandstone pit in the front of the building.

At this stage I started to wonder whether the men were actually thieves, and they had stolen the mosaic, so resolved to photograph the pit on my next trip and bring it to someone’s attention. Imagine my surprise, and sadness, on Sunday when I rounded the corner of Edificio Santo Antonio to be confronted by this:

After over 100 years, the capella had been demolished. All that was left was one of the old metal-framed wooden benches casually discarded to one side. Otherwise the whole area had been flattened. It was really sad to realise that this little bit of history had been removed, and there was little fanfare or news that it would be demolished.

I’m not sure who was responsible for this demolition, whether it was the local Oiã council, or Oliveira do Bairro, or the Church, but a little bit of Carris’s history is gone forever. Hopefully something nice will replace it, but judging by the speed that things change around here, it’ll probably be another 100 years before we see any improvements.

Update, 29 March 2019: Apparently the chapel had been allowed to deteriorate and was on the verge of collapsing. However, rather than demolishing it and (perhaps) building a replacement in the future, I wonder if it might have been cheaper to renovate the existing building. Now all that remains is a sandy eyesore that is used as a car park by the patrons of the café across the road.

Published by Keith Devereux

This blog is a summary of our life and experiences in Portugal.

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