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National Museum Resistence and Freedom

Notable moments in Contemporary History.

In April 2017 the Portuguese Government approved a plan for rehabilitation of the Fortress of Peniche in order to set up a National Museum that would perpetuate the historic memory of this former political prison of the dictatorship. Later in September, the Fortress was entrusted to the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage (DGPC), where procedures were immediately started for preserving the historic building and establishing the 15th National Museum.

The call for tenders for the architectural project was launched on 7 February 2018 and the project was awarded to Atelier AR4, under the coordination of João Barros Matos. 

Of the 22 proposals submitted, the jury considered that the winner’s project stood out for “overlapping different types of routes while preserving their autonomy, meaning or fluidity as a whole”.

The Fortress of Peniche, built in the 16th century and listed as a National Monument in 1938, reopened to the public on 25 April 2019. With a new use, it positioned Portugal in the international road map of the so-called Memorial Museums evoking the fight for Freedom and Human Rights.

As a result of an in-depth research work carried out by CICAM (Committee for Museum Content Production and Presentation), which will be continued and further consolidated in 2021, it was possible to set up the exhibition ‘For Your Free Thinking’ and inaugurate the Memorial.

The purpose of the exhibition is to pay homage to former prisoners, their families, the population of Peniche and the thousands of men and women who have devoted their lives to resistance to fascism and fight for freedom.

Striking moments of Contemporary History can be evoked in this exhibition from documents, photos and objects that will be showcased in the future Museum. Archival footage includes statements from political prisoners, their relatives and their heroic escapes from prison, in particular by Dias Lourenço and Álvaro Cunhal. There is a section depicting the history of the Fortress from the 16th century to the present day.

The Memorial, a large size Corten steel plate, shows the names of the 2510 political prisoners held in the Peniche jail during 48 years of repression from the Estado Novo.


Source: DGPC (