Wednesday, 13 February 2013 00:00
Where strong rooms full of money once sat now emerges what remains of an ancient altar.
Where cars parked previously, now emerges the ruins of a temple. After more than two years of work, the Bank of Portugal has completed the renovation of the São Julião Church in Lisbon. The building, which served as a warehouse for years for the Bank of Portugal, has now been restored under a project by architects Gonçalo Byrne and Pedro João Falcão de Campos, and will reopen in the second half of 2013 as the Money Museum. The main entrance has long golden artwork in fabric (as the side panels in old chapels), created by artist Fernanda Fragateiro. The central nave is a multipurpose space that can house concerts or exhibitions, facing Lisbon’s Town Hall Square, where vaults once were. The project has a final cost of around 34 million euros. The church, originally from the 17th century, was rebuilt after an earthquake and was the last of the nine buildings that the bank acquired between 1868 and 1933. The museum is a gateway to financial literacy. It will include the enormous door of the old vault where they kept the gold reserves of the country, leading to a "contemplative" space, with an exhibit on the history of money and trade in the world. And, archaeologists found the remains of a wall from the time of king D. Dinis, discovered during restoration work. This ancient city wall has been preserved for anyone who visits the church and Money Museum to see. According to archaeologists accompanying the work, in the past the Tejo River came up here, and the wall was constructed precisely to protect the population from attacks from the sea. During the excavations, more than 100,000 ceramic fragments were unearthed from the Roman and Islamic periods, and even a vestige of the Royal Palace of Ribeira, that was touching the wall. Under the raised floor of the church were discovered more than 300 bodies from burials made during the 19th century.