Right in the center of Porto, next to the Clerigos Tower, the beautiful building of the old Jail and Court of Appeal is were you can find the Portuguese Photography Centre.
This institution seeks to collect, process and safeguard the national archival and photographic heritage.
In one of my last visits to the Invicta city I got to know it and found a place full of memories of Porto and Portugal.
In this article you will know the history of the building, the exhibits and all the information you need for a visit on your next trip to Porto. Also some of the images gathered — because, after all, we are talking about photography.
When entering the Portuguese Photography Centre you’re entering an old jail and courthouse, built in 1767.
The building, designed by architect Eugénio dos Santos, took almost 30 years to be built and became a Jailhouse and Court of Appeal, whose features of construction and finishes can still be seen today.
The prisoners were spread over three floors, according to the crime they had committed, social status and their economic power. From the ground floor — worst, humid, with little light —, to the third floor, aimed for people of “higher condition”.
In addition to the thick granite walls, the double bars and iron doors, the feeling of a jailhouse comes up when we enter the prisoner’s courtyard, the main hall surrounded by cells.
Chambers remain austere, cut today by the life brought by photographs displayed on the walls.
The old jail was disabled after the April Revolution in 1974, having been until then an example of the judicial architecture/prison of the Estado Novo.
In this place passed some well-known Portuguese names as Camilo Castelo Branco and Aurélio Paz dos Reis.
Beyond the temporary exhibitions and annual workshops, the Portuguese Photography Centre has permanent exhibitions.
In the António Pedro Vicente Centre you’ll find a repository of cameras from the XIX century until today.
The daguerreotypes cameras (old photographic process to secure sensitized plate images obtained in the darkroom) to current disposable machines, through the bellows cameras, revisiting the “empires” of Kodak, Leica and Polaroid, this place will take you in a journey through the world of photography equipment.
Please note that during this year, the Centre is doing maintenance works and access to some rooms may be conditioned. See the website for more information.
As said earlier, the Portuguese Photography Centre is in the building of the old Jail and Court of Appeal of Porto, close to the Clerigos Tower, in Largo Amor de Perdição (name of one of the most popular books of Camilo Castelo Branco – ironic, no?!).
You can contact the Center by phone +351220046300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now the best part: admission is free!