Amarante: improving the city with pioneering actions

Ana Resende

By Ana Resende, on May 23rd, 2019

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How can a small city like Amarante (PT), located less than one hour from medium-sized urban centres such as Braga (PT) or Guimarães (PT), or even from the metropolitan area of Porto (PT), become a competitive economic centre with the well-being for its citizens at its heart?

Thanks to a number of innovative actions, Amarante is rising to the challenge! The municipality is working towards transforming itself into a city of excellence to live in, to invest in and to be more attractive to visitors.

The city

Located on the banks of the Tâmega river, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the north of Portugal. With monuments and sites to visit, specifically the church and convent of S. Gonçalo, next to the magnificent eponymous bridge, it has great tourism potential.

But, Amarante is also a land of illustrious people…

The poet Teixeira de Pascoaes was born here. Today, visitors can still “see” him sitting in the café-bar where he often met with other cultural figures – the favourite place for friendly chats!

The famous modernist painter Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso is also a son of Amarante. In fact, the municipal museum on the banks of the bucolic Tâmega now bears his name.

The URBACT projects

More recently, Amarante has also become an URBACT city!

Through its participation in the CityCentreDoctor and CHANGE! networks, the municipality took the opportunity to define a major objective: to be a city of reference in a densely populated territory where larger attractive cities are located.

CHANGE! was a project focussing on “Social Promotion” and “Inclusion”, aimed at transforming social services (which traditionally function as a top-down system) into a public service, using a collaborative model involving citizens and communities in its development.

With regards to the CityCentreDoctor project, the focus was reinforcing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized companies, through the municipality. The InvestAmarante department was created to boost private investment, support the business fabric and promote entrepreneurship, tourism and innovation.

As a result of taking part in this project, the municipality of Amarante, with the strategic support of its Local Action Group, proposed to develop a vast number of actions to improve its main urban centre for people, companies and visitors.

A picture perfect action

One of the most emblematic actions is already being implemented in the field: the MIMO, my city project.

At a time when the city is preparing itself to receive the MIMO Festival – three intense days of music and street shows that take place in the second week of July – the municipality promotes street vending, by personalising the main streets through stories that combine illustration and narrative.

To this end, it invites young local artists that design stories on shop windows with reference to key figures of the historical universe of Amarante.

in 2018, for example, the story of the confection of convent sweets from the nuns of the Monastery of Santa Clara recipes was immortalised across about twenty windows, like a cartoon.

One could also find the poet Teixeira de Pascoaes watching the passers-by, ensconced in the window of a fragrance shop…

Amarante has found a way to live up to its heritage, which includes not only magnificent landscapes and properties of relevant public interest, but also pays homage to important figures of the city.

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