Fantasmas of Covilhã1


Covilhã is a ghost town. The night is falling with all memories and last lights of glory. Surreal, empty streets without the echo of steps. Blind windows of abandoned buildings. You exhale and mist appears … along with ghosts. Do not get me wrong, this hidden, quiet life fascinates me. During the sentimental journey on empty streets, you begin to discover your existence.

You can find this town of wool and snow at the base of Serra da Estrela – the highest mountain range in Portugal. The earthquake (1755) destroyed fortifications from the 12th century. Due to the developing textile industry it used to be called the Portuguese Manchester. After the bankruptcy of factories, some buildings were taken over by the University of Beira Interior, but many are still abandoned.


Little Covilhã shows perfectly my favourite features of the Portuguese architecture. Brightly coloured houses keep simple, geometric shapes regardless of the age. White colour reflects the strong sun more easily. Entire urban planning profits thanks to that practical solution – the town forms consistent unity. Surprising game of levels uses every available land slope. The functionality of buildings does not have strict rules, but is rational. A house has day zone on the last floor, connected with the street on the same level. Night zone on lower floors is hidden from the strong sun. Modern and historical architecture coexist next to each other on gentlemanly rules – elegant, without domination. The abandoned buildings stimulate the imagination and became an inspiration for street art artists. This gave rise to the WOOL – Urban Art Festival. Mural and graffiti referring to the place’s identity created an open-air art gallery, hidden among narrow streets.

Why sentimental journey started there?

I was living there for 9 months during my first Erasmus. All shown photographs were taken in this period. Pictured women – my friends – filled emptiness and from little Portuguese town made a metropolis of changes.


1pt. fantasmas – ghosts