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Construction of a Historical Memory

    In the year 2013, during the celebrations of the 90th anniversary of Café Santa Cruz, an initiative was conceived with the aim of creating a photographic “memory” of the last 90 years of Café Santa Cruz.

    At that time, we appealed for the precious collaboration of all customers and friends to provide us with photographic records they might have of the Café, documenting special moments that had occurred here.

    However, simultaneously, information began to emerge from news articles from the early 1920s (1921/1922/1923), which now allow us to understand the thoughts and various opinions regarding the rehabilitation and adaptation changes occurring in the building of the former Church of S. João de Santa Cruz, which was transforming into Café Restaurante Santa Cruz.

    Through these news articles, we also obtained a lot of information about the use of the building after its secularization, who collaborated in the rehabilitation of the building, the events that took place before the inauguration, how the inauguration proceeded, who was present and their speeches, the service provided, etc.

    But this process of gathering information was time-consuming…

    With the photographs and news collected in the meantime, we inaugurated the exhibition “Encounter of Memories of Café Santa Cruz” on April 29, 2015, which was part of the XVII Cultural Week of the University of Coimbra, whose theme was “Time of Encounters”. On that day, a panel discussion was also held on the theme: “Urban transformations in the Portagem / Praça 8 de Maio axis”.

    With the Temporary Museum of Memories (MTM), produced within the framework of the “Sounds of the City” event in 2016, precious documents from Café Santa Cruz were discovered in the Society of Fazendas.

    After collecting all this information, the book “Encounter of Memories of Café Santa Cruz” was published and presented on May 8, 2017.

    This book contains various photographs of “Praça 8 de Maio” depicting the Church of Santa Cruz and Café Santa Cruz. It also includes images of plans, objects, equipment, news, and various documents collected related to Café Restaurante Santa Cruz. To these are added a landmark (dated 1620?) that delimited the lands of the Monastery of Santa Cruz and unpublished works created specifically for the 2015 exhibition.

    In this long journey of recording memories, we highlight the creation of the Book of Honor. The first entry dates back to January 18, 2011, from the then candidate for the Presidency of the Republic, Professor Aníbal Cavaco Silva.

    In recent years, many people have left their memories, stories, and opinions recorded in the Book of Honor. These distinguished visitors of ours are connected to various functions/professions of our daily lives. We have records of:

    • Presidents of the Republic, and candidates; Prime Ministers, and candidates;
    • Ministers; Members of the European Parliament, and candidates; Politicians;
    • Directors General of public bodies;
    • Military personnel;
    • Writers, actors, painters, photographers, sculptors, and visual artists;
    • Magicians, comedians, musicians, poets, and teachers;
    • Television presenters, radio announcers, and journalists;
    • Athletes, referees, coaches, and sports officials;
    • Publishers;
    • Priests; Entrepreneurs; Doctors, Economists, Lawyers, and Scientists.

    What we aim to do

    We can start by defining memory (individual or collective) as a set of experiences, moments, and encounters built over time, resulting from relationships with places and people.

    This memory can consist of symbols, objects, stories, experiences, know-how, customs, traditions, or images. These elements contribute to the identity construction of a person, a community, a city, a region, or a country.

    Sharing these memories ensures belonging to a group, a generation with a common past, resulting in a sense of belonging to the place or a close relationship with people.

    Similar to what happened in 2013, the celebrations of the Centenary of Café Santa Cruz are an excellent opportunity for us to survey, collect, and document in writing more stories that have taken place at Café Santa Cruz.

    We want to put on paper the stories, moments, memories, experiences, and encounters that our customers have shared with us orally in recent years but have never been inventoried.

    The collection of material heritage (photographs, objects, plans, various documents, news, etc.) combined with the collection of this intangible heritage enriches the history of Café Santa Cruz.

    Memory is preserved when we share our stories, experiences, memories, and recollections, constituting (building) an important legacy to be perpetuated for future generations.

    Coimbra, February 15, 2023.

    Final note

    • The collection of these stories (memories) will allow:
    • Understanding the history:

    The past of places, how they were conceived, planned, built, and constructed.

    How this knowledge has come down to the present day.

    • Remembering, narrating, and writing past stories:

    It is people, through their memories, experiences, who transmit the charisma of the place over successive generations, making these memories timeless.

    • Contributing to establishing emotional ties with the community to strengthen a sense of belonging to Café Santa Cruz.
    • Recalling and honoring all those people (managers, employees, suppliers, customers, friends) who contributed to the history of Café Santa Cruz, preserving them in our memory.
    • Highlighting, emphasizing, (re)constructing a solid, consistent historical memory as a distinguishing element of distinction and notoriety.
    • Identifying the contribution of Historic Cafés in the context of intangible heritage.

    Note: This text should be complemented with others prepared for:

    1. The Tourism Museum.
    2. The exhibition of guides/bottles/menus.
    3. The exhibition of news articles (1861-1924).