25 years Casa de Vilar
Situated in a prime area of Porto, with an engaging landscape that enchants us, with easy access, Casa de Vilar has that gift of recollection and silence. It was always based on simplicity, good taste, an architecture that integrates itself into the space and, with it, is involved in a whole. Today, celebrating 25 years of existence, its space has the comfort of a hotel and provides, in Porto, a unique Congress Center that you should know and use. And Casa de Vilar is sustainable.
It all started over 25 years ago. There was a need for the Diocese of Porto to have a diocesan house and this idea was matured until it created reality. The Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Vilar Seminary, deactivated and in disrepair, was the space chosen for the construction of a new structure on its terraced land that leads us to the Douro and the Atlantic.
In the minutes of February 28 and March 1, 1983 of the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Porto, it is mentioned that, “after having dialogued with various diocesan bodies (Cabido, Junta de Coordination Pastoral and Vigários da Vara) and with other people, it seems indicated unanimously that the Diocesan House, intended mainly for spiritual retreats, should be installed in the Vilar Seminary. When you say Vilar Seminary, you mean in the old building, duly rebuilt and restored in new facilities that need to be built». It is mentioned in the same minutes that a residential area for priests could be created, in support of “the Priestly Fraternity”. The Presbyteral Council’s secret voting session, in a total of 38, had two sessions: one for the Diocesan House for retreats (33 in favour, 4 blanks and 1 just modum) and another for the Diocesan Center (33 in favour, 3 blanks and 2 contra), integrator of all works and movements.
The study of the works to be carried out and the respective projects began in 1983, it was only on January 29, 1990, that license number 45 was granted by the Porto City Council. They were
the works of the Vilar Seminary have been licensed. Before that, on February 16, 1989, the contract for the first phase of works had already been signed. On July 31, 1990, the second and last phase of works was signed.
The space was designed to have the Parish Nucleus, the Diocesan Pastoral Nucleus, the Residential Nucleus and the Diocesan Nucleus of Spirituality. And the house is born with multiple rooms and lounges, atrium, chapel, bar, refectory, reception, terraces, balconies, large auditorium for 1300 people, support, toilets, priestly residences, garden, private rooms, parking, laundry, kitchen.
The works are completed in 1993, except for the auditorium and chapels. The first activity, a meeting of the Presbyteral Council, took place on October 18, 1993 and, between November 15 and 19, a retreat for priests. In March 1994 the house was completed, and was inaugurated on July 1, 1995 by the Bishop of Porto, Dom Júlio Tavares Rebimbas.
The Casa Diocesana de Vilar was based on a multipurpose project, with several objectives: spiritual retreats, meetings, courses, congresses, weekends, residence for priests, seat of activity for multiple movements, works, associations and secretariats at the diocesan level. . Over time, it was always defined that the space would be adjusted, in its functions and management, to the calculated needs and conveniences.
Without ever forgetting its role of evangelization and of relationship with the Church in the World, and as an ever-lived project, today the space opens, as it has always been open, to the whole of society and wants to assert itself in Porto, and in the World, as a unique Congress Center.
In this sense, and in order to become sustainable, a complex of 530 photovoltaic panels was inaugurated on July 1 by the Bishop of Porto, Dom Manuel Linda. This set has an installed energy production capacity that can power 50 family homes. Solar panels make it possible to reduce the emission of 120 tons of CO2 for a year.
Today, in the center of Porto, close to everything, Casa de Vilar asserts itself as a fundamental space for the vitality of the city. It has 124 rooms, an auditorium for 1300 people, a restaurant, cafeteria, bookstore and, in fact, it is a space that receives with time and allows to respond to the current needs of companies, entities and individuals.