On 22 July 2021, Doctor Cláudio Torres, Director of the Archaeological Site of Mértola and the Mértola Museum received the National ‘Memory and Identity’ Award, awarded by the Portuguese Association of Municipalities with Historic Centres, at the official ceremony marking the National Day of Historic Centres, in Tavira.
The ‘Memory and Identity’ Award, established in 2012 in Angra do Heroísmo, aims to honour the personalities who stood out the most in the areas of safeguard and enhancement of cultural heritage, with the motto ‘Transforming without destroying, growing without devouring the roots’ (‘Transformar sem destruir, crescer sem devorar as raízes’). It aims to highlight the career of those who have dedicated their lives to architecture, engineering, history and arts, to the protection, dissemination and enhancement of historic centres, as areas that are representative of cultural and artistic values, whose memory must be preserved and whose life must be stimulated. Cláudio Torres now joins Álvaro Siza Vieira, José Augusto-França, Frederico Mendes Paula and José Miguel Correia Noras, Adriano Vasco Rodrigues and João dos Santos de Sousa Campos, Júlio Pomar, António Ramalho Eanes, Alexandra Gesta and José Júlio Eloy and Jorge Sampaio, to whom the award was presented in previous editions.
This distinction recognises the excellent work carried out in Mértola for the enhancement and promotion of Heritage as a driver of development. The museum project currently has fourteen museum centres, representing a bold and innovative intervention based on the close relationship between the territory and the community of inhabitants. Each space is the result of a process of research and knowledge on the historical past of Mértola, in which the central element is the Historic Centre. This establishes a heritage route, a journey through history, made possible in most cases by the musealisation of the archaeological structures in their place of discovery.
Cláudio Torres’ work has been recognised throughout his career, with distinctions such as the Pessoa Prize (1991), the Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry (awarded by the President of the Republic in 1993), the Doctorate Honoris Causa by the University of Évora (2001), the Prize of the Pontifical Academies of the Vatican (awarded by Pope Francis in 2015), the Medal of Scientific Merit (awarded by the Foundation for Science and Technology in 2018), the Personality in Museology Award by the APOM (2020) and the Medal of Cultural Merit (awarded by the Portuguese Government in 2020).