A landmark of Devotion, Education, Tragedy, Love, Mystery and Culture. In Greek mythology, Lethes is a mythical river, whose waters have the power to erase the setbacks and bitterness of life from the memory of souls.

The building that today is called Teatro Lethes, began as a Jesuit school – Colégio de Santiago Maior, founded by the then Bishop of the Algarve, D. Fernando Martins Mascarenhas -, whose license was granted to them on February 8, 1599. It was a place of learning, especially of a religious nature – the “first university in the Algarve”, as someone once called it. In 1759, the Society of Jesus was banned from the country and its assets were confiscated. The Colégio de Santiago Maior closed its doors. With the occupation of Napoleonic troops commanded by General Junot, the facilities of the old College were desecrated and desecrated so that soldiers could be stationed there. Years later, in 1843, the College was sold at public auction by Dr. Lazaro Doglioni, who had publicly expressed his intention to build a theater in Faro similar to the S. Carlos, in Lisbon and “À La Scalla”, in Milan.

The Latin inscription on the building’s facade, monet oblectando, can be translated as “instructing, playing”, thus highlighting the cultural concerns of the promoter of the construction of this performance hall.

The inauguration of the Lethes Theater took place on April 4, 1845, in conjunction with the celebrations of Queen D. Maria II’s birthday. Later, in 1860, it was expanded by Dr. Justino Cúmano, nephew of Lázaro Doglioni. On September 11, 1898, the so-called animatograph was shown for the first time in Faro, installed at the Lethes Theater as this was the largest and most distinct cultural space in the city. It was restored between 1906 and 1908 to improve acoustics and comfort. The decline of the shows and, consequently, of the venue, began in 1920, with the Theater closing in 1925, with the property being sold to the Portuguese Red Cross, in whose possession it still remains. The Lethes Theater room was later transferred, by protocol, to the Algarve Regional Delegation of the Ministry of Culture. In the North wing, restored and adapted in 1991, the regional services of the Ministry of Culture operated.

On October 5, 2012, by protocol between the Municipality of Faro and the Portuguese Red Cross, the Lethes Theater regained its initial design. The Algarve Theater Company – ACTA was installed there as a resident structure. ACTA, in addition to presenting shows created by it, also hosts receptions at the Lethes Theatre, and is also responsible for managing the equipment.

In the mystique of Teatro Lethes there are two remarkable episodes: that of a dancer who committed suicide on stage due to unrequited love; and that of a Napoleonic soldier, whose skeleton was found, walled up, in the place where the electrical cabin is located today.

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