2000 World Monuments Watch
In the mid-seventeenth century, the Franciscans established a church and convent in the state of Bahia, choosing a dramatic site overlooking the waters of Lagamar of the Iguape. The whitewashed stone and brick building they erected was the prototype and preeminent example for Portuguese colonial monasteries that would be built in the rich sugar-producing region. A three-level facade, an arcade, and a monumental staircase are its key features. The complex had a vital presence until the early twentieth century, when it was abandoned by the order and donated to the São Salvador Archdiocese. It has since remained empty, the building vulnerable to the elements, its artistic patrimony dispersed. A partial technical analysis has revealed that, due to the weather as well as human actions, the structure is at risk of collapse. If properly restored, the complex could take on a new function. But it is situated in a poor village where residents support themselves through fishing and small-scale agriculture, and no local funds are available to start the process. Immediate repairs are necessary, followed by efforts to attract investment in order to reuse this complex as a revenue-generating resource.