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Convento São Francisco de Mértola

Who We Are

The Convento residency was founded by Geraldine and Kees Zwanikken. Together with sons Louis and Christiaan they left Holland and arrived in Portugal in 1980. There they learned a new language and single-handedly rebuilt the ruins of the ancient Franciscan monastery; the Convento.

All the cultural and social activities associated with the Convento have been integrated into a single non profit Association; Associação Entre Dois Rios
The Association's principal objectives are to preserve and develop the cultural and environmental patrimony of the Convento.

Geraldine Zwanikken
Did study dance and is a former dancer with The Dutch National Ballet Company. Amidst a successful career with the troupe, she was overwhelmed by the creative limitations of movement; the use of the body in natural and emotional ways of expression. She established herself as a solo artist, but again, at the height of success, turned to search for a broader and more meaningful, creative life. So with the support and encouragement of late husband and photographer Kees, an expansive new life developed. Geraldine establishes courses of creative activity involving movement, dance, yoga, health awareness and consciousness expansion that have attracted many individuals of all disciplines and nationalities.

Louis Zwanikken
Geraldine's son Louis also lives at the Convento. He is a horse trainer and poet. When he is not too busy attending the gardens, horses or one of the other many animals at the Convento he is the right person to guide you around the compound.

Christiaan Zwanikken
Geraldine's other son Christiaan is a kinetic and new media artist. He is the initiator and Programme Producer of the Artist-In-Residence Studios at the Convento. To see his work please visit his website here.


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