Convento São Francisco de Mértola
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can apply?
Artists, authors, filmmakers, musicians, researchers and those working in related cultural or scientific fields with a sensibility for ecology. We don't believe in academic borders between disciplines or between art, technology and science.
Do I need to have a specific project in mind?
A specific project is not required but we would like to see an outline/general plan of your ideas and intentions.
While preference will be given to those who have proven experience in their fields, we also are willing to consider proposals from others who will undertake original work or research during their stay.
We accept applications in English.
Do you require letters of recommendation?
How long does the application take?
The application process will take a maximum of 2 weeks.
Do you offer any sort of financial aid?
The residencies are self funded. The Convento is a small independent, non-profit organisation. Many of our residents have received grants from their local arts councils or funding from their native country.
How long do people normally stay for?
It depends on the project but the average time is one months. There is a minimum stay of one week and a maximum stay of two months. Longer periods can be agreed on.
What kind of accommodation do I get?
Basically all our studios are two-person accommodations with private bathroom and kitchen, some bigger some smaller. We normally book Studio 2 or the Little Cottage for a single person and Studio 1 and Studio 2 for couples. If a single accommodation is already booked a twin accommodation can be agreed on to accommodate you.
How much of the grounds can be used?
The Convento has 40 hectares of garden, rivers and woodland. This can be used for work, research, inspiration and meditation. Some areas are closed during breeding season in the preserve. We encourage artists to not only use their studio space but also to use the rest of the Convento.
Can I have visitors to stay?
Visitors can share your accommodation or book a separate accommodation. Different rates apply for visitors and they must respect other resident’s need for a calm and tranquil environment in which to work.
What is the best time of year to come?
The Alentejo has beautiful weather almost all year round but it's also a typical land-climate.We advice you to bring layers of clothes because temperatures can change dramatically from day to night. In January and February temperatures can fall below zero at night. July and August are hot so you have to be prepared. Although the thick walls of our ancient building offer good protection against cold and heat we don't have central heating or air conditioning. Heating in winter is provided by wood stoves and in summer heat is kept out of you accommodation by protecting it from the sun by shutting the windows during the day and cooling it at night by opening them.
Due to climate changes it is very hard for us to predict temperatures. Please check this information on average weather in our area
Is there heating in winter?
All studios have a wood burner; wood for the burner can be bought in sacks at a small extra cost. The winter period in Portugal isn’t long (about three months) and is a beautiful time to stay.
Does the cost include for gas, electricity and water?
Yes, but in winter, if you want additional heating from a gas heater, gas bottles are paid for by the resident.
Where can I hire a car?
Cars can be hired from Faro and Lisbon on arrival or from the town of Beja, a short bus ride away.
Is the Convento easily accessible?
The beauty of the Convento is that it's situated in a quiet, unspoilt area of Portugal. There is daily bus which link the town to Lisbon (240km), Beja (50km) and the south coast (the Algarve; 70km).
Are there towels and linen provided?
Yes. We also provide for a laundry service with no additional costs.
Are mosquito nets provided?
Yes, though we don’t have many mosquitoes in the area.
Is there a kitchen?
The studios have their own kitchens and/or a shared kitchen is available.
Are pots and pans provided?
Yes, all the kitchens have basic utensils.
Where can I buy food?
In the town of Mértola (a 12 min walk) there are plenty of grocery shops, a daily market and several small supermarkets. There are multiple cash machines.
Can I have dinner?
Normally residents self cater as they have their own kitchen. It is possible you will share a meal with another artist or even with the family that runs the facility, especially when the energy is just right, but we leave these moments to chance.
How many artists are usually resident at one time?
It depends on the time of year and other factors. If a resident stays for a few months then they may experience quiet peaceful times interspersed with busier times. The
Convento is a sociable place, but is mainly a quiet refuge in which to work.
Is there internet access?
Yes, there is WI-FI in all the studios and a communal WI-FI internet access point in the main building.
Where can I buy art materials?
Some basic standard materials can be bought in local shops. There are several hardware shops and shops that sell all kinds of hobby materials and paints. It is difficult to find professional art supplies in Mértola, we encourage artists to either use local materials or to bring the most specific materials with them.
Can I exhibit at the Convento?
Yes but on request.
What else is there to do?
There is plenty to do in the area and, with good bus links to the rest of the Alentejo region, you can access many sites of interest. Mertola itself boasts several small and fascinating museums, plus there's canoeing, hiking, boat trips and a laid back nightlife at the local bars. There are many restaurants we can recommend during your stay.
See the section on'Things to Do and See' (having said that, in our experience, despite their good intentions to travel beyond Mertola, many people do not end up venturing beyond the Convento. Indeed, there is enough to experience here - physically, emotionally, spiritually, creatively and intellectually - without needing to venture further!)