Batalha Centro de Cinema is a cultural institution in Porto focused on cinema exhibition, research and discourse. Our program includes the presentation of retrospectives, themed programmes, and the presentation of contemporary practices in film, namely through intersections with other disciplines. Stimulating filmic culture through educational, editorial, training and debate projects is at the heart of Batalha’s work.
Batalha proposes access to new ways of making and thinking cinema, in open dialogue with all audiences.
Regular film screenings in Porto began in the summer of 1906 at Salão High-Life, a shack in Feira de S. Miguel, which today is home to the Rotunda da Boavista. The project was started by Manuel da Silva Neves and Edmond Pascaud, who would later found Neves & Pascaud, a pioneering company in the history of cinema in the city. Its proprietor and manager was Luís Neves Real, a mathematician, teacher and film critic who also founded Cineclube do Porto. Salão High-Life functioned at Feira de S. Miguel for two short months before moving to Jardim da Cordoaria, where it stayed before moving once again, on 20 February 1908 and under the name of Novo Salão High-Life, to Praça da Batalha.
Cinema Batalha, as it became known, began to assume its familiar shape in the 1940s. The building housing Novo Salão High-Life was demolished and replaced by the new cinema building designed by the architect Artur Andrade. At the time, this masterpiece was described as possessing a “radical modernity”. It comprised two auditoriums (one seating 950 people, the other 135 people), two bars and a restaurant with a terrace.
Artur Andrade’s building was complemented by decorative works by Júlio Pomar — a fresco in one of the foyers — and Américo Braga — a bas-relief in the lateral façade facing Praça da Batalha. Both would be the object of censorship by the Estado Novo regime, which covered up the fresco and removed a carved sickle and hammer from the bas-relief.
In 2000, due to competition from large commercial cinemas offering similar programming, Batalha shut its doors. The state of the building deteriorated until in 2006 it was rented for four years by Comércio Vivo, after which it once again fell into disuse.
In 2012, Cinema Batalha was designated a public monument, a governmental award that safeguarded the building’s structural integrity. In 2017, Porto City Council took over management of Cinema Batalha for a period of 25 years and announced the renovation of this historic building. The project represented a total investment by the council of over 5 million euros. Work began on 18 November 2019, led by Alexandre Alves Costa and Sérgio Fernandez of the architecture firm Atelier 15.
In 2021, Mayor Rui Moreira heralded the restoration of this iconic building to the city and its community, naming Guilherme Blanc as Artistic Director. In December 2022, Batalha opened its doors once more.
Batalha’s architect, Artur Andrade, conceived of the building within the modernist approach of integrating art and sculpture into its architecture. Thus, it features works by five artists, sculptors and painters. The most emblematic of these — for the way they symbolise the history of censorship by Portugal’s Estado Novo regime — are the low- and high-reliefs on the façade, by Américo Braga, and the murals on the foyer walls, by Júlio Pomar. Batalha is also home to further works by Arlindo Rocha, António Sampaio and Augusto Gomes.
On the building’s exterior, two tools on the low- and high-relief by Américo Braga (1909–1991) — the hammer in the hand of a labourer and the sickle in the hand of a farmer, together forming a Communist motif — were destroyed by order of the Estado Nova censors. Our 2022 renovation has restored the hammer, now in stainless steel to symbolise its permanent return.
Inside the building, we find the two murals Júlio Pomar (1926–2018) painted in the lobby common to the first two floors and in the top floor atrium. Pomar, studying in Porto when Batalha was first built and a significant figure on the student art circuit, painted two frescos depicting celebrations from Porto’s feast of São João. Work on the murals was interrupted when Pomar was arrested for political reasons. They were finished once the building had already opened, only for them to be covered up again shortly after by order of the Estado Novo secret police. The frescos — until now seen only in black and white photographs taken by Ernesto de Sousa — have been restored as part of our 2022 renovation, their vivid characters and colours finally visible to all.
On Floor 1, in the atrium that leads to the gallery, we find a life-sized sculpture of the Roman goddess Flora, sculpted in white plaster by Arlindo Rocha (1921–1999). In the stairwell that links the Sala-Filme and the Cafeteria & Bar, we can see a painting by António Sampaio (1916–1994) featuring landscape scenes and three horses in motion. Inside Sala 1, above the side entrances, there are high-reliefs by Américo Braga and Augusto Gomes (1910–1976) depicting flowers and birds in flight.
Located at floor 0, the flagship of Batalha’s screening rooms is equipped for the projection of digital and analog formats, and has a capacity of 301 seats — 185 seats in the audience (4 for people with restricted mobility) and 112 in the gallery.
Located at floor 2, this room is equipped for the projection of digital and analog formats, and has a capacity of 110 seats (2 for people with restricted mobility).
Library and Film Library
This space contains a reading room with 14 seats, with books and periodicals freely available for reading. There are also two stations for viewing films from the Film Library.
Space for installations of art films and moving image, either directly related or not to exhibition projects.
Café & Bar
The result of a renovation project in the old tea and coffee room, the Batalha Café & Bar is open all day, with a maximum capacity of 68 people, and occasionally hosting programmes such as installations and performances.
The Batalha Bookshop specialises in cinema and the moving image. Its catalogue comprises Batalha’s own editions and a vast selection of works focussing on cinema from Portugal and around the world, as well as from the fields of visual art, social sciences and human sciences.
On floor 0, by the main entrance, there is a free to use Checkroom where belongings such as coats, baggage or umbrellas can be stored.
Accessibility and Inclusion
Accessibility and inclusion have been fundamental values of the team at Batalha since its inception and are applied across all activities at the Centro de Cinema.
Our goal has been to overcome the obstacles to access posed by our building. Constructed in the 1940s and classified as a Monument of Public Interest in 2012, the building possesses some features that make physical access challenging. During its renovation, some of these features remained unadapted, as the necessary modifications would have appreciably affected the morphological and architectural heritage of the building (which it was our intention to preserve).
We are also committed to ensure that film and the moving image are made more accessible to blind and partially sighted people, d/Deaf people, people with intellectual disabilities, and anyone with other specific needs.
Any questions or suggestions relating to accessibility and inclusion at Batalha can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Batalha’s programme includes:
— Subtitles for d/Deaf persons (in portuguese) in select film screenings;
— Subtiltes in English for all portuguese films, except in cases of technical impossibility;
— Simultaneous translation (in portuguese) in select talks and lectures;
— Portuguese Sign Language in select talks and lectures;
— Portuguese Sign Language in select guided tours, pending appointment;
— Audio description for one screening per season;
— Relaxed film screenings are part of the Family programme.
All these events are all listed in the Calendar section of our website.
People with specific needs are entitled to a discount of 25% at the Ticket Desk. Entry is free for one accompanying person.
Parking and Public Transport
There are two public parking spaces for people with reduced mobility outside 100 Praça da Batalha, across the road from the side entrance of the building (facing Teatro Nacional São João). There is one more parking space at 19 Travessa do Cimo de Vila.
The majority of STCP buses that serve the area — lines 207, 303, 400, 901, 904, 905 and 906 — are equipped with automatic ramps and wheelchair spaces with wheelchair restraint systems.
The Guindais Funicular, which carries passengers between Ribeira and Batalha, is equipped with ramps and lifts to accommodate people with reduced mobility.
The nearest metro stations with lifts are São Bento (400m) and Bolhão (650m). The route from Bolhão station is less steep than from São Bento.
The majority of Batalha’s spaces are accessible to people with reduced mobility. The main entrance (next to Santo Ildefonso church) has a ramp that provides access to floor 0 of the building and the lift. The lift is in Foyer 1 to the right of Sala 1.
Batalha can provide a wheelchair on request. Please ask at the Ticket Desk or in advance by emailing email@example.com.
Ticket Desk, Sala 1 and Foyer 1 (floor 0): Access via main entrance, using the ramp.
Sala-Filme (floor 0): People with reduced mobility can access this room via Sala 1. Please ask for assistance from a member of staff or at the Ticket Desk.
Cafeteria & Bar and Bookshop (floor -1): Access via the lift. The Cafeteria & Bar has an area with visibility toward the stage reserved for people with reduced mobility. On the same floor, there is a toilet adapted for wheelchair users next to the lift. To access the lower section of the bar, please ask to use the elevator mechanism.
Library/Film Library (floor 1): Access via the lift.
Foyer 2 (floor 2): Access via the lift.
Sala 2 (floor 2): To access this room when using a wheelchair, please ask for assistance from a member of staff or at the Ticket Desk.
Genderless WC: On floor 2, there is a bathroom without gender identification.
Parenthood: The Batalha Cafeteria & Bar provides two evolving chairs. The diaper changing room is in the adapted toilet, located on floor -1, next to the elevator.
PORTO CITY COUNCIL
BATALHA CENTRO DE CINEMA
Joana Canas Marques
Mediator and Art Educator
Sofia Lemos Marques
LIBRARY AND FILM LIBRARY
SUBTITLES AND TRANSLATION
FRONT OF HOUSE AND TICKET OFFICE
Front of House
Maria Inês Silva
Ticket Office and Room Assistants
Maintenance and Technical Manager
Sound and Light
José Miguel Pereira
Design and Visual Identity
Favela Discos (Inês Castanheira, João Sarnadas)
Renato Cruz Santos
ÁGORA — CULTURA E DESPORTO DO PORTO, E.M.
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Boards of Directors
César Navio, Ester Gomes da Silva
Direction of People Management, Organization and Information Systems
Sónia Cerqueira (Director)
Direction of Juridic Services and Recruitment
Jorge Pinto (Director)
Direction of Finance
Rute Coutinho (Diretora)
Alexandra Espírito Santo
Ana Paula Areias
Ana Rita Rodrigues
Direction of Communication and Image
Bruno Malveira (Director)