The Gil Eannes Hospital Ship, a symbol of the fishing culture and shipbuilding, contributes to the preservation of the collective memory of a people.
The Gil Eannes Hospital Ship, docked at the Viana do Castelo fishing dock, began its activity as a hospital in 1955 to support the Portuguese cod fishing fleet of the coast of Newfoundland and Greenland. When the cod fleet was deactivated, it was degraded on the Lisbon docks for many years. In 1998, the Gil Eannes Foundation, considering it a cultural and affective heritage of the city, rescued her from the scrap dealer. After being cleaned and restored, he was received and docked at the commercial old dock of Viana do Castelo. The reconversion transformed it into a museum, assuming as a pole of attractiveness for Viana do Castelo - city whose population, have a feeling of affection for the ship, for having been built in his shipyards and the support that provided to the hundreds of fishermen. The Foundation has the ambition to make the ship and the city, one of the main references to the maritime theme, and to contribute to the preservation of the collective memory of a people, and of a nation that foresaw its main sea source of development. Annually organizes different activities: different activities as books presentation, anniversary, World Tourism Day and Sea National Day celebration, Europe Heritage Journeys... Recently, started publishing books related to the cod fishing, Ships and thematic of the seas, to show and maintain alive to the younger generation the importance of the history lived by the fishermen, the crew members and other people’s memories.

Resources needed

Redeemed and received deep works with funds from institutions, companies and citizens. Rehabilitation works with the support of local entities: schools, hospitals, museum’s “friends” (offering an old piece, equipment or a knowledge help), and the ticket bought by the visitor. Foundation: 5 employees

Evidence of success

The Gil Eannes Ship Foundation is a successful good practice in the social aspect: the connection/relation between the Foundation with fishermen communities is very outspoken. Gil Eannes Ship Foundation represents traditional local activities in different life aspects, showing fluvial and sea traditions. It reaches both the local community, including schools, and the international community, with tourism. Since 1998, it has received more than 800 thousand visitors.

Difficulties encountered

What lacked would be the contact of the present of the fishermen, and the absence of fishermen during the visits. Moreover, the foundation doesn’t know exactly where the visitors are from/Nationality.

Potential for learning or transfer

The population have an affective connection to the ship because it was built on the city's shipyards, where many generations of people from Viana worked and supported many fishermen who were from Viana.
The Foundation intends to contribute for the development of the cultural, educative, touristic and scientific area related to the sea and the fishing activity that was made by the fishermen of the codfish. The main purpose is to preserve the Ship and present it as a maritime historical heritage and maintain alive memory of the assistance to the cod fishing fleet, and with encouraging the younger to the education of the sea arts.
The Foundation has integrated some projects that count on community support.
Over the years, the ship was a stage of national and international movies and soap-operas.
Many activities are carried out, namely school visits, becoming an excellent diffuser of the culture and other groups as touristic and local community groups.

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Main institution
Gil Eannes Foundation
Norte, Portugal
Start Date
January 1998
End Date


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