The “Melgaço Tem Pop-Up” program was a success. Coordinated by the architect José António Lopes, it ended its activity after two years and the balance was excellent: since it started in 2019, it has recorded the completion of 15 business projects / activities, with 13 tenant projects and two anchor stores with IPSS activities´s, artists, and other civil society. The closing session was attended by the Minister of Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa.

“Businesses have acquired maturity and security. They dropped out of the program at the end of the time they could drop out and ended up negotiating commercial rents. All barriers were crossed and it was a success.” – José António Lopes

Currently, the Municipality of Melgaço has six stores that resulted from this business model:

Bolos & Bolinhos Gourmet
– Cantinho da Bé
Sabor do Céu
LP Alumínios e PVC
Estúdio Old Street


As a result of the success of this program and the dynamics it imprinted on Melgaço, the president of the municipal council decided to continue it.

“Never had anything like this been attempted before. This was a risky and ambitious bet, with obstacles that were expected to be difficult to overcome, but that we wanted to face, as a challenge that urgently needed to take on behalf of the territory and the people of Melgaço. We soon realized that joining the URBACT Program would imply a strong and deep involvement of all parts of the society of the region, making its most active actors and agents participate in the decision and action processes. In a modern urban (and territorial) management, sometimes addressing old and complex problems, such as the case of prolonged decline (which we know that most towns and cities in the interior and of Europe suffer), it´s necessary to have the courage to involve and compromising, I would even say making civil society co-responsible, empowering the actors, but also promoting the initiative and participation in the experimentation of solutions, which are so often risky.

This was, however, a winning bet. The joint work developed here presents unavoidable results in the re-launch of urban life, whether in the dynamization of the new and previously installed commercial/economic fabric, but also in the reanimation of the public space (where the municipality has undertaken major investments in the redevelopment) thus offering a more diverse and rich urban environment for residents and visitors. This is a reality already recognized and praised by European partners, but above all by the society of Melgaço, which has internalized the value and effectiveness of our “MELGAÇO TEM POP-UP”, continuing to approach us with constant proposals for entrepreneurship and “offer” of spaces to associate to the program.”, says the president of the municipal council, Manoel Batista.



From the beginning, the project proved to be a success. It revolutionized all the commercial dynamics in the center of the village, being recognized internationally. Today, Melgaço is an example across Europe!

This project to boost the local economy was born in Altena, Germany, and has the partnership of Melgaço, in Portugal, Idrija, in Croatia, Nyirbator, in Hungary, Aluksne, in Latvia, Isernia, in Italy, Manresa, in Spain, and Igoumenitsa, Greece.

In Melgaço, the challenge was well accepted, both with store owners and entrepreneurs. «It was very successful. It took a lot of work and demanded a lot from everyone, but there was a huge involvement of society and this generated a climate of confidence and optimism, which remains to be done. », Referee the architect José António Lopes.



Owners of empty stores gave space for free, so that small entrepreneurs could open their businesses to the public. The trial period was three months, so that they could understand whether the business would be viable or not. If they wanted to continue in the commercial space, they would pay a symbolic monthly rent which, in Melgaço, reached one euro per square meter.

More than complying with the proposed contract with URBACT and verifying a better-provided practice than any of the program partners, the innovative dynamics of the Melgaço process are internationally recognized, even constituting a reference and an improvement to the set of good practices. -practices of the Re-grow City program, surpassing the experience of the leading partner that served as a yardstick, the municipality of Altena. «The “Melgaço tem pop-up” program was a success and should be an example for other municipalities», says the architect José António Lopes.


See the report in the video below!

In Altominho Tv, July 19, 2021