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Casa Europa
Casa Europa, Dili, 2018 (02).jpg
Casa Europa, 2018
TypeOffice / Event venue
  • Av. Presidente Nicolau Lobato
  • Dili, East Timor
Coordinates8°33′12″S 125°34′47″E / 8.55333°S 125.57972°E / -8.55333; 125.57972
Architectural style(s)Portuguese colonial
Location of Casa Europa in Dili

Casa Europa[note 1] is an historic late nineteenth-century Portuguese colonial building in the Bidau Lecidere [de] suco of Dili, capital city of East Timor. Initially a Portuguese Quartel de Infantaria (infantry barracks), it became the home of the municipality of Dili administration in the late 1930s. Following the Japanese occupation of Portuguese Timor, it reverted to being a Portuguese military facility until 1972, and was later taken over by the Indonesian military. Now the oldest building in the city centre, it has since been renovated and given its present name, and presently houses European diplomatic representatives.

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The first building to be built on the site of Casa Europa was a rudimentary fortress dating from 1769.[1] Although its official name was Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Conceição ("Fortress of Our Lady of the Conception"), it was better known as the Tranqueira ("Palisade"), because it was made of wood.[2][3]

Initiative for the replacement of that building with a more substantial structure came from a mid-nineteenth-century Governor of Portuguese Timor, José Maria Marques [de; pt] (1834–1839). However, construction of the present building on the ruins of the fortress did not begin until 1871, five years after a fire had destroyed the fortress and devastated much of the city.[4] Most of the building work was carried out between 1884 and 1899.[5]

In 1895, before the building was even completed, it was occupied as the Quartel de Infantaria (infantry barracks).[1] By the 1930s, however, it had become too small for that function. Between 1937 and 1940, it was therefore the premises of the Dili municipal administration and the police services, including those of the indigenous cipaio (sepoy) contingent.[4][5]

During the Japanese occupation of Portuguese Timor from 1942 to 1945, the building housed the Japanese general headquarters, with the consequence that it escaped the destruction suffered by the rest of the city.[4] After the Japanese surrender, the building reverted to the Portuguese military, as the barracks of the Caçadores ("Rangers") regiment. In the 1960s, it was occupied by the Companhia de Intendência (Logistics and Services Detachment).[1][6] It became vacant when the Detachment moved to Taibesse [de] in 1972,[6] but was taken over by an Indonesian military unit following the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975.[4]

In September 1999, during that year's East Timorese crisis, the building was heavily damaged by pro-Indonesian integrationist forces.[4] Between 2000 and 2002, under the direction of the World Bank, a first renovation of the building was carried out. The main sponsors of that renovation were the European Commission and the European Union.[1] Upon completion of the renovation, the Uma Fukun, the official cultural centre of East Timor, was set up in the building, complete with a library, video and didactic facilities and an auditorium.[4][7] The irony of installing the new East Timor's cultural centre into the former military headquarters of its colonisers was not lost on anyone.[7]

In 2007, following another East Timorese crisis, the President of East Timor, José Ramos-Horta, and the East Timorese government decided that the European Commission could establish its new delegation in the building. On 24 November 2007, the President handed the building over to the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, and it was renamed Casa Europa. Between January and September 2008, the building was renovated a second time. On 24 November 2008, Casa Europa was officially inaugurated by Dr Ramos-Horta and the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel.[1]

Casa Europa is now the oldest building in Dili's city centre.[8] The European Commission's delegation to East Timor moved into it in October 2008,[1] but has since relocated.[9] Casa Europa presently houses the offices of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the Bureau de la Coopération of the French Representative Office.[9] Since 2008, it has also hosted public exhibitions, seminars, events and film festivals organised by the European Commission.[1]


Casa Europa's design is sensitive to the local climate and lifestyle. Its masonry consists of stone, brick and plaster, and originally had a whitewashed finish. The building is made up of three modules, connected and arranged in a U-shape.[2] Its north side facing the sea is open, an arrangement made possible only because of a coral reef that gave the area natural protection from landings from enemy ships.[4] The U-shaped configuration promotes transverse ventilation and illumination.[2]

The building is single-storey with a high ceiling. Its two lateral wings are topped with full length gable roofs, each featuring upright projections overlooking the street and the parade ground. Both wings have cornices and mouldings, nineteenth-century style casement windows facing the parade ground and sash windows opening onto the street. The central section has a symmetrical composition with an overhang borne on four columns denoting the main entrance, and is similarly fitted with a gable roof.[4]



  1. ^ The expression Casa Europa means "Europe House", but is usually not translated in English language sources


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Casa Europa". European External Action Service. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c de Pina, Eloisa Maria Gago Agostinho (June 2016). Arquitetura Sustentável em Timor-Leste: Projeto UMA [Sustainable Architecture in East Timor: Project UMA] (PDF) (M Arch) (in Portuguese). Técnico Lisboa. p. 20.
  3. ^ "FORTE DE NOSSA SENHORA DA CONCEIÇÃO DE DÍLI Dili, Dili - East Timor". Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Alves, Edmundo; Bagulho, Fernando. "Infantry Barracks Díli, Díli, Timor". HPIP Heritage of Portuguese Influence. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b Miranda & Boavida 2015, p. 32.
  6. ^ a b Miranda & Boavida 2015, p. 69.
  7. ^ a b Losche, Diane (2006). "Hiroshima mon amour: Representation and violence in new museums of the Pacific". In Healy, Chris; Witcomb, Andrea (eds.). South Pacific Museums. Melbourne: Monash University ePress. pp. 17.1–17.11. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  8. ^ Miranda & Boavida 2015, p. 70.
  9. ^ a b "Embassies in Timor-Leste". Government of Timor-Leste. Retrieved 13 November 2018.


External links

Media related to Casa Europa (Dili) at Wikimedia Commons

This page was last edited on 22 October 2019, at 23:07
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