World Cultural Heritage of Portuguese Origin

Eleven assets testifying to the Portuguese presence around the world have been chosen out of the 878 sites from 145 countries that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed on the world heritage list (including 679 cultural assets, 174 natural assets and 25 mixed assets)
Spread across three continents – Africa, America and Asia -, these assets have emerged from the Portuguese Discoveries and constitute an important legacy of Portuguese culture across the world.

 Portuguese City of Mazagan (El Jadida) Churches and Convents of Goa Historic Centre of Macau Island of Mozambique Historic Centre of Olinda Historic Centre of S. Salvador da Baía Historic Town of Goiás Historic Centre of Diamantina Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos in Congonhas do Campo Historic Town of Ouro Preto Cidade Velha

Even though the first settlement of the Portuguese in these areas was related to land use strategic options, exploitation of natural resources or evangelism, its effective settlement enabled the application of knowledge, adaptation to local realities and assimilation of indigenous habits and solutions.
It was this process of adaptation to existing natural realities, as well as the cultural interchange between the Portuguese and local populations that led to the uniqueness of the cultural heritage of Portuguese origin in the African, American and Asian continents.

The eleven properties chosen from UNESCO’s world heritage list are the ones that best exemplify the diversity of witnesses to the presence of the Portuguese across the world. As a matter of fact, this influence is still present today in different areas such as in their urban layout, extant buildings, language, habits, and religious devotion.

Apart from these 11 sites, there are other properties that also testify to the presence of the Portuguese across the world. However, the contribution of Portuguese culture to the creation, development or projection of such assets is similar to that of any other influences from other countries such as Spain, France, England or Holland. In such cases, we are not in the presence of assets of Portuguese origin. They are, instead, assets testifying to the Portuguese presence around the world.

There are other tenuous testimonies of such presence in isolated, de-characterised or ruined properties.
The two latter cases were not included on our list for the reasons mentioned.

Finally, there are other witnesses of the Portuguese presence in the world that will include our list when they are inscribed on UNESCO’s world heritage list.