The Côa Valley Archaeological Park (PAVC) was created in August 1996 with the aim of managing, safeguarding, musealising and exhibiting the Côa Valley rock art.
The Côa art was listed as a National Monument in 1997, and was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1998.
In August 2010, the World Heritage Committee approved the extension of the Côa Valley rock art site to Spain’s Siega Verde on UNESCO’s world heritage list. The Siega Verde Archaeological site is located by the river Agueda, a tributary of the Douro river, a few kilometers away from the Portuguese border of Vilar Formoso, in Villar der la Yegua, Salamanca. It encompasses 94 panels spread across 15 kilometres, with over 500 depictions of animals and some schematic etchings found towards the end of the 1980s. Resemblances with the Côa Valley helped to ensure that the Siega Verde engravings date from the Upper Paleolithic, between 20 thousand and 12 thousand years before the present time, being contemporary with its Côa counterparts.
The Côa Valley is one of the world’s most significant rock art sites and the most important Palaeolithic open air rock art. About five dozens art specimens are spread along the last 17 kilometres of the river’s course, at it flows into the river Douro.
This extensive art gallery boasts engravings dating back to the Upper Palaeolithic Age (over 10.000 years ago); though the valley also bears witness to paintings and engravings from the Neolithic and the Calcolithic, engravings from the Iron Age, as well as from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, when the millers, the last Côa engravers, abandoned the valley. Different men and women left their mark on the rock formations dating back 25.000 years.
In order to preserve engravings and their contemporary archaeological sites, the PAVC manages a total area of two hundred square kilometres corresponding to the last course of the Côa river valley where it flows in to the river Douro. This territory includes parts of the municipalities of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Meda, Pinhel and Vila Nova de Foz Côa.