The European Heritage Days is a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Union involving over 50 countries. Its main objective is to raise citizens’ awareness to the importance of safeguarding the heritage in Europe. To this end, every year each country draws a nationwide programme of activities to be held in September, with free admission to all citizens.
The basic idea of this initiative is to promote access to monuments and sites, encouraging an active participation in the discovery of a common cultural heritage and the involvement of all European citizens with their cultural heritage. The main goals are to strengthen the feeling of cultural identity, collective memory and common heritage, the richness of which lies in their diversity. The European Heritage Days initiative represents, therefore, a celebration of international solidarity, dialogue and cultural diversity, comprising moments of reappropriation of cultural vestiges of the past.
European Heritage Days
Former editions of the European Heritage Days (2005-2010)
Considering Heritage as a citizenship project, the Institute for Managing the Architectural Heritage (IGESPAR, former IPPAR) has been encouraging public participation by raising awareness to the importance of preserving, safeguarding and enhancing such heritage. As Portugal’s coordinator of the European Heritage Days, the Institute is responsible for an annual programme of cultural activities for which cooperation with public and private bodies is crucial.
Every year, a nationwide programme of activities expresses the objectives of the Council of Europe, while also reflecting the themes chosen by IGESPAR. The programme normally includes different types of cultural activities – guided tours and theme-based visits; artistic performances (music, dance, theatre, circus, puppet theatre; exhibitions; road animation, historical recreations and staging; workshops, lectures, conferences, debates and seminars; reading sessions of children’s tales, poetry and legends; heritage routes, cultural itineraries, peddy papers; leisure and educational workshops; traditional, old time and discovery games; fairs, festivals and films.
The national theme for the 2005 edition of the European Heritage Days was “Music enchants Heritage”, where special attention was drawn to the proximity between Heritage and Music. This theme aimed at raising awareness to the Portuguese Architectural Heritage, seen as a space open to creativity, to the senses, as well as to contemplation. Special attention was given to connecting the tangible and intangible worlds, by presenting the heritage as a dynamic, enveloping, and familiar living space, open to all citizens. In association with a large number of entities, IPPAR proposed a stimulating journey through Portugal’s vast historic and cultural heritage, by involving the public in this challenge.
The 2006 theme “We are the Heritage” focussed on the idea that heritage is a living reality that makes no sense without people and their communities. Through an appealing programme of activities, the Institute invited the public to get involved and embrace the heritage, drawing attention to the fact that it can link different generations. The Family role in this process of handing down cultural legacy was emphasized.
The theme chosen by IGESPAR for the 2007 European Heritage Days was “Heritage in Dialogue.” It was based on the idea that all communities have their own landmark monuments; however, these should not be isolated from the cultural fabric involving and justifying them. Emphasis was placed on the relationship between heritage, its surrounding territory and the community. In order to enhance cultural landscapes in their multiple dimensions – human, cultural, symbolic and memorial – the public was encouraged to “exit” the monuments and try to understand them in the light of their surrounding environment. Considering heritage from its territorial and multicultural perspective, IGESPAR sought to apply the principles of the most recent heritage policies through the enhancement of cultural heritage as part of the “processes of planning and managing a community” and as a contribution to the sustainable, qualitative, economic and social development.
The 2008 edition of the European Heritage Days took place in Portugal on 26, 27 and 28 September. With the theme “It all happens in Heritage” – the Institute provided new opportunities for people and communities to become actively involved with the heritage through actions promoting its ephemeral reappropriation. Special investment was made to stimulate the contribution and engagement of the population with its heritage so as to explore its potential by encouraging access to cultural offer and promoting full use of heritage sites.
The 2008 programme of activities comprised 600 cultural events, in 483 monuments/sites from 170 different locations in mainland Portugal, Madeira and the Azores, involving the participation of 388 public and private entities. In 2007, the programme involved 497 cultural initiatives all across Portugal and its islands, in 85 different locations with the participation of 267 public and private entities. In 2006, 550 actions took place in 118 locations/municipalities involving 400 locations/monuments and 188 public and private entities. In 2005, 90 entities were involved and the programme included 65 locations/municipalities that contributed to promote 212 cultural events in 132 sites.
In fact, every year there has been a significant increase in the number of entities participating in the European Heritage Days, as well as a larger geographical area covered. We emphasise that this increase represents a progressive acknowledgement of the importance of the European project, as well as a clear response to this initiative coordinated by IGESPAR.
IGESPAR proposed the theme Come and Live with the Heritage for 2009, drawing attention to the fact that heritage should be enjoyed by the community, rather than just being contemplated in a classical visit.
To come and live with the heritage means to go through a sensorial experience and feel the day to day life of a particular site. This practice calls for a new attitude of dynamic interaction, and a new behavior of appropriation and involvement with the cultural heritage.
A total of 450 activities took place in 148 municipalities involving 340 public and private entities.
The theme chosen by IGESPAR for the 2010 European Heritage Days was Heritage: a map of History in an attempt to enhance the classical visit to heritage sites by increasing visitor’s involvement. By means of its different expressions, Heritage is testimony to society’s journey through space and time. To travel through cities, explore the territory, interpret urban and rural sceneries against their historical and political backgrounds, their humanized landscape, technical and scientific, as well as literary or artistic creation is like having an inexhaustible map in your hands that will help you understand where you came from and where you wish to go.
In order to encourage the public to enjoy heritage sites, a total of 620 actions were undertaken involving 400 public and private entities.
International Day for Monuments and Sites
The International Day for Monuments and Sites was created on 18th April 1982, by ICOMOS, and approved by UNESCO the following year. Since then, this date has offered an opportunity to raise public awareness for the diversity of the world’s heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it, as well as to draw attention to its vulnerability.
As it represents an annual moment of celebration of heritage diversity, the 18th April is meant to commemorate, not only national heritage, but also international solidarity towards safeguarding and enhancing the heritage across the globe.
18th April – The World Heritage Day
Former editions of the international day for monumetns and sites (2006 to 2011)
Based on the perception that heritage is a citizenship project, IGESPAR – the Institute for Managing the Architectural and Archaeological Heritage - (former IPPAR) has sought public involvement in the commemoration of the International Day for Monuments and Sites by raising awareness to the importance of preserving, safeguarding and enhancing the heritage.
Every year, the nationwide programme of activities expresses clearly ICOMOS objectives and reflects the concepts underlying the themes defined by ICOMOS and seconded by IGESPAR. The programme normally comprises different cultural activities such as guided and thematic visits; artistic performances - music, dance, theatre, circus, puppet theatre; exhibitions; road animation, historical recreations; workshops, talks, conferences, debates e seminars; reading sessions of children’s tales, poetry and legends; heritage routes, cultural itineraries, peddy papers and rally papers; leisure and educational workshops; traditional, old time and discovery games; fairs and festivals; launching of publications; documentaries, films.
In 2006, the theme “Youngsters of Today – Heritage of Tomorrow” drew attention to the opening of Monuments and Sites to schools, children and youth, through a special programme to attract this public to cultural heritage. Emphasis was placed on the fact that the feelings of cultural identity and belonging to a common past are mainly developed during childhood and youth, and that raising awareness of youngsters will help create a society where more solidarity is shown towards material vestiges of the past.
In 2007, the theme “Territory: a plural heritage” spread the idea that every community has its reference monuments, but these cannot be separated from the cultural fabric that involves and justifies them. To “exit” the monument and try to understand it in the light of its surrounding environment and to develop methodologies adapted to different “heritage publics” was the challenge posed to both communities and organising teams. The programme contemplated 200 activities that were held all across the continent, Madeira and the Azores, namely in 60 municipalities involving over 100 public and private entities.
In 2008, the theme proposed by ICOMOS was “Religious Heritage and Sacred Spaces”. Its main objective was to contribute to the recognition, protection and enhancement of religious buildings and works of art, as well as all the areas deemed to have a sacred value by their populations. The 18th April 2008 was an opportunity to draw attention to the various dimensions of knowledge, conservation and fruition of this vast heritage that covers the territory of Portugal. IGESPAR sought to encourage external cooperation with religious institutions, municipalities, universities, schools, associations and other public and private bodies which accepted the challenge of developing activities and sharing experiences contributing for safeguarding and enhancing the Religious Heritage and Sacred Spaces. The programme comprised 400 cultural initiatives that took place all across the continent, and the islands of Madeira and the Azores, namely 150 municipalities, with the participation of 287 public and private entities.
Based on the endorsement by the United Nations of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, the ICOMOS elected the theme “Heritage and Science” for the 2009 edition of the International Day for Monuments and Sites. Its main goal was to provide an opportunity of reflection and recognition of the role of science (and technology) in cultural heritage and also to encourage discussion about the potential benefits of science in safeguarding and conserving the heritage.
The programme for the International Day for Monuments and Sites 2009 comprised about 450 cultural events that were held in 150 municipalities with the participation of 300 public and private entities.
As a matter of fact, every year, a larger number of entities from an increasing geographical scope have been participating in the activities developed on the International Day for Monuments and Sites.
In order to celebrate the International Day for Monuments and Sites in 2010, IGESPAR launched the theme Rural Heritage/Cultural Landscapes, as suggested by ICOMOS.
The agricultural activity, that for thousands of years was a testimony to the evolution of human societies, their natural environments, cultures and landscapes, led to a gradual transformation of nature and its wild areas through the application of traditional and scientific know-how.
In order to raise public awareness to this heritage universe, the 2010 programme included 480 activities, in 165 municipalities involving 420 public and private entities.
The theme chosen for the 2011 International Day for Monuments and Sites - Water: culture and heritage – focused on water and the water-related heritage universe, the value of which should be recognized by all.
The water-related human activity is the origin of different elements such as coastal, river and underwater landscapes, the nautical heritage, the architectural and archaeological heritage, the industrial heritage, and as a source of inspiration for different cultural production areas (painting, sculpture, literature, etc).
Based on this theme, 423 public and private entities promoted 510 activities in 200 municipalities.
Rendezvous with Heritage
To integrate the built heritage in day-to-day life and inhabit it is the biggest challenge posed to central and local administration today when it comes to defining its cultural, town planning and environmental policies. This challenge should be regarded as an essential contribution for achieving a sustainable development. Hence, the preservation of a number of heritage-related values by incorporating them into the present, while simultaneously regenerating spaces to increase the life quality of its inhabitants seems to be a natural path. This cultural, social, environmental and economic aspect of heritage increases the challenges faced for safeguarding it. Monuments known as national icons should perpetuate their pedagogical-didactic or touristic vocation, which implies a clear definition of integrated programmes for maintenance, conservation and restoration.
One of IGESPAR’s missions is to raise awareness of the population to the above concerns and to convey the message that the preservation of built heritage calls for a joint action and a change of attitude that will enhance this common heritage. The contribution of youngsters is decisive to achieve this goal.
In order to fulfil this objective, IGESPAR has a partnership with radio TSF to promote widespread diffusion of heritage. There were other challenges behind this project such as:
i) To reach a diversified and wide audience;
ii) To diffuse the heritage through a different medium;
iii) To have regular radio programmes so as to create a public for this theme;
iv) To disseminate the diversity and multiplicity of heritage by emphasising its different typologies and categories, all the disciplines involved in its study, as well as its fruition and habitability potentials;
v) To broadcast in situ, as much as possible, so as to capture the sounds that inhabit and define each place and make it unique, and that go much beyond the built heritage;
vi) To invite a wide range of heritage professionals or decision makers;
vii) To focus, whenever possible, on relevant heritage related dates and commemorations, national or international, such as the International Day for Monuments and Sites or the European Heritage Days;
viii) To provide up to date, accurate and accessible information so as to capture and attract an increasingly wider audience, and raise public awareness for heritage issues.
Encontros com o Património is a weekly radio programme broadcast on Saturdays from 1 to 2 p.m.. For 50 minutes, different guests draw attention to the most significant and striking features of a particular building, while also referring to intervention projects it went through or any animation programmes taking place in the building.
The first series of programmes took place from 10 November 2007 to 28 June 2008, with a total of thirty radio broadcasts. The second series went on from 27 September 2008 to 27 June 2009, with thirty six radio broadcasts. During these sixty six broadcasts, over two hundred and sixty guests spoke about different sites like dams, castles, palaces, recreational sites, towns, museums, convents, light houses, mines, prehistoric stones, churches, listed landscapes or coffee shops; all of which depict the diversity of the heritage from the continent, the islands of the Azores and Madeira, as much as the rich legacy left by the Portuguese in Brazil, in Mozambique, in north Africa or in India.
These series have been broadcast during the summer months (July and August) and are available on this website as well as on TSF’s website.
Heritage … in an instant”
International Monuments Photographic Experience
To raise public awareness to the significance of cultural heritage as a means of reinforcing identities is one of the main strategic objectives of the Institute for Managing the Architectural and Archaeological Heritage (IGESPAR). Within this context, the Institute has embarked on projects aiming at bringing the youth closer to history and cultural heritage, bearing in mind that heritage and monuments have a great potential for learning and producing knowledge.
“Heritage... in an instant” was an artistic creation contest promoted by IGESPAR within the international project International Monuments Photographic Experience (IMPE). It challenged youngsters to get involved with the richness of past and present history and cultural heritage. With the aim of raising awareness to the heritage and encouraging respect for cultural heritage, this was a personal and artistic encounter between the heritage and contemporary creation from a creative perspective and having the heritage element as an inspiration source. In a free expression of creativity and imagination, a rediscovery of the heritage in Portugal was made possible by capturing the exact moment of contact with the cultural heritage. This contest was developed exclusively through the Internet. Its first edition took place in 2008 and was repeated in 2009.
The photos that were selected in 2008 stand out in this national experience for their quality, shown particularly in the choice of the image’s central object, the type of setting and the definition of the composition: either highlighting the contrast between the monumental structure of the National Pantheon’s dome and the irregular line of its setting; or focussing on the cluster of houses in the historic city, not forgetting its day to day life; or making a synthesis of the urban heritage universe either by highlighting the graphic identity of the undulating lines of Sintra’s granite blocks and its Moorish Castle’s defensive wall; or by transposing to photography, from an unforeseen perspective, the place’s telluric intensity. The two prize-winning images have succeeded in capturing, according to the jury, the extension and complexity of heritage values by bringing the past into the present, while keeping alive the greatest creations of mankind and their marks on the city and the landscape.
2008 winning photos
On the 2009 edition, photos that have been selected show two complementary perspectives of the architectural heritage: on one of them, monuments are integrated in an urban context, thereby capturing a typical atmosphere and identity. This is emphasised by the contrast of the building outline, and the overhead cables of Lisbon trams; on the other photo, there is the detail of a Palace interior in Buçaco, transmitting a strong intimate atmosphere. While subverting the observer’s eye through a new image of architecture, it captures the space’s romantic atmosphere. The two prize winning photos stand out from the others due to their original look, as they tend to focus on details such as surfaces, materials, shapes, and textures, as much as in lights, shades, immediate surroundings and monumental settings.