Recovery and valorization of cultural and archaeological hstory of the Elvas community and its environmental integration in tourism aspects.

LIFE96 ENV/P/000608

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Vitoria Julia DAMIÃO RITA BRANCO
Tel: 068 622264/67
Fax: 068 629060

Project description:


The town of Elvas is located in the North of Alentejo. Its geographical position has given it a military role of great importance throughout the centuries. It became a stronghold during the 17th and 18th centuries when it was surrounded by major fortifications and forts such as those of São Pedro, São Mamede, Piedade (or São Domingos) and São Francisco. Before the project started, these forts were in a state of abandonment. Their external appearance (some of them were covered with weeds) made it impossible to imagine the grandeur of the defensive structure they had once constituted. Illegal developments had taken place in some of them, causing further deterioration. All of them had been used to dump rubble and rubbish, preventing their use as a regional resource with the potential to attract tourists, particularly from Spain. An important asset in terms of the economic development of the border town was being wasted.


The local town council's wanted to restore the vast and rich historical, archaeological and environmental heritage of this northern Alentejo municipality, in order to enhance the potential for tourism. Three complementary objectives were defined: - Enhancement of the local heritage - Protection of the environment - Development of the tourist industry Achieving these objectives required the restoration of the historical and archaeological heritage and the creation of an interpretation centre in the historic quarter of Elvas. A series of practical steps were to be implemented, which included: construction of the Interpretation Centre; opening the Centre to the public; design of itineraries and publications presenting the town's historical and archaeological heritage; topographic and cartographic mapping of the archaeological points; environmental recovery of the surrounding areas; etc.


The restoration of the forts in their natural context involved the following tasks: • cleaning up the sites and clearing them of vegetation; • demolition of unstable structures; • consolidation/rebuilding of walled enclosures; • upgrading and paving of access paths; • installation of signposts and information panels; • environmental restoration and integration through landscaping; • information dissemination through public information channels, publications, etc. The project's objectives were achieved with considerable success. It is worth stressing that the restoration of Elvas' historic and archaeological heritage included elements of environmental integration not previously taken into consideration. Attention to this dimension has resulted in genuine cultural tourism, in line with what has been happening in other towns in the Alentejo. The project focused on promoting a type of tourism which sets out to publicise and spread knowledge of Portuguese culture in the larger Iberian context, the restored monuments having played a fundamental role in the town's military history. Tourism was developed in a harmonious and balanced fashion, with the restoration of the damaged historical and cultural buildings enhancing the monuments themselves, embellishing the environment, and enriching people's lives and bringing prosperity to the municipality of Elvas.


Environmental issues addressed:


Services & Commerce - Tourism and Accommodation


site rehabilitation‚  cultural heritage‚  historical site‚  tourist facility

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Câmara Municipal de Elvas - Comissão Municipal de Turismo
Type of organisation Local authority
Description The beneficiary of the project is the local council, working in partnership with the local tourist office.


Project reference LIFE96 ENV/P/000608
Duration 01-JAN-1997 to 31-MAR -1999
Total budget 359,396.42 €
EU contribution 136,057.22 €
Project location Alentejo(Portugal)


Read more:

Leaflet Title: LIFE - Environment in action - 56 new success stories for Europe's environment, p.46-47 Author: European Commission Environment DG, LIFE Unit Year: 2001 Editor: Office for Official Publications of the EU No of pages: 2


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version