Côa Park marks 25 years of UNESCO seal with eyes on the future


Share post:

The Côa Archaeological Park today marks 25 years since the Rock Art Sites were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, as the largest open-air gallery of the Upper Palaeolithic, confident of a “very positive outlook for the next 25”.

In an interview with the Lusa news agency, the president of the Côa Parque Foundation, Aida Carvalho, explains how the Archaeological Park and the Côa Museum have been redefining their position over the last quarter of a century, gaining more and more space from a cultural, scientific and environmental point of view, both nationally and internationally.

The anniversary coincides with a record-breaking year for visitors to the Museum and the Archaeological Park, surpassing previous years’ figures until September, with more than 70,000 admissions, and confirming the Museum as the “epicenter of contemporary art” in the interior of the country.

This position has been affirmed through temporary exhibitions which, combined with the Museum and Park’s ancestral heritage, have brought together names such as Andy Warhol, Fernão Cruz, Gabriel Abrantes, Helena Almeida, Joaquim Rodrigo, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Mário Cesariny, Nikias Skapinakis, taking into account the first group exhibition of the State Contemporary Art Collection, and solo shows such as “Maps of Earth and Time”, by Graça Morais, showing in the second half of 2022, and the current “Rutura e Continuidade”, by Paula Rego, open to the public on Friday.

“This anniversary is a historic milestone,” the president of the Côa Park Foundation, Aida Carvalho, told Lusa. “It’s a quarter of a century” since the classification, which is being celebrated, “with a whole historical legacy and, above all, a future perspective for the Côa Valley Archaeological Park and all the facilities that make it dynamic”.

According to her, the Foundation itself, the Archaeological Park and the Côa Museum have been redefining their position, gaining more and more space on national and international agendas, from a cultural, scientific or environmental point of view.

“We are very much in line with the international agenda, which ends up having a huge impact on this whole project, so there is a very positive trend for the next 25 years,” said Aida Carvalho.

The Côa Valley and its facilities are no longer just a world sanctuary for outdoor rock art, but have also become the epicenter of contemporary art through a series of temporary exhibitions that bring together some of today’s biggest names, and Portuguese art in particular.

At the same time, the Museum’s auditorium has been the venue for several international conferences and seminars in recent years, mobilizing researchers at European and world level.

“In the Archaeological Park there were the first artistic manifestations that we intend to reconcile with our temporary exhibitions, focusing above all on modern and contemporary art, creating a relationship between the past and the present here,” Aida Carvalho told Lusa.

For the foundation’s president, the Côa Valley is already a reference point for both Portuguese and foreign visitors, with a view to discovering more than 30,000 years of human history.

“At the moment we have four places to visit, the rock art sites of Penascosa, Ribeira de Piscos, Canada do Inferno and Fariseu. The Côa Museum is the gateway to this territory. But the real museums are the open-air archaeological sites where we find the first artistic manifestations of humanity,” he said.

The Côa Museum and Archaeological Park had 70,000 visitors from January to September this year, 26% more than in 2022 and the best ever record, the foundation told Lusa.

In the first nine months of 2023, the Côa Museum reached 54,000 visitors and the Park totaled 16,000, which includes the 2,300 people who visited the Fariseu archaeological site, which opened to the public in the summer, according to data provided by Aida Carvalho to Lusa.

The park has reached around 16,000 people, which is the number of visitors allowed in order to control the environmental impact on the site, which was listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1998.

The opening of new rock art sites in the Côa Valley and Ribeira dos Piscos, as well as the Quinta da Barca site in Castelo Melhor, is planned for 2024.

The Archaeological Park has more than a thousand rocks with rock art, identified in more than 80 different sites. Palaeolithic engravings are predominant, executed around 30,000 years ago and since then exposed to climatic and geological adversities.

Another ambition for the future is the opening of the old railway line linking Pocinho (Vila Nova de Foz Côa) to Barca d’Alva (Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo).

An audience study carried out by the Côa Parque Foundation, in partnership with the Center for Research, Development and Innovation in Tourism (CiTUR), on the importance of the train for the Museum, concluded that the reopening of the section of the Douro Line between Pocinho and Barca d’Alva could boost the number of visitors from the coast.

When Aida Carvalho presented the results of this study to Lusa in June, she highlighted the importance of the railroad in expanding the Foundation’s project and promoting the area, pointing out the existence of an old station near the Museum.

The study also pointed out that 95.5% of respondents said that if there was a combined ticket with the train trip and the visit to the Museum, they would buy it, while 41.7% said they would be willing to pay between 14 and 16 euros for a train ticket to Barca d’Alva.

The Douro Railway Line currently connects the city of Porto to Pocinho (171.522 kilometers) and for several years there has been a call to reopen the 28-kilometer stretch between Pocinho and Barca d’Alva, which was closed in 1988.

Iris Lavan
Iris Lavan
With a background as a consultant in the medical industry, Iris Lavan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Portugal Pulse. Iris also runs a company in Tel Aviv offering marketing, business development, content creation and public relations services. She holds a degree in economics and management, giving her a solid grounding in business strategy and financial planning. Iris' commitment to Portugal Pulse is reflected not only in her consulting career, but also in her impact on the Portugale media landscape in Israel. She was an interviewer for Hadshot Portugal חדשות פורטוגל, a media outlet that broadcasts news about Portugal in Hebrew, where she provided valuable information on current affairs, healthcare and the economy. Since July 2023, Iris has also been part of the Portugal Pulse team.

Related articles

Exhibition at the Puppet Museum evokes the impact of the revolution on this art form

An exhibition bringing together 80 marionettes built in the 1970s and 1980s, a period of change that took...

D. Maria construction debris on stage in a play about people among ruins

"Zénite" is a play about six people surprised by the disappearance of the roof of their house, and...

Crash injures two, one seriously, and cuts off the A23 in the Mação area

One of the injured was in a serious condition. The alert was given at 09h32. Thecrash of a passenger...

Marcelo, Aguiar-Branco and Montenegro join the São João party

The night of St. John's Eve brings together the three main figures of the State: the President of...