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Monasteries Route

In Central Portugal the three major monuments that are inscribed in UNESCO's List of Cultural Heritage Sites - the monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha and the Convent of Christ in Tomar - are today interlinked through the PORTUGUESE MONASTIC CULTURAL HERITAGE ROUTE:

The PORTUGUESE MONASTIC CULTURAL HERITAGE ROUTE is a structuring IGESPAR project aimed at integrating its management of these three important cultural assets in Central Portugal, in articulation with the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon. The overall objective to make the most of the potential of each site and provide a response that is commensurate with the important role that heritage plays today in society.

These monumental complexes of the utmost historical and arquitectural importance, at the national and international levels, are all in a region of Portugal that is privileged in cultural landscape terms. They are also close to other important points of interests and attraction - such as the Sanctuary at Fátioma, the Serra de Aire e Candeeiros National Reserve and also a wide range of diverse cultural assets that are thematically, historically and geographically linked to the aformentioned three monuments.

The three key themes linked to these three monastic complexes - the CISTERCIAN ORDER (Alcobaça Monastery), important BATTLE FIELDS (Batalha Monastery) and the KNIGHTS TEMPLAR (Convent of Christ at Tomar) all contribute in complementary ways to gaining full understanding of the origins and development of life in this part of the country and, indeed, the country itself. The ROUTE thus takes a holistic approach, presenting the sites in all their cultural diversity.

The PORTUGUESE DISCOVERIES complement this vision and, accordingly, the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon has also been added to the ROUTE in the context of the cultural programming for the network of 4 monuments over the coming years.

With this in mind, IGESPAR has joined forces with the town councils of Alcobaça, Batalha and Tomar to submit an application for financial support, as a partner/beneficiary, with a Strategic Programme entitled NETWORK OF PORTUGUESE TOWNS/MONASTERIES THAT ARE CULTURAL HERITAGE SITES to the Central Portugal Operational Programme, Axis 2 "Development of Cities and Urban Systems". The programme focuses on the area of action as Urban Policy - urban networks for competitiveness and innovation.

The Strategic Programme features six base axes (Identity, Attration, Receptiveness, Interactivity, Visibility and Continuity/Quality) and is divided in to 9 lines of action: 1. Enhancement of symbolic public spaces; 2. Promotion of emblematic events and animation of towns as cultural hubs; 3. Vitalisation of heritage and improvement of cultural facilities; 4. Creation of visiting and interpretation tours for the region; 5. Receiving visitors; 6. Improvement of tourist services. 7. Digital tourist platform for the town network; 8. Marketing, promotion and communication; and 9. Interurban cooperation mission for the Portuguese Monasteries that are Cultural Heritage sites.

In this candidature, IGESPAR features as the leading partner for 3 types of projects:
-the annual cultural programming for the networked cities, using the monasteries as the physical support;
-the creation of visiting programmes and production of interpretation contents;
-the organisation of annual scientific meetings in each monastery (focusing on the specificity of each site) as part of the three strategic lines of action. In addition to the three organising councils, Lisbon City Council, the Directorate General for the Arts and the Institute of Museums and Conservation have also joined this initiative.

In the context of the National Strategic Reference Framework, IGESPAR has also applied for financial support to the Central Portugal Operational Programme, Priority Axis III - Consolidation and Development of Sub-Regional Spaces, Specific Regulation - Cultural Heritage, with the "Central Region Route of Portuguese Monasteries that are Cultural Heritage Sites" for the three major monastic complexes - Alcobaça, Convent of Christ and Batalha. The aim here is to carry out physical interventions with a view to improving the conditions of enjoyment and enhancement, conservation and preservation and risk prevention and safety in the complexes and the surrounding areas.