The International Meeting on the Management of Archaeological Sites in Urban Surroundings took place on 13, 14 and 15 September, at the Romeu Correia Municipal Forum, in Almada. It was organised by Palmela Municipality in partnership with UNIARQ, Fundação Serra Henriques, ICOMOS-Portugal, ICAHM and PATRIMONIO.PT, with the aim of presenting experiences of ongoing enhancement projects, promoting a debate on the challenges of enhancement and opening archaeological sites to the public in an urban context.
Mértola was represented by Lígia Rafael, who presented the communication Mértola Museum Town: 40 years of archaeology and heritage enhancement.
Summary of the communication:
Mértola Museum Town: 40 Years of Archaeology and heritage enhancement
From the 1970s, heritage enhancement has been seen as the main driver for the development of small towns, where the local museum functions as a tourist attraction. In Mértola this has always been the major challenge: to transform a small town in the interior of the Alentejo into a centre of attraction, enabling the population to stay and the rational influx of visitors. The town’s golden years as a port, a link to the riches of the Mediterranean basin, were over, but it was the beginning of a new era, where the territory was aware of its roots and potential. At the origin of this new beginning was the awareness of the importance of the archaeological, historical and natural heritage and the involvement of local agents and the population in what was seen as a path to development.
Mértola Town Museum is a reference project in terms of research and heritage enhancement, but it also corresponds to an innovative form of disclosure and dissemination of results and knowledge. The 14 spaces of the Mértola Museum, on the archaeological site or in emblematic buildings of the Historic Centre and other locations of the municipality, are centres of attraction for more than 50,000 annual visitors. The town, overlooking the River Guadiana, is an important scenic complex where the buildings blend perfectly into the surrounding landscape. The river justifies the town’s existence and its importance over time.
Lígia Rafael/Mértola City Council