Santarém’s World Heritage Application – Cultural Landscape


The area that is applying for World Heritage status is made up of the Tagus river flood plain and the plateau where the city of Santarém is located.
Santarém's unique geology has preserved a 100m promontory over the Tagus River, which contrasts with the flatness of the valley and which provides an opportunity to observe and appreciate its natural cycles. Thus the cultural landscape is defined by three distinctive landscape features: the limestone plateau, where historically the population has concentrated; the agricultural land, extending to the North, East and South; and the river bed, flowing gently from the inland country to Lisbon.
Replenished by regular floods, the land around Santarém is some of Portugal’s richest agricultural land. It has been occupied and productive for 3000 years, and shows a balanced relationship between topography, river levels and its inhabitants. Human intervention has improved the wealth and vitality of this river corridor, through the building of structures to control and protect the fertile land where the rich river sediments are deposited: the fens. Those human works include dikes, drainage ditches and the planting of willows that act as energy reducers along the riverbanks.
Santarém's cultural landscape is a vital source of information for understanding the history of the fens, cultural influences and the balanced synergy with Nature that Man introduced. This cultural landscape is also a lesson for the future maintenance of its fertile agriculture, centuries old beauty, wealth and unique image.
Technical Sheet- Landscape Architects

Project Coordination:
Cristina Castel-Branco

Project Assistance:
João Jorge

Area: 1.700 ha

Status: Completed

C.M. Santarém

Date: 2001