Austerity and tourism: conflicts over heritage or religious spaces? The case of Sintra, Portugal
Clara Saraiva (FLUL, University of Lisbon)
Francesca De Luca (Universidade de Lisboa - Instituto Ciencias Sociais)
Paper short abstract:
A Franciscan convent is part of the monumental and religious heritage of the Sintra Park, in Portugal, classified in 1995 as a UNESCO site. This paper will analyze different heritage/religious regimes and the conflicts between the past austere use of this space in contrast with present day uses.
Paper long abstract:
Sintra was inscribed as a UNESCO site in 1995, and described as a model of Romantic monumental and natural heritage. It includes over 20 different classified religious sites, megalithic monuments, chapels, churches, bringing together ancient pagan religious traditions and elaborated 16th century church altars. One of them is the "Convento dos Capuchos", funded in 1560 and given to the Franciscan order, as a result of a religious promise. Build in a very simple way, the convent materializes the ideals of the Order of St. Francis of Assisi: the search for spiritual improvement through alienation from the world and renunciation of the pleasures associated with earthly life. Its rusticity and austerity relate to the surrounding vegetation, in total integration with nature. In recent times the convent has been used by different religious groups as a site for offerings and religious contemplation. Since the creation in 2000 of the enterprise Parques de Sintra-Monte da Lua it was fenced and subjected to the rules of the visitable monuments of the Park. This fact causes indignation of the former users of the space, who claim that such buildings and surroundings belong to everyone and one should be able to use it freely. This is a clear case where, although "religious" and "heritage" go hand in hand, their touristified joint venture also causes tensions and disputes. This paper will analyze these different heritage/religious regimes and the conflicts between the past austere use of this space in contrast with present day uses.
Religious heritage spaces: disputes and convergences