My European Heritage Days in Portugal

One might think it’s a recent fashion, but European Heritage Days actually celebrate the whole 30 years this September!

The initiative dates back to 1985, when Council of Europe started it with the aim of raising awareness of European cultural diversity. Then, in 1999, it turned into a joint initiative of CoE and EU and nowadays it attracts the whole twenty million people across fifty countries. The idea is to make cultural monuments more open and accessible to anyone interested, thus the European Heritage Days are also known as Heritage Open Days. And yes, this also means free entrance to the museums and free visits to monuments in entire Portugal on September 27h!


A vast array of events linked to heritage and museums have one common thread – they share the annual theme. In 2015, the European Heritage Days are about industrial heritage.

As I was working in a heritage protection institute for a decade, until the beginning of 2014, our Septembers were very much dedicated to Heritage Open Days events. I remember some enjoyable but quite long days and working weekends on the organization side, adding my little contribution to making heritage more visible and more present in our citizens’ everyday. And I am happy that tradition continues in a different way, in another cultural context.

An external view to a country’s heritage and cultural identity functions somewhat as a mirror: one is curious to know how others see them. And that was, I believe, the reason for me to be invited to ISLA (Instituto Politécnico de Gestão e Tecnologia) in Vila Nova de Gaia, to participate in their event commemorating the European Heritage Days 2015.

cartaz ISLA

I told a story about the discoveries of a cultural tourist – that was just me disguised as one, of course – related to Porto’s industrial heritage, its past and present contexts and its possible future. I have learnt immensely from those discoveries! Switching between the two countries and the status of more-than-a-visitor in Portugal enabled me a detached view on the well-known problems of industrial (and all other) heritage back in the homeland, informed by the discoveries on how others do, and how they face their challenges. Not being without its problems, the industrial heritage experience from Portugal still offers many inspiring initiatives and good examples to learn from.

Look at the European Heritage Days website for a very nice interactive map of EHD 2015 events across Europe.

João Rapagão at CreativeMornings Porto

The world is small, indeed! Many years ago, I discovered an inspiring blog named swissmiss, run by a Swiss lady who lives and works in New York – Tina Roth Eisenberg. I revisit it often, and only now I realized that it has to do with my today’s theme – CreativeMornings! The free monthly breakfasts + interesting talks for the creative community began in 2008, when exactly Tina Roth Eisenberg founded the event in New York. But then, they started spreading around the world and currently 89 cities are “infected”. I am happy that Porto is one of them!

I know it’s the end of September, but my memory of the CreativeMornings edition for July still remains fresh! The theme (common for all the participating cities) was heritage, and the guest speaker was João Rapagão – a professor, a thinker and an architect from Lisbon (but, from what I deduced, teaching here in Porto), dealing mostly with the problems of built patrimony. The site was just right: the CreativeMornings of Porto take place in its Palace of Arts.

The first thing one usually does at CreativeMornings is presenting themselves through a sticker with a name and a personal view to the topic on the table. This time, the question was “Memory and heritage: why preserve?” (it’s me on the photo!).


And then, so many more issues to think and rethink were brought up by João Rapagão:

  • “heritage as alibi for the fear of change”;
  • “demolition as a way to, actually, give value to heritage in certain cases” (because “there is also old that is bad”!);
  • “sense of loss that creates obsession” (this has to do with the non-existent Crystal Palace of Porto);
  • the role of foreign architects in Portugal (related to the above mentioned Portuguese fear of change and evolution);
  • the question of reuse – “our epoch is just another epoch in the monument’s life”. When conceiving the intervention, one has to keep in mind that current use might not be feasible in the monument’s future and that there has to be room for change.


The summer has passed, and I am still “digesting” these questions! For me, CreativeMorning with João Rapagão was one of the most inspiring mornings since I am in Porto.

Related links:

Photos: CreativeMornings Porto

Portugal and Porto within ERIH

ERIH stands for the European Route of Industrial Heritage: it is the tourism information network currently presenting over 1 000 industrial heritage sites across 43 countries. ERIH started as an EU project – the network was developed between 2003 and 2008, and when the activities within the EU framework ended, it continued its life through an association registered in Germany (that explains the excellent contents and organization!), so it still expands. ERIH has various categories of membership, depending on type and content of a site, as well as various types of industrial routes.

Portugal currently has 22 sites in the ERIH network (for a comparison, Serbia has 3 sites in total in the network, and BiH has 1). Three of them are in Porto: Dona Maria Pia/Dom Luis I bridges, Electric Tramway Museum and Solar Vinho do Porto. They are linked to some of the main experiences this city has to offer a visitor: one could not imagine Porto without its wine, or trams or bridges! I have already visited a wine cellar for an amazing tasting experience, and seen all the six bridges of Porto, including the two above mentioned, the wrought iron achievements from the epoch of industrial revolution here.


Gustave Eiffel designed the Dona Maria Pia bridge (1877), while his collaborator, Theophile Seyrig, designed the Dom Luis I bridge in 1886. The latter is still in use, while the former has been closed for all traffic, recently cleaned and repainted, and remains an amazing monument that spans river banks and times.


More about ERIH at:

Odakle sam bila više nisam


The Lisbon stories written by an architect, translator and writer Dejan Tiago Stanković. I first heard of him from a friend who has been following his blog on the B92 site. Then I discovered this book (his first), about the past and the present of Lisbon and its people, including the writer himself and his family. The publisher’s description contains an information that some of the stories were initially written in Portuguese! Let’s hope someday that version will be available too, wouldn’t it be interesting for the Portuguese to know some external views of themselves?

DTS has been living in Lisbon for two decades. As far as I know, he was always more into literature than architecture. Still, the architectural background must have sharpened his views to buildings and cityscapes. He has translated Saramago’s works into Serbian and Ivo Andrić’s works into Portuguese.

Papa Quilometros

It’s not merely a cookbook, it’s a “journey through Portuguese gastronomy”, as the author, chef Ljubomir Stanišić presents it. It was first published in 2011, following his success in MasterChef Portugal and in running a fancy restaurant in Lisbon. There is also a TV show based on the book; I have seen some episodes on the Travel Channel, but it’s the book I prefer. eb5773952eca4796ff0fccc2e2e2ba34

How does a foreigner who loves and knows Portuguese culture and lifestyle see and interpret them in his domain? How does he link senses, heritage and geography of Portugal? Something to be investigated in my further work! The important thing is that we’re coming from the same cultural context …

Papa Quilometros was a present from a dear person, a serendipity that started an avalanche of ideas and actions bringing me … where? To be found out within some weeks.

Portugal dos Pequenitos, Coimbra


A  thematic park for didactic purposes, containing replicas of national monuments, typical houses from diverse regions of Portugal, as well as representations from former Portuguese overseas provinces. Founded in 1940, it was iniciated by the doctor Bissaya Barreto and designed by the architect Cassiano Branco. It was developped between 1937 and 1962, in the political context of the Portuguese Estado Novo. It is still functional today, almost unchanged, displaying what is considered representations of the most precious among built heritage of Portugal.


O Estendal do Bairro (Cod Fish Clothesline)


Ljubomir Stanišić, the chef of Yugoslav origin and the owner of a restaurant in Lisbon, invented this dish in 1998, after he arrived to live and work in Portugal. The dish is a multiple-coded creative work, engaging senses and evoking associations: it is a reinterpretation of clotheslines seen in old Lisbon neighbourhoods, which also reflects his contemporary vision of the essence of Portuguese cuisine. A dish made of dried cod stomach brings about the memory of life in old times, when not everyone could afford best meat, and the remains (in this case tripes) had to be used among common people in most creative ways to make a quality meal.

According to the chef, the way the dish is served is meant to evocate Alvaro Siza’s canopy of the Portuguese Pavillion, which he saw at the Expo 98 upon arrival.