The Azores Underwater Heritage was distinguished by the European Commission with the European Heritage Label, an award intended for “cultural events and sites of high interest in the area of cultural heritage”.
According to the Regional Secretary for Education and Cultural Affairs, Sofia Ribeiro, the European Commission award is intended for “cultural events and sites of high interest in the area of cultural heritage, which combine the historical, archaeological and intangible heritage of European identity”.
Since the 70s, more than a hundred shipwrecks have been detected through successive archaeological works in the archipelago, recorded in the Archaeological Chart of the Azores, with about a thousand documented sites”, said the official.
The Azores archipelago corresponds “to one of the worldwide sites with the greatest heritage potential in its waters”.
The ongoing strategy explores “the appreciation and capitalization of these assets, at the tourist and economic level, with partnerships with research centers, and protecting them, through the creation of legal tools for the due effects”
The Cultural Affairs portfolio holder, quoted in the released note, also explains that the European Heritage Label is “the most important distinction, at European level, within the scope of cultural heritage, aiming to increase the feeling of belonging to the European Union”.
“The Azores were notified in 2019 with this distinction, however, due to the pandemic, the award ceremony was postponed to this year, and the places distinguished in 2021 were also awarded”, mentioned Sofia Ribeiro.
The process began in 2018, “following the creation of the Azores Underwater Cultural Heritage Roadmap”, applying for the prize “all Underwater Heritage of the archipelago inventoried until then”.
In addition to the distinction given to the Azores in 2019, spaces in France, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia were also awarded, the Regional Government also informed.
According to the executive, the European Heritage Label “has already distinguished 60 sites in the European Union” and “Portugal is now distinguished for the fourth time”.
Now, the Azores Underwater Heritage joins the Charter for the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Portugal, the General Library of the University of Coimbra and Ponta de Sagres.