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Historical Villages of Portugal

The 12 Historical Villages of Portugal, with origins in immemorial times, are located in the interior of Portugal, very close to the border with Spain. Their location, in strategic points, gave them a decisive importance in the wake of nationality. Around here, the first Portuguese fought against Leoneses, Castilians and Moors. Around here, centuries later, Portuguese and English fought against French. The monumental heritage of the 12 villages is the most faithful testimony of the importance of its past.

It was here, too, that one learned to live in a network, sharing resources at many percussive levels. When you discover Almeida, Belmonte, Castelo Mendo, Castelo Novo, Castelo Rodrigo, Idanha-a-Velha, Linhares da Beira, Marialva, Monsanto, Piódão, Sortelha and Trancoso, you easily see the common characteristics of these 12 Historical Villages, a network that enhances their own identity. The Historical Villages are also an example and a sustainability benchmark in Portugal, long before the concept has become a global priority.

The specificities of the region led to the creation, in 1995, of the Historical Villages Recovery Program. One of the most emblematic interventions in the rural heritage of the interior of Portugal, having congregated the efforts of various entities. The main objective was to curb problems in the interior, such as aging, population desertification or weak productive capacity of the region, and instead create conditions to boost its tourism potential in a sustained and sustainable way.

The intervention in the Villages took place at various levels, such as heritage restoration, public and private investments in infrastructure and tourism equipment, promotion and dissemination and animation of local economies.

This joint effort resulted in a network of the Historical Villages of Portugal (AHP), managed, as of 2007, by the Association of Tourist Development of the Historical Villages of Portugal, private law and non-profit. This Association is responsible for managing the entire network, thus assuming a pivotal role in the consolidation of a territory that perspective in the medium term, as one of the first sustainable tourism certified destinations in Portugal.

The primary mission of the AHP association is to establish sustained lines of progress for an entire region. An objective that goes through the valorisation of endogenous resources and the interconnection of the different traditional sectors, so that it is increasingly more rewarding to visit and live in the territories covered by the network. That is, the affirmation of the Historical Villages of Portugal as a sustainable territory and a pioneer in its contribution to green growth.

The strategy defined six priority axes, namely: Research, Development and Innovation in Tourism; Rural Innovation, Valorisation and Stimulus of Value Chains of Endogenous Resources; Territorial Innovation - Sustainable and Intelligent Historical Villages; Mobilisation and Qualification of Agents; Animation, Communication and Promotion; and Evaluation and Monitoring.