This is a story that happened more than 350 million years ago in the Algarve, in the south of Portugal, and which the municipalities of Loulé, Silves and Albufeira, together with the University of the Algarve, are now making known to nature tourism lovers and those passionate about Portuguese heritage. This desire to share, in fact, dictates the candidacy being prepared for UNESCO to classify the "Geoparque Algarvensis Loulé-Silves-Albufeira". Who said that the Algarve is only houses with sea view, sun and beach?
This geopark, full of natural relics, will be the only one south of the River Tagus and occupies an area of 1,381km2. In other words, it covers about a third of the Algarve. This is where a geological heritage predates the appearance of dinosaurs. It can be seen and visited. And it is so original and so valuable that it tells several chapters of the history of planet Earth, from the birth of mountain ranges and ancient seas, to the very formation of the continents. More prosaically, it also serves as a guide to discover the Algarve's culture, nature, gastronomy and people.
Climbing up to Rocha da Pena, discovering the mysteries of the Mina de Sal-Gema in the town of Loulé, observing the formation of the "Grés de Silves" which runs through the Vale Fuzeiros, hiking to Fonte Benémola or visiting the Planalto do Escarpão are just some of the activities that can be experienced throughout this territory. But this relevant geological heritage also includes the geosites of the Angular Discordance in the Pyrenees, of Penina, where we find the Metoposaurus algarvensis deposit, recently explained Cristina Veiga-Pires, Scientific Director of the Geopark.
For this responsible, the candidature of Algarvensis Loulé-Silves-Albufeira to UNESCO World Geopark has no mystery. "The candidature came about in the wake of the important paleontological heritage which in recent years has been revealed in the Silves sandstone formation. It all began with the discovery of the Metoposaurus algarvensis (227 million years old), a unique species of giant salamander more than two metres long, which gives its name to this geopark. So far, it has only been described in this region of the world."
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This project was designed for several generations, with the aim of giving continuity to customs and traditions, but also to develop tourism in the interior and to settle people. This region of the Algarve still has a lot of land for construction, where it is possible to make beautiful investments.
Now, the three municipalities responsible for the UNESCO candidature are organising a series of cultural events in which the arts meet the land, surprising visitors with shows in unusual places. The events are called GeoPalcos Arte.Ciência.Natureza. It may be a concert at nightfall in a quarry, a medieval bridge covered with tapestry, shows in a castle or an artistic installation in a 230 million-year-old salt mine. Entrance is always free and the programme runs until September. The idea is to take the public to get to know the most emblematic geosites, connecting art, science and nature. Therefore, artists and scientists were challenged to think of the territory as a place of creation, thought, disquiet and amazement. The population also participated in this living monument.
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Programme until September
The programmed shows are based on the crossing of visual, performing and musical arts, as well as on the dialogues between tradition and creativity and innovation, enhancing the discovery of the gastronomy, the territory and the local community. On-site performances, interactive installations, experiential walks, exhibitions, cross disciplines with manual arts, theatrical creations, concerts, workshops and training sessions are among the numerous attractions.
Highlights of the programme include "The Sea Bone", an artistic, visual and sound installation located in the Sal-Gema Mine and signed by Miguel Cheta, Christine Henry and João Caiano (23 June) and the show "Fado & Blues. O Casamento na Pedreira", by Vítor Bacalhau and Ricardo Martins, a project fusing the identity music of two countries from different sides of the Atlantic Ocean, which will take place in Silves (June 26).
Em julho é a vez de ser inaugurada a instalação Outdoor “Algarvensis” / Tapeçaria”, de autoria da artista plástica Vanessa Barragão, que vai acontecer na Ponte Medieval de Paderne. Pode consultar a programação integral aqui: www.geoparquealgarvensis.pt.
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