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Decision : 34 COM 8B.35
Cultural Properties - Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde (Portugal / Spain)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8B and WHC-10/34.COM/INF.8B1,

2. Approves the extension of Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley, Portugal to include Palaeolithic Rock Art Ensemble in Siega Verde, Spain and become Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde, Portugal, Spain on the basis of criteria (i) and (iii);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value: 

Brief synthesis

The property includes the two Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley (Portugal) and Siega Verde (Spain), consisting of rocky cliffs carved by fluvial erosion and embedded in an isolated rural landscape in which hundreds of panels with thousands of animal figures (5,000 in Foz Côa, around 440 in Siega Verde) have been engraved over several millennia. The rock-art sites of Foz Côa and Siega Verde represent the most remarkable open-air ensemble of Palaeolithic art on the Iberian Peninsula within the same geographical region. Foz Côa and Siega Verde provide the best illustration of the iconographic themes and organization of Palaeolithic rock art, which adopted the same modes in caves and in the open air, thus contributing to a greater understanding of this artistic phenomenon. Together they form a unique place of the prehistoric era, rich in material evidence of Upper Palaeolithic occupation.

Criterion (i): The rock engravings in Foz Côa and Siega Verde, dating from the Upper Palaeolithic to the final Magdalenian/ Epipalaeolithic (22.000 - 8.000 BCE), represent a unique example of the first manifestations of human symbolic creation and of the beginnings of cultural development which reciprocally shed light upon one another and constitute an unrivalled source for understanding Palaeolithic art.

Criterion (iii): The rock art of Foz Côa and Siega Verde, when considered together, throws an exceptionally illuminating light on the social, economic, and spiritual life of our early ancestors.

Integrity and authenticity

The integrity of the property is expressed primarily by the homogeneity and continuity in development within the spatial limits of the engraved rock surfaces as well as by the adoption of the typical patterns of prehistoric paintings inside caves, thus confirming the argument for the integrity of this outdoor ensemble.

The authenticity of the property is demonstrated by stylistic and comparative considerations, which also include the examination of artistic themes and organization of rock engravings in caves. The only doubts relate to the interpretation of certain animal figures (e.g. woolly rhinoceros, bison, megaceros deer, reindeer, and felines).

Protection and management requirements

Siega Verde is protected under various national laws for heritage protection and planning and has been declared a BIC (Bien de interés cultural - property of cultural interest). Protection has been implemented since the BIC designation. Management is delegated to the local action group ADECOCIR (Association for the Development of the Region in Ciudad Rodrigo). The ADECOCIR manager is responsible for the overall management and maintenance of Siega Verde, while security is provided by the Junta de Castilla y León, which is also responsible for the maintenance of equipment. The Junta de Castilla y León has developed joint programmes with the Portuguese institution of IGESPAR (Istituto de Gestão do Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico - Institute for the Management of the Architectural and Archaeological Heritage), which is responsible for the Côa Valley site, with the object of studying and presenting Siega Verde and Côa Valley together.

4. Recommends that the State Party:

a) Continue the efforts that the State Parties have been initiated for the coordination of the protection and management of the inscribed property at Foz Côa and of the proposed extension, as well as of presentation and promotion activities for both properties;

b) Ensure the full and prompt implementation of the agreement signed on 2 December 2009 by the relevant municipalities to prohibit building development on the hill overlooking Siega Verde and to designate as special protection areas those in which development might have an adverse visual impact on the property;

c) Develop a comprehensive cultural tourism strategy for the proposed extension and provide the World Heritage Centre with detailed information on any progress made in this direction;

d) Assess the interrelated consequences before any possible future enlargement of the visitor centre and its parking area be planned;

e) Keep the World Heritage Committee informed on the progress made on the removal of the measuring stations and related infrastructures in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Portugal Spain
Year: 2010
Decision Code: 34 COM 8B.35