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Arrabida

Date of Submission: 26/11/2004
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
National Commission of Portgal to UNESCO
Coordinates: southern end of the Setubal Peninsula
Ref.: 1985
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Description

The Arrabida Natural Park (PNA) was created by Decree-Law n° 622176, dated July, and was endowed with supervisory powers over the area proposed for UNESCO World Heritage recognition. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the slopes of the Arrabida Chain are covered with the most characteristic vegetation of the region - Mediterranean maquis – a product of its particular mild climate, tempered by the Atlantic, and the relief. It is one of the most beautiful and fascinating natural regions of Mediterranean influence, and remains almost untouched in its natural equilibrium. Atong the mountain tops or in the shade of the valleys and hills there is some of the finest and most exceptional scenery in Portugal or, indeed, in the whole world, due to the privileged situation of the range as a watershed between the mast and the interior. For many years the area now occupied by the Arrabida Natural Park was an important hunting reserve with a diversified fauna, which, amongst other species, included wolves, wild boar and deer, the latter having disappeared by the beginning of the 20c (1901). The most representative and characteristic biotopes for the land fauna are limestone cliffs and rocky outcrops, caves, scrubland, thickets, bushes, copses, corkwoods, pine forest, meadows and small watercourses. Across Arrabida, several colonies of bats can be found in these biotopes, as well as rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), wild cats (Felis silvestris), genets (Geneffa genetta), badgers (Melles melles), polecats (Mustela putonus), weasels (Mustela nivallis), foxes (Vulpes vulpes); and protected species of birds such as the eagle owl (Bubo bubo), Bonellils eagle (Hieraetus Fasciatus), the lesser kestrel (Falco naumann) and the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus). Just as in the case of the terrestrial ecosystems, Arrabida's marine ecosystems are of the greatest national and international importance. Indeed, it was on the basis of scientific studies in the area of marine biology that the Prof. Luis Saldanha Marine Park was created in 1998. (Arrabida- Espichel Coast Marine Park.) The cultural references of the Arrabida Natural Park date from the Pataeolithic. Objects, vestiges of settlements and traditional techniques of farming, fishing and building bear witness to occupation from prehistoric times, through those of the Phoenicians and Romans to the Arabs. The extremely rich cultural heritage which characterises the whole region is exemplified by its military architecture, namely the medieval castles of Sesirnbra and Palmela and its sixteenth and seventeenth century fortresses, such as the Fortaleza de S. Felipe at Outso; the wide range of religious buildings dating from the medieval era to the Renaissance and the Baroque, its Palaces (it was a favourite resort for the Portuguese Royal Family) and country houses in Renaissance style, not forgetting private dwellings in the characteristic domestic architectural style of the region. In the area covered by the proposal, there are archaeological remains dating from the Lower Palaeolithic, at Lapa de Santa Margarida, Portinho da Arrabida (200 to 400 thousand years old); from the Bronze Age at Calhariz; and from the Roman Era at Creiro. The Convent of Arrabida and the Fort of Santa Mana da Arrabida are noteworthy examples of sixteenth-century design and construction.