Sintra, Portugal. Innovative solutions to balance conservation and accessibility of heritage sites.
The Cultural Landscape of Sintra (part of the Sintra Cascais Natural Park of and UNESCO World Heritage Site) is a major tourist destination in Portugal attracting more than 3.5 million visitors in 2019. However, the site’s accessibility to people with disabilities or mobility issues (including elderly people) was challenged by architectural and infrastructural barriers, lack of inclusive information and communication and insufficient staff capacity to address their needs.
The site’s managing authority (including the municipality of Sintra) involved a multi-disciplinary team including representatives of people with disabilities (hearing and vision impairment) and mobility issues to develop a holistic approach improving the park’s accessibility.
The solution addressed three complementary aspects:
- structural interventions to reduce mobility barriers while respecting conservation principles;
- adapted information and communication;
- training and capacity building activities to reinforce staff’s capacity to answer the needs of highly diverse audiences.