Botanical Garden of the National Palace of Queluz wins Europa Nostra Award 2018

The winnersof the 2018 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s top honour in the field, were announced last 15th of May, by the European Commission and EuropaNostra, the leading European heritage network. 

The 29 laureates from 17 countries have been recognised for their impressive accomplishments in conservation, research, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising. The rehabilitation of the Botanical Garden of theNational Palace of Queluz is among this year’s winners. 

As a contribution to the European Year of Cultural Heritage, this year’s Awards put special emphasis on the European added value of the selected heritage achievements. The winners will be honoured at a high-profile Award ceremony on 22 June in Berlin, during the first ever European Cultural Heritage Summit.

Citizens from around Europe and the rest of the world can now vote online for the Public Choice Award and mobilise support for the winning achievement(s) from their own or another European country.

The winners will be celebrated at the European Heritage Awards Ceremony, co-hosted by European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics and Maestro Plácido Domingo, on the evening of 22 June at the Berlin Congress Centre. Seven Grand Prix laureates (each of whom will receive €10,000) and the Public Choice Award winner, chosen from among this year’s winning projects, will be announced during the Ceremony.

The Botanical Garden of the National Palace of Queluz
The Botanical Garden of the National Palace of Queluz, built in around 1770, was destroyed by catastrophic flooding in 1984. In 2012, work began on a research project studying the feasibility of the informed reconstruction of the garden based upon the documentation available and the identification of the ornamental and constructed features displaced during the flooding along with the restoration of the other remnants. The botanical collection was established with support from Botanic Gardens Conservation International and involved various European partners. The restoration was entirely self-financed by Parques de Sintra through recourse to funding obtained exclusively from that generated by the welcoming of visitors and ticket sales.

Jardim Botanico do Palacio Nacional de Queluz | PSML_Luis_Duarte
«This project was highly successful in rediscovering and recovering a garden otherwise thought lost. To this end, recourse was made to archaeological research, analysis of the remaining garden fragments and of the existing documentation», the jury noted.

The archaeological excavation to obtain further information took place prior to beginning with the restoration of each aspect of the garden, which enabled the conservation team to make informed choices in terms of the landscape design and architecture. 

The works included the reconstruction of four greenhouses and the restoration and conservation of the painted tiles and other stonemasonry features, such as the ornamental fountain and its surrounding statues. These pieces were returned to their original places in the garden. The process of restoration included working on the walls, the pavements and the introducing of new power supply, water management and security systems. Work also extended to producing an educational and interpretative project.

Jardim Botanico do Palacio Nacional de Queluz | PSML_Luis_Duarte
«The project is an excellent example of interdisciplinary collaboration that also involved the local community. The dissemination of results was strong and enabled the conclusion of the project. This shall create greater awareness as regards the results and guarantee their sustainability», the jury highlighted.

Queluz hosted one of the four botanical gardens built in Portugal in the 18th century, with connections to some of the longest established botanical gardens in Europe during the Enlightenment period, such as Padua (Italy), Madrid (Spain) and Amsterdam (Holland). The discovery of the index of the species originally cultivated in 1789, a list of all the plants known to the botanists of that period, completed the research and drove the researchers to enter into contact wtih botanical gardens across Europe in order to source plants from their seed banks and plant collections.

The meticulous studies and research of the archaeological features and the recovery of the remains, the detailed examination of the existing structures and the absolute respect for the original layout turn the reconstruction of the Botanical Garden of the National Palace of Queluz into a European case study for the methodology applied to the rebuilding of a historical garden in the wake of a natural disaster.

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