Since making the decision to emigrate to Portugal, there has been one resounding question from friends, family and even strangers we meet at various events around town. Why Portugal?
Another of the thoughts we considered was the impact of how living in a culturally rich environment would affect our living standards, and that ever important ‘quality of life’ factor.
Without even knowing it, the power of cultural heritage, its’ preservation, and the mission of UNESCO has had a deep impact on my life. From a personal connection with the Japanese (of which so many are gaga for ‘世界遺産’) to living in both Hiroshima and Melaka, Malaysia, this concept of living among the cultural relics of our forebears has slowly come to resonate deeply with me. After spending significant time in (or near) these culturally significant areas, it now feels comfortable (and quite natural) to choose to exist in areas of international cultural heritage. Perhaps in my middle age I’ve actually arrived at finally understanding the words on UNESCO’s main page, namely:
“Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.”
The Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972, and part of its’ mission is to encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage.
Portugal is, in fact, home to 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are several sites we’ve already visited:
· the Alto Douro Wine Region
· the Cultural Landscape of Sintra
· the Historic Centre of Évora
· the Historic Centre of Guimarães
· the Historic Centre of Porto
· the Tower of Belém
· the University of Coimbra
And, of course, there are some that still remain on our Portugal Bucket List, but we haven’t gone ‘UNESCO crazy’. Truthfully though, if there were defined interest, we wouldn’t be against creating a UNESCO-featured tour for DaHungryCouple guests in the future (wink wink).
With all the amazingly beautiful and culturally important regions in Portugal, it really was a no-brainer for us to establish residence here. In order to feel the history of nearly a millennium, all we need do is walk out our door, and that’s just how I like it.