Portuguese Secretary of State for Culture, Jorge Barreto Xavier, has announced a £4.3m project aimed at restoring and renovating Portugal’s Jewish heritage sites.
Funding for the project, called Rotas de Judiarias – Rotas de Sefarad, will come from Portugal, which will pay 15 per cent of costs, and a European Economic Area grant, which will cover the rest. Norway was the biggest donor to the fund, providing almost £3.4 million.
At the launching ceremony, Ove Thorsheim, Norway’s ambassador to Portugal, said: “We wanted to support a project that, on the one hand, focuses on Portugal’s cultural heritage and, on the other hand, stimulates its tourism and, thereby, its economy.”
Jorge Boss, the head of Rede de Judiarias, a Jewish heritage network that will help with the initiative, said: “This is not only a tourism project but a cultural project. The goal for us is to restore this forgotten aspect of Portugal’s history.”
Among the first projects to be funded are the revitalisation of the ancient synagogue of Tomar; the restoration of the shuls in Almeida and Vilar Maior; the creation of a memorial for the “Portuguese Schindler”, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, in Vilar Formoso; and the establishment of a Centre of Interpretation of Sephardic Culture in Bragança.