The change comes as the organisation has been grappling with the difficulties of offering services to the entire country, in which 130 locals are classified as a “Village of Portugal,” from such a northern position. These small populations are mostly found in the Centre region, as such the Idanha-a-Nova council made themselves available to ease the moving process, supporting the ATA’s installation with physical and human resources to the village of Penha Garcia as well as their respective territory promotion strategy.
Teresa Pouzada, the ATA president, recognises that the work done from Ponte de Lima has been “an important step” for the brand’s affirmation, but stated that the current map of classified locations puts forward new challenges to the organisation’s administration. “With over 130 ‘Villages of Portugal’ in the Minho and Algarve regions, the logistical and financial management of contact with these settlements and their institutions has become more difficult, especially when it comes to verifying the classification requirements and supporting the promotion initiatives in these places,” she argues.
The change should come about in the end of 2023 and will mark a new phase in the promotion of these classified villages in the Centre region, according to the strategy presented to drive the socioeconomic development of the most genuine rural territories in the country, sharing their tourist offering, preserving their heritage and incentivising their respective populations to not move away.
The ATA’s new residence is due to the “more central location” on the national map, an option also backed by the availability of the respective local government to associate itself with the institution’s reinforced dynamism phase. “It’s an honour for the Idanha-a-Nova municipality, particularly for Penha Garcia, to host the headquarters of the ‘Villages of Portugal’, a distinctive mark that drives rural destinations and offers opportunities to value their natural and historical-cultural heritage,” Armindo Jacinto, the council’s mayor, has stated.
In that sense, the local government is adapting part of a traditional Penha Garcia house to serve as the HQ. This space will function with strict collaboration with the local Tourism Board and the S. Pedro de Alcântara Museum, making the three institutions together make up “the perfect starting point” to discover what Teresa Pouzada describes as “a very rich tourism destination.” The main draw in the village is the Templar castle, but among the area’s offering, the ATA president highlighted the pillory erected during the reign of D. Sebastião, the rotating windmills in the Ponsul valley and the Route of Fossils, whose geosites, over 600 million years old, which determined the Southern Plateau of Naturtejo Geopark’s inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Armindo Jacinto has good expectations for the partnership and believes this will facilitate the preservation and valuing work of the rural Portuguese identity. “It’s a process that involves and revitalises the local communities, and for that, the ATA has our support in the development of their mission, alongside the progress of these lands,” the Idanha-a-Nova mayor declared.