Contacted by the Lusa agency, Dalila Rodrigues, director of the two monuments classified as World Heritage, located in the Belém area, explained that the study is taking place in partnership with the US embassy in Lisbon, under the 'Embassy Science Fellow' program.
“The ongoing investigation is developing an assessment of the short and long-term risks of altering natural systems, both in the Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery”, said the person responsible for the work of the team coordinated by a North American specialist. , running since the beginning of September.
The study “envisages the elaboration of a plan to scientifically define the risks and mitigate them, based on an assessment of changes in natural systems with the potential to affect the two monuments”.
The research is being carried out by Barbara Judy, from the United States National Park Service, an architect specializing in this area, who will present the first phase of her work at a conference on November 13, in Jerónimos.
According to the director, in recent years, “increased air temperatures, changes in sea level and changes in groundwater swells are occurring as a local expression of global climate change”.
Dalila Rodrigues defends “the need to take care of the short and long-term risks of changing these systems and develop a plan that scientifically defines how to mitigate them”, specifying, regarding the situation of the Belém Tower, that “the presence and action of countless visitors, as well as the storms that are occurring, have an impact on the monument that needs to be addressed, without sensationalism and without speculating”.
“It is not worth approaching this topic with sensationalism because climate change does not correspond to a narrative fiction of the future. Unfortunately, we are experiencing it, and it is necessary that mitigation actions be planned in the short and long term”, she reiterated.
The Jerónimos Monastery is at the top of the most visited monuments in Portugal, with 870,321 entries in 2022, and the Belém Tower, also in the capital, had 377,780 visitors that year.
Both monuments have been classified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site since 1983.
Questioned by Lusa about the tourist pressure that both monuments have had in the last decade, the official stated that, “after the pandemic, an extension of tourist demand has emerged from the months of July, August and September to the month of October, with exceptional growth.”
“This extension of mass tourism to spring and autumn will force us to adopt management measures, because the weather conditions for people to queue are adverse, with high temperatures in summer and bad weather in winter”, she assessed.
Regarding the entrances, the director of the two monuments said that they are already limited for security reasons, in accordance with current regulations: “The Belém Tower does not accommodate more than 60 visitors simultaneously, inside, every half hour, with around 1,200 people on average per day”.
As for the Jerónimos Monastery, it is limited to receiving 300 people inside, permanently, also in accordance with security plans, receiving an average of over 6,000 daily visitors.
Considered a masterpiece of Portuguese architecture from the first years of the 16th century, the monument is considered a jewel of the Manueline architectural style.
The research project team “The impact of climate change on the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower – scientific studies and mitigation plans” is based at the monastery, “conducting constant studies on the surroundings and the Belém Tower”.