Côa Valley Petroglyphs

World Monuments Watch
Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Guarda District, Portugal

1996 World Monuments Watch

An archaeological survey in preparation for construction of a dam on the Côa River revealed a surprising discovery – Paleolithic rock art on outcroppings along some 17 kilometers on both sides of the valley. The unprecedented find was recognized internationally and received significant media attention. As a result, the dam project was canceled. Now an effort is in progress to conserve the artwork in a national park, which, properly managed, will benefit the local economy. The greatest threats to the survival of the site are erosion due to atmospheric conditions and vandalism – the by-product of publicity about the find. Delay will lead to further deterioration and destruction of the rock, as well as to a weakening of the informal coalition of local and national governments and private businesses supporting the establishment of the park.

Since the Watch

Following the abandonment of the project to construct a major dam on the Côa River and listing in the 1996 Watch, the area was declared a national monument. The petroglyphs of Côa Valley were added to the World Heritage List in 1998. A new art and archaeology museum was constructed outside Villa Nova de Foz Côa in 2004-2009, overlooking the confluence of the Côa into the Douro. February 2011

Last updated: June 2018.

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