Conservation Spain

Alhambra to open hidden secrets

A new sustainable tourism initiative will improve foot traffic and provide virtual access to vulnerable spaces in the palace complex

The Alhambra receives around two millions every year

GRANADA. The Alhambra in Spain, a medieval palace complex originally built by Moorish rulers and the used by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, is hosting a new sustainable tourism initiative. Hidden Alhambra will open previously inaccessible areas of the site to visitors and improve traffic to mitigate wear on the heritage site. The project is a collaboration between Patronato de la Alhambra, American Express and World Monuments Fund.

American Express has donated $200,000 from its Partners in Preservation programme to support the initiative. The grant will create new tourist routes through the complex, which will lessen foot traffic and allow visitors the opportunity to see previously closed-off areas. Mobile electronic devices will provide visitors with information on the building and give virtual access to parts that must remain closed due to conservation concerns.

“Many of the major sites of the world struggle with tourism pressures—too many people wanting to visit celebrated sites,” said Bonnie Burnham, the president of World Monuments Fund, in a statement. “One of the strategies to offer a high-quality visitor experience and preserve the monuments is to develop alternative destinations—things that people can visit that add to their experience.”

The World Monuments Fund has also contributed $300,000 towards restoring the Oratorio del Partal, a mid-14th-century chapel in the Alhambra built during the reign of Yusuf I which has been closed to the public. That amount is being matched by the Patronato de la Alhambra.

The joint American Express-World Monuments Fund sustainable tourism initiative was established in 2006.

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