30/04/06 The restoration
project for the Santa Maria Cathedral in Vitoria-Gasteiz continues to
expand its international horizons. In addition to the recognition
received in numerous countries there is now open collaboration with
various academic institutions and schools in Brazil. This relationship
is a consequence of the Santa Maria Cathedral Foundation´s
participation in the “International Cultural Meeting with
Spain” held in the Brazilian city of Niterói.
The restoration of the Old Cathedral was the international project chosen at the closing session of the Restoration and Cultural Heritage Seminar, organised by the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Rio de Janeiro Federal University. The principal, Professor Nireu Calvacanti, declared his intention to sign a collaboration agreement enabling students to participate in the project in the near future. Sonia Nogueira, coordinator of the “Manguinhos School Workshop” project in Rio de Janeiro expressed a similar desire. Consequently, Brazilian universities will join the open collaboration along with other universities from Italy, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Miami…
The importance of the “International Cultural Meeting with Spain”, which took place between 7 April and 1 May, is corroborated by the organisation of more than 200 events –conferences, exhibitions, concerts, theatre productions…– in which the various Spanish regions have presented their Art, Culture, Music, Traditions,… Niterói, a city close to Rio de Janeiro, offers all of its inhabitants access to culture, and has been a pioneer in the organisation of large international cultural meetings.
Participants at the Restoration and Cultural Heritage Seminar received first-hand knowledge of both the research and architectural restoration and management aspects making the Santa Maria Cathedral project unique. The participants, which included Brazilian Government authorities, architects, academics, teachers and students, showed particular interest in the way in which the restoration of a Gothic cathedral has become an “architectural, tourist and cultural reference all over the world”.
The interest of Latin American countries in the restoration method used for the Santa Maria Cathedral and in its financial, cultural and social profitability was confirmed at the recent Latin American Summit. The summit established the possibility of cancelling the external debt of those countries investing in the restoration of their cultural heritage. At this meeting, the Spanish Department of Education presented the case of the Santa Maria Cathedral as a model which is generating significant profitability in various fields.
Likewise, the Niteroi Culture Councillor, Marco Gomes, emphasised the important role that projects like that of the Santa Maria Cathedral play as a “source of development and economic resources”. In fact, Gomes himself personally visited Vitoria-Gasteiz to organise the meeting and chose the Old Cathedral project because “many aspects may be very useful for the restoration of Brazil´s cultural heritage”.
Paulo Coelho and the Santa Maria Cathedral
By way of gratitude, those in charge of the Santa Maria Cathedral Foundation, as well as setting out the key elements of the project, showed for the first time an audiovisual presentation in Portuguese featuring some of the writers which have taken part in “Encounters with the Cathedral”. In this respect, the seminar participants were proud that their fellow countryman, the writer Paulo Coelho, had become one of the ambassadors for the project thanks to its inclusion in his play “The Zahir”.
The presence of Vitoria-Gasteiz at the Niterói “International Cultural Meeting” was one of the most outstanding. This has helped to spread its values of solidarity, sustainability and high levels of life among the more than 250,000 participants. For almost a month, the capital of Álava was represented by the Council´s Tourism and Culture departments, the Jazz Festival organised by Iñaki Añúa, the music group Ortophonk and the Santa Maria Cathedral.
In addition to the recognition of universities and professionals in the field of cultural heritage restoration, there has also been significant interest from the Brazilian media. This will undoubtedly lead to an increasing number of Brazilian and Portuguese-speaking visitors to Vitoria-Gasteiz, something which was confirmed following the publication of the novel, “The Zahir”.