Portugese region of Aveiro nominates it’s traditional ‘moliceiro boat’ to be part of a World Heritage Site

The process began in 2019 with the help of the Instituto de Planeamento e Desenvolvimento do Turismo, which backs the "highly unique" character of the vessel in riverside culture around the world.

Moliceiros. Image via Pixabay.
Moliceiros. Image via Pixabay.

People in the Intermunicipal Community of the Region of Aveiro (CIRA) have agreed that the moliceiro boat and other naval objects in the Ria de Aveiro should be made World Heritage Sites in 2023. This was confirmed by an intermunicipal source on Thursday.

If the application, which CIRA hopes will interest more tourists, is approved, it will be the first “UNESCO seal” in the region, which will make it more well known and attractive to visit. The region is only a short drive away from the city of Porto, a popular destination for travellers. The identity of the region is tied to the Ria de Aveiro, a large lagoon which the city of Aveiro is built next to.

“We have a good candidacy and, once the formal presentation has been made, a set of steps is now underway with the United Nations for its analysis and we hope that its approval can take place well and as soon as possible to have this classification”, Ribau Esteves, president of CIRA said. [Translated from Portuguese]

The mayor emphasises that the candidacy associates the moliceiro boat with “the naval carpentry of the various vessels of the Ria de Aveiro”.

One of the things that makes moliceiro boats unique is the decorative painting on the stern: “the bow is the monumental part of the moliceiro, exclusively on which are figures, drawings and legends, unparalleled in any known type of naval navigation”, writes Jaime Vilar, in his book about the ships.

In the book, he classifies the captions of the bow as “satirical, humorous and erotic”, “religious”, “romantic, flirty and picaras”, “professional, moral and historical”. Historically, the boats have been used for gathering seaweed in the lagoon, and are recognisable for their distinct shape and decorations.

The author writes, based on data collected from craftsmen, that a moliceiro measures, on average, 15 meters in length (…) “allowing sailing where keelboats cannot pass”. This, along with their flat bottoms makes them useful in the rivers and canals of the Ria.

In the 1970s, three thousand moliceiro boats were registered to work in the region. There are now only 50 boats left, half of which are used for tourism in the urban canal channels of the Ria.

Read the full story at Diário de Notícias [Portuguese].

This news was brought to our attention by Tiago, a European Heritage Youth Ambassador.

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