Heritage of Portuguese Influence portal

General information

Domain: Historical places and buildings (with a focus on urban architecture and history)
Title: Heritage of Portuguese Influence
Launch: 2012
Country: Portugal
Website: http://www.hpip.org

Project focus

The web portal Heritage of Portuguese Influence aims to cover the architectural and other urban heritage of Portuguese origin in the non-European world, including former outposts and colonies. It presents tangible remains of a meeting of cultures, traces of cultural encounters and their effects up to the present time. Thus the content centres on tangible heritage such as sites, monuments and historic buildings. It spans almost six centuries, starting from the beginning of Portuguese maritime exploration in the early 15th century to the late 20th century, when Macao was handed over to China. The portal builds on the results of a large academic project which have been made accessible online to more widely disseminate as well as extend them with contributions by other scholars, local people and travellers.



The content basis of the portal has been created in a joint effort of scholars of Portuguese universities who collaborated in the project “Heritage of Portuguese Origin in the World – Architecture and Urbanism” (2007-2012). This project and its web-based extension has been funded and supported by the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon). Technically, the web portal was designed and realised by Full IT, a Portuguese developer of web and mobile applications. To ensure the operation and further development of the portal, an Executive Council comprising the sponsor and the contributing universities has been formed. As the web portal is open to further contributions by local people and travellers, indeed anybody, the academic partners also formed an Editorial Board (about 70 specialists) that validates, accepts or rejects such contributions.

Financing / funding

The creation of the initial content in the “Heritage of Portuguese Origin in the World – Architecture and Urbanism” project as well as the maintenance and further development of the web portal has been funded by the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon), with contributions by the participating universities.

Content & IPR / licensing

The portal launched in April 2012 with 1865 entries featuring built heritage scattered across 565 locations. The information comprises texts describing the individual heritage objects and their historical and contemporary contexts, the available photographs and other visual content (e.g. drawings, cartography, etc.), bibliographic information and a glossary. Furthermore, in the “contexts” section of the portal visitors can learn about the urban and architectural development in countries and regions of Asia, South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Persian Gulf and Red Sea areas.

The copyrights of the content collected in the research project (which amounted to four printed volumes) are held by the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and/or the participating universities. Online contributors waive all rights in their content when submitting it to the portal (cf. Terms and Conditions). However the authorship is attributed on the relevant page of the contribution and the name and details added to the list of authors. Users are requested to follow the conventional rules for citing online information; use of the content for any commercial purposes is expressly forbidden.

Technologies used / innovative features

The portal utilises state of the art web, mobile and geographic information technologies. The content can be searched using a simple search box or navigated based on geographic, chronological or author information. For example, the geo-referenced information about points of interest can be explored and accessed through Google maps. Each page of a built heritage object also links to historical background on the development and architecture of the town, village or other place where the object is located. Concerning user contributions, no prior registration is required and a contribution (e.g. comments) can be made to each existing page as well as submission of new content. As noted, each contribution is checked and validated before being published or rejected by the editorial board.

Target users

As the content of the portal focuses on built heritage of Portuguese origin, the primary target groups are Portuguese travellers and people living in the regions covered. The information is provided in Portuguese and English. In order to attract an active user community and extend the content, the portal allows for contributing content easily. While not stated explicitly, the portal also encourages local communities to preserve the documented cultural heritage objects.

Lessons learned

Cooperation / content: The web portal is a good example of how content produced by subject experts (archivists, curators, academic researchers) can be combined with contributions of local people and travellers. Proposed additions to existing pages or new entries of built heritage objects can be submitted without prior registration through a simple web template.

Content quality control: The portal has an Editorial Board whose members evaluate each contribution before it is published or rejected. This is necessary to ensure the relevance and quality of the contributions. But also because marking up sites and objects of encounters of cultures as heritage (and potential tourist attractions) might cause tensions and conflicts, especially if “markers” and residents are from different cultural backgrounds.

Copyrights: The solution for the copyrights of the online contributions is reasonable, especially considering the difficulty of distinguishing between the initial content produced by the academic researchers and these contributions (which might also undergo some agreed editing before they are published).

Sources and links