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“The Hidden Alhambra” project to give public virtual access to historic site in Spain

The World Monuments Fund and American Express have announced a partnership for the conservation and improved access to the Alhambra, the famous palace and fortress of the last Muslim rulers in Spain.

“The Hidden Alhambra” is a sustainable tourism project supported by American Express and World Monuments Fund in the form of a donation of $200,000 through the American Express  Partners in Preservation program, in collaboration with World Monuments Fund. The support will allow for a strategic reworking of the tourist route through the complex, reducing pressure on the most trafficked areas while also giving visitors the ability to see a number of places previously closed to the general public but of significant historical value.

In addition, programs will be developed for mobile electronic devices to aid in the exploration and understanding of the complex, including virtual accessibility to fragile sections of the site closed to the public.

Bonnie Burnham, President of World Monuments Fund, stated: “Many of the major sites of the world struggle with tourism pressures—too many people wanting to visit celebrated sites. 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 Hidden Alhambra’ program will provide such an opportunity. WMF is pleased to support ‘The Hidden Alhambra’ program of special visits to formerly inaccessible parts of the monument, and also to help conserve one of these buildings, the Oratorio del Partal.”

World Monuments Fund announced that it will contribute an additional $300,000 through its Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage toward the conservation of the Oratorio del Partal, an elaborate mid-fourteenth-century palatine chapel built during the reign of Yusuf I. These funds will be matched by the Patronato de la Alhambra. The joint project will make accessible a building that has previously been closed to the public.

Alfredo Garcia-Valdes, President and CEO of American Express in Spain, stated: “This donation to the design of a virtual guide named ‘The Hidden Alhambra’ is one of the most interesting projects related to sustainable tourism undertaken by American Express in Europe.” Garcia-Valdes added that “since American Express has a long history in the tourism industry, we understand the importance of sites like the Alhambra to the community, its history and its future. It is fitting that our philanthropy helps promote projects related to sustainable tourism and historic preservation.”

“This project will promote the knowledge we have of the monument to national and international level. New cultural routes will be organized allowing for greater access to spaces that because of the fragility of their construction materials and ornamental decorations, do not support mass access. Ultimately, the initiative will promote and expand the recognition of the Alhambra, inspiring the curiosity of visitors and providing a better understanding of the monument.”

The Alhambra was begun in the mid-thirteenth-century to serve as the palace and fortress complex of the Nasrid Emirs of Granada. Work began under the first sultan, Mohammad ibn al Ahmar, and was completed a century later during the reign of Yusuf I. Considered the most important surviving remnant from the period of Islamic rule on the Iberian Peninsula, the Alhambra is also one of the most heavily visited historic sites in Spain, receiving millions of visitors annually. It is a Spanish Property of Cultural Interest that, in 1984, was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Source: World Monuments Fund

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