After 20 years of silence and a complex restoration process, the Carillons of the Mafra National Palace in Portugal, listed among the 7 Most Endangered heritage assets in Europe in 2014 by the EIB Institute and Europa Nostra were played during a memorable inaugural concert that assembled over 6,000 people in the square in front of the Palace on the afternoon of 2 February 2020.
The highlighting of the project by the 7 Most Endangered programme helped public authorities prioritise the project. A technical and financial report by the EIB Institute underlined the need and justification for the rehabilitation project and supported the approach adopted. The conservation programme was almost entirely financed by the Ministry of Culture of Portugal for a total cost of 1.7 million euros and carried out between May 2018 and December 2019.
The two towers of the Basilica of the Mafra National Palace, a key work of the Baroque in Portugal, feature a unique set of 119 cast bronze bells, divided into carillon, liturgical and hour bells. Due to lack of maintenance or poor conservation, the wooden structures that support the bells had been at risk of collapse, threatening the integrity of the towers and of the monument itself. The bells had also been in a very poor condition.
Since 2013, the Institute has been partnering with Europa Nostra under the 7 Most Endangered Programme (7ME) to identify monuments and sites under acute danger of neglect or destruction. This innovative cooperation mixes the cultural expertise and lobbying work of Europa Nostra with the technical appraisal and rescue planning skills of the EIB.