Importance of Historical Recreations in Military Tourism: Lusitanos Resistance to the Roman Invasion in Serra da Estrela

 

Elsa Ramos

Department of Tourism and Hospitality, Polytechnic Institute of Guarda (IPG/UDI), Seia, Portugal

Manuel Salgado

University of Aveiro (UA - GOVCOPP), Aveiro, Portugal

Rita Saraiva

Espaço Museológico da Santa Casa da Misericórdia, Largo da Misericórdia, 6270-492 Seia, Portugal

Ilídio Ramos

Polytechnic Institute of Guarda, Rua Dr. José António Fernandes Camelo, Arrifana, 6270-372 Seia, Portugal

 

 

ABSTRACT

Portugal celebrates 836 years of nationality and several notable historical epochs. However, does not exclusively restrict its cultural heritage, since Iberia has previously other civilizations whose identity is necessary to study and perpetuate in collective knowledge and identity.

In this context, the preservation of cultural heritage involves interpreting and promoting the identity of each society, especially for their role in the historical evolution of a territory. The recognition of the potential use of cultural resources by tourist activity can be assumed as a differentiating strategy based on the importance of personalities of historical epochs, being able to develop new attractions in destinations to promote the valorisation of its historical-cultural heritage. We intend to highlight the Lusitanian people at a cultural level.

The research focuses on the literature that highlights the nobility, simplicity and warlike capacity of these people, aiming a broad perspective of their interest for the promotion of the territory of ancient Lusitania, and projects in former castros could be promoted to highlight important elements of this civilization. The maximum involvement of the visitor, through moments of recreation and storytelling, will develop a timely product of military tourism to Portugal. In this sense, the field work in Serra da Estrela will be deepened to promote the knowledge of the castros, in which a model of tourism of experiences is assumed to promote the patrimonial education and, consequently, the conservation of this patrimony.

In the first phase, it is important to contextualize the visitor in order to allow to interpret the structure and social organization of this civilization. The purpose is to portray daily life at the historical time, as faithfully as possible, in a sociological and anthropological perspective, fostering a visitor immersion to experience community life in the Lusitanian villages. This project also intends to celebrate important figures of the military structure, like the commander Viriato, whose figure granted prestige and recognition to this warrior people, who will have had in the Hermínios hills their last refuge. In several bloody battles he combats heroically the Roman legions, allowing him to be known throughout the Roman Empire.

Key Words: Military tourism, cultural heritage, Lusitanos, Viriato.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

This paper pretends to be an interdisciplinary approach to the identification and preservation of cultural heritage, which could be crossed by the historic sciences and tourism sciences. We will interpret the historical evolution and people occupation of the Alva valley in the Serra da Estrela region and, in consequence, interpret the model of tourism development to this destination, based in their endogenous resources. The recognition of the importance to promote the cultural resources by tourist activity should be assumed in the model of development achieved. In our case will be the historical epoch of Lusitanian people and we pretend to highlight their cultural characteristics, in particular their competence of resistance to the Roman Empire occupation.

The objectives pretend to contextualize the visitor to interpret the structure and social organization of this civilization of Lusitanos. The purpose is to portray daily life at this historical time, as faithfully as possible, in a sociological and anthropological perspective, fostering a visitor immersion to experience community life in the Lusitanian villages. At the same time, it will be necessary to understand the economic viability for tourism development as a main activity for this destination area. This project is supported by the storytelling strategy and cultural interpretation that also intends to celebrate important figures of the military structure, like the commander Viriato, whose figure granted prestige and recognition to this warrior people.

The research focuses on the literature review that highlights the state of the art about the importance of Lusitanian historic and cultural heritage to promote military tourism as a niche of cultural tourism that is concerned with special storytelling, to apply to an interesting historic momentum of the actual territory of Portugal and Spain. The case study points to the region of Alva valley, where we can find trace elements of Lusitanian castros, in the oriental part of the Serra da Estrela Mountain. Several current bibliographical works, referring to the Serra da Estrela region, describe their evolution from the historical perspective, namely Brito (2015), Queirós et al (2008), Loução (2013), Tavares (2012), making some descriptive passages from the time when the Montes Hermínios region was populated by several tribes of the Lusitanian peoples in various castros, hence the interest of interpreting this reality of our identity as a cultural matrix for tourism development in this region.

The paper structure discusses the main characteristics of this civilization and their historic and cultural heritage (section 2), that could help to develop the tourist attractiveness of this Alva river territory. Then we need to characterise the destination area in the Seia municipality, that includes the main Lusitanian constructions named castros. These Lusitanian villages permit to develop several approaches, namely the storytelling and the interpretation of heritage. This warrior people   made an historic and heroic resistance to the roman invasion in Serra da Estrela, that helps to maintain the special image of courage of their chiefs like Viriato, which was eternised by the history.

 

Lusitanian people and historic and cultural heritage

Historical and military resources can constitute strategic instruments for the preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage and, at the same time, interpret and promote the identity of a society. The recognition of the potential of the use of these resources by the tourist activity can be assumed as a differentiating strategy based on the value of personalities of certain historical eras, being able to develop new attractions in tourist destinations to promote the valorisation of its historical-cultural heritage. At the cultural level we found that the Lusitanian people followed a polytheistic religion, which later came to be complemented by the Roman religion, just as it was influenced by the Lusitanian religion.

The Roman province of Lusitania was an area occupied by several populi that formed the sociological group designated by Lusitanos. The abundant material and toponymical testimonies attest the importance of the region during the historical periods of Proto-history and Romanization (Saraiva, 2013). Correlation of social themes, such as the movement of people and goods through the road network and the geographic factors regarding to more constructive places to the population establishment due to his cultural and natural characteristics, allows a geographic analysis and answer to some questions like: "where they lived?" and "how did they live?".

The territory morphology in “V form” of Alva Valley and the analysis of the location of the agglomerates helps to understand the occupation and human dynamics on the territory where they were established. Also, analysing the ancient settlement of an area, involves a reflection from the sociological point of view. If the cluster was implanted in a certain area, the populations would have a purpose, which is intrinsically related to the modus vivendi and modus operandi that they developed in a fixation territory.

The arrival of the various populi is due to the historic period of the Final Bronze, information provided by the language and material existent in the region, as same inscriptions found on intact archaeological levels of the so-called "Lusitanian" language in some villages and shrines. The data materialize the ethno-cultural nature of these warriors’ communities. In fact, the history of the Lusitanos is related mainly to the military campaigns developed by Viriato in the Montes Herminios (Serra da Estrela).

Some findings in the North, statues of Calais warriors, such as the materialization of the figure of the warrior, with armour and spear. The campaigns developed with purpose of territorial and civilizational conquests promoted a network of occupation and defensive construction that fix in the territory a set and places of surveillance and control of people and goods, often taking advantage of the granite ridges and the half-hillside of the “V” form of valleys.

Sarmento (1883) through his experience with the archaeological evidence of the Castros and Citânias of the North of Portugal and Galicia, during his scientific expedition to the Serra da Estrela range develops an important work of exploration and analysis of the territory, where he finds villages and compare them with those of the Northeast part of Iberian Peninsula.

The Celtic people that lived in the steep hills of Serra da Estrela range, with a wide visual range up to the Caramulo and Açor mountains ranges, through different social revolutions or territorial conquests, already designated territory of Lusitania, did not change the character of the populations.

In a reconstruction of the most remote part of the Alva high territory, we understand the human dynamics, the dispersion and the implantation of the agglomerates of the IIIth to the Ist millennium a.C. (Late and Medium Bronze Age), for a local scale analysis of the first hierarchical societies of "power". The emergence of central sites, these with a notable defensive deployment and distributed regularly by the space and complemented by secondary sites, appears in the area under study in the Late Bronze Age (Senna-Martinez, 1996: 119).

The main places are Cabeço do Castro de São Romão, Cabeças and Monte do Castro, situated in the municipality of Seia in typical "mountain sites", considering the great visibility conditions in short, medium and long distances, making possible to control people and good flows next to Portelas and old ways.

Architectural and material evidences from archaeological excavation and exploration identify defensive and habitat structures that contribute to the analysis of habitat dispersal and activities carried out in a community or household environment.

The consideration that can be given from these societies, at the level of their social and military behaviour, translates into the need for constant protection and vigilance, in a territory that is constantly changing. The structure of the wall or its alignment of stony overcast is, in most cases, the important and most significant vestige in the existence of the settlements, which reveals its importance and eternity in territorial settlement and defence.

The guard activity and the objects for the campaigns of conquest resulted in materials and traces of the development of actions of manufacture and transformation of endogenous natural resources of the territory of implantation. Metallurgy is an example of the design of objects with a military, social or utilitarian typology.

The theoretical contextualization of the importance of cultural heritage for tourism development allows a better understanding of the context of the main theme of this work – that is Lusitanian people. It is necessary to take a small approach to what would be the territorial division of the Iberian Peninsula that, between 16 and 13 a.C., would be divided into three provinces: Bética, Hispânia Citerior or Tarraconense and Lusitânia (figure 1). To understand the Portuguese territory in this geographical order, it would be to the Douro covered by the province Tarraconense and the Douro to the south of the Country by Lusitânia. In the century Ist d.C., this province was divided in smaller territorial zones denominated of Conventus. These territorial areas, before being just physical spaces, had legal and administrative functions, because each year the provincial governor met in different cities with the representatives of the different local communities, to minister justice, to exercise their arbitration role, to hear complaints and to transmit to these new representatives the new directives of the Roman administration "(Fabião, 1992).

 

Figure 1 Hispânia Provinces (Fabião, 1992)

 

 

Geographic characterization

This study intends to inquire about a suitable model of responsible and sustainable management for natural and cultural resources in the Serra da Estrela region, particularly in the Alva valley in the Seia municipality. In this context, we pretend to contribute to the preservation of the natural features and the appreciation of the cultural identity of places and its occupation thought time by antique populations.

At this point, the work is essentially descriptive and aims to understand how planning of this region could work to ensure a sustainable development, supported in strategic tourist activity, and according to the institutional framework of the regional development, essential to develop and promote nature and cultural tourism. This will allow to understand how heritage from ancient times could be important and complementary to the nature characteristics of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park (SENP) territory.

In the central region of Portugal, Alva valley has a huge potential to become a relevant national tourist destination, especially by the attraction factors of this territory characterised by remarkable diversity and richness inherent resources, as well as the geographical location; the centrality and the good accessibility; the hospitality of the residents; competitive prices and safety. It is situated between the municipality of Seia, in the SENP, and the county of Penacova, where the river Alva converges in the Mondego River.

A brief description of the region of Alva valley is now made. Queirós, Veloso & Ferreira (2008:107-126) describe the Alva valley in the Roteiro da Serra da Estrela, a script, and present a remarkable tourist circuit entitled Entre o Alva e o Mondego but, in fact, it mainly corresponds to the territory of Alva valley. Also the work entitled Rotas e Percursos da Serra da Estrela (Routes and Pathways of the Serra da Estrela) (Tavares, 2012) proposes a set of walking trails which lead the visitor to observe the diversity of landscapes and habitats of the higher areas of the Serra da Estrela. This book proposes a set of trekking trails which lead the visitor to observe the diversity of landscapes and habitats of the higher areas of the Serra da Estrela mountain, of which we highlight the circular trail of Cabeço dos Corvos with an extension of 5785 metres and low degree of difficulty. This route called Alto Alva (Tavares, 2012:60-64) includes "a set of small paths which aim to promote the landscape, geology, flora and fauna of the Mata do Desterro, forested area that lies under the management of the municipality of Seia”. This natural area includes one of the more important castros in the Alva valley that we will explore.

The brand Mountain Villages is the common thread for the tourism development of the Serra da Estrela in all its natural, heritage and social aspects. Several of this villages in the municipality of Seia have castros, namely Alvoco da Serra, Loriga e Valezim, and promote this historic heritage. In fact, Saraiva (2013) indicates that in the south slope of Seia, in the most rugged part of the county, where some of the Mountain Villages are implanted, whose terrain morphology forced to a harmonized implantation, there are places favourable for the implantation of villages of altitude, in ridges above 800m. This territory of rocky morphology, irrigated by the river Alva, is a positive place to the implantation of places of permanent settlement, mainly in ridges located to the south of the county of Seia, in the zone of Alto Alva.

The Mountain Villages network creates a new tourism paradigm, one which overcomes seasonality and the exclusive offer of the region in the cold periods. It cannot be forgotten that the village of Sabugueiro, the spring of the river Alva, is one of the villages in the network. The Serra da Estrela is a mountain that has several attractions which are worth a visit all year round, from its many green valleys, water springs and its natural light. Most of the prime locations are accessible on foot, and the available footpaths are best way to visit this territory.

In fact, the protected areas have various objectives, ranging from the preservation of animal and plant species, in particular endangered species, to scientific research, to environmental studies and the preservation of rare or unique landscapes that have high natural and cultural value. The Alva valley and its attributes deserve to be studied and best known to contribute to regional development, including the development of the SENP, as an interesting touristic destination in terms of the two strategic products: nature tourism and cultural tourism.

The Alva valley is a territory of low population density, with small and peripheral villages, characterized for being economically depressed. For these reasons, development must be encouraged on the basis of the protection and conservation of their aesthetic, cultural, historical, among other inherent characteristics. Besides, it is necessary that people are involved in management, sharing responsibilities with public entities.

In this sense, it can be assumed that the landscape is the best raw material of this region, because it mirrors the level of culture of a people. It is also an economic and tourist value and can help build the image of a destination, namely in geographical spaces of natural monumentality as the Alva valley. The landscape is also an essential reference to the identity of rural communities and the framing of spaces and activities is increasingly valued by the urban populations. The contemplation of a landscape may be the biggest attraction a place has to offer. For all this, the concept of landscape, whether natural or human, is inserted in the definition of tourist heritage and may represent a powerful potential for the attractiveness of a destination.

Tourism can become a means of valuing landscapes that have lost traditional functions and initiatives such as rural tourism, with the recovery and use of the ancient rural houses for tourists. This diversity of factors and activities is of utmost importance for the competitiveness of this destination, in that it has the ability to assert itself as an attractive destination, able to stand out and stand on the market. This competitiveness is also related to segmentation, to customizing services, to the uniqueness and identities of the destination, and the revaluation of these same factors.

 

Storytelling and the interpretation of lusitanos resistance to the roman invasion in serra da estrela

Storytelling could have a great effect on people because the brain is normally more engaged when the narratives are more memorable. In a relaxed and leisurely environment, the stories trigger emotional responses (Huang, 2018). For the consumer to be immersed in the story and to have an extraordinary experience, two preconditions are proposed which relate to the type of service and the setting: one is the need for the experience to take place in a hedonic service consumption setting and the other is a service scape that allows the consumer to step away from everyday reality. It is also proposed that involvement and co‐creation, as well as a guide, can be used to facilitate a tourist's immersion in a story and a service scape (Mossberg, 2008).

With the description of the territory made earlier, we can imagine idyllic sites with fascinating historical episodes that tell scenes of Viriato’s day life. Through these stories we can try to reproduce and narrate some military tactics used by both the Lusitanian’s and the Roman’s in a staged way. The historical representation aims to teach the tourist the modus vivendi of these peoples of that corresponding remarkable time, namely about how they lived, how they structured the family nucleus, their society structure and community organization, how the different settlements related to each other, how they dressed, type as they were structured at the level of the defence of the villages, the existing military techniques, etc. So, by what method the scene is presented should make known, to the tourist, the time in which these people lived, their way of being, dressing, fighting and socializing. Entertain, educate and inform are three keywords to describe storytelling.

The route of the Castros dos Montes Hermínios begins in the Castro de São Romão (figure 2), located in the place named Senhora do Desterro, with a brief historical review of the Lusitanos people and the explanation why they have settled there. When arriving at Castro de São Romão, the village is presented, identifying the different existing structures, houses, walls, etc., where a staging will be carried out describing the life of the Lusitanian people, their professions (pottery, weaving and casting, pastoralism, agriculture), his nomad way of life, focusing specially on the figure of Viriato as shepherd until his transformation into a strong and strategic warrior. From this Castro we can see the Castros of Valezim, Vila Cova à Coelheira and the Castro of Torroselo, that are beneath in the Alva Valley.

Continuing this route of Castros dos Montes Hermínios, we will go to the Valezim castro, taking advantage of this natural area to tell some episodes of the life of Viriato and also to give information about this territory in the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, passing through the Cornos do Diabo that, according to the legends, would be the place of passage through the river and that the Devil's Horns should be designated by the Horns of the Ox, visiting the Buraco da Moura, the Cascata da Caniça and the fluvial beach of Lapa dos Dinheiros, whose current route presents a slab whose features will hardly be Roman, although we can consider the route of the old road, towards the Monte de Castro located in Valezim.

 

Figure 2 Route of the Castros dos Montes Hermínios

 

This tourism project could also include other subarea, that we will experience in a field trip with students from the Tourism and Leisure Degree. So, after arriving at Monte de Castro, we pretend that tourists will observe military techniques while watching a battle between Lusitanian territorial army and Roman legions emphasizing the differences of the robes and the techniques used. The route will continue by bus to Loriga village, where tourists are presented with a typical meal of the Lusitanos people. Walking towards the Portela de Arão, we find the site of the Loriga Castro, located at 900 metres of altitude in a fairly rugged relief area, whose environment is surrounded by steep hills of granite rocks at 1500 metres of altitude, irrigated by the Ribeira de Loriga. In this place will be represented the episode of the betrayal and death of Viriato.

To end this day dedicated to Viriato, the shepherd who became military chief, we returned by bus to the top of Valezim and, by foot, we will pass by the village of Furtado, enjoying the breath taking scenery of the Alva River ending in the magnificent fluvial beach of Sandomil, bathed by the Alva river. Along this riverside route, we can glimpse small dams that served to water one and another to supply water powered mills, and can visit one still in activity. After refreshed by the clear and fresh waters of the Alva river, we climbed the mountain and on the top, next to Torroselo, we can observe a view to the Torroselo castro and from this termination point we can visit what remains of the castro of Vila Cova à Coelheira, near the Alva river.

 

Conclusions

There is a growing importance of tourism for natural, rural and mountain regions, characterized by low population density. Tourism is a structural phenomenon at spatial and socio-economic levels, supported on wealth and variety of natural, cultural and human resources. Territorial features are essential to tourism products, which can help make policy choices and trace sectoral strategies. 

A strategy to encourage the identification and knowledge of the cultural heritage surrounding the Alva river region, could promote a more sustainable and competitive development, also throughout tourism and leisure activities. The reflection regarding the concept of sustainability in tourism made it possible to highlight the need for integration of the interests of local people, tourists and the tourist industry itself, as well as the need for conservation of natural and cultural heritage in the development of the Alva valley.

In this paper we discuss and propose the tourism co‐creation experience in cultural territories, supposing the tourist's immersion in a story like the Lusitanos people and their chief Viriato. In this context, the storytelling strategy could have a great effect on people engagement and, consequently, in tourist experience satisfaction, with the creation of memorable and delight moments. In a relaxed environment, the consumer can immerse in the story and have an extraordinary experience, getting away from everyday stressful reality.

The knowledge of the main characteristics of this civilization and their historic and cultural heritage could help to develop the tourist attractiveness of this Alva river territory. Then we characterise the destination area in the Seia municipality, that includes the main Lusitanian constructions named castros. These Lusitanian villages permits to develop several approaches, namely the storytelling and the interpretation of heritage. This warrior people made an historic and heroic resistance to the roman invasion in Serra da Estrela, that helps to maintain the special image of courage of their chiefs like Viriato, that was eternised by the history.

The route project named Castros dos Montes Hermínios begins in the Castro de São Romão and purposes an enjoyable trip to this beautiful region of Alva valley with a brief historical review of the Lusitanos people that lived in the several castros. The identification of the different existing structures, houses, walls, etc., where a staging will be carried out describing the life of the Lusitanian people, their professions (pottery, weaving and casting, pastoralism, agriculture), his nomad way of life, focusing specially on the figure of Viriato as the last warrior commandant.

 

 

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