In 2007 the Roman theater of Medellín was an example of forgotten and abandoned heritage site. A Plan for its valorisation has turned it into a key monument.
The Plan tried to bring to life an underutilized cultural heritage site and make it socially profitable. The context that motivated this project was to try to reconvert and train workers from the construction sector who, due to the start of the economic crisis, had lost their jobs in 2007.
The idea was to recover an important archaeological site involving the local community in the whole process. Local unemployed people from the construction sector (mainly) were trained and contracted for the field works, and local associations were informed and involved in the decision chain. Questionnaires were distributed among the population to get information and feed back from the citizens.
The project was carried out through agreements between different administrations (Regional and Local). The Regional Government provided the financing and was in charge of the supervision, and the local administration was in charge of the hiring of unemployed people.
The results are the transformation of abandoned ruins into a reference monument for the Region, and the new feeling of local proud that the Theatre projects over the local community that feel the theatre as something very special and that has to bee preserved and respected for future generations. The new brand image of the town of Medellin is a broken letter M that was found during the field works (see picture)

Resources needed

Investment of 3 million euro (co-financed 75% with FEDER fund)
The works were carried out by a multidisciplinary team, made up of archaeologists, restorers, work coordinators, managers, architects, draughtsmen, assistants, surveyors, masonry monitors, work managers…..).

Evidence of success

• This project was awarded with the Europa Nostra Prize for heritage conservation in 2013.
• Over 200 unemployed people were hired during the project.
• The project has been an engine of sustainable economic development for this region, as shown by the fact that from 2007 to 2017 this archaeological site has been visited by more than 123,000 people.
• The theater was re-opened in 2014, and in these 5 years more than 16,000 people have enjoyed plays and concerts there

Difficulties encountered

We learned that in a project of this scope it is essential to have a very well coordinated multidisciplinary team and the local community has to be an essential part of the Action, otherwise the results will not be that satisfactory and the duration of the works will increase

Potential for learning or transfer

This practice can be transferred to any region with underutilized cultural assets and high rates of unemployed people.
It must be considered that although the investments are made from the public sector, they are materialized in the cultural heritage that is also public and most of the money invested is transferred to the population for the payment of their work. The revalorization of this cultural heritage site has significantly boost the attraction of new tourists and therefore the local economy (bars, hotels, restaurants, etc.).
This type of project also contribute to fix the population to this rural territory and reduce the exodus of population that are currently leaving rural areas to go to bigger cities.

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Main institution
Regional Government of Extremadura
Extremadura, Spain (España)
Start Date
April 2007
End Date
March 2011


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