Sortelha, Sabugal, Portugal.


Sortelha, a picturesque village nestled atop a hill in Portugal, emerges as a serene haven, untouched by the rapid pace of modern life. Its charm lies in the harmonious blend of rugged vegetation, medieval architecture, and a rich history that traces back to prehistoric times. Maintaining its medieval outline, Sortelha stands as one of Portugal’s oldest and best-preserved villages, where traditional roots are deeply intertwined with agricultural and community activities. The village, crowned by a 13th-century castle, reflects the organic evolution of its urban landscape, with houses following the natural contours of the land. 

The village, classified as a National Monument, has a rich cultural heritage and engages with international networks. It has earned UNESCO Biosphere Destination certification and aligns with the New European Bauhaus initiative. 

In the realm of tourism, Sortelha is a hubmagnet for events, from historical recreations to folklore festivals, enriching the visitor experience. The village integrates various networks, holds Biosphere Destination certification, and is actively involved in the Smart Villages process. 

Sortelha’s journey into the limelight as a national and international tourist destination has spurred diverse initiatives. The film and television industry, recognizing its cinematic allure, has chosen Sortelha for productions, providing both promotional and economic benefits to the community. The intersection of cultural preservation and cinematic appeal positions Sortelha as a unique destination where history comes alive on the silver screen, fostering a symbiotic relationship between film and tourism. 

Sortelha’s Tourism Development Plan emphasizes sustainable tourism, cross-regional collaboration, and digital transformation. The village’s collaboration with the scientific system, integrating traditional techniques into modern solutions, showcases its commitment to innovation. 

Overall, Sortelha stands out as a unique blend of history, sustainability, and cultural richness, positioning itself as a model for responsible tourism and community development. 




Pioneering Eco-Friendly Practices

Sortelha’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its groundbreaking projects. A prime illustration is the energy efficiency pilot case, a testament to Sortelha’s dedication to environmentally conscious practices. This initiative not only showcases the village’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint but also positions it as a pioneer in eco-friendly solutions. 

A significant stride towards sustainability comes in the form of a substantial €3M investment in a tourist resort. This venture aligns seamlessly with the principles of sustainability and the circular economy. More than just accommodation, this project serves as a repository of solutions for leveraging local resources. It also champions new businesses rooted in traditional construction techniques, such as stone, wood, and iron. By doing so, Sortelha not only contributes to the thriving tourism industry but also actively participates in the rehabilitation of its historic structures. 

The essence of this initiative lies in its holistic approach—addressing not only the accommodation needs but also fostering sustainable practices across various sectors. From utilizing local raw materials to championing traditional construction methods, Sortelha’s efforts embody a commitment to responsible tourism and a greener, more sustainable future. 



All for All, Elevating Sortelha's Accessibility

The All for All project in Sortelha stands as a transformative change, particularly in the realm of accessibility and infrastructure enhancement.  

 A significant intervention took place in the historic town, marked by the installation of a mobility belt, provision of parking spaces catering to people with reduced mobility, construction of accessible and inclusive toilets, implementation of accessible communication and design strategies, and the deployment of signposting and tourist information in a tangible paper format.  

 Future Plans include extending the mobility belt, creating parking spaces equipped with electric vehicle chargers, and implementing measures to restrict road traffic in the historic centre. These initiatives aim to reclaim public spaces for the community, fostering a harmonious balance between historical preservation and contemporary needs. 

 This project has had a profound impact on the economic landscape. By focusing on accessibility and visitation conditions, it not only enriches the overall visitor experience but also contributes significantly to the economic prosperity of Sortelha’s residents. This holistic approach reflects Sortelha’s commitment to creating a more inclusive, accessible, and economically vibrant environment for all.



Sustainable Odyssey: Innovation, Tradition, and Global Engagement

Sortelha’s pursuit of sustainability transcends the ordinary, marked by a tapestry of innovative projects and community-focused initiatives. “Recipes that Tell Stories” exemplifies this commitment, intertwining the promotion of local gastronomy with the empowerment of women in agriculture. The village’s embrace of traditional building techniques, harmonized with modern solutions, reflects a strategic collaboration between handicraft traditions and scientific innovation, epitomizing Sortelha’s dedication to circular economy principles. 

 In the broader European landscape, Sortelha actively engages in networks like the New European Bauhaus, positioning itself as a torchbearer of cultural preservation through innovative sustainability approaches. This commitment extends to its participation in networks such as the Historical Villages of Portugal and Leading Quality Trails, establishing Sortelha as a hub for innovation and responsible tourism. 

 Sortelha’s Tourism Development Plan, coupled with collaboration with the AHP Network and active involvement in the Covenant of Mayors, underscores a twofold commitment. The village seeks to enhance the tourism experience while unwaveringly prioritizing environmental and cultural sustainability. Through these multifaceted efforts, Sortelha emerges as a global influencer in the realm of historic villages, setting a compelling example for sustainable practices worldwide.