Spanish mayor calls for village tradition to be listed as a UNESCO heritage site
A small village of just 1,400 inhabitants in Cadiz, Spain, hopes that one of its nightlife activities will be recognized as a cultural treasure by the United Nations.
As temperatures rise throughout the summer, pulling up a chair on chilly evenings and chatting with friends or neighbors on the street is a common activity in Algar. Taking advantage of the fresh evening air is an opportunity for its inhabitants to share gossip, to unburden themselves of their worries and to discover the novelties of village life that day.
Mayor José Carlos Sánchez believes that the attraction of screens endangers the nightly discussions in the village. With more and more young people using social media to communicate, he fears this simple face-to-face form of communication will disappear.
To protect this centuries-old social network from modern technology, Sánchez hopes that the tradition will be added to UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage. It would join other historical customs such as watchmaking in Switzerland, sauna culture in Finland and the sport of Hurling in Ireland.
Tradition has become more important than ever
In the long 18 months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, these nightly forums have become more important than ever – especially for the elderly or frail. For those who were otherwise isolated, they offered an opportunity for face-to-face conversations with minimal risk of infection.
“In Algar, we don’t want to lose our customs, our traditions, our way of connecting with our neighbors, so we will start the process for our ‘Charla al Fresco’ to be declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. . Ayuntamiento de Algar said in a Facebook post.
To launch the candidacy for UNESCO status, the inhabitants of this small village were invited to come in force for their night conversation at the end of July. They responded well to this call for support and a video was made by the local town hall for Algar’s request to protect this tradition.
“We are very enthusiastic and hope that with everyone’s efforts, we will obtain this recognition for our village. “
It could take years for the process to officially recognize the ‘Charla al Fresco’ as an item of intangible cultural heritage, but for now, the history of this Andalusian village has started to spread. Media coverage came from all over Spain and the rest of Europe, helping Sánchez show off the unique charms of his home.