The monuments, museums and palaces under the tutelage of the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage last year saw a fall of 7.8% in the number of visitors, representing a decrease of almost 400,000 people, according to data published by that body.
In 2018, monuments, museums and palaces registered 4,677,407 entries, down 394,859 from the previous year, with the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon is the most visited, with 1,079,459 entrances, a significant distance from the second most visited, the neighbouring Tower of Belém, with 450,546.
The total numbers of visitors thus counteracted the upward trend that had been felt since at least 2014.
After the Jerónimos Monastery and the Torre de Belém, which had lost visitors, the third space under the tutelage of the Directorate General of Cultural Heritage (DGPC) was visited by the Monastery of Batalha (407,950 visitors), followed by the Convent of Christ, in Tomar, and the Palace of Mafra, respectively with 348,510 and 340,695 visits.
The ‘top 10’ of the most visited in 2018 is completed with the Museum of Cars (320,027), the Monastery of Alcobaça (221,685), Museum of Tile (219,420), Museum of Popular Art (169,476) and Museum of Ancient Art (153,615) in Lisbon.
Between 2017 and 2018, the cultural equipment with the highest growth rate (263%) was the Museum of Popular Art in the Lisbon neighbourhood of Belém, followed by the Azulejo Museum (13.4%) and the Music and Archeology museums, respectively, with increases of 11.9% and 11.1%.
More than half of the entities covered by the DGPC registered declines, with the Chiado-Arte Contemporanea Museum being the most marked, with a decrease of 37.7%, and very close to the Museum of Ethnology (36.6%).
Other significant breakdowns were those of the Grão-Vasco Museum, in Viseu (31.3%), the Old Art (27.6%), Theater and Dance (24.6%) and Torre de Belém 3%).
The only equipment that does not show any variation compared to the previous year is the Anastácio Gonçalves House-Museum, in Lisbon, since it has closed since June 2018. However, until that date, it has received 3,026 visitors.
With regard to museums outside Lisbon, Machado de Castro, in Coimbra, was the most visited, with 119,082 visitors, up 9.8%, followed by the Monographic Conímbriga in Condeixa-a-Nova, with 106,378 visitors, up 5.9% over 2017.
The DGPC clarifies, in an observation to the published tables, that “at the end of 2017 measures were taken, with a view to structural changes in inflows” for its cultural equipment, “whose impact was greatest in 2018, as a reflection of the control policy adopted of entries to limit the overcrowding of the Torre de Belém space, also aimed at the security of people and goods and the preservation of cultural heritage, measures were taken to contain the flow of visitors.”
These measures “went through the suspension of the ‘circuit tickets’ that included this monument, as well as the temporary closure of the monument to the public, among others.”
Other measures, according to the DGPC, concern the reorganization of the sale of vouchers, now centralized in the tutelage, and “which initially affected the volume of sales in 2018“.
The DGPC also recalls that “as a pilot project, from November last, automatic ticket vending machines in the National Museum of Archeology and the Jeronimos Monastery, a measure that is intended to be extended to all the cultural equipment of the DGPC”.