The impact of tourism on the conservation and IAQ of cultural heritage: The case of the Monastery of Jerónimos (Portugal)

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Cultural heritage plays a crucial role in modern societies as a symbol of their past and as a way to safeguard their identity in a continuously changing world. Interest in cultural tourism has been growing significantly, and in 2015 it was estimated that it was responsible for 40% of European tourism. Cultural tourism can be a major contribution to the economy of each country, as well as a potential vehicle in facilitating the preservation of cultural heritage if properly managed. However, the high number of visitors will contribute to higher humidity and CO2, disrupting the historic climate, and can constitute a real risk for the conservation and indoor air quality. COVID-19 has slowed tourist routes around the world, and this reflection period can be used to assess the sustainability of mass tourism. This paper intends to evaluate the impact of tourism on one of the most emblematic Portuguese monuments, the Monastery of Jerónimos, a UNESCO World Heritage building located in Lisbon. For this purpose, a simulation model of the Monastery was developed with the software WUFI®Plus and validated against the real data. The impact of visitors was evaluated according to the past occupancy, and a forecast for 2027 was performed, analysing the risks for conservation and indoor air quality. It was possible to conclude that even for the current data there was already a risk of fungi proliferation, and that any of the future considered scenarios increases this risk and contributes to the degradation of the indoor air quality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107536
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Cultural heritage
  • IAQ
  • Preventive conservation
  • Simulation
  • Tourism


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