Periodic reporting on the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Convention provides in Article 29 that States Parties shall submit to the Committee reports on the legislative, regulatory and other measures taken for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in their territories. Current page presents the periodic reports and deadlines of a country: Spain (see overview on all States Parties).

Periodic reporting on the implementation of the Convention allows States Parties to assess their implementation of the Convention, evaluate their capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, report on their inventories of intangible cultural heritage and update the status of elements inscribed on the Representative List.

On the implementation of the Convention

Each State Party submits its periodic report to the Committee by 15 December of the sixth year following the year in which it deposited its instrument of ratification.

Report submitted on 15/12/2021 and examined by the Committee in 2022


soon available

Report submitted on 15/12/2013 and examined by the Committee in 2014 (originally due by 15/12/2012)


Spain is divided into 17 Autonomous Communities (territorial divisions defined in the Spanish Constitution that have executive powers and legislative autonomy) and two Autonomous Cities. Given the divided competencies for cultural matters, activities related to intangible cultural heritage are presented under two headings: (i) the institutions, initiatives and different measures implemented by the General State Administration and (ii) those undertaken by the Autonomous Communities. At the national level, within the sphere of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, intangible cultural heritage is safeguarded through the Dirección General de Bellas Artes y Bienes Culturales y de Archivos y Bibliotecas (Directorate-General for Fine Arts, Cultural Property, Archives and Libraries), attached to the Secretariat of State for Culture. This Secretariat discharges its duties through several different Deputy Directorates-General, three of which have competences for intangible cultural heritage: (1) the Subdirección General de Protección del Patrimonio Histórico (Deputy Directorate-General for the Protection of Historical Heritage), which is responsible for the Register of Cultural Interest Sites, coordination with the units of the Ministry involved in safeguarding heritage properties and the application of the legal system in place to protect historical heritage; it is also designated as Spain’s interlocutor with UNESCO; (2) the Subdirección General del Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España (IPCE, Deputy Directorate-General for Spain’s Cultural Heritage Institute), which is responsible for the safeguarding and restoration of immovable historical heritage properties, including for intangible cultural heritage; (3) the Subdirección General de Museos Estatales (Deputy Directorate-General for State Museums). At the regional level, there are different bodies for each administrative region; these are detailed in the full report.
The National Plan for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, adopted in 2011, guides the work of these bodies and is designed to fulfil the following objectives: (1) establish the agreed theoretical basis in respect of intangible cultural heritage; (2) develop projects on the identification, documentation, dissemination and promotion of manifestations of intangible cultural heritage; (3) raise the awareness of society and achieve institutional recognition within the framework of cultural policies; and (4) facilitate information and coordination among government administrations. An interdisciplinary Technical Monitoring Commission composed of technicians representing the General State Administration, representatives of the regional governments and external experts was created to coordinate and monitor the actions undertaken within the framework of the Plan.
For documentation at the general state level, the Centre for Ethnological Heritage Research and the National Museum of Anthropology have a special responsibility for collections relating to intangible cultural heritage. At the regional administration level, a number of institutions are mentioned in different regions, of which many are ethnographic and/or specialist museums or institutes.
Insofar as inventorying is concerned, the historical, cultural and identity differences between Spanish territories mean that it is more appropriate to systematize intangible cultural heritage through the regional bodies rather than at a national level. Each Autonomous Community has taken a different approach to performing inventory-making and with different objectives. There are two main categories of inventory: (1) Global inventories that register all areas of an Autonomous Community’s intangible cultural heritage; to varying degrees, such as Andalusia, Catalonia, the Community of Madrid, Murcia and the Canary Islands, which have undertaken initiatives of this type that allow for a comprehensive understanding of the region’s living heritage; (2) Partial or fragmented inventories that analyze one or several aspects of the intangible cultural heritage of an Autonomous Community, as in Aragon and Castile-Leon where specific inventories and catalogues have been compiled. Each regional inventory has its own criteria for inclusion, and its own procedures.
There are two national (state-level) registers of cultural heritage of relevance to intangible cultural heritage: (1) the General Register of Cultural Interest Properties, administered by the Deputy Directorate-General for the Protection of Historical Heritage: this mostly comprises moveable and immovable property, but also contains data relating to intangible cultural heritage to which the Autonomous Communities undertake to grant some form of safeguarding; (2) the Atlas of traditional vineyards in Spain and their unique landscapes, administered by the Deputy Directorate-General for Spain’s Cultural Heritage Institute (IPCE): this develops a specific updated methodology, questionnaires, data sheets and standardized maps of viniculture and its cultural landscapes.
Other safeguarding activities throughout Spain are guided by the National Plan for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Plan foresees the implementation of a set of programmes for the development of lines of action and the execution of projects oriented towards research, and the documentation, safeguarding and dissemination of intangible cultural heritage. The Plan has a ten-year horizon, with a review of the objectives achieved at five years. Three programmes are established under the Plan: (1) Research and documentation, through registers, inventories, catalogues, atlases, specific studies and specific safeguarding plans; (2) Safeguarding of the material supports of intangible cultural heritage, which involves the safeguarding of both moveable and immoveable heritage associated with intangible cultural elements and manifestations; (3) Training, transfer, promotion and dissemination of intangible cultural heritage, undertaken by: local, regional, national and transnational communities and cultural organizations; exhibition institutions; educational institutions and training centres; tourist agents and cultural heritage visitor centres; as well as the media.
With particular regard to education, the IPCE has commissioned the content and design of four teaching units on intangible cultural heritage for the pre-school, primary, secondary and high-school levels. The teaching units will be simple for both students and teachers and the teaching materials will be available on the IPCE’s web page, specifically in the section devoted to intangible heritage. Regional administrations carry out a wide range of educational programmes. For instance, in Andalusia the Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico (IAPH, Andalusian Institute of Historical Heritage) runs educational programmes, awareness-raising and information campaigns targeting society at large, particularly youth, and puts together teaching materials on intangible cultural heritage for school curricula. Asturias holds instructional activities and workshops to raise awareness and promote living heritage among young people, with documentary support and consulting for teachers available at over thirty traditional music schools. The Canary Islands’ Heritage Education Programme aims to provide students with the training they need to understand the key elements of cultural heritage in the Canary Islands, through the use of modern teaching methods and different creative media (models, heritage games or cartoons). In addition, the Silbo Gomero (whistling language) is to be included in the school curriculum on the island of La Gomera, initially as an extracurricular activity and, later, as part of the formal curriculum. Non-formal education has an important place in most of the Autonomous Communities’ programmes. For instance, in Galicia, each year the provincial districts award subsidies for the study of traditional music and dance and members of associations request this training; teachers, in turn, become knowledge bearers. This mechanism replaces or re-introduces some traditional forms of cultural transmission in contemporary living processes.
For education on natural spaces and places of memory related to intangible cultural heritage, the Canaries’ Guidebook tracing the routes of the wise is an example: it combines traditions, hiking, customs and history along the routes selected on the basis of their unique ethnographic and landscape value. The Ecomuseu de les Valls d’Àneu (eco-museum) of Catalonia is also worth mentioning and, in Murcia, the Regional Ministry of the Environment organizes guided visits to natural areas linked to the memory of traditional trades such as, for example, snow wells, caleras or salt marshes, both inland and coastal, and also studies traditional local architecture.
Bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation is often carried out directly by the Autonomous Communities. For instance, the Canary Islands actively participates in the CODEPA project (development cooperation through historical heritage) which receives financial support from the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union through the 2007-2013 Madeira-Azores-Canary Islands programme for transnational cooperation involving the Canary Islands, Senegal, Cabo Verde and Mauritania. The aim of this project is to create a lasting and stable network for the safeguarding, study, knowledge, enhancement and dissemination of outstanding cultural heritage in the Euro-African Atlantic Area acting as a driving force for sustainable development. Galicia is involved with Ireland and the Atlantic regions of Spain, Portugal, France and the United Kingdom in the DORNA project that promotes the safeguarding and recovery of traditional maritime heritage from Europe’s Atlantic regions as an endogenous element of local development. Murcia has participated in the European MEDINS project conceived within the framework of the INTERREG III B-MEDOCC programme (Mediterranean Intangible Space). This project aims to implement intangible heritage safeguarding policies in the Mediterranean region in accordance with the guidelines laid down in the 2003 Convention.
Spain has ten elements inscribed on the Representative List subject to reporting in this cycle, two of which are multinational: the Mystery play of Elche (incorporated in 2008, after having been proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001); Patum of Berga (also incorporated in 2008, after having been proclaimed a Masterpiece in 2005); the Whistled language of the island of La Gomera (Canary Islands), the Silbo Gomero (2009); the Irrigators’ tribunals of the Spanish Mediterranean coast: the Council of Wise Men of the plain of Murcia and the Water Tribunal of the plain of Valencia (2009); the Chant of the Sybil on Majorca (2010); Flamenco (2010); Human towers (2010); the Mediterranean diet (2010, with Greece, Italy and Morocco); Falconry, a living human heritage (2010, with United Arab Emirates, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Syrian Arab Republic); and the ‘la Mare de Déu de la Salut’ festival of Algemesí (2011).
Interest in the Festival of ‘la Mare de Déu de la Salut’ among participants in the rituals and Algemesí citizens has increased; and new craft workshops have been created devoted to creating paintings, prints, ceramics, papier maché figures, historic footwear and pastries. For the Human towers, there are more groups and the number of performances almost doubled between 2009 and 2011; it has also reinforced the identification of the Catalan people with the element. The inscription of Silbo Gomero has helped the community to see it as a universal element rather than a local curiosity, engendering a sense of collective responsibility for it. Similarly, the local population and participants in Patum of Berga have been reinforced in their belief that they have something valuable to safeguard and hand down to future generations. Inscription of the Mystery play of Elche resulted in a law regulating its practice as part of the safeguarding plan which provides for the safeguarding of the traditional language, handicraft traditions and so on. The Irrigators’ tribunals of the Spanish Mediterranean coast have been introduced into the European project Naturba as a new safeguarding tool in the sphere of sustainable urban development.