Like so many other countries of the Mediterranean basin, Spain was for many centuries a poor country with a huge artistic, historical and natural heritage. The authors insist that both of these factors have been a main feature of the problems and dominant attitudes in Spain concerning heritage. For over two centuries starting from the end of the 18th century, the establishment of a special Public Administration for the conservation and management of historical heritage worked in a paradoxical context: successive advances – usually preceded by a stage of intense upheaval – led to the rejection of achievements during previous stages. During the Absolutist and Liberal eras, the administrative development of heritage protection followed French models, then later in the early 20th century other schools of thought influenced policy, especially German and Italian scientific ideas. Attention is also drawn to the political factors that seriously distorted the development of the administration for heritage conservation, namely nationalisms, regionalisms, localisms. The authors include examples from General Franco's era to the present influence and political pressure of the European Union.
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