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General system for the protection of historical heritage

The general scheme includes three levels of protection based on the unique importance of the asset. From least to greatest protection, they are the following:

  • Spanish Historical Heritage.
  • General Inventory of Personal Property.
  • Assets of Cultural Interest.

The protection of these assets means that the owners have certain rights and responsibilities established in Law 16/1985 on Spanish Historical Heritage.

Spanish Historical Heritage.

This is the minimum level of protection for an asset. Spanish Historical Heritage covers all real estate and personal property of artistic, historical, paleontological, archaeological, ethnographical, scientific or technical interest. It also covers Documentary and Bibliographical Heritage, archaeological sites and zones, natural sites, gardens and parks with an artistic, historical or anthropological value (Law 16/1985, art.1).

General Inventory of Personal Property.

A higher level of protection is given to assets in the General Inventory of Personal Property, which possess a notable historical, archaeological, scientific, artistic, technical or cultural value and have not been declared of cultural value. (Law 16/1985, art. 26).

Assets of Cultural Value.

The highest level of protection covers the real estate and personal property declared of cultural value. These assets are included in the General Register of Assets of Cultural Value.

Firstly, the Assets of Cultural Value established as such by law, which are the buildings designated as facilities for archives, libraries and state-owned museums, as well as the property assets kept in them. They also include caves, shelters and places that contain cave art, as well as castles, symbols, municipal boundary crosses and similar pieces, as well as ancient "hórreos" (granaries) or "cabazos" (manors) in Galicia and Asturias (Law 16/1985, arts. 40.2 and 60.1; and additional provision two).

Secondly, the Assets of Cultural Value established by Royal Decree, which are protected individually and require the prior opening and processing of an administrative file. In the case of the Central Government, a favourable report is also required from any of the following advisory institutions: Spanish Historical Heritage Assets Classification, Valuation and Export Board, the Royal Academies, the Spanish Universities, the Higher Council for Scientific Research or the Higher Commissions. In the case of assets affecting the Autonomous Regions, the report will be issued by the institutions accepted by them.

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