Spain's Queen Sofia International Prize for Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Patrimony was awarded to the government of Quito for an archaeological project and to a brotherhood in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais for preserving the traditions of that region.

Accompanied by Culture Minister Jose Ignacio Wert, Queen Sofia presided over the award ceremony at the Casa America in Madrid.

Quito Mayor Augusto Barrera received the prize personally from the queen after it was authorized in the Material Patrimony category in recognition of the city's effort to preserve remains of the Yumbo culture, which prevailed in the region around 400 B.C.

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Barrera's administration had announced that it will invest 30,000 euros ($39,452) of the stipend coming with the award in improving the site.

Queen Sofia also presented the award in the Intangible Patrimony category to the representative of the brotherhood of Nostra Senhora dos Homens Pretos de Morro Vermelho, Charles Eladio Nazareth Faria, for the group's contribution to the recovery and spread of one of the oldest traditions and popular celebrations in Minas Gerais.

The award jury said that the brotherhood had connected children and young people from the community with the cultural environment of the region and had contributed to stimulating in them the formation of critical and intellectual consciousness.

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In brief remarks, the brotherhood's official thanked the queen and the Spanish government for a recognition that he said helps his organization to recreate the traditional festivals and remind the world that Brazil is both culture and art, above and beyond the prevailing stereotypes about the country: Carnival, soccer and beaches.

Photo credit: PutneyMark @ Flickr

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