The Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe programme was launched in 1987 to demonstrate, by means of a journey through space and time, how heritage from different countries of Europe contributes to a shared cultural heritage. Cultural Routes put into practice the fundamental principles promoted by the Council of Europe: human rights, democracy, participation, cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.
The Cultural Routes Programme aims to act as a channel for intercultural dialogue and promote better knowledge and understanding of European cultural identity, preserving and enhancing natural and cultural heritage as a source of cultural, social and local development.
Today, almost 40 “Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe” aim to encourage European citizens to re-explore their heritage by practising cultural tourism across the Organisation’s 47 member States and beyond.
Cultural Routes encourage sustainable development through the implementation of grassroots projects and stimulate diversified forms of access to culture and heritage. They are composed of a broad network of nearly 2000 members which allows synergies between national, regional and local authorities and a wide range of associations and socio-economic stakeholders, encouraging direct access to European heritage.
Established by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2010, the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes (EPA) enables closer co-operation between its current 33 Member States and 3 Observer States, with a particular focus on themes of symbolic importance for European values, history and culture, and the discovery of less well-known destinations.
Cultural Routes are certified and evaluated regularly by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, based on compliance with several criteria established by the Committee of Ministers (Resolutions CM/Res (2013) 66 and CM/Res (2013) 67):
- Involve a theme representative of European values and common to at least three countries in Europe; Be the subject of transnational, multidisciplinary scientific research;
- Enhance European memory, history and heritage and contribute to interpretation of Europe’s present day diversity;
- Support cultural and educational exchanges for young people;
- Develop exemplary and innovative projects in the field of cultural tourism and sustainable cultural development;
- Develop tourist products aimed at different groups.
Today, the programme benefits from cooperation with national Ministries of Culture and Tourism, regional and local authorities, as well as international Organisations. A long-term partnership has been established with the European Parliament and the European Commission through Joint Programmes, as well as with UNESCO and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Seat of the EPA, the European Institute of Cultural Routes (EICR), located in Neumünster Abbey in Luxembourg, is the advisory technical agency to the Cultural Routes programme set up in 1998 under an agreement between the Council of Europe and the government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Each year, a member State of the EPA hosts an Annual Advisory Forum, the most important networking event for the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe programme. A Cultural Route hosts an annual Training Academy for managers and practitioners as well as cultural route projects interested in obtaining the certification.
Covering varied themes of European memory, history and heritage, the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe contribute to the diversity of present-day Europe and to the shaping of our common European citizenship - we invite you to join us on these journeys of discovery