The role of European Heritage and cultural itineraries in the renewed European tourism policy

Thursday 30, September 2010


The role of European Heritage and cultural itineraries in the renewed European tourism policy


The 2010 European Tourism Day celebrates 27 September 2010, "The role of European Heritage and cultural itineraries in the renewed European tourism policy". It is being held on the occasion of World Tourism Day.


At a conference in Brussels, a number of ministers and policy-makers will present some cross-European cultural itineraries which could be further developed into a comprehensive tourism offer, helping to combat the tourist concentration in few sites, seasonality, and to strengthen EU citizenship through the discovering of our common heritage.


This MEMO gives a short overview of the cultural routes that will be presented and the main topics discussed:


Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe

The Cultural Routes programme was launched by the Council of Europe in 1987. The initial concept was to demonstrate in a visible way, by means of a journey through space and time, how the heritage of the different countries of Europe represented a shared cultural heritage.


European Heritage Label

In order to strengthen the European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union and to promote the European identity, the European Commission has adopted on 9 March 2010 a proposal to establish a European Heritage Label. The new European Heritage Label would designate those sites which have played a key role in the history and the building of the European Union integration. To date, a total of 64 sites have obtained the Label.


Iron Curtain Trail

The European cycling route "Iron Curtain Trail" invites people to retrace this important part of Europe's history. For almost half a century, Europe was divided into East and West by the "Iron Curtain", a border stretching from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea.


More than 7000 km of routes through 20 countries, along the length of the former border of the Warsaw Pact, combine European culture, history and sustainable tourism.


In 2005, the "Iron Curtain Trail" has been recognised by the European Parliament as a model project for sustainable tourism, as an example of soft mobility and a symbol of the reunification of Europe.



The Odyssea project is a platform which connects the main harbours of the Mediterranean providing information and services of the ports in the network, but also tourism services and site to visit in the neighbourhoods.


The Phoenician Route

The Phoenician Route links up the main maritime routes travelled by Phoenicians from the 12th century BC. Through these routes, the Phoenicians gave rise to a great civilization, contributing to the creation of a Mediterranean cultural "koine" ("community").


This Itinerary passes through 18 countries of 3 continents and through over 80 towns of Phoenician origin, with the aim to promote the Mediterranean cultural and the historical heritage.


The route of the Olive tree

Based around the theme of the olive tree, a unifying element for the Mediterranean area and symbol of peace, friendship and wellbeing, the Olive Tree Route is a "bridge" between the olive oil producing countries: from Messina to Greece and the Mediterranean area. Numerous events are organised with the aim to promote the intercultural dialogue among peoples and the history and culture surrounding this precious tree.


The Via Francigena

The "Via Francigena" is a historical pilgrimage route, from Canterbury to Rome, taken by thousands of pilgrims during past centuries.


The route follows the path that Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, took to get to Rome in order to meet Pope John XV and receive the investiture pallium. History has it that Sigeric wrote down a diary during his journey, making possible to retrace the key stops on it and contributing to the creation of one of the most important pilgrimage routes, considered one of three pilgrimages on which all sins could be forgiven.


Saint Martin of Tours

St. Martin of Tours is known worldwide for having shared his cloak with a beggar. His gesture is the universal symbol of sharing. The cultural itinerary dedicated to St. Martin of Tours (more than 450 km of paths including Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland and Luxembourg) links up the European towns and cities which shared in Saint Martin's life with the aim to promote the extraordinary and immense tangible and intangible heritage related to him.


The Al-Andalus Route

"Al-Andalus" is the name to the territory occupied by the Moors in Southern Spain from the early 8th to the late 15th century. They played an important role in the history of Spain: during this long period, they contributed in developing philosophy, sciences and arts. These routes, which include the cities of Almeria, Malaga, Cadiz, Seville, Cordoba, Jaen and Granada, aim at contributing to the debate on the historical importance of interreligious dialogue in forging European civilisation.


The Saint James' Ways

The Way of St James, the pilgrimage to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (in north-western of Spain) where the apostle Saint James the Great is said to be laid to rest, is a collection of more than 100 medieval pilgrimage routes which cover all Europe.


It has been one of the most important Christian pilgrimages since it was considered one of three pilgrimages on which all sins could be forgiven. During their pilgrimage, pilgrims had the opportunity to discover new customs, languages and ways of life, so that they could return home enriched with a breadth of knowledge rare at that time. The Santiago routes are a symbol of the cultural cooperation in Europe.





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