The Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe
The Cultural Routes programme (DG Democracy) was launched by the Council of Europe in 1987 with the Declaration of Santiago de Compostela.
The Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe are an invitation to travel and to discover the rich and diverse heritage of Europe by bringing people and places together in networks of shared history and heritage. They put into practice the values of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and mutual exchanges across borders.
Over 30 Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe provide a wealth of leisure and educational activities for all citizens across Europe and beyond and are key resources for responsible tourism and sustainable development. They cover a range of different themes, from architecture and landscape to religious influences, from gastronomy and intangible heritage to the major figures of European art, music and literature.
The certification “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” is a guarantee of excellence. The networks implement innovative activities and projects pertaining to five main priority fields of action: co-operation in research and development; enhancement of memory, history and European heritage; cultural and educational exchanges for young Europeans; contemporary cultural and artistic practice; cultural tourism and sustainable cultural development.
Through its programme, the Council of Europe offers a model for transnational cultural and tourism management and allows synergies between national, regional and local authorities and a wide range of associations and socio-economic actors.
The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes
The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes (EPA) established in 2010 seeks to reinforce the potential of Cultural Routes for cultural cooperation, sustainable territorial development and social cohesion, with a particular focus on themes of symbolic importance for European unity, history, culture and values and the discovery of less well-known destinations.
The EPA helps to strengthen the democratic dimension of cultural exchange and tourism through the involvement of grassroots networks and associations, local and regional authorities, universities and professional organisations. It contributes to the preservation of a diverse heritage through theme-based and alternative tourist itineraries and cultural projects.
The EPA on Cultural Routes follows the Council of Europe’s policy guidelines, decides the programme strategy and awards “Council of Europe Cultural Route” certification. It is open to member and non-member States of the Council of Europe aiming at providing political support for national, regional and local initiatives to promote culture and tourism.
The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes is based on two Resolutions from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe: