Mission & Vision
Every year in September, the signatory States to the European Cultural Convention take part in the European Heritage Days – a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, putting new cultural assets on view and opening up historical buildings normally closed to the public. The cultural events highlight local skills and traditions, architecture and works of art, but the broader aim is to bring citizens together in harmony even though there are differences in cultures and languages.
Each year, national and regional events are organised around a special theme. These themes vary in each country from year to year. They include such topics as:
- specific forms of heritage (e.g. farmhouses, musical instruments, culinary traditions, garden architecture);
- specific periods in history (e.g. the Medieval heritage, the Baroque heritage);
- society's approaches to heritage (e.g. heritage and citizenship, heritage and youth).
The Council of Europe and the European Commission encourage the selection of trans-national themes which can be illustrated by cross-border activities that are jointly set up by the different countries.
Aims of the European Heritage Days
The aims of the European Heritage Days are to:
- raise the awareness of European citizens to the richness and cultural diversity of Europe;
- create a climate in which the appreciation of the rich mosaic of European cultures is stimulated;
- counter racism and xenophobia and encourage greater tolerance in Europe and beyond the national borders;
- inform the public and the political authorities about the need to protect cultural heritage against new threats;
- invite Europe to respond to the social, political and economic challenges it faces.
Some common principles
In order to harmonise all the national and regional events and to unite them under the European flag, several principles were defined in 1991:
- the European Heritage Days should take place during a weekend in September;
- the European Heritage Days allow the general public to visit monuments and sites all over Europe usually closed to the public;
- the buildings that are open all year round can contribute to the programme, providing that they offer special activities, such as guided visits, exhibitions, concerts, lectures;
- the visits should be free of charge or offered at a reduced price;
- the European Heritage Days programme should include the organisation of specific activities that will involve the general public and, in particular, young people and school pupils; all participating countries are asked to use the official name "European Heritage Days". Those countries that set up such initiatives before 1991 under a different name are invited to mention clearly that it takes place "within the framework of the European Heritage Days";
- the logos of the European Heritage Days, the Council of Europe and the European Commission should appear on all European Heritage Days' promotional material; the European Heritage Days' flag should be flown from all buildings open to the public during the event.
Since 1999, the European Heritage Days have a permanent slogan: "Europe, a common heritage".
The joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, in close cooperation with the group of national coordinators ensures the success of the European Heritage Days.