2000grc22 European Institute of Cultural Routes


Ministers' Deputies
Rapporteur Groups

GR-C(2000)22 20 June 2000

GR-C Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport and Youth

European Institute of Cultural Routes

Information document reproduced from the Web page of the Directorate General IV: Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Environment


The European Institute of Cultural Routes


The Institute's role and functions

The European Institute of Cultural Routes was formally established as a non-profit association under an agreement between the Council of Europe and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

It is intended as an instrument for continuing the work carried out by the Council of Europe Secretariat over the last ten years. Accordingly, it has been given a number of specific tasks in relation to the eligibility criteria laid down in the new rules for the implementation of the Cultural Routes programme.

In particular, it has the job of processing the many proposals for new themes and activities that arrive almost daily with a view to submitting them to the Advisory Committee. At the same time, being responsible for ensuring the continuity of the Cultural Routes programme, it monitors the programme networks; which involves evaluating their work and co-ordinating and advising the partner organisations with a view to furthering their projects, setting new objectives and establishing inter-network links.

It also has the task of actively exploiting the programme archives for the purposes of an information and communication policy aimed at selecting data about the work of its partners and disseminating it both to professionals and to the general public. It does this by arranging with public and private publishers for the publication of written, audiovisual and multimedia material.

On a wider level, it has begun creating a database concerning the relationship between culture and tourism, with particular reference to regional development, heritage interpretation and the provision of information for those working in the cultural and tourist sectors.

The Institute's location



Pending its transfer to a permanent location at the Cultural Centre in the former Neumünster Abbey, the Institute is housed in a historic tower near the abbey, which is one of the stops on the Wenzel Cultural Route. This so-called Tower of Jacob built in the early Middle Ages, was first mentioned in the accounts of the Luxembourg master-builders’ guild for the years 1426 and 1427, when a lock and a wooden board had to be replaced.


On the first floor, a room containing one of the audiovisual presentations on the Wenzel Route can also be used for conferences. The public reception area is on the second floor. There, visitors can consult more than 1,000 reference works on the cultural routes and an atlas with information and maps covering all the programme’s activities, together with specialist journals, European tourist and cultural brochures, press files about the different routes and all the reports and proceedings of relevant Council of Europe conferences.


On the third floor are the programme advisers' offices and the archives concerning the implementation of the routes scheme since 1987


Finally, the fourth floor houses a meeting and study room where the many people who come to the Institute from European universities can pursue research or prepare dissertations or professional theses.


The Institute's presence in Europe


In addition to operating in Luxembourg, the Institute makes frequent on-the-spot visits to its partners as well as fact-finding missions and takes part in numerous European seminars on cultural and heritage tourism. Its study visitors also take part in these outside activities. This form of training and awareness-raising, conducted with the support of experts, is the first phase of a more ambitious policy for training young professionals in the methodology of the cultural routes programme and in the implementation of cultural and tourist development schemes and multilateral co-operation projects in Europe. On the basis of a thorough analysis of documents concerning the themes of the routes as well as the relationship between culture and tourism, the Institute produces studies and publications on specific themes for a European readership. A list of these texts is available from the Institute on request.




The European Institute of Cultural Routes

Tour Jacob, Plateau du Rham
L-2427 Luxembourg
Telephone: (+352) 241 250
Fax: (+352) 241 176
E-Mail : institut@culture-routes.lu



The Council of Europe Cultural Routes


The Council of Europe Cultural Routes were created in order to highlight the common Cultural Heritage of all Europeans.

The project  was launched in 1987 by the Council for Cultural Co-operation (CDCC), following the Parliamentary Assembly’s proposal to revive the famous routes along which innumerable pilgrims travelled in the Middle Ages from all over Europe to Santiago de Compostela. This mass movement gave the pilgrims a feeling of belonging to a family of nations, each distinct from the others, but all sharing the same basic values and linked by a common civilisation.

The Council of Europe and its member states quickly realised that it was an excellent idea to devise routes offering a tangible and visible illustration of both the overall unity and the inherent diversity of European culture. This corresponded perfectly to the aims and ideals of strengthening European identity while respecting to the full the cultural heritage and the beliefs of others, and was also likely to encourage cultural tourism.

The Council of Europe’s Cultural Routes programme has become an instrument for understanding European values. It plays its part in European construction by drawing on the wealth of Europe's heritage in every sense.

The Cultural Policy and Action Division, under the supervision of the Culture Committee and the CDCC, has therefore selected a number of themes relating to peoples, migrations and the spread of the major European currents of civilisation, such as to generate a range of proposals and initiatives reflecting the complex nature of the cultures and societies that have formed present-day Europe.

Various networks of individuals, institutions, organisations and structures are responsible for developing each theme. These networks operate as intermediaries, setting up long-term co-operation projects and establishing centres for exchange, information and the implementation of new initiatives.

In the last ten years some twenty themes have been selected, covering the whole of Europe and giving rise to initiatives for fruitful co-operation in the fields of research and development, enhancement of the memory, history and European heritage, cultural and educational exchanges of young Europeans, contemporary cultural and artistic practice, as well as cultural tourism and sustainable cultural development.

The scope of this project has been widened through the adoption of a Committee of Ministers resolution setting criteria for selecting themes and approving networks. The resolution also entrusts the European Institute of Cultural Routes, set up in Luxembourg in July 1997 on the joint initiative of the Luxembourg authorities and the Council of Europe, with responsibility for co-ordinating the networks and offering them technical assistance, examining proposals for routes and developing the Cultural Routes Resource and Documentation Centre by publicising the programme’s achievements.

It goes without saying that the competent bodies of the Council of Europe, assisted by an Advisory Committee comprising representatives of the Culture Committee and the Cultural Heritage Committee, are still responsible for assessing the suitability and feasibility of new themes and routes, and awarding certification to routes.


Background to the project


The birth of the project: objectives and challenges

On 13 and 14 October 1964, a Council of Europe working group entitled "L’Europe continue" wrote in the preamble to its report: "In order to give concrete expression to its work, the Working Group has, in its research, focused on raising public awareness of sites of great cultural importance."

The three objectives stated in this report were:

- to raise awareness of European culture through travel;

-to consider the possibilities of setting up networks for tourism connected with the cultural geography of Europe;

-to promote the major sites and crossroads of European civilisation as places of interest to tourists.

The actual birth of a programme devoted to European Cultural Routes only dates back to the 1980s, when, following a Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation and the discussions held during the 2nd European Conference of Ministers responsible for Architectural Heritage (Grenada, 1985), the Council of Europe proposed that the Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim Ways should form the first European Cultural Route: "This route symbolises first and foremost the process of European construction and can serve as a reference and example for future projects". In the same year, another scheme entitled "Architecture without frontiers", which was concerned with rural architecture, was also given Council of Europe recognition.

The Council for Cultural Co-operation established three main objectives for the Cultural Routes programme:

- to make European citizens aware of a real European cultural identity;

-to preserve and enhance the European cultural heritage as a means of improving the surroundings in which people live and as a source of social, economic and cultural development;

-to accord a special place to cultural tourism among European leisure activities.

In order to make the concept of Cultural Routes easier to understand for the public and for those suggesting projects, the CDCC formulated the following definition:

"The term European Cultural Route is taken to mean a route crossing one or two more countries or regions, organised around themes whose historical, artistic or social interest is patently European, either by virtue of the geographical route followed or because of the nature and/or scope of its range and significance." "Application of the term ‘European’ to a route must imply a significance and cultural dimension which is more than merely local. The route must be based on a number of highlights, with places particularly rich in historical associations, which are also representative of European culture as a whole."

From the outset, then, three challenges were issued:

- a political challenge, to make the programme a catalyst for European social cohesion;

- a challenge of identity, to prevent the search for identity through the routes from leading to an exclusion of those who were different;

- a democratic challenge, to extend cultural tourism to a broader section of society.


Development of the programme

Over ten years later, the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe project has become an instrument for understanding the European values arising from the complex cultures and societies that have formed Europe.

It is based on themes which are representative of European values: peoples, migrations and major currents of civilisation common to several European countries. These themes are the responsibility of interdisciplinary networks set up in various member states, and are reflected in a series of projects involving multilateral co-operation.

Under this programme, the networks are redrawing the European map, setting up joint university courses, raising schoolchildren's and students' awareness of cultural comparisons and differences, working towards a more open-minded view of the cultural heritage untainted by preconceptions about European history and, reaching beyond different political sensibilities, organising common initiatives in the true spirit of European public service.

As Raymond Weber, Director of Education, Culture and Sport of the Council of Europe, writes, "The itineraries create a cross-cultural, pan-European space in which ordinary people can express themselves across state boundaries and the constraints of all types of systems and beliefs, an open space in which it is possible to seek new solutions, try out new ideas, share experiences, analyse failures, reassess and call into question … where they can ‘push back the horizon’."


Organisation and operation of the programme

In view of the increasing size of this programme, which involves the co-operation of over 2,000 partners, and in order to establish a formal framework within which its activities might be carried out, the Committee of Ministers adopted a resolution on 17 March 1998 containing a set of rules. Routes should be based on a theme which fulfils certain criteria if they are to become part of the programme. Each theme is developed through a series of projects involving multilateral co-operation. The rules list the priority fields of action for projects of this kind. Project initiators should form networks to allow for increased co-operation and the pooling of experience. To be approved, these networks must also fulfil certain criteria. Three categories of certification for cultural routes are awarded by the Council of Europe.

In order to improve the running of the programme, the networks are assisted by the European Institute of Cultural Routes, which was set up jointly by the Council of Europe and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The Institute monitors the projects, co-ordinates the networks and provides them with technical assistance, carries out frequent assessments of the networks, examines new proposals, keeps extensive documentation on the programme, runs a database on all aspects of the routes and cultural tourism, and acts as a source of information.

The acceptance of new themes and initiatives, the approval of networks and the awarding of certification are still the responsibility of the Council of Europe. Links between the Council of Europe and the Institute are provided by an Advisory Committee made up of representatives of various Council of Europe committees. After the Institute has examined a proposal, the Advisory Committee assesses its theme, its suggested initiatives, the progress of the arrangements for its implementation and the work of the networks.

1. Further details are available in a report on the background to the project (1987-96).

2. The word "routes" is to be understood in its broadest sense and not in the narrow sense of actual routes; it is used as a heading summing up the entire programme and its originality. Indeed, it reflects the very concept of the programme.


The different cultural Routes

The Council of Europe chose different Routes. You can find a complete list below, you just have to click on the route which interrest you to know more about it.

1/ The Pilgrim Pathways
    The Santiago de Compostela pilgrim routes
    The Via Francigena

2/ Rural habitat

3/ Silk and textile routes

4/ The Baroque Routes

5/ The Monastic Influence routes

6/ The Celts routes

7/ Mozart Route

8/ Schickhardt Itineraries

9/ The Vikings Routes

10/ The Hanseatic Cities Routes

11/ The Route of Parks and Gardens
      Writing frontiers, the Pont de l'Europe

12/ European Cities of Discoveries Route

13/ Living Arts and European Identity

14/ The Phoenician routes

15/ Gypsy Route

16/ The Routes of Humanism

17/ Fortified military architectures in Europe
      Wenzel itinerary

18/ The "legacy of Al-Andalus" routes

19/ The Northern Lights route

20/ Popular festivals and rites in Europe




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