On 5 September 2020, HE Mr. Nicolas Chapuis, the European Union’s ambassador to China, will open the "European Cultural Routes" multi-station exhibition at the Goethe-Institut China and Danish Cultural Center at the 798 Art District of Beijing. The exhibition series is co-organized by the EU Delegation to China and EUNIC (EU National Institutes for Culture). Parallel to that, a digital exhibition will also open to the public at the Hungarian Cultural Center in Beijing.
The organizers have set remarkably high goals: opening the doors to the Chinese public, introducing one of mankind’s jewels, i.e. European cultural heritage, sharing the spiritual abundance and inspiration it provided through past millennia, promoting cross-cultural exchanges between China and the EU, whilst establishing a platform for mutual tolerance, understanding and dialogue. Through the perspectives of history, culture and economy, the exhibition presents artwork, pictures documents and audio-visual content, via the 38 cultural routes recognized by the Council of Europe, which have connected Asia, Africa and Europe through the Mediterranean basin since the 12th century BC, promoting trade and cultural exchanges. One of the artworks has been prepared for the exhibition by the Spanish painter Alberto Reguera (‘Imagined abstract journey through European fields of colors’) expressing the cross-fertilization of the routes.
Such routes include the Phoenicians’ Route, the Santiago De Compostela Pilgrim Routes, the Viking Routes that lead through Western and Northern Europe, the North Atlantic and even Russia between the 8th and 11th centuries, the European Route of Jewish Heritage, Routes of El legado andalusí and the Route of Reformation, all of which are symbols of Europe’s social, cultural, political and ideological changes throughout the ages. The Transromanica, the Impressionisms Route, the Réseau Art Nouveau Network and Le Corbusier Destinations: Architectural Promenades present a cultural perspective, inspiring new aesthetics driven by modern development at the end of the 19th century. The Hansa Route, the European Route of Industrial Heritage, the Iter Vitis, the Routes of the Olive Tree and the European Route of Ceramics show the evolution of European economy. Europe, as a continent, will be laid out throughout the exhibition, showcasing both the continent’s rich tangible and intangible heritage, while reviewing European historical, political and economic development, cultural formation and evolution, the integration and exchanges between various ethnicities, nations and backgrounds. Learning about the past bestows a new vision of the present, presenting a vivid history and inviting reflection, all through Europe’s cultural routes.
The term "cultural route" first appeared in the Santiago de Compostela Declaration issued by the Council of Europe in 1987. In the same year, the European Cultural Routes project was officially launched by the Council of Europe. In 1994, the Cultural Routes World Heritage Committee clearly put forward the concepts and criteria of cultural routes as heritage, and in 2008, the International Council of Monuments and Sites officially listed the Cultural Routes as a new type of cultural heritage. In 2010, The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe (EPA) was a milestone in the development of European cultural routes, defining them as heritage and tourism cooperation projects with cultural and educational characteristics. As of 2019, the EPA has identified 38 European cultural routes, covering more than 50 countries both in, and outside of Europe.
By definition, a Cultural Route showcases history, culture, art, and way of life. It records human activities in time and space, acting as a mark of history, an economic channel, and a cultural bridge. Today, such routes have re-emerged on a global scale, attracting attention precisely because of the important role they play in value recognition, ethnic integration, and cross-cultural communication. Such examples span borders, carrying frequent and far-reaching regional interactions and cultural exchanges. Commerce promotes the development of communities, and the spread of ideas and values shapes entire regions. Ties between nations create bonds between people. The spirit represented by these cultural routes are reflected in our modern-day yearning for peaceful coexistence and mutual development around the world in an era characterized by the idea of globalization.
EUNIC, as its name clearly suggests, is a cultural cooperation between national institutions of culture, aimed at enhancing and promoting understanding and cultural diversity between European societies, as well as strengthening international dialogue and cooperation within Europe and the whole world.
At the opening of the exhibition, the Goethe-Institut China will hold a screening of the 2017 award-winning Chinese film Paths of the Soul, which won the Best Picture Award at the Second Italian Chinese Film Festival, directed by Zhang Yang. The film tells the story of eleven Tibetans who traveled more than 1,000 kilometers on a year-long pilgrimage. Director Zhang Yang will also attend the post-screening discussion.
"European Cultural Routes" Exhibition
Screening and discussion of Paths of the Soul
"European Cultural Route" Digital exhibition