Delegation of the European Union to the Council of Europe

“All Inclusive” European Heritage Days 2021

14/09/2021 - 14:55
News stories

This weekend marks the 2021 edition of European Heritage Days (EHD). Held in September each year, EHD events – often called Heritage Open Days - take place in the 50 countries party to the European Cultural Convention. After a year marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Heritage Days will celebrate the re-opening of heritage sites from 18th to 19th September and will offer everyone an opportunity to meet and share.

For the past 35 years, European Heritage Days have not only celebrated our shared heritage but also enhanced our appreciation for our diversity through the rich mosaic of cultures present in Europe. A joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Commission dating back to 1985, European Heritage Days have become synonymous with trust, understanding and tolerance by encouraging thinking beyond national borders. 

During European Heritage Days events, thousands of monuments and sites open their doors, some of them normally closed to the public for the rest of the year. This allows people to enjoy free visits, learn about their shared cultural heritage and become part of safeguarding Europe's heritage for present and future generations. Every year, a special common pan-European theme is attributed to the occasion. 

This year’s European Heritage Days are placing inclusivity at the heart of celebrations by showcasing an “Inclusive and Diverse heritage”. Particular attention will be paid to making events more accessible, both in terms of removing physical barriers and of offering a platform to different groups, including vulnerable and marginalised people who often have less opportunity to share their stories.

In Strasbourg, the Eurométropole (townhall) is proposing many activities to discover the city’s rich heritage. From18th to 19th September, Strasbourg’s iconic Cathedral, the European Parliament, the Observatory, the University of Strasbourg as well as the city's museums will open their doors with a packed program of activities for the whole family. Find out more.

Two European cross-frontier co-operation initiatives are also being implemented to promote inclusion and diversity. The project “Heritage, Women’s Legacy” led by Spain in partnership with France, Italy, Romania, Slovenia and England, aims to achieve greater equality between men and women and greater presence and visibility of women’s contributions to common European cultural heritage. Another initiative, “Our queer cultural heritage”, led by Scotland in collaboration with partners in Germany and Ukraine, contributes to improving our understanding of the history of access and participation in the world of sports.

European Heritage Days events serve a number of purposes, namely by:

  • raising awareness of Europe's cultural richness and diversity;
  • stimulating interest in Europe's cultural heritage;
  • counter racism and xenophobia and encourage greater tolerance for other cultures across Europe;
  • informing the public and governments (or policymakers) about the need to protect cultural heritage;
  • inviting Europe to respond to the social, political and economic challenges of the culture sector.

Safeguarding our cultural heritage has always been recognised as a priority by the Council of Europe. It is also a pivotal theme under Creative Europe, the EU's programme for the cultural and creative sectors, supporting the European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage. In the words of Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, “Europe’s museums, archives, monuments and other sites featured by the European Heritage Days, give us much to share, cherish and safeguard. Advances in technology are opening up opportunities to digitise cultural heritage and it is now becoming a centre stage for its collection, preservation and celebration”.

Cooperation between the EU and the Council of Europe in this area is longstanding and constantly deepening. The recently adopted EU Concept on cultural heritage in conflicts and crises, which enhances the EU's approach to peace, security and development, is yet a new opportunity for joint actions. The EU will now integrate the protection of cultural heritage into all the relevant dimensions of the EU toolbox for conflicts and crises as well as in all other areas of the EU’s external action and appropriate financial instruments. Read more

After a year marked by Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s #EuropeanHeritageDays will be celebrated by the re-opening of heritage sites, offering everyone an opportunity to come together and enjoy the richness of European cultural heritage. A wide range of cultural events taking place mostly in September and October in participating countries will include exhibitions, workshops, performances, guided tours and many other activities.