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They put into practice the values of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and mutual exchanges across borders.
So far, 33 Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe have been certified by the Council of Europe; the certified Routes cross more than 50 countries in Europe and beyond, and gather more than 1,500 members. 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.
Cultural Routes are paths for shared experiences and intercultural dialogue, intermingling social groups and cultures from different backgrounds; they aim at implementing exemplary projects in the fields of cultural tourism and sustainable cultural development and allow synergies between national, regional and local authorities and a wide range of associations and socio-economic actors.
A number of sites and cities along the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe are among some of the most visited destinations but 90% of the Cultural Routes crosses rural, off-the-beaten-track areas. These areas do not traditionally benefit from tourism and locally based economies. Through a Cultural Route, territories can optimise funds, boosting market knowledge and develop joint marketing initiatives on cultural tourism. In this sense, Cultural Routes benefit rural areas. They become an engine for development even in the most remote areas of the planet.
In 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe established an Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes to enable closer cooperation between States particularly interested in the development of the Cultural Routes. The Enlarged Partial Agreement is open to member and non-member states of the Council of Europe. From its original 14 founding members, the EPA has grown steadily, counting today 32 Member States and Observers such as the European Commission, UNWTO and UNESCO. The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes decides the Programme strategy and awards the “Council of Europe Cultural Route” certification.
14 Cultural Routes are crossing the South East Europe Region (by year of certification):
Routes4U project in the Adriatic Ionian Region
Launched in 2017, Routes4U is a joint programme between the Council of Europe (Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes) and the European Union (DG REGIO). This programme aims at strengthening regional development through the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe in 4 EU macro-regions: the Adriatic-Ionian, the Alpine, the Baltic Sea and the Danube Region. Routes4U intends to enhance the participation and the capacity of local stakeholders through the creation of new Cultural Routes. It also intends to extent existing Cultural Routes in the Macro-regions.
Routes4U recently published the “Roadmap for the Adriatic-Ionian Region” providing background information and recommendations for stakeholders working in the field of sustainable tourism, cultural cooperation and social participation. It contains guidelines for national, regional and local authorities in the Adriatic-Ionian Region regarding the certification and management of the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.
Photo: Council of Europe