From EHICA to HCR
The idea to create the Historic Cafés Route was born in 2014, prompted by the need to preserve the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the Historic Café of Chania, “Kipos”. It was at that time that the host of Kipos, Vassilis Stathakis, decided to establish the European Historical Café Association (EHICA), as an official Non-Profit Association. This dream became reality on April 8, 2014. Over time and with a rapidly growing membership, in 2020 EHICA became an International Cultural Organization under the name Historic Cafés Route. Its aim is to act as a bridge for inter-cultural connection and communication between Historic Cafes, ensuring the protection and preservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage at a national and international level.
The establishment of EHICA was the beginning of a long and innovative journey. It is an association whose starting point was the defense of the cultural and social role of the Historical Cafes that participated in the development of the political, social and artistic fields, such as philosophy, painting, music, politics, literature. However, its main dimension was the democratic free movement of ideas and opinions. This has been the role of European Cafes since the 17th century.
It has become clear that the protection and promotion of Historic Cafes is urgent since the modern way of life is gradually making them obsolete. Cafes are being replaced by places where one simply consumes coffee, drinks and snacks in a fashionable environment rather than spaces where cultural and social processes take place.
This emerging reality is why Vassilis Stathakis went to Luxembourg in 2015, to present his proposal to create the Historic Cafes Route to the Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe, Stefano Dominioni, with the prospect of joining the certified Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.
The follow-up included many contacts, visits and discussions with local, national and international bodies, always with the same goal.
The task was difficult as Historic Cafes from all over the world had to be recorded, preserved and promoted, and in particular not only the most renowned ones but the hundreds of medium and small Historic Cafes, diamonds of culture in every corner of the world.
The response from the owners of Historic Cafes was great, given that in the initial stage there was no significant assistance from government agencies except for that of the Region of Crete.
In 2021, the Historic Cafes Route included 63 Cafes members from a total of 15 countries. The Founder and President of the Route then submitted a formal request for Route Certification by the Council of Europe.
A necessary step of the Historic Cafes Route was the amendment of its statute in order to fully comply with the principles and conditions of the Council of Europe, a step that was successfully completed in early 2022. This step had to be completed so that the new route could dynamically contribute to the preservation of European Cultural Heritage through the principles of Human Rights, Diversity, Democracy and Solidarity.
“A long journey in history and culture…
The people of Historic Cafes have countless stories to tell.
Like the places themselves, cradles of culture, in which they were indelibly imprinted,
socio-political osmosis & changes, cultural revolutions, currents and trends were born.
All of these remain alive through publications, historical objects, architecture, paintings, publications, and events,
but also in the memories of the guests themselves,
thanks to whose narratives, tradition and culture are preserved unchanged and passed down from generation to generation.
Thus, adorned with personal experiences & emotions,
the timeless journey of the Historic Cafes, active custodians of history, continues its magical journey, throughout eternity… “
HCR Founder and President