The Cultural Routes program was launched by the Council of Europe in 1987. Its objective was to demonstrate, by means of a journey through space and time, how the heritage of the different countries and cultures of Europe contributes to a shared cultural heritage.
The Cultural Routes certified by the Council of Europe put into practice the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural democracy, cultural diversity and identity, dialogue, mutual exchange and enrichment across boundaries and centuries
European Institute of Cultural Routes
A technical body and resource centre, the European Institute of Cultural Routes – EICR, was set up in 1998 in partnership with the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg for operational purposes and is since 2011 the seat of the EPA. The role of the EICR is to oversee the 3-year evaluation cycle of certified Cultural Routes, examine applications from new projects, monitor activities in the field, and co-ordinate the work of partner organizations.
“Routes4U” (2017-2020) is a joint programme between the Council of Europe (DG Democracy) and the European Union (EC, DG Regional and Urban Policy). The programme aims to contribute to the sustainable and resourceful development in the four EU macro-regions through the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe with further development of cultural and tourism industries in the region, strengthening the participation of the civil society and local stakeholders. The Routes4U Project is the first of its kind, allowing synergies between two transnational programmes of two international organisations, namely the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe programme and the EU macro-regional strategies, including EUSAIR (EU Strategy for Adriatic Ionian Region). In the framework of EUSAIR, specific actions for the promotion and dissemination of Cultural Routes of Greek interest were realized, namely the Olive Tree Route and the Roman Emperors Route (under development).
Annual Advisory Forum
The Advisory Forum is the most significant event of the Cultural Routes programme of activities, as it is the single specific activity referred to in the EPA statutory texts. The Forum brings together representatives of cultural routes operators, networks, international heritage and tourism organisations and platforms, local and regional authorities, civil society organisations, Chambers of Commerce, foundations and other donor organisations, professional organisations in the field of tourism, heritage and culture or other relevant bodies, in order to discuss trends and challenges in relation to cultural routes and provide a platform for the exchange of experience, review of progress with the implementation of cultural routes, the launch of new initiatives and the development of partnerships. The first two Cultural Routes Fora took place in Delphi, Greece, in 2006 and 2010 respectively, prior to the establishment of the EPA.