Events and activities, July to October 2012


I travelled to La Chaise Dieu (Haute-Loire, France) on 6 July, where I delivered the "Council of Europe Cultural Route" diploma to the Route of Casadean Sites and visited the breathtaking Abbey with its magnificent early Gothic architecture, its stunning tapestries and unique 16th-century "Danse macabre".


An international meeting on women's employment in small and medium-sized industries on 17-18 July at the Fondacion El Andalus in Grenada gave me the opportunity to visit the headquarters of the Route of Andalusian Heritage. The permanent and temporary exhibitions at the Foundation introduce arabo-muslim heritage to European visitors of all ages.


My next destination was Trondheim for the Saint Olav Days, for a meeting with the Route of Saint Olav in the framework of the European Project for pilgrimage routes "Per Viam". I visited the offices of the Route and the team as well as the Nidaros pilgrim centre, a historic farmhouse where pilgrims stay before arriving in Trondheim, and attended a midnight service for pilgrims processing to the Cathedral. 200 Saint James pilgrims from Barcelona joined the procession to the cathedral to celebrate Saint Olav and the BBC captured the event on video.


In September, it was the turn of the European Route of Ceramic Heritage to receive its diploma at the Annual General meeting of the UNIC Association held in Iznik, Turkey. The partners of the network discussed future activities and heard presentations by two new candidates for membership of the association. The Iznik Tile Foundation hosted the meeting and showed participants round the workshops where tiles are still made entirely by hand. The Turkish Minister for European Union Affairs spoke at the assembly, providing me with an opportunity to promote Turkey’s accession to the Enlarged Partial Agreement, which appears imminent.


In October I travelled to Dijon for the second "Rencontre Cluny" where the Clunypedia digitial project was presented to representatives of numerous Cluny heritage sites. I also spoke at a conference of museum curators in Toulouse on the subject of "International heritage networks".


Ending the month on a momentous note, the Town of Santiago de Compostela and the Xunta de Galicia organised events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Declaration of Santiago, founding text which launched both the revival of the Saint James pilgrimage way and the Council of Europe’s cultural routes programme. The region is an astounding example of cultural, social and economic transformation based on a cultural route: no less than 70 hostels accommodate walkers in modern or historical buildings, and last year’s total of 200 000 registered pilgrims has already been equaled this year, with a majority coming from outside Spain. The Council of Europe’s Secretary General spoke at the ceremony and attended the celebration events, and I had the chance to meet with the scientific committee of the Way of Saint James and visited several beautiful hostels in Galicia with José Paz Gestoso, Director of the Xacobeo which manages the routes.


During the period, Eleonora Berti and Sorina Capp also participated in several meetings (in Vilnius at a UNWTO conference on an amber route project, in Venice and in the framework of the CERTESS Interreg programme led by the Institute, for instance).


Penelope Denu

Executive Secretary, Council of Europe Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes

Director, European Institute of Cultural Routes