European Heritage Days

Cultural heritage, cornerstone of European construction

How can Europeans be brought to realise that their cultural heritage both unites and differentiates them, and that this heritage is a vehicle for mutual discovery and understanding?

To take up this triple challenge, the Council of Europe in 1991 launched the European Heritage Days [EHD], an initiative which in 1999 became a joint Council of Europe-European Commission action.

Throughout Europe during the weekends of September, the European Heritage Days opens up numerous sites and monuments, some normally closed to the public.

The 49 States party to the Council of Europe Cultural Convention will be actively involved in this initiative, and it is forecast that more than 30 000 sites and monuments participating in the event will have some 20 million visitors.

Aims of the Days

  • raise the awareness of European citizens to the richness and cultural diversity of Europe;
  • create a climate in which the appreciation of the rich mosaic of European cultures is stimulated;
  • strengthen the feeling among Europeans of sharing the same identity;
  • counter racism and xenophobia and encourage greater tolerance in Europe and beyond the national borders.

Specific theme

Each year, national and regional events are organised around a special theme.

  • specific forms of heritage - musical instruments, culinary traditions, garden architecture,
  • specific periods in history - Medieval heritage, Baroque heritage
  • society's approaches to heritage - heritage and citizenship, heritage and youth