The Routes of the Olive Tree
Certified "Cultural Route of the Council of Europe" in 2005
The presence of the olive tree has marked not only the landscape but also the everyday lives of the Mediterranean peoples. As a mythical and sacred tree, it is associated with their rites and customs and has influenced their lifestyles, creating a specific ancient civilisation, the "olive tree civilisation": The Routes of the Olive Tree follow in the footsteps of the Olive Tree Civilisation, from Greece towards the Euro-Mediterranean countries.
The olive tree dates back millions of years. Wild olive trees, ancestors of the domesticated ones, can still be seen in the Peloponnese, Crete, North Africa and the Middle East, their places of origin. The relationship between this tree and human civilisation has produced an immensely rich, living cultural heritage, embedded in the everyday habits of the Mediterranean people. From gastronomy, with the crucial influence of olive oil, to art and traditions, the social development of these areas has been largely shaped by the olive tree.
The traveller can experience the olive tree civilisation and become familiar with olive tree landscapes, products and traditions. Different cultural itineraries run through the countries of southern Europe and North Africa, from the Balkans to the Peloponnese in Greece, and extending to the Meknes region in Morocco. Even sea itineraries exist to highlight the importance of the maritime connection between the Mediterranean cities' harbours. Along the routes, different olive tree related activities are also organised, with exhibitions, concerts and product tasting events.
Council of Europe values
The Routes of the Olive Tree are itineraries of intercultural discovery and dialogue based on the theme of the olive tree, a universal symbol of peace. These routes are a gateway to new cooperation between remote areas that would otherwise be condemned to isolation, since they bring together all the players involved in the economic exploitation of the olive tree (artists, small producers and farmers, young entrepreneurs. etc.) that are threatened by the current crisis. In our difficult time this is a way to defend the fundamental value of the right to work.