The Netherlands joins the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe

Starting this year, the Netherlands has been granted the Observer status with the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe (EPA). These routes allow people to discover Europe’s rich and diverse heritage in a variety of ways.

The 47 routes include to several themes: from architecture and landscape to religious influences, from gastronomy and intangible heritage to the most important contributors to European art, music and literature. These themes connected to the routes represent the values of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and mutual exchanges across borders.

Some of the routes across the Netherlands include: the Hansa, Viking Routes, European Route of Ceramics, European Route of Megalithic Culture, Impressionisms Route, European Route of Industrial Heritage and Liberation Route Europe. The Netherlands continues to work on the nomination of new routes, including a route about dragon stabbing play and a route about the Dutch mills.

And this year the theme of the Open Monumentendag is 'Routes, networks and connections', which ties in nicely with this European endeavour.

Collage van foto's, kunstwerken en landschappen met in het midden het logo van 'Cultural route of the Council of Europe'.
Image: ©Council of Europe

Member State

The Netherlands is seeking to connect with the European heritage community in several areas, and therefore joined the EPA as an observer member state. This body ensures the implementation of the Cultural Routes programme of the Council of Europe (based in Strasbourg). Member states are given the observer status for one year after signing up. As an observer member state, the Netherlands attends all meetings and activities of the Governing Board and the Annual Board. The Netherlands does not yet have voting rights regarding newly submitted or renewed cultural routes for the duration of this year. This will only be possible once full membership is achieved. Besides the Netherlands, Estonia currently also has the observer status. The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed | RCE) represents the Netherlands within the EPA.

Image: ©Council of Europe

Cultural Routes

The Cultural Routes programme was established in 1987 by the Council of Europe as a model for managing culture and tourism across borders. The programme enables cooperation between national, regional, and local authorities, a wide range of associations and socio-economic actors in research and development. In addition, the Council of Europe hopes that through the cultural routes, awareness of European heritage will grow, that it will create cultural and educational exchanges among young Europeans, boost cultural tourism and sustainable cultural development.

For more information on the routes and the programme, visit Cultural Routes.

Additionally, there are connections between the motivation of becoming a member state and the Faro Convention signed by the Netherlands earlier this year. This treaty calls for increasing understanding of the common European heritage.