More than 20 million people are participating in the European Heritage Days taking place every September in 50 countries across Europe.
This joint action of the European Commission and Council of Europe gives access to visitors to thousands of rarely opened sites and unique events.
This year, a stunning variety of events and monuments will be open to the public during the European Heritage Days. They range from Cistercian abbeys to cathedrals and castles, from the oldest iron printing press to Victorian grain warehouses; from coal mines to government buildings and theaters and many, many more. Some countries or regions establish an overarching theme over a series of events. For instance, France is focusing on “hidden heritage” inviting visitors to witness rarely seen or unexpected faces of heritage concealed in walls, underground or in the landscape; in the Brussels-Capital Region, examples of buildings which illustrate the engineering and technical solutions that led to the evolution of architecture over the centuries will be open to the public under the unifying idea of 'The art of building". The list of events being offered throughout Europe runs into the tens of thousands.
A number of countries are also producing joint events with a view to emphasizing the European dimension of the Programme. Ukraine, Spain, Moldova and Georgia, for instance, are collaborating on an electronic platform, which will link wine museums in cooperation activities across Europe; the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia, France and Belgium are cooperating on a youth exchange and heritage education event.
Launched in 1985, the European Heritage Days have been organised since 1999 as a joint action of the European Union and the Council of Europe. The 50 signatory States to the European Cultural Convention take part in the European Heritage Days by putting new cultural assets on view and opening up historical buildings normally closed to the public. The cultural events highlight local skills and traditions, architecture and works of art, but the broader aim is to promote mutual understanding among citizens.