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Preserving European cultural heritage - 10/06/2011

European Union 2011 prize for cultural heritage recognises outstanding examples of historical conservation, preservation and research.

Bringing a central train station back to its former architectural glory... training the next generation of curators... rescuing a disused monastery... these are examples of the work being done by thousands of volunteers and professionals to keep European history alive.

They are restoring, conserving and preserving the buildings, structures, fortifications and artefacts that represent our cultural heritage.

The EU recognises such work through its annual prizes for cultural heritage - also known as the Europa Nostra awards. There are 27 winners this year; six will also receive prizes for "outstanding heritage achievements" and €10 000 each.

The awards are supported by the EU's culture programme, which since 2007 has provided €26m to co-finance heritage projects. They are an investment in Europe's cultural and creative industries, which employ some 8.5 million people and make up 4.5% of EU gross domestic product.

Among the 2011 winners are:

  • Weald & Downland open air museum, Chichester, UK - a centre for historic building conservation, which trains students, professionals and volunteers in areas such as timber framing and the repair of historic brickwork
  • Antwerp Central Station, Belgium - the 19th century "railway cathedral" was both restored and transformed into a modern through-station with a three-level railway underpass
  • archaeologist Tomáš Durdik - over the past 25 years he has been researching, conserving and protecting castles and fortifications in the Czech Republic and surrounding regions
  • the architectural study of the UN buffer zone in the walled city of Nicosia, Cyprus - an example of a conservation project in a sensitive area that involved scientists and other workers from both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities
  • Förderverein Kloster Bredelar, Marsberg, Germany - the group of volunteers rescued a former monastery from imminent ruin by turning it into a social and cultural centre

More on support for culture and heritage

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