European Heritage Days is the main cultural event of the autumn. Millions of sites and monuments will open their doors across 50 countries, giving Europeans a rare opportunity to appreciate and celebrate their common heritage.
Throughout this period you will be able to visit familiar places such as public buildings and museums as you have never seen them. More unusual locations such as castles, farms and factories will also open their doors to the public.
Europe's heritage is an essential part of what the EU is all about. The chief aim of heritage days is to raise awareness about cultural diversity among Europeans.
Organised by the European Union and the Council of Europe since 1999, the European Heritage Days are becoming increasingly popular. They attract over 20 million visitors every year to more than 30 000 sites.
To mark the occasion, there will be themed tours, demonstrations by craftsmen, concerts and theatre performances, as well as a photo competition for the most beautiful photos of European heritage. There are many reasons for you to rediscover your area, your town or even your region!
The range of events and the dates are set by each of the 50 participating countries. In the UK, highlights for 2011 include unique opportunities to walk below HMS Victory's water line in Portsmouth and to visit H.S. Smokehouse, the last surviving and still working herring brick smokehouse in Great Yarmouth.
European Heritage Days has a forum where politicians meet with heritage specialists. This year, the forum will take place from 10 to 12 October in Poland to examine the importance of cultural heritage for the European economy, especially during times of crisis.