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Press release

Strasbourg/Brussels, 29 August 2013

European Heritage Days: 50 countries offer free access to historic sites

Millions of people will enjoy free access to thousands of rarely opened historic and cultural sites in 50 countries throughout September as part of the annual European Heritage Days, a joint initiative of the European Commission and Council of Europe. The 2013 European Heritage Days are officially launched tomorrow (30 August) in Yerevan, Armenia, which currently holds the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers. A new interactive website will also be launched on the same day: it will provide details of the sites which are open to the public, as well as information about special events taking place in each country to tie in with the Heritage Days.

As usual, this year's European Heritage Days is brimming with a rich and varied range of fascinating sites and events which bring history alive. In Northern Ireland, for instance, visitors will be invited to imagine going into battle during the Middle Ages as they “feel the heft of a sword and the weight of chain mail and the clang of a helmet visor”. 'Power and Glory' is the theme in the Netherlands, where visitors will be able to experience 400 years of history. Sweden’s 'Meeting Places' will offer an emotional journey to places of encounter and departure over the centuries, while Switzerland will light up the heritage landscape through the theme of fire, light and energy.

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "The European Heritage Days is a fantastic initiative, which can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. This year we expect more than 20 million adults and children to take advantage of this special opportunity to visit sites which are normally closed to the public. This is a great way to ensure that our shared European heritage is treasured and protected for future generations, while also benefitting local communities through increased tourism."

Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, added: "The success of the European Heritage Days comes from being driven at local level by municipal and regional communities. Every year, communities across Europe become part of a 'cultural family' celebrating our immensely rich cultural heritage."

Background on the European Heritage Days

Launched in 1985, the European Heritage Days have been organised since 1999 as a joint initiative of the European Commission and the Council of Europe. The 50 signatory countries to the European Cultural Convention take part in the European Heritage Days. The cultural events organised during the month-long celebration showcase local skills and traditions, architecture and art, as well as seeking to promote mutual understanding among European citizens.

To find out more

List of events

Council of Europe: European Heritage Days

European Commission: European Heritage Days

Androulla Vassiliou's website

Follow Androulla Vassiliou onTwitter @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58) Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

Council of Europe contacts:

Madelena Grossmann (+33 0 3 88 41 22 03) - Manager, European Heritage Days Programme, Directorate General II – Democracy

Giuseppe Zaffuto (+33 0 3 90 21 56 04) – Media Officer


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