Two Romanian projects among winners of Europe’s top heritage awards announced by the European Commission and Europa Nostra

The European Commission and Europa Nostra have announced today the winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2023. This year, 30 outstanding heritage achievements from 21 countries have been awarded Europe’s top honour in the field.

The Awards, funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, are granted in five categories: 1) Conservation and Adaptive Reuse; 2) Research; 3) Education, Training and Skills; 4) Citizens’ Engagement and Awareness-raising; and 5) Heritage Champions.

This year’s impressive collection of award winners ranges from the true renaissance of the Royal Gardens of Venice (Italy), a most treasured green space in the heart of this unique heritage city, to the fascinating research project Safeguarding of the Artisanal Fishing Technique “Arte-Xávega” (Portugal), which helps secure the future of one the last examples of artisanal and sustainable fishing in Europe; from ACTA VISTA (France), an innovative heritage skills training programme which helps individuals marginalised from employment return to work, to the annual festival Budapest 100 (Hungary), which celebrates the built heritage of this World Heritage City; and the transfrontier network of volunteers of SUCHO: Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online (Ukraine/International Project), which web archived over 50TB of data from Ukrainian cultural institutions in the first months of the war in Ukraine.

Conservation and Adaptive Reuse

Steam Engine Brewery, Lobeč, CZECHIA

For over 15 years, the architects Jana and Pavel Prouza worked to revive this brewery with a rich history dating back to 1586. It was reopened with a mix of cultural and business activities to ensure its sustainability.

Friluftsskolen Open-Air School, Copenhagen, DENMARK

This masterpiece of functionalism, designed by the architect Kaj Gottlob and built in 1938, demonstrates the way in which architecture can contribute to health and well-being. Its restoration serves as a model for other schools in Europe.

Hôtel de la Marine, Paris, FRANCE

An extensive, high-quality project brought this mid-18th century building at the Place de la Concorde in Paris back to its original splendour, while creating a new cultural hub. The restoration is also notable for its innovative financing model.

Royal Gardens of Venice, ITALY

Following complex renovation works, these abandoned gardens from the Napoleonic-era have been given new life and their architectural link to St. Mark’s Square reinstated. Today, these gardens are a beautiful, ecologically sustainable oasis that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Museum of Urban Wooden Architecture, Vilnius, LITHUANIA

This 19th-century wooden building was restored using high-level craftsmanship and authentic techniques. It now houses a museum and community centre, serving as an example for other similar buildings in Vilnius and beyond.

Wit Stwosz Altarpiece in St. Mary’s Basilica, Kraków, POLAND

The altarpiece carved from 1477 to 1489 by Wit Stwosz, renowned German-born sculptor who moved from Nuremberg to Krakow, is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Gothic art. Its meticulous restoration, based on thorough research, was undertaken in situ for over 1,000 days and involved a team of top professionals from across Europe.

Mudéjar Ceilings of the Cathedral of Funchal, Madeira, PORTUGAL

The restoration of these rare Mudéjar style ceilings, covering 1500 m2, was carried out using the best practices in wood conservation and involved an interdisciplinary team of top professionals of various nationalities.

Deba Bridge, Gipuzkoa, SPAIN

The remarkable rehabilitation of this 19th-century stone bridge, an exquisite example of civil engineering, required extensive historical research into materials and forgotten techniques and benefitted from interdisciplinary technical cooperation.

Ruins of the Monastery of San Pedro de Eslonza, Gradefes, SPAIN

The ruins of this 16th-century monastery have undergone an intervention that included archaeological investigation, consolidation and rehabilitation for tourist visits. Its technical, economic and social sustainability is commendable.

Research

Scientific-Archaeological Studies for the Preservation of Ererouyk, ARMENIA/FRANCE

The Early Christian and Medieval complex of Ererouyk was researched with a scientific, multidisciplinary and environmentally progressive approach between 2009 and 2021 by experts of various nationalities.

Proto-Industrial Architecture of the Veneto in the Age of Palladio, ITALY

This three-year study of Veneto’s proto-industrial heritage is unprecedented in both Italian and European contexts. It provides insight into the history of innovation and the transfer of knowledge at a European level, focusing on the merits of hydraulic power.

Safeguarding of the Artisanal Fishing Technique “Arte-Xávega”, PORTUGAL

Through the transfer of knowledge and know-how, this research project showcases exemplary practices of safeguarding “Arte-Xávega”, one of the last examples of artisanal and sustainable fishing in the European Union.

Education, Training and Skills

MADE IN: Crafts and Design Narratives, AUSTRIA/CROATIA/SLOVENIA/SERBIA

This European platform brings together designers, researchers and curators, who are all dedicated to exploring heritage through contemporary production. It promotes the invaluable role of crafts in shaping local identities and ensuring the sustainability of communities.

ACTA VISTA, Marseille, FRANCE

Since its creation in 2002, this association has developed training projects in heritage trades, involving 5,000 individuals marginalised from the labour market. Its innovative approach, which combines training for vulnerable citizens, social support and a cultural dimension accessible to all, is unparalleled in Europe.

Carpenters without Borders, Paris, FRANCE

Since 1992, Carpenters without Borders have fostered a movement of wood carpentry professionals who volunteer their expertise on an international scale. A groundbreaking project showcases their ability to reconstruct the frame of the fire-ravaged Notre-Dame Cathedral using materials and techniques reminiscent of the 13th century.

National Centres for Restoration of Historic Vessels, NORWAY

These centres undertake significant work to preserve the skills related to the construction and repair of historic ships, an important element of Norway’s rich maritime heritage. This initiative stands out for its comprehensive approach, creating a wholesome experience that sets an impressive example for other countries in Europe and beyond.

Pathfinders of the Waters, Danube Delta, ROMANIA

This project targets villages along the Danube with limited access to cultural activities, using the traditional canoe (lotca) as a means to promote the value of local heritage and the acquisition of new skills among children.

The Pathfinders of the Waters project utilises an intangible heritage element specific to the Danube Delta – the traditional canoe known as the lotca – as a focal point for raising awareness about the relationship between humans and nature. The project encompasses a practical traditional boat construction workshop, a comprehensive methodology, open educational resources, a digital platform and dedicated events for the Pathfinders of the Waters children’s network.

At the helm of the project is the Romanian canoe legend Ivan Patzaichin, who won 30 titles at the Olympic Games, World and European Championships.

The project successfully highlights the fact that, throughout history, people have shaped their existence and cultural practices in harmony with their environment, while nature has adapted in response to human actions. This understanding serves as a catalyst for transforming the way individuals interact with the environment in contemporary life.

The Pathfinders of the Waters project targets children in villages with limited access to cultural activities, using the lotca as a means to acquire new knowledge and skills. Through workshops on wooden boat construction, the children gain a deeper understanding of the value of heritage, including its relevance to climate change and links to sustainability. They learn to reconnect with the resources of their local areas and foster an appreciation for cultural and ethnic diversity.

The pilot project, implemented between 2018 and 2022, involved four Romanian localities within the heart of the Danube Delta, namely Mila 23, Sfântu Gheorghe, Sulina, Chilia Veche, and 4 others in Romania, connected to lakes or the Danube River: Drobeta Turnu Severin, Eșelnita, Piscu, and Comana. The results have demonstrated the potential to expand the project at regional and European levels. The goal is to further solidify and extend this approach to encompass other national and international examples of intangible heritage in need of preservation and valorisation.

Via Transilvanica, also among winners

Among the winners this year is Via Transilvanica from Romania. This is a long-distance hiking trail spanning 1,400 kilometers across 20 different ethnic and cultural regions in Romania and around 400 communities, featuring 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. By emphasizing the environmental, social and heritage values ​​of the route, it contributes to sustainable local development while conserving and nurturing the heritage along its route, and creates a source of lasting local and international pride.

Via Transilvanica is among winners in the Citizen involvement and awareness section, along with:

     Village Square Meer, Anvers, Belgium

   Budapesta100, Hungary

     MoLI, Dublin, Ireland

     Open for You, Italy

     ALMADA, Lisbon, Portugal

     Via Transilvanica, Romania

     Un-archiving Post-industry, Ukraine

 

Reacting to the announcement of the 2023 winners, Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, who is currently in charge of Culture, stated: “Each winning achievement of this year’s European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards is the result of extraordinary skills and commitment, collective and individual, spanning heritage places and traditions across Europe. By honouring these achievements, we also reiterate our firm commitment to protecting our shared cultural heritage, because it is vital for our sense of togetherness as citizens and communities of Europe.”

Cecilia Bartoli, the world-renowned mezzo-soprano and President of Europa Nostra, stated: “I warmly congratulate this year’s winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards on their well-deserved recognition. They are inspiring examples which truly contribute to building a more beautiful, sustainable and inclusive Europe. Their success stories demonstrate how adversity can be overcome through pooling expertise, dedication, creativity and innovation. I look forward to meeting them in person and celebrating all the winners at the European Heritage Awards Ceremony in our beloved World Heritage City of Venice.”

The winners will be celebrated at the European Heritage Awards Ceremony on 28 September in the Palazzo del Cinema in Venice. This prestigious event will be honoured with the participation of Cecilia Bartoli, President of Europa Nostra. Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission, is also expected to attend this high-level event. During the ceremony, the Grand Prix laureates and the Public Choice Award winner, chosen from among this year’s winners and entitled to receive €10,000 each, will be announced. The ceremony will be a highlight of the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2023, organised by Europa Nostra with the support of the European Commission, on 27-30 September in the World Heritage City of Venice.

Heritage supporters and enthusiasts are now encouraged to discover the winners and vote online to decide who will win the Public Choice Award 2023, entitled to receive a monetary award of €10,000

2023danube deltaeuropa nostraEuropa Nostra Awards 2023European CommissionEuropean Heritage AwardsheritagePathfinders of the WatersRomaniaVia Transilvanicawinners
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