The Council of Europe's Future Cultural Route

We want The Gediminids' Way to become a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe. It is our ambition, our commitment, our goal, our aspiration, and our dream.

The Council of Europe launched the Cultural Routes program in 1987. Its objective was to demonstrate, by means of a journey through space and time, how the heritage of the different countries and cultures of Europe contributes to a shared cultural heritage. The Cultural Routes put into practice the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural democracy, cultural diversity and identity, dialogue, mutual exchange and enrichment across boundaries and centuries.

Resolution CM/Res(2010)53, which established the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes, defines a Cultural Route as a "cultural, educational heritage and tourism co-operation project aiming at the development and promotion of an itinerary or a series of itineraries based on a historic route, a cultural concept, figure or phenomenon with a transnational importance and significance for the understanding and respect of common European values."

Resolution CM/Res(2010)52 laid down rules for the award of the "Cultural Route of the Council of Europe" certification. The Rules include comprehensive lists of eligibility criteria and priority fields of action.

According to a study on the impact of European Cultural Routes on SMEs’ innovation and competitiveness, jointly launched by the European Commission and the Council of Europe in September 2010, the Cultural Routes program comprises 29 certified Routes. These Routes form a network that covers 70 countries, some of them on the African and Asian continents.

The lion's share of the network, nearly 40 percent, falls on just six of these countries: France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The rest of the countries, including Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine, "represent the unexploited development potential of the Council’s Cultural Routes program," the study report states.

According to Prof. Keith Hollinshead from the University of Bedfordshire, UK, cultural heritage tourism is the industry’s fastest-growing segment. In the United States, 78% of all non-business tourists, or 120 million people, participate in cultural tourism annually. In the United Kingdom, historic and cultural tourism annually creates 40% of jobs in the tourism industry, and attracts £12.4 billion to the national economy. According to surveys, about 30% of foreign tourists visit Britain attracted by its cultural heritage.

The group of four countries, some cities of which participate in The Gediminids' Way, are traversed by six Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, namely Viking Routes (all of the four), Via Regia (all of the four), Saint Martin of Tours Route (except Belarus), European Route of Jewish Heritage (except Belarus), European Route of Cistercian Abbeys (Poland only), and European Cemeteries Route (Poland only).

None of them was initiated in Eastern Europe. So we work hard for The Gediminids' Way to become the first project initiated in the region and awarded the honorable status of the Cultural Route of the Council of Europe.