International Cooperation
Council of Europe

Collaboration with Council of Europe

The Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture (the Department) takes an active part in the activities and programmes initiated by the Council of Europe. Since 1995 the Department has been involved in the work of CDCPP (Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape) which is the main body for intergovernmental cooperation in the field of cultural heritage.
The Department is represeneted in the HEREIN Network and is participating in such programmes of the Council of Europe as "European Heritage Days", "European Day of Jewish Culture", "European Cultural Routes".

European Heritage Days


The European Heritage Days are the most widely celebrated participatory cultural event shared by the citizens of Europe.  The Council of Europe launched the initiative in 1985, and in 1999 was joined by the European Union to create the joint action, which has continued up to the present day. Conceivably, the Programme, which can boast up to 20 million visitors every year, generates the greatest value, Euro for Euro, of any “European” cultural project.


Held in September each year, EHDs events – often called Heritage Open Days - take place in the 50 countries party to the European Cultural Convention. During this time, doors are opened to numerous monuments and sites, allowing Europe’s citizens to enjoy free visits and learn about their shared cultural heritage and encouraging them to become actively involved in the safeguard and enhancement of this heritage for present and future generations.


The aims of the European Heritage Days are to:


 - raise the awareness of European citizens to the richness and cultural diversity of Europe;

 - create a climate in which the appreciation of the rich mosaic of European cultures is stimulated;

 - counter racism and xenophobia and encourage greater tolerance in Europe and beyond the national borders;

 - inform the public and the political authorities about the need to protect cultural heritage against new threats;

 - invite Europe to respond to the social, political and economic challenges it faces.

The annual events of the Council of Europe programme "European Heritage Days" have been held in Lithuania since 1994. They are coordinated and organized by the Culture Heritage Department under the Ministry of Culture, as well as by municipalities of towns and districts. Every year the events attract a lot of attention and a huge number of participants from various society groups. 
Each year the "European Heritage Days" in Lithuania have a special theme with the aim to promote specific related objects and their cultural values. The initiative of the "European Heritage Days" gives a good possibility to promote and increase the awareness and understanding of cultural heritage values, to highlight its importance in the history of Lithuania and the whole Europe, to develop an integral identity of the Lithuania and European citizens. 
Themes of "European Heritage Days" in Lithuania:

1994 – European Heritage Days

1995 - Early Masonry Construction in Vilnius

1996 - The Use of Historic Monuments

1997 - Residential Buildings and Manors in Lithuania

1998 - The Protection of Cultural Heritage:

Citizenry, Society, Polity

1999 - Historical Parks and Gardens in Lithuania

2000 - Industrial Heritage in Lithuania

2001 - Defensive Fortifications in Lithuania

2002 - Wooden Architecture in Lithuania

2003 - Historic Towns: Old and Modern

2004 - Jewish Cultural Heritage in Lithuania

2005 - Cultural Properties and Cultural Tourism

2006 - Preserving the Past


2007 - Cultural Routes

2008 - Historical Organs in Lithuania

2009 - Creating History Together

2010 - Family and Cultural Heritage

2011 - Hidden treasures. Wall painting

2012 - Genius Loci. Spirit of Place

2013 - Imprints of Epochs

2014 - Flavor of the beginning of the XXth century

2015 - Inheriting the future

2016 - Cultural heritage and communities

2017 - Cultural Landscape: From Mounds to City Towers

2018 - Discover the Heritage of the Century

2019 - Heritage and Entertainment



European Cultural Routes

The Programme of Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe was launched in 1987 with the aim to reveal the many aspects of the cultural identity of Europe, strengthen cultural tourism and develop cultural cooperation between countries. For coordination of the Programme, the European Institute of Cultural Routes was established in Luxembourg in 1997.
In order to disseminate knowledge and understanding about the common European heritage as well as develop cultural links and the dialogue both within Europe and with other countries and regions, on 8 December 2010 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted Resolution (2010)53 establishing an Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes (hereinafter, the EPA). The EPA seeks to form a common cultural area by creating Cultural Routes, which would promote awareness-raising with regard to heritage as well as foster education, cooperation within networks, quality, sustainable foreign tourism and related activities. The creation of new Cultural Routes should focus, in particular, on the topics which have a symbolic importance for Europe's unity, history, culture and values and which provide an opportunity to discover less-known places. By promoting thematic and alternative tourist routes and cultural projects, the EPA contributes to the preservation of various types of heritage.

On the initiative of the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture (hereinafter, the Department), on 8 June 2012 Lithuania officially acceded to the EPA to become the 15th member of the Programme. The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania delegated Alfredas Jomantas, a representative of Cultural Heritage Department, as a representative of Lithuania for the Programme. In April 2014 he was elected a member of the Bureau of the EPA Governing Board and in 2015-2018 - Chairman of the Governing Board.

During the Lithuanian Presidency, Croatia, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the EPA program, Finland and Poland were granted observer status. Besides, in 2016 Lithuania hosted the Council of Europe Cultural Routes Advisory Forum. Such forums have been organized annually since 2011 and are a major event of the Council of Europe's Cultural Routes programme, bringing together representatives of the cultural routes of all participating countries.


The 6th Cultural Routes Annual Advisory Forum

„Expanding the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe: challenges and opportunities“

Vilnius, Lithuania, 26-27 October 2016


The Forum “Expanding the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe: challenges and opportunities” emphasized the recent expansion of the programme, highlighting both challenges and opportunities. The Forum was co-organised by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture, the Council of Europe Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes (EPA) and the European Institute of Cultural Routes (EICR). The Forum was attended by more than 200 participants from over 30 countries, representatives of the Council of Europe’s certified routes and candidate projects, representatives from EPA member states and Observers, international organisations (European Union, UNWTO, ICOMOS), NGOs, local and regional authorities, universities and professionals in the cultural tourism sector.


More information: https://www.coe.int/en/web/cultural-routes/2016-vilnius-forum


Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe crossing the country:



The Santiago De Compostela Pilgrim Routes




The Hansa




The European Route of Jewish Heritage




Via Regia



 More information about the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe is available here.
The Way of St. James

The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. The Way of St. James was certified as a “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” in 1987.


Saint James Route in Lithuania is created and coordinated by the Association of Friends of Saint James Route and The Way of Saint James Association of Municipalities.


Associaton of the Friends of St James Ways was established in 2013 and The Association of Municipalities of St. James's Way of Lithuania was established in 2016 by 9 Lithuanian municipalities: Kaunas City Municipality, Panevėžys City Municipality, Alytus, Kaišiadoriai, Kalvarija, Kretinga, Lazdijai, Marijampolė and Varėna District Municipalities. The Mayor of Panevėžys City Rytis Račkauskas has been elected the President of this Association for a 4 year term.   Main activities of the two associations are: organization ofconferences, public discussions, pilgrim hikes in Lithuania, marking of St James Way pilgrimage routes, dissemination of information about St James Way’s Lithuanian pilgrimage routes in Lithuania and abroad. For more information click here.


In 2018 The Association of Municipalities of St. James's Way of Lithuania was chosen as one of the laureates for the 2018 edition of the European Citizen’s Prize. The European Citizen's Prize is given by the European Parliament since 2008 to projects and initiatives that contribute to European cooperation and the promotion of common values.


The European Route of Jewish Heritage

In 2004, Lithuania symbolically marked the route approved by the Council of Europe, The European Route of Jewish Heritage, by affixing a symbolic plaque on a wooden synagogue of the town of Žiežmariai to mark the start of the route. Thus Lithuania officially participates in this European route, though a consistent route, which could be an extension of the European project and become a part of The European Route of Jewish Heritage, so far has not been developed.

In 2015, the Association of Jewish Cultural Heritage Routes in Lithuania was established. The aim of the association is to prepare and develop a consistent route of the Jewish cultural heritage in Lithuania, which would become part of the European Route of Jewish Heritage.

Every year, in September, Europe commemorates the European Day of Jewish Culture, which is an integral part of the programme supported by the Council of Europe, The European Route of Jewish Heritage. Internationally, this project is coordinated by the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ), which proposes the theme for the events of the European Day of Jewish Culture every year. 
Lithuania has been commemorating the European Day of Jewish Culture since 2005 attracting the attention of the society towards the local Jewish cultural heritage. Every year people are invited to exhibitions, concerts, lectures and other events disclosing the theme of that year's European Day of Jewish Culture. In Lithuania, these events are organised by the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with Jewish communities of Lithuania, urban and rural municipalities, museums, schools as well as other educational and cultural establishments.


Fostering regional development through
Cultural Routes - Routes4U Project


Routes4U is a joint programme between the Council of Europe and the European Union. The 30-months project (2017-20) aims to foster regional development through the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe programme in the four EU macro-regions, according to the Faro Convention.


Routes4U objectives are:


Regional development: Strengthening sustainable social, cultural and economic development in the 4 EU macro-regions through the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe;
Cultural cooperation: Promote the cultural cooperation between (local, national, and international stakeholders of the 4 EU macro-regions;
Social cohesion: Contribute to the participation of the civil society, ensuring the potential of cultural heritage as a resource for sustainable development;
Routes4U is implemented by:
  • by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe (Luxembourg);
  • through the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe networks;
  • in coordination with the stakeholders of the EU macro-regional strategies and the European Commission;
  • according to the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro Convention, 2005);


More information about Routes4U is here.


The European Cemeteries Route

The European Cemeteries Route is a unique project of cultural tourism inviting us to familiarise with the rich heritage of the best-known European cemeteries, reflecting social, cultural and historical development of cities and local communities. This route aims at reviving, preserving and cherishing European cemeteries and single graves, which are the most significant from historical or artistic point of view, as important spiritual and cultural heritage of the humanity. The European Cemeteries Route was established in 2009 by the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe (ASCE). In 2010, the Council of Europe recognised this Route as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe.
The Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture is a member of ASCE and takes part in the activities of the Association as from its very establishment. In 2002, Vilnius hosted a congress of ASCE members to discuss issues of restoration of cemeteries. The Department took part in the issue of the publication "Cemeteries of Europe: a Historical Heritage to Appreciate and Restore" in 2004; it was issued in five languages – English, Lithuanian, Italian, Slovene and Swedish. The publication provided a description of the best-known cemeteries of 30 European cities including the Rasų, Antakalnio and Bernardinų cemeteries in Vilnius.
Every year, Europe commemorates the Week of Discovering European Cemeteries as a part of the European Cemeteries Route. The Department of Cultural Heritage also commemorates this Week by organising events with regard to heritage of cemeteries, such as guided tours to significant cemeteries of Vilnius, lectures or artistic programmes.

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