Explore Europe on a fascinating Journey through Space and Time
Europes rich Cultural Heritage could not be more diverse! Customs, Traditions and shared Memories connect people across the continent. Through travelling on the different routes and ways, a cultural identity developed over the thousands of years, making Europe the community we quite naturally live in today. Travelling on the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, these roots become clear and tangible. By following the thematic Routes across Europe, you will overcome borders and centuries, build bridges to our neighbors, recognize unity in diversity and experience understanding between different humans and nations. Again and again you will come across junctions of different cultural influences. Take a fascinating journey through Space and Time and discover Europe on the paths of the Cultural Routes!
As one of the most important Christian pilgrimages, the Way of St. James provides an intense human experience, creating a sense of fraternity amongst travellers and a strong bond with the land. Each year, hundreds of thousands of travellers set out to make their way to Santiago de Compostela.
In the mid-13th century, German seafaring merchants laid the basis of the Hanseatic League. Today, the network consists of 190 cities in 16 countries. The Hansa could be seen as a medieval forerunner to the European Union, and thus constitutes an invaluable heritage from a common European past.
The Viking Cultural Routes are a far-ranging, significant collection of sites, stories and heritage that represent the shared Viking legacy of Europe and beyond. There are more than 60 sites on the route, including forts, towns, farms, quarries, ships, museums and archaeological remains.
In 990 AD, Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, travelled to Rome to meet Pope John XV. Along the way, he recorded the 79 stages of the journey in his diary. Travellers can rediscover this 1 800 km journey along the paths followed by the pilgrims en route to Rome and then onward.
In the 8th century, the Iberian Peninsula saw the arrival of Arabs and Berbers, who mixed with the Roman-Visigoth inhabitants, engendering what was known as Al-Andalus. These routes bring back to life the heritage, literature, arts, gastronomy, and traditions of this medieval Muslim civilisation.
The route refers to the connection of the major nautical routes used by the Phoenicians, since the 12th century BC, as essential routes for trade and cultural communication in the Mediterranean. It passes through all the Mediterranean countries including many North African and Middle Eastern countries.
The Pyrenees region is rich in iron ore and has a centuries-old iron-making tradition. This activity generated economic wealth and there remains a great deal of evidence of its past glories. The route invites us to learn about the transformation and commercialisation of iron from the 17th to the late 19th century.
The route follows the footsteps of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the most influential figures in the history of music and western culture, who spent a third of his life travelling to enhance his education and establish contacts with other musicians.
The European Jewish heritage is widely present across Europe. The route fosters understanding and appreciation of religious artefacts as well as those used in daily life and also recognises the essential role played by the Jewish people in European history.
Saint Martin of Tours is one of the most familiar and recognisable Christian saints, who tirelessly travelled around Europe, leaving a significant imprint on our collective memory. The traveller can follow the routes that relate to episodes of the saint’s life, cult or folklore.
Founded in the early 10th century by William the Pious, the Benedictine Abbey in Cluny became a major centre of European civilisation, resulting in the emergence of over 1 800 sites throughout western Europe.
The presence of the olive tree has marked not only the landscape but also the everyday lives of the Mediterranean peoples. The routes follow in the footsteps of the Olive Tree Civilisation, from Greece to the Black Sea through the entire Mediterranean basin.
The Via Regia is the oldest and longest road linking eastern and western Europe and dates back to the early Middle Ages. Today, the route connects 10 European countries and is
4 500 km long. The route respects a rich heritage, ranging from architectural heritage to traditions that have shaped the European continent.
The culture of the vine, winemaking and vinicultural landscapes are an important part of European heritage. Travellers are invited to discover remote lands from the Caucasus through to western European vineyards and become familiar with the myths and symbols around this rich culture.
From its origins in Burgundy in 1098, the Cistercian Order grew rapidly throughout Europe, bringing together some 750 abbeys and 1 000 monasteries. Travellers are invited to discover the rich Cistercian legacy that is still present at the heart of the Roman Church and European culture.
Cemeteries are part of our tangible heritage – their sculptures, engravings, and even their urban planning – including traditions and practices related to death. Travelling along this route enables visitors to discover the local, national and the European cultural heritage that rests in cemeteries.
Prehistoric rock art is art by the first Europeans. The first major cultural, social and symbolic expression of humankind, it appeared in Europe 42 000 years ago and continued until the early Iron Age in some regions. More than 200 rock art sites are open to the public in Europe.
Europe is home to many spa towns with unique urban personalities, dierent styles of architecture and dierent spa traditions built around bathing in or drinking the thermal waters. The spa culture, in all its variety, can be considered to be truly unique European heritage.
Olav II Haraldsson, later known as Saint Olav, was King of Norway from 1015 to 1028. For centuries after his death, pilgrims made their way to Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, where Saint Olav lies buried. This pilgrimage allows travellers to experience the joy of simple things while following in the footsteps of pilgrims.
The ceramics industry has contributed not only to Europe’s economic development but also to its heritage and social history. The route helps visitors to discover what goes on behind the scenes of ceramics production and oers several hands-on opportunities.
Megalithic tombs, dolmens and other monuments represent the oldest surviving indigenous architecture in Europe. Europe has a vast megalithic heritage, which can be explored not only through the monuments but also the manifold features of the surrounding landscape.
In the 17th century, following the persecution of Huguenots and Waldensians, hundreds of thousands sought refuge in the Protestant lands of Europe and around the world. This approximately 2 000 km-long trail traces the historical path taken during this exile.
The route displays architecture or urban design deriving from a totalitarian period, often with strong connections to the regimes. It permits exploration of the sociological, ideological and geographical complexities of the history of totalitarian regimes through urban landscapes.
Appearing in the late 19th century, Art Nouveau spread rapidly in Europe. Each country’s creative centres brought their own flavour to the style. The route allows visitors to become aware of the dimension of Art Nouveau, its relationship with nature, society, ecology and technical innovation.
The 800-year history of the Habsburgs is preserved in sites in western and central Europe. Palaces, castles, magnificent churches, monasteries and splendid museums show how this emblematic dynastic family shaped not only history but also art and, at the time of its decline, provoked the modernist revolt.
The route incorporates archaeological sites and wine regions where wine was introduced in Roman times and which continue the tradition of wine production. The experience highlights the introduction of Roman culture along the northern frontier of the Roman Empire.
Charles of Habsburg is an important political, cultural and historical figure for many European countries. His presence and political heritage can be found in many historical sites and at cultural events such as historical re-enactments, art festivals, traditional markets and festivities.
Napoleon Bonaparte was a remarkable political leader who influenced European and global affairs for more than a decade while he ruled over France. The Napoleonic era’s influence upon the cultural heritage of contemporary Europe includes sites, buildings, monuments, works of art, as well as a vast intangible heritage linked to the Napoleonic myth.
The accounts of Robert Louis Stevenson’s travels in Europe are regarded as genuine ethnographic descriptions of peoples and lands. As a writer, traveller, adventurer and idealist, Stevenson left his mark on the places he visited, from the Lothian region in Scotland to the Fontainebleau Forest in France or the Antwerp region in Belgium.
Few other regions have as many fortresses, dating from all periods of the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Haughty citadels, spectacular bastions, impregnable forts and mysterious underground spaces present an extraordinary richness of fortified architecture.
The routes bring together major sites related to impressionist painting: the places where painters such as Monet, Renoir or Toorop used to live and that inspired them; the artistic colonies they founded or in which they participated; and the museums and cultural areas where their works are exhibited.
The route offers an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Charlemagne, crowned western Emperor in the year 800 and considered to be the “father of Europe”. The route is historical, cultural and religious, but also rich in myths and legends. It aims to raise awareness about shared cultural history as the essence of a common European citizenship, in all its unity and diversity.
With over 1 800 locations in all European countries, the route invites visitors to explore the milestones in European industrial history. As places of a common European memory, they bear witness to scientific discoveries, technological innovation and workers’ life histories.
The Iron Curtain Trail retraces the physical border stretching from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea, which divided eastern and western Europe for almost half a century following the end of the Second World War. This 10 000 km long cyclable route combines sites linked to the political, military and ideological barriers, covering 20 European countries and connecting many historic buildings, monuments, museums and landmarks.
The route retraces the legacy of movements within Christianity all around Europe which shared the will to change the religious institutions and break with the status quo. This legacy includes historical sites, documents, works of art, museums, culinary traditions, music, legends and celebrations.
During his career, the renowned Swiss-French architect, designer, writer and urban planner Charles-Edouard Jeanneret – later called Le Corbusier – designed buildings throughout the world. The route narrates the life and achievements of one of the major architects of the 20th century and encourages the traveller to discover Le Corbusier’s work and its influence in Europe and beyond.
The route, connecting different European sites, regions and places of remembrance, contributes to the memory and understanding of the Second World War liberation from Nazi occupation and the conflict’s long-lasting impact on Europe and its people.