The Cultural Routes programme (DG Democracy) was launched by the Council of Europe in 1987 with the Declaration of Santiago de Compostela. The Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe are an invitation to travel and to discover the rich and diverse heritage of Europe by bringing people and places together in networks of shared history and heritage. They put into practice the values of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and mutual exchanges across borders.
Over 30 Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe provide a wealth of leisure and educational activities for all citizens across Europe and beyond and are key resources for responsible tourism and sustainable development. They cover a range of different themes, from architecture and landscape to religious influences, from gastronomy and intangible heritage to the major figures of European art, music and literature.
The certification “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” is a guarantee of excellence. The networks implement innovative activities and projects pertaining to five main priority fields of action: co-operation in research and development; enhancement of memory, history and European heritage; cultural and educational exchanges for young Europeans; contemporary cultural and artistic practice; cultural tourism and sustainable cultural development.
Through its programme, the Council of Europe offers a model for transnational cultural and tourism management and allows synergies between national, regional and local authorities and a wide range of associations and socio-economic
The legend holds that St. James’s remains were taken by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried in what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.
Since the discovery of the supposed tomb of the saint in the 9th century, the Way of St. James became one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages, as its completion guaranteed earning a plenary indulgence.
As a result of this pilgrimage, a rich heritage was formed. Tangible heritage such as places of worship, hospitals, accommodation facilities, bridges, as well as non-tangible heritage in the form of myths, legends and songs are present along the Santiago Routes and can be enjoyed by the traveller.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of travellers set out to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. As there are endless numbers of branches to the route, it is common to begin the journey literally from one’s doorstep. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few travel on horseback or by donkey, as some of their medieval counterparts did. This ancient route provides an intense human experience, creating a sense of fraternity amongst travellers and a strong bonding with the land.