European Heritage Days

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European Heritage Days logo
Countries participating in the European Heritage Days in 2007

European Heritage Days (EHD) is a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission involving all 50 signatory states of the European Cultural Convention under the motto, Europe: a common heritage. The annual programme offers opportunities to visit buildings, monuments and sites, many of which are not normally accessible to the public. It aims to widen access and foster care for architectural and environmental heritage. These events are also known as Doors Open Days and Open Doors Days in English-speaking countries.

The event began in France in 1984, with La Journée Portes Ouvertes, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. In 1985, in Granada, at the 2nd European Conference of Ministers responsible for Architectural Heritage, the French Minister of Culture proposed that the project be internationalised under the Council of Europe. The Netherlands held their first Open Monumentendag in 1987. Sweden and the Republic of Ireland joined in 1989, and Belgium and Scotland in 1990.

In 1991 these events were united as European Heritage Days at the initiative of the Council of Europe, supported by the EU. By 2010, 50 signatory states of the European Cultural Convention had joined the EHDs.

The Directorate General IV – Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport of the Council of Europe, in close cooperation with the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission, ensures the general orientation, definition and execution of the tasks to be achieved within the framework of the EHD. The Secretariat of the EHD is carried out by the Directorate of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage, under the responsibility of the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage.

Responsible institutions per European country[edit]

This idea is popular outside Europe, too, with similar schemes in Canada (since 1974 - Heritage_Day_(Alberta)), the USA, Australia, and other lands, at different times of year. In Argentina and Uruguay the corresponding Día del Patrimonio is held on the last weekend of September, while in Chile the same event is held on the last Sunday of May.

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