Paris: Europa Nostra celebrates its 60th anniversary and the French laureates of the European Heritage Awards 2023

Around 250 people gathered on 29 November 2023 at the Hôtel de la Marine in Paris to celebrate the very day when Europa Nostra was born 60 years ago. This was also the perfect setting  to pay tribute to the four French winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2023. On this occasion, Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, sent a special message which was read at the event by Philippe Belaval, Cultural Advisor of President Macron. Europa Nostra was also honoured to receive congratulatory messages from Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth; and Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, the two EU Institutions with which Europa Nostra has developed a longstanding partnership. 

Celebration of 60 years of Europa Nostra and French winners of Awards 2023

This event was an opportunity to commemorate the founding of Europa Nostra on 29 November 1963 in the premises of the Council of Europe in Paris by 11 founding heritage associations from all over Europe, some of which were represented at the event. During its 60 years of existence, Europa Nostra has created the largest and most dynamic pan-European network for heritage in all its diversity, which promotes the Europe of the heart, solidarity, peace and our shared values.

The evening started with a guided tour of the apartments of the Intendant at Hôtel de la Marine, one of the four French laureates of the European Heritage Awards 2023, followed by a series of interventions by all four French laureates and Europa Nostra’s key European and international partners.


Celebration of Europa Nostra’s 60th anniversary

The round of interventions moderated by Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, featured some of Europa Nostra’s long-standing partners, whose invaluable support has contributed to the many successes of our organisation over the past 60 years. In her introduction, the Secretary General presented The Venice Manifesto for a European Cultural Citizenship. Drafted during the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2023, it highlights the importance of the artistic, spiritual and philosophical dimension that unites the citizens of Europe.

Celebration of 60 years of Europa Nostra and French winners of Awards 2023

It was a great honour to receive an anniversary message from Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, which was read by Philippe Bélaval, Culture Advisor to the Elysée: “Sixty years ago, a movement was created whose ambition was not only to alert international opinion on the situation of endangered heritage sites, but also to highlight the importance that heritage, and culture in general, play in strengthening European awareness. Today more than ever, this dual ambition is still relevant, as the conflict in Eastern Europe sadly illustrates. (…) The entire history of the progressive construction of the values we share is preserved in these stones, these books, these works of art and these traditions that we must preserve and pass on. This duty of transmission takes on particular importance at a time when we need to mobilise all resources at our disposal, particularly those relating to culture, to strengthen the transformation and resilience capacity of our societies. The Awards that you present each year recognise exemplary initiatives in this dual field of conservation and transmission“.

In a speech delivered on behalf of Rima Abdul Malak, French Minister of Culture, Jean-François Hébert, Director General of Heritage and Architecture at the French Ministry of Culture, congratulated Europa Nostra for uniting and promoting the voice of heritage at European level, as well as for its close and fruitful cooperation at national level, as illustrated during the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 and during the latest French Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2021.

To mark the occasion, Valérie Drezet-Humez, Head of the European Commission Representation in France, read an anniversary message on behalf of the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Iliana Ivanova: “60 years of experience in the field of cultural heritage, 60 years of growth as an organisation, 60 years of openness beyond the heritage community. 60 years of bringing people together. Over these six decades, Europa Nostra has helped bring societal challenges to the top of the political agenda and demonstrated that culture and cultural heritage have an important role to play“.

On behalf of Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Grégoire Chauvière Le Drian, Director of the EIB’s Paris Office, expressed his appreciation of the 10 years of fruitful collaboration to save Europe’s endangered heritage, notably through the 7 Most Endangered programme launched in 2013 by Europa Nostra and the EIB Institute.

In his address, Francesc Pla, Secretary of the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape, stressed the importance of involving civil society organisations, as well as young professionals, more closely in heritage management in order to preserve it for future generations.

Lastly, Valéry Freland, Executive Director of ALIPH – International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas, on behalf of the President, Bariza Khiarirecalled the four fundamental values that ensure the success of our common fight to preserve endangered heritage in conflict areas: 1) passion, 2) diversity, 3) togetherness, as well as 4) political vision. He also mentioned the two new . He also mentioned the two new cooperation agreements signed by Europa Nostra and ALIPH on 29/12 as a contribution to the implementation of the European Heritage Hub project.

Tribute to the French laureates of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2023

The round of interventions moderated by Bertrand de Feydeau, Vice-President of Europa Nostra, was dedicated to the French laureates of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2023: Hôtel de la Marine, Paris (Award in the Category Conservation and Adaptive Reuse), Scientific-Archaeological Studies for the Preservation of Ererouyk, Armenia/France (Award in the Category Research), ACTA VISTA, Marseille (Grand Prix in the Category Education, Training and Skills), and Carpenters without Borders, Paris (Award in the Category Education, Training and Skills).

Celebration of 60 years of Europa Nostra and French winners of Awards 2023

Implemented across France and beyond, these inspiring projects demonstrate the essential role of our heritage in creating social ties, responding to the challenges of climate change and stimulating digital transformation. Above all, they demonstrate the uniqueness of our Europe, united in its diversity.

Marie Lavandier, President of the Centre des monuments nationaux, welcomed the participants and emphasised the scientific rigour and museographic freedom that have guided the restoration of the Hôtel de la Marine, returning the site to its original splendour, reproducing the atmosphere of the 18th century and creating a new cultural centre in Paris.

François Calame, founder of the Carpenters without Borders movement, presented this exemplary initiative. “Between traditional skills and modern aspirations, Carpenters without Borders is an international collective that promotes intangible heritage on a human scale. For over thirty years, this sensible initiative has been striving to renew the dialogue between the forest, the trees and the carpenters, through the creation of a comprehensive bank of know-how. From the inclusion of the Trait de Charpente on UNESCO’s intangible heritage list to the reconstruction of the roof structure of Notre-Dame de Paris, the actions in which Carpenters without Borders has been involved are in line with Europa Nostra’s approach to vitality and solidarity“, he explained.

Then Patrick Donabédian, researcher and representative of the Scientific-Archaeological Studies for the Preservation of Ererouyk, Armenia/France, said: “Our selection was the crowning achievement of many years of study and numerous publications. As early as 2016, Europa Nostra’s commitment to our cause and Ererouyk’s inclusion on the list of the 7 Most Endangered sites in Europe were decisive: we witnessed a change in the way the local authorities looked at the site. It’s no coincidence that, after Ererouyk was selected among the European Heritage Awards laureates this Spring, the Armenian Ministry of Culture applied for and received a substantial grant to develop the site and consolidate its remains. This work will enable us to resume our investigations. Long live Europa Nostra and boundless energy to its members and leaders!

Pâquerette Demotes-Mainard, Managing Director of ACTA VISTA, concluded the round of interventions: “This Award demonstrates the relevance and quality of our project, which is based on a fundamental idea: the more excluded people are, the more necessary it is to entrust them with rewarding tasks to give them the strength and courage to move towards employment. That is why we have chosen to base our work on the restoration of historical heritage. The magic of the project lies in our ability to restore these jewels of France’s heritage in an ecologically responsible way, using men and women who, for the majority, have never held a trowel in their hand. We are determined to continue spreading this model of work camps throughout France and to open up this path on a European scale. This recognition gives us additional legitimacy and support to continue along this path“.

Celebration of 60 years of Europa Nostra and French winners of Awards 2023

To close the wonderful celebrations of the founding of Europa Nostra precisely 60 years ago – on 29 November 1963 – Europa Nostra blew out 6 candles and shared a festive moment with key members and partners, and other heritage stakeholders from France.

The following day, we brought together several of our member and partner organisations in France at the historic headquarters of the Vieilles Maisons Françaises, one of the associations behind the founding of Europa Nostra. We looked back at 60 years of work together, but above all we looked towards the future and the many challenges to which we must respond with competence, imagination, determination and efficiency, at all levels: local, regional, national, European and global.

You can read more anniversary messages from our members and partners and listen to the first episode of our podcast series on Europa Nostra at 60: Past, Present and Future launched to mark our 60th anniversary.

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