Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Athens hosts meeting with cultural heritage actors from the Balkans in Pelion

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In the historic and exceptionally well-preserved settlement of St. Lavrentios in Pelion, representatives of cultural heritage organisations from the Balkans met on 20-21 July 2023, at a networking event of the Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Athens coordinated by ELLINIKI ETAIRIA – Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage (ELLET). The networking event was organised in the frame the EU-funded pilot project European Heritage Hub led by Europa Nostra, in which Elliniki Etairia participates as an affiliated partner.

Heritage Hub in Athens hosts meeting with heritage actors from the Balkans in Pelion

Following the first meeting in Prespes in 2022, which brought together young professionals from all over the Balkans, cultural heritage actors from Greece, Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia participated in this year’s event. The networking event was part of the “Open Village” festival, providing the opportunity to participants for a successful initiative that strengthens sustainable practices and policies for local development.

The aim of this year’s event of the Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Athens was to highlight the needs and challenges faced by cultural institutions in the Balkans, focusing on networking workshops and sharing ideas for the development of the hub.

Participants expressed their common needs, such as identifying peers in other countries, or developing skills for higher impact in heritage activities. They also expressed their concern regarding the obstacles they face, such as the difficulty of communicating with the authorities or finding funding opportunities.
They also identified common themes of concern among organisations, such as overtourism, entrepreneurial approaches, biodiversity (e.g. herbs) in the Balkans, the preservation and reuse of historic buildings, oral history and footpaths that connect points of cultural interest and countries between them.

Heritage Hub in Athens hosts meeting with heritage actors from the Balkans in Pelion

Participants had the opportunity to visit traditional buildings that are excellent examples of architectural integration, as well as learn about the impressive new model of governance introduced by the local community through the activities of the “Open Village”.

In conclusion, it is becoming increasingly clear that the sector of cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, calls for international synergies and strong advocacy to strengthen it.

The establishment of the Europa Nostra Heritage Hub for South Eastern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean in May 2022 is the result of close cooperation between Europa Nostra, the Municipality of Athens and ELLET, which was selected by Europa Nostra for the coordination, management and representation of the Hub based in Athens. in South-Eastern Europe.

The networking event was organised in the frame of the pilot project European Heritage Hub (May 2023 to April 2025), funded by the European Union and led by Europa Nostra, in which Elliniki Etairia participates as an affiliated partner. The Hub project responds to the need to set up a more permanent heritage hub in Europe which seeks to bring together various stakeholders with the view of ensuring a more structured cooperation and coordination of action at all levels of governance, from local to European and international. The Hub sets out to tackle the many priority goals of the European Union and its key partners. Special emphasis will be given to climate action and the green transition; inclusion, cohesion and accessibility; as well as innovation and digital transition.

Europa Nostra and ELLET cordially thank Mrs. Eleni Vlachou, historian, for the welcome and introduction to the history of Ag. Lavrentiou, Ms. Patra Theologidou, architect/conservator, who presented online the activities of the “Open Village” initiative as well as aspects of the village’s vernacular architecture, Mr. Lefteris Plavos, architect/civil engineer, who provided the guided walking tour of the settlement, Kostas and Lina Kandikou, as well as Michalis Pavlidis who willingly opened their homes for the guided tour, the nuns of the Monastery of Saint Lawrence for their warm hospitality, and Mr. Dimitris Psychogyios, assistant professor at the Department of Architecture of the University of Thessaly for the introduction to the workshop of Open Wooden Structures.

Heritage Hub in Athens hosts meeting with heritage actors from the Balkans in Pelion

ELLET was represented by Amalia Zepou, project manager of the pilot project “Establishing a European Heritage Hub”, Stavroula Thravalou, project coordinator, and Ioanna Mikrou, member of the board of directors of ELLET.

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