European heritage experts visit historic moated Castle in Divitz

The Hague, 19 April 2017 – In 2016, Europa Nostra launched the call for nominations for the “7 Most Endangered” heritage sites in Europe for the third time. The historic moated Castle in Divitz was among the 14 monuments shortlisted and was the only German heritage site to make the list. The Castle in Divitz was selected due to its deep cultural and historical significance which reaches far beyond the region in which it is found. The urgent need to take appropriate measures, and the fact that such measures could be practically implemented also factored into this decision. Since it featured on the shortlist, representatives from Europa Nostra have visited the site several times to support the efforts of Förderverein Kulturgüter Wasserburg Divitz. The delegation who visited the region last week was the largest and most significant of these visits.

On 11 April a meeting concerning the conservation of the Castle in Divitz took place at the Speicher Hotel in Barth. Europa Nostra Vice-President Piet Jaspaert (Belgium), Europa Nostra Board Member Dr. Guy Clausse (Luxembourg), and Vice-President of Europa Nostra Germany Dr. Claus-Peter Echter (Germany), brought their international experience to Barth. Member of the regional parliament Ann Christin von Allwörden, Prof. Dr. Sabine Bock of the Presidency of Deutsche Burgenvereinigung, Rolf-Peter Bartz, President of Arbeitsgemeinschaft zur Erhaltung und Nutzung der Gutsanlagen in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, representatives of the Landkreis (administrative district), of the ministerial and regional level of the monument protection services, and other activists discussed various ways of saving the historic moated castle. This exceptional heritage site has remained unused, despite its undisputed historic and cultural impact on the whole Baltic region.

In view of the upcoming European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, the representatives from Europa Nostra suggested putting Castle in Divitz forward as the North-German contribution to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. They referred to the newest results in research that show how investments in heritage protection amount to economically sound investments in the wider economy. Dr. Guy Clausse, former Director of the European Investment Bank, highlighted the economic benefits of investments in regional monuments which are estimated to be higher than the pure cash revenues of such monuments. He substantiated this with examples of well-known churches, museums or castles, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Colosseum in Rome, which contribute greatly, however indirectly, to the regional economy. Participants reaffirmed the identity-generating aspect of the historic moated castle in the district of Vorpommern-Rügen and the region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, citing, as an example, the regional song “MV-Lied” in which the following phrase is found: “MV, your castles and monuments are guardians of the past” (courtesy translation).

The representatives from Europa Nostra confirmed the unique cultural significance of the Castle in Divitz as an important manor which has been continuously in use for centuries and whose significance reached far beyond the borders of Pomerania in the Baltic region, especially, for instance through innovative agro-economic techniques and reforms. Furthermore, they also stressed the potential of the historic moated castle in the context of a diversified tourism policy for the region. The Castle in Divitz could be particularly attractive when marketed in combination with the adjacent national park, or with increased emphasis during the low season or when the weather is less favourable.

Consequently, the representatives from Europa Nostra urgently recommended conducting a macroeconomic cost-benefit analysis so as to quantify these economic benefits. These benefits would be positively reflected via higher turnover in the entire regional economy and also in higher tax revenue. As the securing of public funding is expected, the representatives also recommended intensifying the preparatory work for the restoration. The Castle in Divitz is at high risk and every moment of preparation ahead of the next winter counts.

Joana Pinheiro
Europa Nostra Communications Coordinator
+31 (0) 70 302 40 55

Claus-Peter Echter
Europa Nostra Germany Vice-President
+49 (0) 173 3827829

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