The Paris Fire Brigade, the Guardian Angels of Notre-Dame, receive the European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award

Brussels/The Hague, 17 May 2019 – One month after the tragedy of Notre-Dame, the European Commission and Europa Nostra, the leading European network of heritage NGOs, are proud to announce their decision to give a European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award to the Paris Fire Brigade, the most elite military corps in the French civil defence and the first emergency service in Europe.

This exceptional Prize is awarded to them in recognition and admiration of their courageous and victorious fight against the flames that devastated Notre-Dame de Paris on the evening of 15 April 2019. That evening, for 15 hours, the Paris Fire Brigade risked their lives to fight and put an end to the fire that destroyed part of a historic building that represents eight centuries of French and European history. Given the extraordinary nature of the actions of the Paris Fire Brigade, the Board of Europa Nostra and the juries of the European Heritage Awards, composed of independent experts, unanimously decided to award this exceptional distinction outside the formal procedures of the Awards scheme, which is supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

“In conferring this high distinction, the whole of Europe wishes to honour the Paris Fire Brigade, who have performed a real miracle as the true guardian angels of Notre-Dame. Acting in all humility and discretion, and demonstrating their immense courage as well as their exceptional expertise and dedication, the Paris Fire Brigade succeeded in saving the building from collapse, along with its Treasury, including the relic of the Crown of Thorns”, said Plácido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra.

“At the limit of what was humanly and technically possible and in the face of flames nearly ten metres high, the Paris Fire Brigade protected the western facade of Notre-Dame and its two iconic towers, narrowly avoiding the collapse of the stone structure of the cathedral. Thus, the Paris Fire Brigade, working in perfect coordination with the police and the services of the cathedral, have, through their action, succeeded in safeguarding a tangible, spiritual and emotional element of Paris and France, which in itself constitutes the common heritage of the whole of Europe”, added Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.

This high distinction will be presented to the Paris Fire Brigade by Plácido Domingo and Tibor Navracsics on 29 October in Paris. The European Heritage Awards Ceremony will be held on the occasion of the European Heritage Congress (27-30 October), which will be organised by Europa Nostra under the High Patronage of the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, with the support of the European Commission and in close cooperation with the Fondation du Patrimoine and the Mission Bern. This Ceremony will also honour all the winners of the 2019 edition of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards, which will be announced on 21 May 2019.


High resolution photos and video

Creative Europe website
Commissioner Navracsics website


European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards

The European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards were launched by the European Commission in 2002 and have been run by Europa Nostra ever since. They celebrate and promote best practices related to heritage conservation, research, management, voluntarism, education and communication. In this way, they contribute to a stronger public recognition of cultural heritage as a strategic resource for Europe’s economy and society. The Awards are funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

In the past 17 years, organisations and individuals from 39 countries have submitted a total of 3,032 applications for the Awards. Concerning the number of entries by country, Spain is first in the ranking, with 527 projects, followed by Italy, with 308 entries, and the United Kingdom, with 299 applications. With regard to the categories, Conservation has had the most submissions (1,744). Next comes Education, Training and Awareness-Raising (555), then Research (381), and, finally, Dedicated Service to Heritage (352).

Since 2002, independent expert juries have selected 512 award-winning projects from 34 countries. In line with the number of entries, Spain tops the list with 67 awards received. The United Kingdom is in second place (61 awards) and Italy comes third (45 awards). Regarding the categories, Conservation has the most winners (291) followed by Education, Training and Awareness-Raising (82), Dedicated Service to Heritage (76) and, lastly, Research (63).

A total of 116 Grand Prix of €10,000 have been presented to outstanding heritage initiatives, selected from among the award-winning projects.

The European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards highlight best practices, encourage the cross-border exchange of knowledge and connect various stakeholders in wider networks. The Awards bring major benefits to the winners, such as greater (inter)national exposure, follow-on funding and increased visitor numbers. In addition, the Awards foster a greater understanding of our shared heritage amongst the general public. The Awards are therefore a key tool to promote Europe’s heritage.

Europa Nostra

Europa Nostra is the pan-European federation of heritage NGOs which is also supported by a wide network of public bodies, private companies and individuals. Covering more than 40 countries in Europe, the organisation is the voice of civil society committed to safeguarding and promoting Europe’s cultural and natural heritage. Founded in 1963, it is today recognised as the most representative heritage network in Europe. Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned opera singer, is the President of the organisation.
Europa Nostra campaigns to save Europe’s endangered monuments, sites and landscapes, in particular through the 7 Most Endangered programme. It celebrates excellence through the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards. It also contributes to the formulation and implementation of European strategies and policies related to heritage, through a structured dialogue with European Institutions and the coordination of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3.

Creative Europe

Creative Europe is the EU programme that supports the cultural and creative sectors, enabling them to increase their contribution to jobs and growth. With a budget of €1.46 billion for 2014-2020, it supports organisations in the fields of heritage, performing arts, fine arts, interdisciplinary arts, publishing, film, TV, music, and video games as well as tens of thousands of artists, cultural and audiovisual professionals. The funding allows them to operate across Europe, to reach new audiences and to develop the skills required in the digital age.

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović
Europa Nostra
+31 70 302 40 50

Nathalie Vandystadt
European Commission
+32 2 2967083

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