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European Heritage Days (EHD)

The movement European Heritage Days was established in France, where in the eighties of the 20th century arose and became popular the initiative “Days of the open doors”. During these days, after a widely spread information campaign, all museums and monuments of culture provided free access of the public to the assets of the cultural heritage; various group visits were organized, accompanied by lectures, discussions and different happenings (concerts, performances on historical topics in typical costumes etc.).

Partnership between The Council of Europe and The European Union

Gradually, this initiative was joined by most of the European countries, each one adding its own contribution, thus enriching the content and forms of the Days. So, since 1991, the European Heritage Days (EHD/JEP) have become a partnership program between the Council of Europe and the European Union and have been celebrated in almost all European countries under the motto “Europe - common heritage”. Each one of the participating countries selects annually its own national theme of the European Heritage Days and period of time for their celebration – by mutual agreement it is one of the weekends of September, so that the banner of the European Heritage Days could wave at the same time in thousands European sites. During this month, one topic dominates in the social life of the continent – the topic of the all-European heritage, involving millions of people with its problems, affiliating them with its assets and mobilizing new resources for its preservation. Of special importance for achieving of this objective is the contribution of the mass media and the Internet.

Since 1999 Bulgaria has become an active participant in the movement “European Heritage Days”, held with the following national themes: in 1999 - “Vernacular architecture”, in 2000 - “Cultural itineraries”, in 2001 - “Children, youth and heritage”, in 2002. - “Various ethnic communities and religions – common heritage” and in 2003 - “Cultural landscapes”.

“The European Heritage Days” are held under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and with constant co-organizers the Ministry of education and Science, the Ministry of Youth and Sport, the National Institute for Monuments of Culture and the Bulgarian National Committee of ICOMOS, which is constant coordinator of the Days. Depending on the annual selection of the national topic as partners could be involved various governmental and non-governmental organizations related to the specific theme.

Each year the Days become more and more successful, the scale is constantly increasing, the variety of programs become more and more interesting. A definite contributiion to that have all participants – dozens of municipalities and museums, regional units of the Ministry of Education and Science, various schools and child centers, NGO, as well as thousands of Bulgarians of all ages.

Annually, the national coordinator the Bulgarian National Committee of ICOMOS summarizes the information gathered from the participants (accompanied by photos, copies of publications and other materials), develops reports presented to the Council of Europe. The materials included in the reports become available on the Internet, while the participation of Bulgaria during all these five years has gained a high international appraisal.

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