Seven New Sites Receive the Prestigious European Heritage Label

The European Commission has proudly announced the 2023 recipients of the European Heritage Label, a distinguished recognition for sites that embody Europe's rich history and shared values, contributing significantly to the development of the European Union. Since its establishment in 2011, the Label has honored various sites that exemplify the unity and cultural diversity of Europe.

On Wednesday evening, April 17, 2024, EU Commissioner Iliana Ivanova hosted an award ceremony at the Elisabeth Center in Antwerp. During this event, the European Commission proudly announced the recipients of the 2023 European Heritage Label. This prestigious honor is awarded to sites throughout Europe that exemplify the continent’s rich history and shared values, and that have played a significant role in the development of the European Union.

Established in 2011, the European Heritage Label has been recognizing such significant sites for over a decade. This year, independent experts from across Europe selected the seven winners from a list of sixteen sites that were pre-selected by participating EU countries.

The 2023 European Heritage Label recipients are:

1. Cisterscapes 

(Austria, Czechia, Germany, Poland, Slovenia) Cisterscapes connects 17 historic monastery landscapes across Germany, Austria, Czechia, Poland, and Slovenia, showcasing the widespread influence of the Cistercian Order in medieval Europe. The network highlights the Order’s role in promoting knowledge exchange, cross-border culture, and sustainable practices, which significantly shaped European history and values.

2. Monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste

The Monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste in Spain holds historical significance as the retirement residence of Emperor Charles V after his abdication. It was founded in 1402 by the Hieronymite Order and features a palace built for the Emperor. Today, the Yuste Foundation, based at the monastery, promotes European integration, values like democracy and human rights, and explores EU challenges. Its notable project is the Carlos V European Award, which recognizes key European figures.

3. Our Lord in the Attic Museum

Amsterdam’s Our Lord in the Attic Museum, a hidden church, represents the 17th-century struggle for religious freedom in Europe. This freedom, later enshrined in treaties and the European Convention on Human Rights, became a pillar of European democracy. Hidden places of worship throughout Europe serve as reminders of past religious conflicts that these values and laws strive to prevent.

4. Royal Theatre Toone

The Royal Theatre Toone in Brussels, preserves both the art of traditional rod marionette puppetry and its historical role as a space for free expression. During times of oppression, puppet theaters offered a unique platform for satire and social commentary, making European literature and history accessible to a wide audience.

5. The Kalevala 

The Kalevala, a 19th-century work of literary fiction based on Karelian and Finnish folk poems, played a pivotal role in Finnish nation-building. It was part of the wider National Romanticism movement that shaped European nations’ identities. Today, the Kalevala continues to inspire contemporary European culture in various forms. While deeply connected to Finnish heritage, it demonstrates the interconnectedness and dynamic nature of European cultures.

6. Romanian Athenaeum

The Romanian Athenaeum, a Bucharest landmark, was built in the 19th century to promote culture and the arts. It reflects Romania’s modernization after gaining independence and is home to the “George Enescu” Philharmonic, which plays a vital role in spreading European classical music. The Athenaeum further promotes European values, culture, and science through its prestigious “George Enescu” International Festival and by hosting lectures from renowned European figures.

7. Sant’Anna di Stazzema

Sant’Anna di Stazzema is a site of remembrance. It is a small village located in the hinterland of the Tuscan Apennines where, on 12 August 1944, one of the most dramatic civilian bloodsheds of World War II took place. Today, it houses the National Park of Peace, dedicated to preserving the memory of this event and educating future generations on the importance of democracy, justice, and respect among nations. The Park actively promotes remembrance and peace through its many visitors, school visits, and educational programs.

These exceptional sites showcase the diversity and profound influence of European heritage,

liana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Culture

How to get a label?

Eligible sites for the EHL include a wide range of categories such as monuments, natural and cultural landscapes, places of remembrance, cultural objects, and even intangible heritage. Every two years, each EU member state may nominate up to two sites for consideration. These nominations are reviewed by an independent panel of European experts, and the selected sites receive official designation by the European Commission.

During thet award ceremony, Bamberg District Administrator Johann Kalb, who led the Cisterscapes connecting Europe project, expressed his enthusiasm: “This is a great day for all of us. We are now part of another active European family! The Cultural Heritage Label is an obligation for us to continue our full commitment to European unity!”

About the European Heritage Label:
The European Heritage Label (EHL) is a special award given by the European Union. It recognizes places that have played a big part in shaping Europe’s history and shared values. The EHL aims to help people feel more connected to Europe and understand how different European cultures fit together. Currently, there are 67 locations that proudly display this prestigious label.

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