The most prestigious European heritage awards have been awarded


Brussels / The Hague, 10 November 2020 - The winners of the 2020 European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s top honour in the field, were celebrated this afternoon with a virtual gathering that connected heritage lovers, professionals, volunteers and supporters from across Europe and beyond. Due to the safety precautions against COVID-19, the European Heritage Awards Ceremony was held entirely online for the very first time, with the virtual participation of Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and Hermann Parzinger, Executive President of Europa Nostra. During the online ceremony, representatives from the European Commission and Europa Nostra proudly announced the three Grand Prix laureates and the Public Choice Award winner,which were selected from among this year’s 21 winning achievements from 15 European countries.

The 2020 Grand Prix laureates are:

1) the outstanding project Tramontana Network III (Poland, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain), dedicated to the research of the tangible and intangible heritage of Europe’s mountainous regions;

2) the major exhibition Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away (Poland/Spain), marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the largest Nazi concentration camp;

(read more about these outstanding European heritage projects on pages 3-4);

3) the exemplary restoration of the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio, L’Aquila (Italy), heavily damaged by the devastating earthquake of 2009;

The Grand Prix laureates, chosen by an independent jury of experts and the Board of Europa Nostra, will receive €10,000 each.

When selecting the Tramontana Network III to receive this year’s Grand Prix in the category Research, the Board of Europa Nostra emphasised: “Rural mountainous communities throughout Europe have an extremely rich and diverse cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible. The transborder and cooperative nature of the Tramontana Network III project is a strong example of the importance of research as a driver in equipping these communities with the necessary tools to preserve and celebrate their heritage.

Luís Costa, Coordinator at Binaural Nodar, partner project, affirmed: “The Award has helped us realise that small-scale grassroots organisations devoted to rural cultural heritage and working collaboratively on a European scale can produce relevant, diverse and high impact results. The Award is also an homage to European rural communities and their memories, showing that European countries still have a deep material and symbolic connection with their rural territories. Finally, the Award gives visibility to the importance of digital archiving as a tool to enhance a sense of deep knowledge about the social fabric of Europe.”

When choosing Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. to receive this year’s Grand Prix in the category Education, Training and Awareness-Raising, the Board of Europa Nostra noted: “Europe is facing an alarming and unacceptable rise in nationalism, xenophobia, antisemitism, racism and hate speech. Exhibitions such as Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. – based on rigorous research and European collaboration are important in that they raise awareness and make the lessons from our shared past more tangible, offering factual and clear evidence of what can happen when various forms of extremism are tolerated”.

Luís Ferreiro, Director of Musealia / Auschwitz Exhibition, stated: “Above all, the Award comes as an important tribute to all the victims, and a powerful reminder of how the story of Auschwitz is part of our shared cultural heritage. Hundreds of thousands have visited the exhibition, many of which are young students. It is very encouraging that so many people, in different continents, are willing to face such a deeply problematic part of our history. It speaks about the responsibility many individuals share not only to remember the past, but also to critically analyse our present.”

The Public Choice Award went to the education, training and awareness-raising project The Ambulance for Monuments (Romania), which has rescued hundreds of heritage-listed buildings in the country through a large network of active heritage organisations. This project received the largest number of votes, cast via an online poll with the participation of 11,000 citizens from all over Europe.

“I wholeheartedly congratulate this year’s European heritage success stories. In the dark days of a pandemic, the 21 awarded projects provide uplifting lights for their communities and for Europe as a whole, at a time when it is most needed. The 2020 winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards represent what Europe stands for: creativity, resilience, innovation, solidarity, talent and dedication. This makes me immensely proud – as European Commissioner and as European citizen. I sincerely thank each one of them for demonstrating yet again that Europe’s shared cultural heritage is not only part of our past, but a valuable asset for tackling our present day challenges and for ensuring a better future for all. With their work, they illustrate the immense potential of cultural heritage for Europe’s socioeconomic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic,” said Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. 

Honouring this year’s laureates of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards with a fully digital ceremony has been an exceptional and enriching experience. It has proved that excellence, commitment and perseverance in our heritage world know no limits. This is precisely what the 21 awarded achievements embody: these are stories of exceptional skills and teamwork, tireless dedication and bold action. On behalf of Europa Nostra, I wish to warmly welcome all of them to our ever-growing pan-European network of Heritage Excellence, which brings together the most captivating and outstanding heritage initiatives from across the continent. In the trying times we live in, might these heritage heroes inspire many others, in Europe and beyond, through the compelling power of their positive example,” stated Hermann Parzinger, Executive President of Europa Nostra.

The European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards were launched by the European Commission in 2002 and have been run by Europa Nostra - The European Voice of Civil Society Committed to Cultural Heritage - ever since. The Awards have the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

During the online ceremony, representatives from the European Commission and the ILUCIDARE Consortium, including Europa Nostra, were delighted to unveil the two winners of the very first edition of the ILUCIDARE Special Prizes: Archaeology for a young future (Italy/Syria), for excellence in heritage-led international relations; and TYPA - Estonian Print and Paper Museum, Tartu (Estonia), for excellence in heritage-led innovation.

The winners of the ILUCIDARE Special Prizes were selected by the ILUCIDARE partners from among the submitted applications to the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2020. ILUCIDARE is a project funded by Horizon 2020 with the aim of establishing an international network promoting heritage as a resource for innovation and international relations.

The online European Heritage Awards Ceremony was enhanced by exceptional musical performances prepared by our invaluable partners, the European Union Youth Orchestra, Le Dimore Del Quartetto (Italy), an Award winner from last year, and the European Music Centre in Bougival (France).

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