Report about the 9th Cultural Routes Advisory Forum of the Council of Europe

Sibiu, Romania, 2nd to 4th October 2019

16.10.2019 • Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland

It was a remarkable atmosphere on this forum where representatives of the Council of Europe, Romanian government and orthodox church and more than 20 of the now 37 European Cultural Routes met.

Mainly the interchange of ideas and visions during the plenary session and also in the breaks made the three days very valuable. Not to forget the impressive old center of Sibiu/Hermannstadt and trip to two of the numerous fortified churches (Kirchenburgen) – some of them are UNESCO heritage.
Last but not least I had fruitful conversations about Routes of Reformation with interested people from France, Sweden, Finland and above all with German origin representatives from Siebenbuergen/Transylvania.

The Cultural Routes Advisory Forum started on October 2nd in the afternoon. The morning before I had an impressive trip around Sibiu guided by Cristian Cismaru, Reky Travel, who showed me many Siebenbuergen-typical details in the villages around.

The official part was filled up by statement of officials from Romania, the region and the orthodox church. Republic of Latvia was welcomed as a new member in the EPA of CoE. Before the opening Galadinner the new 5 certified Cultural Routes were welcomed in the “family”, after presenting themselves with a short statement – among them the Routes of Reformation. That was a really great momentum! The next day was filled up with numerous speeches and presentations. An interesting one was that of the head of marketing
and communication of the European travel Commission, Mr. Miguel Gallego. In contrast to the first day the room was wide and easy sitting. The organization at all was not that good, the timelines were running out, the places for dinner could only be reached by bus, no coffee in the breaks etc. Most valuable were the numerous talks and contacts to hear something about the other routes’ experiences and also with colleagues who are interested in the Routes of Reformation. Those interests seem to be strong in Finland and further more by the German rooted representatives of Evangelic church in Siebenbuergen: Mr. Galter, priest and head of the Ev. Academy Neppendorf in Hermanstadt, Mr. Parvy, but also Bishop Guib, who I met in separate meetings beside the conference.

In a closed meeting of the Cultural Routes members we had a discussion about participating in ITB 2020, Berlin. Most of the routes wishes to have an own counter for Cultural the Routes. Details will be clarified within the next 3 weeks. The Training Academy in 2020 will be held in Fontainbleau, May 26th – 29th. Main subject should be the cooperation between cultural and tourism actors. The Annual Forum 2020 will be held in Chania, Greece from October 7th to 9th.

The last day there was an excursion to two big fortified churches from the 14th and 15th century, two of nearly 2 hundred of such churches in Transylvania, all of them build by the “Saxons”, people who were asked in the 13th century by the Hungarian King to come to this region. Even if the number of the German rooted people (Saxons and Landler) has been reduced to appr. less than 2 percent of the total population after the big emigration in the early 90th of the last century, they are still very influencing and represented in local and regional boards and parliaments. The mostly well known of them is state president Mr. Johannis, the former mayor of Sibiu/Hermannstadt