Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

European Commission

PHARE Programme for Cultural Tourism

PHARE Programme for Cultural Tourism

Cultural tourism is an important factor for the preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage, arts, the local social and economic development, as well as for the best mutual acquaintance in the context of European integration.
Showing respect to the cultural diversity, the European Commission is aiming at opening of European cultures, showing up at the same time the common in the heritage, shared by Europeans. The goal of the European Commission is to encourage cultural co-operation and exchange among the citizens of the European countries and to support the mutual acquaintance with the cultural products. The cultural sector in Bulgaria plays priority role in the country economy and has enormous potential. The European Commission is supporting the sector with projects, aiming at the development and promotion of specific types of tourism, like cultural tourism.

H.E. Mr. Dimitris Kourkoulas
Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to the Republic of Bulgaria 

In 2003 the European Commission launched Phare Programme – Development of the cultural tourism in Bulgaria. In the EU/Phare framework, 19 cultural tourism products in Bulgaria are selected and implemented in 2003–2005.

Phare Programme cultural tourism products in Bulgaria

The variety of these projects reflects the identity of the respective territories and reveals unexpected possibilities for cultural tourism. A group of projects, initiated by ICOMOS Bulgaria and the Association for Cultural Tourism in partnership with the local authorities present a development model that could in future become the ground for the realization of the Cultural Corridors network of South East Europe – with stage-by-stage realization of separate fragments and their binding in an integrate network. These projects are joint under the theme Going Back Millennia along the cultural corridor Eastern Trans-Balkan Road, connecting Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. It includes three integrated one with another local cultural routes: 
- The road Ruse-Ivanovo-Cherven (Region of Ruse, along the river Danube) – a mediaeval road between the Castle of Cherven and the Rock Monasteries at Ivanovo (World Heritage);
- An 18–19 century (Bulgarian National Revival) traditional road in the Region of Gabrovo connecting centres of vernacular architecture;
- The ancient Bachkovski pilgrim’s route connecting four monasteries, 30 churches and more than 200 chapels in Rhodope Holy Mountain (Municipality of Assenovgrad).

The projects are realized as a part of the future cross-border cultural corridor within the general network of Cultural Corridors of South East Europe. The example shows the way a cultural corridor makes the connection with specific local values and the way it can be actually used for innovative cultural tourism.