SPAIN – Documenting forgotten religious architecture

Four architects from Valladolid have published a book, “Las Ruinas de Dios. Arquitectura religiosa olvidada en la Provincia de Valladolid”, documenting the forgotten religious architecture in that province.

The publication is the result of intensive field work, and collects multiple sources of documentation. Subjects include (the abandonment of) parish churches, sanctuaries, monasteries and convents, which are documented with the help of the Laboratorio de Fotogrametría Arquitectónica of the Valladolid university ‘before they disappear completely’. The book documents even those structures so badly damaged their original flour plan is hard to ascertain; in some case local inhabitants provided oral information about the original situation of lost buildings. Photographic images, architectural surveys and sketches complete this information.

Read the detailed article in Spanish here.

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UK – drones used to survey church buildings

Drones- or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) – are starting to be used to survey church buildings. They enable visual inspection of fragile or inaccessible structures, without the need for scaffolding.

Peter Slinger, who used drones to inspect St Peter’s Chruch, Yaxley, said: “We obtained a very comprehensive understanding of the condition of parts of the church which were inaccessible and even discovered problems which would have been unlikely to have been noted even if we could have accessed them.”

Read the full article by the National Churches Trust here.


NETHERLANDS – one shared Agenda for religious heritage

The Dutch Cultural Heritage service (RCE) is teaming up with some thirty religious and non-religious organisations throughout the country, to determine how they can cooperate to conserve churches and monasteries in The Netherlands. Vacant properties and the possibilities of extended uses are among the issues to be considered. The effort will result in a common ‘Agenda’ of concrete action points for the coming years.

Read more about the ‘Agenda Toekomst Religieus Erfgoed’ in Dutch here, or read the newsletter here.


EUROPE – Germany and Romania team up for Transylvania’s fortified churches

The Presidents of Romania and Germany, Traian Basescu and Joachim Gauck respectively will take up as sponsors of the Fortified Churches Foundation of the C.A. Evangelical Church of Romania. This step ‘amounts to the recognition of the value and the assumption by Romania and Germany of this cultural patrimony as a common European asset’, the Evangelical Church representatives say.

Read the full article on Agerpres here and on Financiarul here.

Photo: Alex Tudor, Agerpres Archive

Photo: Alex Tudor, Agerpres Archive

SWITZERLAND – Curbing churches’ energy use intensity

While ‘saving energy’ is a hot topic everywhere, many historic churches continue to have a very high Energy Use Intensity (EUI). Energy-saving renovations are often prohibitively costly, and made more difficult by the buildings’ status of protected heritage sites. Moreover, objects within the church may pose limits on the interior climate allowed.

The Swiss organisation ‘Kirche und Umwelt’ is looking for ways to heat churches more effectively. It has researched some 200 sites over the past years in order to  be able to advise about sensible and economic heating.

Read the full article in German here.


SPAIN – A fence to protect Romanesque sites

The Amigos del Románico call for a fence to protect San Pedro de Plecín, and other heritage sites, from destruction. Spoils from the Romanesque heritage site – a capital, column shaft and two column bases – were recently found at an individual’s house, but the deterioration of the site continues.

The Amigos del Románico call on politicians to take greater care of their region’s cultural heritage. Leaving these monuments unprotected is short-sighted, since cultural tourism is on the rise and can represent a source of income for the local community. The plea is becoming a yearly ritual, performed for San Antolín de Bedón monastery in 2012 and for Santa María de Tina in Ribadedeva in 2013.

Read the whole article in Spanish here.

Members of the Amigos del Romántico

CALL FOR PAPERS for FRH conference 29 Oct – 1 Nov


“Sustaining Europe’s rural religious heritage”

29 October – 1 November 2014
Deadline: 22 June 2014
Please send an abstract of maximally one page (A4) in English to

Future for Religious Heritage’s third international conference takes place in Halle this autumn. It will bring together practitioners and policymakers working to save and promote religious heritage across Europe. The aim will be to develop and share new thinking on sustaining historic religious buildings and recognising value in a rural context.

The vast majority of Europe’s religious heritage is in the countryside. It is often hard to access physically as well as intellectually and suffers from underuse and high maintenance and conservation needs.

This conference will take a number of different viewpoints with the aim to better understand the values of rural religious heritage, both social and economic, as well as give inspiration to practitioners across Europe by promoting innovative models and ideas.

It will consider issues of demographic and geographic contexts of the heritage in larger society and smaller communities, audience development and accessibility to the public, fundraising and management of the buildings.

We call for poster-abstracts on the following topic:

- “Help me help them” – presenting a specific “problem”-building, that is looking for a solution. The session will take the form of a forum for brainstorming ideas around the posters.

We call for papers on the following topics:

- Experiences of how extended community, arts and tourism use can benefit religious heritage in the rural context.

- What types of events can be responsive to the religious and secular communities’ needs, and the heritage fabric of the building and interior.

- Civil society – the importance of rural religious buildings to the sustaining and strengthening of the wider rural community. How initiatives to strengthen rural civil society and protect rural religious heritage can be mutually beneficial.

- Examples of how to engage the local countryside community, excite and empower them to look after the heritage?

- Storytelling! How do we engage people in telling the story of their church, synagogue or mosque? Personal stories that also present the more recent history, use and importance for the community .

- New ways of enjoying and appreciating the heritage! Can opening the senses help find new routes to interpreting the heritage? What role does technology play in this?

- Innovative models for fundraising! What can crowd-funding do for religious heritage, and how can available funding be shared over a number of buildings? What can this do to help engage people who are not part of the building’s local community?

- How to meet the challenges of merging parishes and closing down churches. How to find which to use and which to close? Does the decision-making process behind closing one or a group of churches fully take into account wider community and cultural needs?

- How to secure the place of worship and its contents against both human and natural threats, whilst also ensuring accessibility and the privacy of the visitors?

- Examples of good rural maintenance practice with minimal resources.


Logo, Future for Religious Heritage (FRH) - The European network for historic places of worship


This conference is organised in collaboration with:

FAK Berlin-Brandenburg
FAK Marburg
Katholische Akademie des Bistums Magdeburg
Stiftung “Entschlossene Kirchen”
Landesheimatbund Sachsen-Anhalt
Verband der Kirchbauvereine Sachsen-Anhalt

Logo-FAK                    Kirchen Stiftung logoLandesheimatbunt logo





Go to the FRH conference 2014 main page

ROMANIA – wooden churches rescued via civil society mobilization

The president of Pro Patrimonio France, Caroline d’Assay, reported on the successful mobilization of civil society members, who contributed to rescuing wooden churches in Transylvania (a topic we reported on last November in this article).

Dating back to the 16th to 19th centuries, these churches have been abandoned in recent decades due to their small capacity and lack of amenities like electricity and heating. While the cultural importance of these buildings is recognized by  the Orthodox Church of Romania and the Ministry of Culture, neither have the means to conserve and maintain them. The Pro Patrimonio Foundation, in tandem with the National Architect Order, have enlisted the help of the communities, thus enabling emergency restoration work on 20 churches despite extremely modest means. “We are now being contacted by other groups for advice and reports on our experience”, D’Assay writes. In reply to this demand, for every church saved, a description of the work and inventory are being published. The work is also being documented via 3D online tours such as this one.

A list of some 60 more churches to be rescued remains. Read the full article here.


FRANCE – Launch of Clunypedia website

On April 15th, the Clunypedia website has gone live. Clunypedia, an initiative of the Fédération Européenne des Sites Clunisiens, is designed as an online encyclopedia, collecting documents, drawings, photos and videos, 3D animations of architectural details, and any other information pertaining to Clunian heritage sites throughout Europde, which are shown on an interactive map. The project targets a general public: tourists and youngsters, as well as researchers. “Clunypedia is designed for you: you are a European citizen, therefore your history and heritage concern you!” An app is being designed to facilitate access to Clunypedia.

Visit the website and read the mission statement in French here.



FRANCE – Churches open their doors for fourth “Nuit des églises”

Subscriptions for the Nuit des Eglises have now opened. This yearly event is organized for the fourth time by the online platform Narthex, an initiative of the Église de France. On the night of July 5th, churches across France will open their doors to the public, hoping to draw in those who do not usually visit and heighten their visibility. The Nuit des Eglises website proposes a list of ideas participating churches can draw on to organize events, guided visits, musical performances, and other ways to present their building and the heritage it contains to the public. These proposals are grouped into three categories: heritage, music, and liturgy. In the 2013 edition, some 600 churches participated in the Nuit des Églises.

Read about the initiative in French here.

A volunteer explains his enthusiasm for the Nuit des Eglises.