WORLD – UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture

UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture: Building a New Partnership (Siem Reap, Cambodia, 4-6 February 2015) (04/02/2015) © World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) / World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Over 900 participants, including over 45 Ministers and Vice Ministers of Tourism and Culture, international experts, speakers and guests from 100 countries, gathered at the UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to explore and advance new partnership models between tourism and culture (4-6 February 2015). This was the first time the Ministers for Tourism and Culture were gathered together. 

“In order to effectively promote and safeguard the very heritage cultural tourism relies on, a sustainable, multi-stakeholder approach is crucial.”

Read the full press release here.


USA – Documentary makes lost Polish synagogue rise again

The new film Raise the Roof tells the improbable story of a decade-long odyssey led by Rick and Laura Brown, from a town south of Boston, who set out to bring back to life the nearly lost history of Poland’s historic 18th century wooden synagogues.

At one time, there were some 200 of these wooden synagogues built during a period referred to as the golden age of Polish Jewry. Of those that made it into the 20th century, none survived destruction during the German Nazi occupation of Poland. Along with the buildings, the knowledge of these unique architectural gems was nearly lost as well.

Read more about the film here.


EUROPE – Training sessions for crossborder Jewish tourism guides in Poland, Belarus, Ukraine

The Shtetl Routes project, an ambitious,  EU-funded, cross-border Jewish tourism initiative in Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, will be holding training sessions for tourist guides to Jewish heritage sites in the area.

The sessions, for 30 people each, will be organized by the Grodzka Gate NN Theater, one of the partners in the Shtetl Routes project.

Participation in training is free of charge. The organizer covers the costs of transport, accommodation and meals during the field trips and provides training materials, lectures and presentation led by local experts and specialists on Jewish subjects. Participants must however cover costs of getting to the training sessions.

Anyone interested in participating must complete the registration form located at this link by February 28. 

Read more at Jewish Heritage Europe here.



ICELAND to build first temple to Norse gods since Viking age

High priest of the Asatru Association, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, leads a procession at the Pingvellir National Park near Reykjavík. Photograph: Reuters

High priest of the Asatru Association, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, leads a procession at the Pingvellir National Park near Reykjavík. Photograph: Reuters

Icelanders will soon be able to publicly worship at a shrine to Thor, Odin and Frigg with construction starting this month on the island’s first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age. Worship of the gods in Scandinavia gave way to Christianity around 1,000 years ago but a modern version of Norse paganism has been gaining popularity in Iceland. “We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”

Read the whole article here.


EUROPE – New religious tourism project on Trappist Abbeys


A new religious tourism project has been launched in Italy. Abbeys of Trappist monks in Northern Europe and the attractions surrounding them are the central theme of the TATRA initiative.

TATRA – “Tastes of Trappists” – is a fifteen-month project partially financed by the European Program for Competition and Innovation (CIP), realized by a consortium of seven partner states including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

The project, designed to boost slow tourism by highlighting cycle paths and hikes, aims to create tourist itineraries focused on culture, gastronomy and wine in the areas surrounding Trappist abbeys in Northern Europe, most of which are currently closed to public.

Read the full article here.  

UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Toolkit

Sustainable planning and management of tourism is one of the most pressing challenges concerning the future of the World Heritage Convention today and is the focus of the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme. These ‘How To’ guides for World Heritage Site managers and other key stakeholders will enable a growing number of World Heritage Site communities to make positive changes to the way they pro-actively manage tourism.

Use the toolkit here.



NETHERLANDS – The Church, enemy of church buildings?

De sloop van St Michael’s Church, Devonport UK (Tony Atkin) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Kim de Wildt and Rob Plum have published a thought-provoking article following the news that Cardinal Eijk of Utrecht envisages closing 280 of the 300 churches in his archdiocese over the coming years.

They signal the absence of the Church, Catholic and Protestant, in the debate surrounding the alternative or extended use of obsolete religious heritage buildings, and the tendency of the Church to demolish a building rather than consider extended uses. Historically, the authors point out, churches have long had multiple uses; limiting their use to the Sunday service is a recent development.

The authors call for a joint effort to save historic places of worship and use the necessity of extended use to consider contemporary ways of religious experience.

Read the article in Dutch here.


FRANCE – New publication: “Patrimoine sacré – XXe et XXIe siècle”

A new publication by the Editions du Patrimoine highlights the religious architecture of France since 1905 and up to our days.


Ce livre abondamment illustré est en soi une œuvre d’art : la qualité exceptionnelle des photographies de grand format pour la plupart permet d’appréhender chaque monument intérieurement et extérieurement et d’en admirer les articulations, les aménagements, les lumières et l’un ou l’autre détail caractéristique.
Un délice pour l’œil.


Naviguer au hasard des pages est une plongée fascinante dans le monde de la création architecturale religieuse. Ce livre est une invitation à un voyage original à travers la France : on sait que les visites thématiques sont toujours passionnantes. La visite de ces nouveaux monuments réserve bien des surprises, à commencer par leur nombre qui témoigne de la vitalité de la création architecturale dans notre pays : environ 6000 édifices cultuels construits depuis le début du 20ème siècle, toutes familles religieuses confondues !

Read more in French here.


NETHERLANDS – Popular website ‘Reliwiki’ threatened by lack of funds


The Dutch website is a great succes, drawing about 65.000 unique visitors each month. It collects information about religious heritage, assembled by volunteers. All church buildings in the Netherlands are represented: 16.000 entries, 85.000 photographs.

Yet for lack of funds, the website may disappear by May 1st. 15.000 euros are needed to support it. For more information, or click here (Dutch).