Project Details

Title: HISTorical assets and related landsCAPE
Priority: 2: Environment and risk prevention
Theme: Cultural heritage and landscape

Type of intervention

Type of intervention: 1: Regional Initiative Project
Mini-programme: No
Duration: 1st Jan 2012 - 31st Dec 2014
Website: http://www.histcape.eu


Total budget: €1,744,970.73
ERDF contribution: €1,360,261.45

Lead partner

Rural Development Styria
Hans-Sachs-Gasse 5/3
8010, Graz

  • Click for contact details
    • Contact Person: Alexandra Kulmer
      Phone: 0043 (0) 316824846
      Fax: 0043 (0) 3168248464

Project summary

Historic towns and their landscapes are a unique part of Europe’s identity. While Europe’s 500 million population is concentrated in larger settlements 80% of its territory is rural in character. These landscapes, developed over centuries, are home to a dispersed pattern of smaller historic towns. HISTCAPE focuses on these historical assets – some 4,500 small towns of under 20k population which have traditionally acted as community hubs - a focal point for economic activity and social cohesion. This role has come under serious threat over recent decades with outmigration, particularly of young people as a direct consequence of changing patterns of economic activity - adversely affecting demographic balance and sustainability. The ensuing loss of facilities and services combined with a loss of economic activity has resulted in a lack of investment in these communities and directly threatens the existence of much of Europe’s historic assets. This spiral of decline is at the heart

of the problem that HISTCAPE has identified. The current lack of regional and local policies relating to small historic towns needs to be addressed and tools developed to help to understand the value of heritage and facilitate its protection. HISTCAPE focuses on providing a platform and mechanisms for collection, exchange and transfer of experiences and views among the partner regions in order to find and test better solutions and tools for preservation of cultural heritage assets and related landscape situated in rural and scarcely populated territories accross Europe. HISTCAPE is particularly relevant to INTERREG IVC directly responding to the environmental risks associated with the survival of Europe’s dispersed historic assets. The sub theme of cultural heritage is at the core of the problems the project is aiming to address. Through regional cooperation it will fill a strategic policy gap improving the effectiveness of regional policies relating to cultural heritage in Europe’s

smaller settlements whose viability is now seriously under threat. A set of instruments are planned to enable exchange of experiences among regions such as Interregional Workshops, Study Visits and a Practitioners Forum on the website. It will identify good practice in sustainable management and ensure they transfer into regional Implementation Plans that are capable of accessing the structural funds – providing a catalyst for further public and private sector investment alongside the empowerment of local communities. Europe wide impact is expected through the events, website and the Practitioners Forum. The HISTCAPE partnership is composed by 12 partners with several years of experience in both managing Cultural Heritage and Rural Development: 3 regional development agencies, 5 regional authorities, 1 local authority, 1 European institution, 1 research centre and 1 University. The partnership comprises 12 partners from 11 different EU countries and representing 10 regions.

Project achievements

Many rural areas in European regions are threatened by a loss of facilities and services combined with a loss of economic activity resulting in a lack of investment. The Italian hill town of Cingoli in Marche Region, the mining valley of Sabero in Castilla y León and the World Heritage Site Upper Middle Rhine Valley in Rhineland Palatinate are only some of the examples of unique and special rural places searching for innovative concepts to protect cultural heritage and landscape and to address these challenges. To support these rural areas in their attempts, HISTCAPE follows a defined methodology. The first step was the identification of problems. While it may seem that the problems are similar across Europe, a strategic problem diagnosis was required to gain an in depth understanding. The insufficient recognition of cultural, natural and industrial heritage, a lack of cooperation between authorities and ineffective tourism initiatives were recognized as important issues.

The second on-going step was the identification of good practice or successful examples. The project has built upon the diversity and specificities of partners’ experiences. Each project partner was asked to identify good practices from their regions utilizing a standardized form. The standardization was critical in order to further evaluate the good practice and compare and contrast. Diverse practices and instruments for the protection and economic validation of cultural heritage have been identified by the partner regions as good practice. These range from techniques for the identification and cataloguing of cultural heritage to new models of financing and attracting investment. Also, innovative activities and participatory models for territorial development were investigated. 51 examples of good practice have been identified and were analysed in detail within 8 Interregional Workshops and 9 Study Visits in the HISTCAPE partner regions.

Based on the good practice examples identified in the project, policy recommendations and new policy instruments were developed and tested in six pilot actions. These pilot actions addressed specific issues of the regions. New management concepts for the re-use of vacant buildings, methodologies for community involvement and guidelines for the definition of special protection plans in local communities were identified. Furthermore, the transfer of successful models for the touristic development of industrial and natural heritage was successfully tested in the pilot actions. In this way, the project created fresh perspectives and innovative ideas that have resulted in the identification of ten regional implementation plans for all the partner regions. New knowledge and skills were generated to ensure the conduction of the regional implementation plans and policy impacts as well as a joint contribution to European strategies for cultural heritage.

HISTCAPE provided a platform in order to guarantee a direct improvement of regional policies and to impact policies at European regional level. The interested public was regularly informed about project outcomes and results through the HISTCAPE website and in quarterly newsletters. Open Conferences or International Conferences were held in each partner region and have attracted a broad international audience. All together, more than 3300 stakeholders have attended the conferences and public events where HISTCAPE was presented. Two general brochures have been disseminated in all partner languages and partners have summarised their specific results in regional brochures. The final conference was held on 16 September 2014 in Slovenia, where final project results were presented. The guidebook on the preservation of rural heritage values has been published in December 2014 and includes the main project results. All project materials can be downloaded at www.histcape.eu.


Institution, Town Country Region Contact details
Rural Development Styria, Graz AUSTRIA Steiermark 0043 (0) 316824846
cueortla@jcyl.es; valrecje@jcyl.es
Northern Cultural Regional Direction, Oporto (Porto) PORTUGAL Norte +351 22 619 7080
ccruz@culturanorte.pt; mcrodrigues@culturanorte.pt;
Marche Region, Ancona ITALY Marche 0039 (0)71 806 3836
Region of Western Macedonia, Regional Development Fund, European Programmes Office, Kozani GREECE Dytiki Makedonia 0030 2461 053970
General Directorate Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate, Mainz GERMANY Rheinhessen-Pfalz 0049 6131 2016 113
Saaremaa Local Governments Association, Kuressaare ESTONIA Eesti +372 45 20561
sol@tt.ee; info@saartegeopark.ee
Vidzeme planning region, Cēsis LATVIA Latvija 00371 641 16016
Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning of Republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana SLOVENIA Zahodna Slovenija 00386 1 4787300
Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Derio SPAIN País Vasco 0034 946 430 069
juancarlos.espada@tecnalia.com; rand.eppich@tecnalia.com;
European Association of Historic Towns and Regions (EAHTR), Norwich UNITED KINGDOM East Anglia +44 1603 496400
University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana SLOVENIA Zahodna Slovenija +386 1 4768 500


As of 31 December 2015, this website is no longer updated. Follow news on interregional cooperation at www.interregeurope.eu