The focus of the project is the sustainable preservation of local churches and sacral monuments in 11 partner regions by developing transnational church route, elaborating joint strategies and testing innovative solutions to preserve them through 5 work packages. Project Duration: 1 July 2012 - 31 December 2014 Lead Partner: Association of Municipalities in the Upper-Tisza Area, Hungary This project is implemented through the Central Europe Programme co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

Preserving local churches to boost development in rural areas

In Central European rural areas cultural heritage has important value in regional development, especially in culture economy, which can be the main protagonist in economic and social development. The focus of the project is the sustainable preservation of the local churches and sacral monuments in 11 partner regions by developing a transnational church route, elaborating joint strategies and testing innovative solutions to preserve them.

THETRIS project unites 11 partners

The focus of the project is to support the development of rural areas and to make good use of the potential of medieval churches and religious monuments of local importance. The project provides a great opportunity for promoting cross-border and rural regions and for sharing the common European knowledge. In the frame of the project, partners are working together in 5 different work packages. The first two refer to the management and communication activities, while the other three focus on the main content of the project: analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the different partner regions, developing a common strategy for the sustainable preservation of the churches in these areas as well as of the cultural heritage related to these. Some partners also test innovative methods, and share their experiences about these within the partnership. In the last phase of the project partners will select the transefrable elements of the other partners’ good practices as well as develop plans for the sustainability of the project’s results.

Pilot Actions and Transnational Church Route

During the 7 pilot actions partners test new, innovative solutions and present during so called pilot seminars the aspects that can be transfered and adapted in other Central European areas as well. This would lead to the better use of the potential economic growth opportunities provided by the culture economy in the different European regions. One important element of the project is the development of the Transnational Thematic Church Route, which virtually incorporates the Regional Church Routes of the project partners – analysed and used for testing the innovative solutions within the project. Partners focus on these routes preliminary when trying to involve the local society as well in the development of new preservation strategiesfor the sake of utilizing the cultural heritage connected to churches as a catalyst of local economy.

Analysis and Planning

Each partner elaborated a SWOT analysis on regional level. The coordinator of this activity identified the common points of the regional analyses, that are similar in most of the Central European area. They pointed out the richness of cultural heritage sites (museums, castles, fortresses, heritage buildings and archaeological sites), the attractiveness of landscape and local environment, the presence of a strong cultural identity and of lively local traditions (festivals, races, plays, wine-and-food exhibitions and concerts). Cultural and tradition based initiatives are seen as opportunities to be explored and the development of environment and community friendly tourism is seen as an opportunity for fostering local development. Among weaknesses the presence of poor marketing strategies, the difficulties in getting heritage preservation funding and also the lack of local awareness on the importance of promoting regional cultural heritage were mentioned. Among other weaknesses that are relevant for Thetris project are inadequate tourist information, low quality standard of tourist services.

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