European Heritage Days

Journées européennes du patrimoine
Migrations and Cultural Heritage: European Heritage Days Success Stories from Bizkaia

Participating in European Heritage Days since 2001, Bizkaia has celebrated its history, tradition, arts and culture through a number of different themes. From industrial heritage and natural landscape to traditional crafts and historic narratives, a wide variety of aspects has been covered to help citizens discover the splendid heritage around them.

In 2016, Bizkaia joined the celebrations of the European Heritage Days with the theme Heritage Communities, particularly focusing on migrations and historic cultural encounters that took place in the region. A notable change that has happened in this edition is the shift of focus from heritage object to the subject in order to emphasize the role of people in heritage preservation, enhancement and conservation.

Approaching the theme of Migrations and Cultural Heritage

The celebration of this theme included voicing and giving the decision-making power to different community groups in order to enable a new way of understanding heritage. This helped establish European Heritage Days as a project for society and by society, inviting people to enjoy a number of different activities aimed to help raise awareness of Bizkaia’s cultural heritage and highlight its historical territory as crossroads of cultures, people and traditions.

According to estimates, 15000 visitors joined various themed events, workshops, guided tours, lectures and exhibitions to explore and celebrate Bizkaia’s history and culture. The strategy that enabled the successful organisation and promotion of the theme was recently published in a European Heritage Days Migrations and Cultural Heritage case study document, which covers the most important aspects that contributed to the enhanced participation in the event. 

Created at the request of the Council of Europe, the case study reflects the work accomplished by the coordination team of the European Heritage Days 2016 in Bizkaia. It also offers a detailed overview of the organisational methodology that contributed to the success of the programme, which can be a great source of inspiration for European Heritage Days organisers across Europe.

With the common theme giving cohesion to the programme, a passionate community behind the event organisation and a creative approach to their promotion, European Heritage Days 2016 in Bizkaia are an excellent example of how people can be brought together to celebrate their culture, heritage and shared European values.

The paper is available for download here.


Amaia Apraiz Sahagún ( and Ainara Martínez Matía (, independent cultural heritage consultants and content coordinators for the European Heritage Days programme in Biscay since the year 2015.

Aintzane Eguilior Mancisidor ( director of communication and dissemination at Bizkaikoa (Diputación Foral de Bizkaia) and head of the European Heritage Days programme since its first edition in Biscay in the year 2001.