On the initiative of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia and the European Union Delegation in Armenia, European Heritage Days launched in Armenia on 24th September with a press conference and a cultural program held in “Metsamor” Historical-Archeological Museum. The opening event gathered Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassadors of foreign countries in the Republic of Armenia, heads of organizations concerned in the preservation of cultural heritage, as well as monuments guardians.
Celebrating the Heritage Communities theme, this year’s festival in Armenia involved more than 100 cultural institutions, historical monuments and cultural sites. For two days, these sites opened their doors for free to over 20,000 visitors eager to be a part of this major cultural event and learn more about the role of heritage communities. Stressing the importance of promoting this theme in Armenia, Gohar Grigoryan, the National Coordinator of EHD in Armenia notes:
"Armenia attaches great importance to democracy, tolerance, social justice, mutual respect between peoples and cultures, the needs of the flourishing cultural diversity at the local, national and international levels, in order to maintain peace and security, cultural diversity is a constantly enriched process of exchange and interaction between cultures. Intercultural dialogue is one of the priorities of the cultural policy of RA government and for its development and strengthening it is important to organize "European Heritage Days", "Night of Museums", “International Museum Day”, “The International Day for Monuments and Sites "and holding other pan-European events in the country.”
The 2016 European Heritage Days in Armenia offered a comprehensive cultural programme enabling visitors to get to know their history more closely. Among the most eminent historic and cultural institutions, the building of the National Assembly of Armenia, the National Library, the Opera and Ballet National Academic Theater of Armenia, the main building of Observatory, the Yerevan Brandy Company and the ARARAT Museum participated in the festival with unique programmes.
In addition to these, numerous other events were organised with the focus on celebrating heritage communities, youth and diversity. The programme particularly welcomed the participation of young people, the consolidation of their creative approaches, and the cooperation with different cultural organizations. To support the goal of engaging youth, urbanlab organized the "Other Yerevan" tour which promotes an alternative legacy of Yerevan and is a part of a project dedicated to mapping urban heritage of the Armenian capital.
With the support of European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA), urbanlab also initiated Engage Vanadzor, a program aimed to promote reevaluation of Armenia’s 3-rd largest city, Vanadzor’s modern tangible and intangible heritage and to advocate its preservation through community engagement. As an important and inseparable part of Vanadzor’s cityscape, industrial and modernist architecture and urban design elements will be mapped; so will be one of the city’s most interesting aspects of urban life, rock music.
Cultural (Faro) Walk was organized in Gyumri and Goris, COMUS ("Community-Led Urban Strategies in Historic Towns") Pilot Towns of Armenia, on 24th and 25th September 2016. Despite the cloudy and rainy weather, a hundred participants gathered to celebrate the values Faro convention promotes. At the beginning of the walk, the purposes and meanings of the convention were presented to students, pupils, teachers, professionals and many interested community members who were among the participants. In addition to this, a scientific presentation town’s urban heritage was introduced by heritage professionals. As Faro Walks caused an excitement in historic towns, the event organizers have decided to offer them periodically with an aim to also target walkers from surrounding communities and other towns of Armenia, as well tourists.
The diverse 2016 European Heritage Days programme in Armenia engaged thousands of people motivating them to reevaluate the historic, cultural and heritage that surrounds them. Highlighting how communities that help preserve and protect sites that stand as witnesses to Armenian history and culture, the event put people at the centre to show that every effort to preserve European heritage matters.