Set up in 1949, the Council of Europe is the oldest international organisation in Europe and covers the whole continent.  Its 47 member states  have come together for the purpose of “safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress” (1949 Statute).

The Council of Europe launched the Cultural Routes programme in 1987. Its objective was to demonstrate, by means of a journey through space and time, how the heritage of the different countries and cultures of Europe contributes to a shared cultural heritage. 

The Cultural Routes put into practice the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural democracy, cultural diversity and identity, dialogue, mutual exchange and enrichment across boundaries and centuries.

In December 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted Resolution CM/Res(2010)53 establishing an Enlarged Partial Agreement (EPA) to enable closer cooperation between states particularly interested in the development of Cultural Routes.