“May the faith which has inspired pilgrims throughout history, uniting them in a common aspiration and transcending national differences and interests, inspire us today, and young people in particular, to travel along these routes in order to build a society founded on tolerance, respect for others, freedom and solidarity”

The Santiago de Compostela Declaration, 23 October 1987.

The Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim Routes was the first Cultural route chosen by the Council of Europe as an illustration of European Unification and Identity, “a European space bearing a collective memory and criss-crossed by roads and paths which overcome distances, frontiers and language barriers”. The Way shows that Europe was constructed on a shared history of exchanges and encounters between people with different backgrounds, nationalities and beliefs.

The core values of the Cultural routes of the Council of Europe are :

  • Human rights: based on the principles of non-discrimination and equal treatment, the Council of Europe’s action aims to foster freedom of expression, information and equality at all levels, maximizing the educational and cultural potential. The cultural routes promote cultural cooperation as a tool for raising awareness and building European identity, encouraging dialogue among populations and between religions, in order to ease tensions and prevent conflict.
  • Cultural democracy and diversity: diversity is a strength for the 47-member state Organisation founded in 1949, but its positive effects depend on the exercise of cultural democracy (access to culture for all, participation and equal consideration for cultural “differences”). The cultural routes’ great diversity of themes and destinations show how many cultures coexist in a democratic society, where none should be allowed to become “official”, but also emphasize the importance of a fair and equitable access to cultural resources and activities to encourage participation in cultural life.
  • Mutual understanding and exchanges across boundaries: the Council of Europe’s activities are based on cooperation between European countries at all levels of society, which requires an understanding of Europe’s diversity and common history culture and education are therefore essential enabling factors in strengthening the mutual understanding and confidence between people. From that point of view, “cultural tourism” along cultural routes is a way to learn by direct experience and individual discovery what make us different and similar at the same time, providing a space for wonder and imagination.

Both the knowledge and the sharing of cultural heritage, in a multicultural approach, encourage mutual understanding and prevent conflicts, aiming to ensure all citizens a life based on justice and peaceful coexistence.