Cradles of European Culture - CEC



When visiting museums or heritage sites in different European countries, one can notice that their presentation emphasizes rather the national history and almost never the common past shared by many of the states that form today the European Union. This is regrettable, because cultural heritage can very well highlight the common features of our centuries-long culture and a better knowledge of these features might, in this time of turbulences, forge a greater cohesion and solidarity within the European zone. Beyond the present moment, such an approach would increase the cultural exchanges and stimulate the cross-fertilization of ideas and practices inside the scientific European Community. From the scientific environment, the ideas could be promoted towards the general public and the political representatives and decision-makers.

In this context, the "Cradles of European Culture (CEC)" project is an attempt to change the situation and start a common reflection on the past cultural values. Conceptualized as a pilot project, this initiative involves employing existing European heritage institutions as vehicles for promoting an awareness of our common heritage.

The starting point of this reflection is "Francia Media" - a political construction that existed between 843-1033 AD in the central part of Medieval Europe. "Francia Media" once belonged to the impressive realm of Charlemagne, which, after the death of his son Louis the Pious, was divided into three parts by the treaty of Verdun in 843: "East Francia" (later Germany), "West Francia" (later France) and "Middle Francia" or "Francia Media" in between (present countries: The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia).

"Francia Media" enclosed the most important early medieval North-South commercial route that linked the North Sea with the Mediterranean and thus facilitated cultural, economical and technological exchange. This was also a crossroad between the Romanesque, Germanic and Slavonic worlds, resulting in a great linguistic and cultural diversity and serving as a good basis for the Renaissance and Humanism values. In more recent times, this area saw many nationalist conflicts that culminated dramatically in the 20th century. However, along this same corridor and in the very same 20th century, the "European idea" emerged and first developed: the countries that signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and thus founded the European Economic Community (EEC) all belonged to the historical territory of "Francia Media".

This Carolingian transit zone between North and South therefore offers an ideal opportunity for the European citizens to find the roots of a concrete European identity in all of its unity and diversity. Moreover, this approach reflects the spirit of the European Heritage Label and complements the Council of Europe's European Cultural Routes Scheme, which promotes the idea of a greater unity and the sharing of common European values.


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

This project is partly co-funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia