The European Commission and Europa Nostra have just announced the 2021 winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards, the EU prize for cultural heritage funded by the Creative Europe programme. This year, Europe’s top honour in the heritage field goes to 24 exemplary achievements from 18 European countries:

Category Conservation
Gare Maritime, Brussels, BELGIUM
Fredensborg Palace Garden, DENMARK
Vardzia Rock-Cut Complex, GEORGIA
Haus Am Horn, Weimar, GERMANY
Plaka Bridge, Epirus, GREECE
18 Ormond Quay Upper, Dublin, IRELAND
Wooden Church of Urși Village, Vâlcea County, ROMANIA
Besòs Water Tower, Barcelona, SPAIN
Mas de Burot, Els Ports Natural Park, SPAIN

Category Research
FIBRANET - FIBRes in ANcient European Textiles, DENMARK/GREECE
Control Shift - European Industrial Heritage Reuse in Review, GREECE/NETHERLANDS
ART-RISK - Artificial Intelligence Applied to Preventive Conservation, SPAIN

Category Dedicated Service to Heritage by Organisations & Individuals
Gjirokastra Foundation, ALBANIA
Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, CYPRUS
Rita Bargna, ITALY
GEFAC - Group of Ethnography and Folklore of the Academy of Coimbra, PORTUGAL

Category Education, Training and Awareness-raising
Following in the Steps of Bulgarian Folklore, BULGARIA
The Invention of a Guilty Party, Trento, ITALY
Holidays! In the East and West - The School Church, Groningen, THE NETHERLANDS
European Solidarity Centre - Permanent Exhibition, Gdańsk, POLAND
Morón Artisan Lime, Morón de la Frontera, SPAIN
Archaeology at Home, UNITED KINGDOM
Morus Londinium: London’s Heritage through Trees, UNITED KINGDOM

The announcement of the Award winners 2021 has just been made at a live online event co-hosted by Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and Hermann Parzinger, Executive President of Europa Nostra.

Europan Solidarity Centre
In August 1980, workers of the largest contemporary shipyard of Poland went on strike and demanded more civil liberties. After long negotiations between the strikers and the authorities, the Gdańsk Agreement was signed, which brought Solidarity (“Solidarność”) into existence, the first independent trade union in the Eastern Bloc. This was the beginning of a peaceful revolution that ended with the fall of communism in Eastern and Central Europe nearly a decade later.

Financed by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (now: Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport), the City of Gdańsk and Pomorskie Region, the new headquarters of the European Solidarity Centre (“Europejskiego Centrum Solidarności” – ECS) with its permanent exhibition was opened to the public in 2014. It has commemorated, preserved and increased the awareness of Solidarity’s heritage in Poland and other countries ever since.

In 2014, the historic Gdańsk Shipyard, the birthplace of Solidarity, received the European Heritage Label with the ECS as its administrator, acknowledging Solidarity’s significance in Europe’s broader history. The European dimension of the ECS’s activities was also noted by the Jury: “This permanent exhibition strives to maintain activities and to make people understand the sense of solidarity with Europe and what makes Europe united. The long-term project has a multi-faceted approach and is based on good research.”

The creation of the exhibition was an interdisciplinary effort of historians, social scientists, museum experts, designers and engineers, and draws on material obtained from nearly 60 important museums, archives, local historians and former oppositionists across Central and Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Hungary, to enrich the exhibition and strengthen its international scope.

“The exhibition highlights the importance of labour and how this built the Europe that we know today. It highlights the value of activism for human rights, labour rights and political rights, and shows the importance of civic engagement in the advancement of these causes. The use of the project’s up-to-date exhibition techniques and participatory museological approach is of great value and exemplifies how to preserve stories and make them relevant to the contemporary world,” the Jury stated.

The ECS Education Department invites students from all kinds of educational backgrounds, including integration classes, to participate in educational workshops promoting civil engagement. To date, around 73,000 students have taken part. Moreover, more than 140 ‘subjective tours’ have been conducted, guided by witnesses and participants in the depicted events. The importance of the ECS’s mission was highlighted in 2016 when the institution was awarded with the Council of Europe Museum Prize.

Since 2019, the European Solidarity Centre further supports the efforts of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (currently, the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport) in its attempt to have the historic Shipyard of Gdańsk inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is done by organising debates and lectures, but also by running publishing and educational activities to further disseminate the international relevance of the birthplace of Solidarity and advocate for peaceful advocacy of human rights and dignity.

Heritage supporters and enthusiasts from across the world are now encouraged to discover the winners and vote online to decide who will win this year’s Public Choice Award. The Public Choice Award winner will be announced during the European Heritage Awards Ceremony, which will take place in the autumn of this year. The Grand Prix laureates, each of whom will receive a monetary award of €10,000, will also be made public on this occasion.

Speaking at the online event, European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “The winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2021 are ambassadors of the beauty of heritage in Europe, whether it be traditions and know-how, breath-taking architecture or the way that heritage can unite communities and generations. I truly believe that the successful preservation of our tangible and intangible heritage depends on the commitment of the people behind it. With these awards, we therefore honour all those exceptional men and women, heritage professionals, architects, scientists and volunteers who bring our common heritage closer to our hearts. Their vision should be applauded.”

Europa Nostra’s Executive President Hermann Parzinger stated: “Each year, the winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards exemplify the incomparable creativity and commitment of those who work to protect, valorise and pass on Europe’s precious inheritance to the next generation. This year’s laureates powerfully demonstrate how heritage offers solutions and paths to recovery in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, as we take action for the climate, mobilise for sustainable urban and rural development and tackle the many threats to our core European values. We applaud their outstanding achievements: may they serve as inspiration and encouragement for future action for so many heritage professionals and enthusiasts across Europe and beyond.”

The Award winners were selected by independent juries composed of heritage experts from across Europe, upon evaluation of candidatures submitted by organisations and individuals from 30 European countries.


European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards
The European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards were launched by the European Commission in 2002 and have been run by Europa Nostra ever since. This Awards programme has the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. The Awards highlight and disseminate heritage excellence and best practices, encourage the cross-border exchange of knowledge and connect heritage stakeholders in wider networks. The Awards bring major benefits to the winners, such as greater (inter)national exposure, follow-on funding and increased visitor numbers. In addition, the Awards programme fosters a greater care for our shared heritage amongst Europe’s citizens. The Awards are therefore a key tool to promote the multiple values of cultural and natural heritage for Europe’s society, economy and environment. For additional facts and figures about the Awards, please visit

In 2021, two ILUCIDARE Special Prizes will also be awarded from among the submitted applications to the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards. The shortlisted projects will be announced on 10 June and the winners will be unveiled in the autumn of this year. ILUCIDARE project is funded by Horizon 2020 with the aim of establishing an international network promoting heritage as a resource for innovation and international relations.

Europa Nostra
Europa Nostra is the European voice of civil society committed to safeguarding and promoting cultural and natural heritage. A pan-European federation of heritage NGOs, supported by a wide network of public bodies, private companies and individuals, it covers more than 40 countries. Founded in 1963, it is today recognised as the largest and the most representative heritage network in Europe. Europa Nostra campaigns to save Europe’s endangered monuments, sites and landscapes, in particular through the 7 Most Endangered Programme. Europa Nostra actively contributes to the definition and implementation of European strategies and policies related to heritage, through a participatory dialogue with European Institutions and the coordination of the European Heritage Alliance. Europa Nostra was the EU’s key civil society partner during the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018. It also figures among the first official partners of the New European Bauhaus initiative recently launched by the European Commission.

Creative Europe
Creative Europe is the EU programme that supports the cultural and creative sectors, enabling them to increase their contribution to jobs and growth. With a budget of €2.4 billion for 2021-2027, it supports organisations in the fields of heritage, performing arts, fine arts, interdisciplinary arts, publishing, film, TV, music, and video games as well as tens of thousands of artists, cultural and audiovisual professionals.