Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen awarded the “European Destinations of Excellence” (EDEN) to this year’s twenty best destinations in tourism and intangible heritage at the European Annual Tourism Forum in Bordeaux on 18th of September. EDEN, launched in 2006, promotes the specific characteristics of European destinations and offers particular support to those where a competitive tourism is developed as to ensure social, cultural and environmental sustainability of tourism. It offers an opportunity to create a platform for the exchange of good practices at European level, while rewarding sustainable forms of tourism and successful business models.
The aim of EDEN is twofold:
- To draw attention to the value, diversity and shared characteristics of European tourist destinations and to promote destinations where the economic growth objective is pursued to ensure the social, cultural and environmental sustainability of tourism.
- It also creates awareness of Europe’s tourist diversity and quality, besides promoting Europe as the foremost tourism destination in the world.
The twenty awarded European destinations of excellence in 2008, chosen by national juries.
Austria: Steirisches Vulkanland
Steirisches Vulkanland or Styrian volcano land is rich in volcanic formations, thermal water resources, historic sacral and architectural monuments, folk art, as well as in traditions expressed in a characteristic culture of festivals and celebrations.
Ath is famous for the Ducasse – a procession of giants, a parade of characters that have been gathering for over 500 years and draws visitors into a charming medieval festival. Folklore inspired from the giants and related traditions has boosted the city’s image.
Myths, legends, even traces of ancient Thrace are waiting to be discovered by visitors to Belogradchik, or ‘small white town’, situated in the foothills of the Balkan mountains in north west Bulgaria.
Croatia: Đurđevac, the Rosster town
The orchards, meadows and vineyards make up the county of Koprivnica-Križevci, at the heart of which lies Đurđevac. The town’s historical, cultural and traditional heritage is based on the Legend of the Rooster.
Agros is an ideal year-round rural destination to visit that has developed its famous rosewater industry and offers unique opportunities to participate in celebrations of local cultural heritage and nature’s beauty, like the rose festival in May.
Sometimes called the cultural capital of Estonia, it is Viljandi’s unique location, people, nature and architecture which make the town so special. set it apart. The heritage of the place has been kept vibrant by its people especially through songs and the famous Viljandi folk music festival.
Finland: Wild Taiga
Wild Taiga’s location at Finland’s easternmost borderline makes it an enchanting place featuring green coniferous forests, esker valleys, clear waters and rich wild animal stock. It promotes the local way of life of its people, traditions and brings nature closer to individuals.
A special wine festival, the annual Percée du Vin Jaune – now one of the biggest in France – has successfully been turned into a tourist attraction. Visitors can follow the 80 km-long route, highlighting the historical and cultural heritage of the region as well as its gastronomy.
Greece: Prefecture of Grevena
The prefecture of Grevena is a mountainous area with a rich natural habitat: forests, rivers, valleys as well as flora and fauna abound. Nature intertwines with culture and history, making Grevena an attractive destination for tourists.
Hortobágy is not only part of Europe’s Great Plains region, the largest uninterrupted natural grassland in Europe, but also the place of herdsmen who have preserved a very ancient way of life and where both the diversity of species and habitat have been preserved.
Ireland: Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula
Resounding legends, myths and folk tales await travellers to Ireland’s east-coast town of Carlingford. The place is known for its Lough whose sweeping backdrop of Slieve Foye – the highest mountain in County Louth – gives it unrivalled natural appeal.
Italy: Comune di Carinaldo
The “Marches” region of Corinaldo represents a vivid example of Italian garden landscapes with neatly marked out fields and cultivated meadows. The town has preserved valuable collections of art works as well as a network of more than seventy still flourishing historic theatres.
Rēzekne is a city in the heart of the Latgale region in eastern Latvia famous for its pottery traditions. Rēzekne has been a centre of spirituality, culture and education. It is defined by green fields and lakes, unpaved roads and woods.
The borough of Plateliai that also includes Žemaitija national park, brimming with traditions, old architecture, local culinary, handicrafts and the customs of that region, is especially valued for its ancient farmsteads, the folk architecture and the Shrove Tuesday Carnival.
Echternach, “the Little Switzerland” of Luxembourg, is a town which prides itself on its cultural heritage, welcoming tourists to a centre of culture that has been attracting tourists since the middle ages and is especially famous for the dancing procession of Echternach.
Kercem and the hamlet of Santa Lucija organise cultural activities to foster appreciation of the inherited traditions and offer the three main festivities: a gastronomic event “Ikla tan-Nanna; the Bish-Sahha wine festival and the “Santa Lucija by Night” light festival.
Romania: Horezu depression
The Horezu depression or valley has an exceptional cultural and natural patrimony which grants this destination individuality and uniqueness. The Horezu enamelled pottery – unique to Romania through its chromatics and floral motives – is emblematic of the region.
Slovenia: The Soča valley
The Soča valley is a colorful valley rich with waterfalls, pools, canyons as well as flora and fauna. The legends in the air give it a fairy-tale atmosphere. The Soča valley river stories event promotes the cultural, ethnological and natural heritage, as well as peace.
Spain: Sierra de las Nieves
Sierra de las Nieves is an unspoilt natural paradise lying in the central part of the province of Málaga. It is a place for adventurous leisure pursuits such as horse riding, canyoning, canoeing and kayaking, eco-routes in off-road vehicles, balloon trips, trekking and hiking.
As the second largest capital of the Ottoman Empire, Edirne has a rich cultural heritage. The tradition of wrestling is big in Edirne and dates as far back as 1361 and the mosques, religious centres, bridges, bazaars, caravanserais and palaces all make Edirne a living museum.