Among some of the most interesting and, somehow, ignored and unknown heritages of the EU territory and its citizens are their monumental or significant cemeteries, witnesses of the European socio-cultural diversity, History and artistic movements.

Burials ceremonies and traditions have existed, since the prehistoric period and societies; necropolis of archaeological interest are still being discovered in our days; and some of the most visited and renowned heritage sites worldwide are in fact monuments linked to the death, funerary ceremonies and/or trip to the so called “Next World”… (i.e. the Pyramids of Giza and Valleys of Kings in Egypt, or the Taj Mahal in India, just to name some of the most famous ones).

In Europe, through their structure (architecture, sculptures and mausoleums, green areas, churches, etc.) many significant cemeteries are a clear demonstration of the artistic evolution of the continent, mostly between the Romanticism and Modernism (19th and 20th Centuries). Their buildings – often made of a wide range of materials, from local stones to marble and iron to bronze -, have involved some of the most important sculptors and architects, and often served to “immortalised” the life, death and achievements of local citizens. In fact, the different experts on such issues do not talk about “tombs”, but about “monuments”, and some cemeteries have even reached international recognitions (i.e. the “Forest Cemetery of Stockholm, UNESCO World Heritage, or the Zale Cemetery of Ljubljana, which has been awarded by the European Heritage Label, recently created by the European Council of Ministers for Culture. It has to be underlined that both cemeteries are members of ASCE and thus will benefit from the project).

European Cemeteries also reminds us facts of our recent History (Epidemics, Grande Famine, Revolutions, World Wars, Civil Wars, etc.), and are a clear demonstration of our cultural and religious diversity and capacity of integration (intercultural dialogue).

Among the partners’ cemeteries, for example, we can find of course a great number of Catholic and Protestant cemeteries, but also Anglican, Orthodox or Jewish ones. Nicosia includes the Old Armenian Cemetery, located at a walking distance from the Walled City, very near to Paphos Gate, the western gate to the historic centre. It was erected at the beginning of the 19th century, by distinguished members of the Armenian community that came to Cyprus. In the same town, the known as British Cemetery includes a stone monument, standing in memory of commonwealth soldiers fallen in battles.

In all villages of Nebbio and Cape Corsica, we can find white marine tombs on the top of cliffs, of Greek architecture inspirations, or bordering roads, as well as individual impressive and luxurious mausoleums and burial places, built by local migrants who came back to the island to end their lives or noble families. Such constructions remain the great Roman or Florentine traditions. La Carriona cemetery of Avilés, built in the late nineteenth century (1887-1893) also reflects the prosperity of a village closely linked to Cuba, where a large number of indianos - Asturian migrants - made their fortunes. A multicultural relationship expressed among other manifestations in the funerary art of the cemetery (neoclassical, symbolism, medieval inspirations, etc.).

By including “Gardens of Souls”, the title of the project adopts a voluntary poetic connotation, since European cemeteries have been of inspiration for many writers and poets, as well as their last stop: Marine Cemeteries remind us Paul Valery’s verses (“Le cimetière marin”); In Balsac’s Comédie Humaine, the fictional character Eugène de Rastignac, not only climbed in the society, but also the heights of Père-Lachaise cemetery (member of ASCE), from where, at the end of the book, he looks down on the French
capital and makes his famous proclamation “À nous deux, maintenant!" (“It's between you and me now!”);

Many European cemeteries are also identified with the personalities buried within their walls (intellectuals, artists, writers, politicians, etc.), and some epitaphs are even studied for their literary interest, or repeated for their poetic or humoristic value.

In that sense, we can affirm that European Cemeteries should be considered as among the most significant European tangible and intangible heritage, and thus deserve some special attention and specific planning and

Although these monuments have somehow been forgotten by the different administrations during the last decades (mostly, since the 2nd World War), we can observe an increasing interest on them throughout the past years, and their owners, mostly local authorities, start to recognise their potential cultural, artistic, tourist and economic added-value.

As one among many other examples, in the Spanish town of Avilés, leader of the present project, a Managing Plan is being drafted together with Oviedo University experts. In addition, some considerable investments will contribute to rebuild ruins of the old building for counselling and chaplain, at the entrance of the cemetery, to convert it into an Interpretation Centre.

But the partners of the EUCEMET project are aware that it will be much easier to face the challenge of saving such a rich heritage through the work in cooperation and the exchange of experiences,


In that sense, and according to the general objective of the CULTURE Programme of the E.C., the project pretends to highlight a specific value of the Common European Area – its Cemeteries -, created on a collective cultural heritage of European citizens, through the development of cooperation activities between different cultural agents, and thus contribute to the development of a stronger feeling of European citizenship.

EUCEMET general aim is to highlight the importance of cemeteries and funerary arts as an important part of European cultural heritage and memory.

Specifically, the short-term objectives of the project pretend to identify and adopt a series of good practices in order to facilitate the accessibility, opening and understanding of cemeteries to visitors MUSEALISATION OF CEMETERIES) and thus, to increase the public-awareness on such monuments.

Indirectly and in parallel, through the promotion of cemeteries as cultural sites of interest for visitors, the project should also contribute to their conservation, protection and maintenance.

Thanks to its activities and methodology, the project shall also meet the 3 objectives of the programme:

It will promote the transnational mobility of professionals (cultural managers, historians, conservators, curators, town architects, sculptors, art students, etc.), through the realisation of study visits, workshops and the participation of Schools of Arts.

Although the burial monuments can not be used for itinerant exhibitions, these art works will circulate through the use of the NTIC (pilot project of augmented reality browser for mobile technologies), as well as through an exhibition of artistic pictures.

Through the socio-cultural diversity and different characteristics (cemetery architecture and materials, burial traditions, religious differences, etc.), the project will contribute to increase the dialogue and public-awareness about intercultural profile of our continent.

According to axe 1.2.1 main objective, the project activities pretend to explore innovative solutions that would be the first steps for a sustainable cooperation from a long term perspective.

Finally, it has to be underlined that, through the development of this joint strategic project, an indirect long-term transversal objective will be to contribute to the creation of jobs and development of new cultural and
creative industries (cultural tourism, conservation of monuments, development of new products, etc.), activities and voluntary services.