The first international conference dedicated to Europa Nostra’s new programme ‘ENtopia: Our Places in Europe’ took place on the island of Chios in Greece on 28-30 March. This new programme aims to assist small local communities in preserving their historic, architectural and environmental heritage through adequate policies and funding. The event, which was organised by Elliniki Etairia – Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage which acts as Europa Nostra’s country representation in Greece, assembled 70 participants from ten European countries.
The ENtopia programme was launched in June 2013, on the occasion of Europa Nostra’s 50th anniversary Congress in Athens. It aims to celebrate the historic and cultural traditions and diversity of small towns, villages and landscapes, and to foster greater appreciation, awareness and sharing between these communities of their distinct local identity, as an integral element of our wider European identity. By joining in this initiative, the communities will be able to participate and share in the benefits of cooperation across the continent. The programme was initiated and is directed by the distinguished Irish architect and Council member of Europa Nostra Philip Geoghegan.
The three-day conference was held at the restored “Livanoudiko” building for which the Maria Tsakos Foundation received a special mention of the European Heritage Awards Jury in the category Conservation.
Konstantinos Ganiaris, Deputy Regional Governor of Chios, Stavros Michailidis, General Director of the Maria Tsakos Foundation, and Yiannis Mihail, President of Elliniki Etairia, welcomed the participants on the evening of 28 March.
An inspiring speech made by Costa Carras, Vice-president of Europa Nostra, opened the event in the morning of 29 March. Participants presented 24 candidate proposals from 10 countries – Albania, England, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Spain and Turkey – for the ENtopia programme. Among the nominations are the islands of Chios, Sikinos, Skopelos and Skyros, which were submitted by Elliniki Etairia. The morning session was moderated by Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, while the afternoon session was moderated by Costa Carras. A session on Organisational & Funding Matters, which had Rossana Bettinelli, Board member of Europa Nostra, as moderator, closed the second day of the conference.
In the morning of 30 March, Claire Lyse Chambron, Policy Officer at the DG for Education and Culture of the European Commission, made a detailed presentation of European Union policies and funding opportunities. This important presentation was followed by a panel and open discussion on the future of the ENtopia Programme, which was moderated by Irina Subotić, Board member of Europa Nostra.
Participants in the conference also had the opportunity to visit iconic villages and monuments in Chios, namely the 11th century Monastery of Nea Moni; the 12th century Church of Panayia Krina; the two best preserved walled villages of the Genoese period, Olympoi and Mesta; the Ottoman Hamam in the Old Fort; the Byzantine Museum, with its exceptional 14th century frescoes in the 19th century Mosque; and the beautifully restored Antouaniko mansion in Kampos.
Photo: Courtesy of Elliniki Etairia