In the frame of the European Heritage Hub project, which aims to bring together heritage stakeholders and movements across Europe and the Caucasus region, representatives from Europa Nostra and its regional Hub in Athens, managed by Elliniki Etairia – The Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage, visited Yerevan, Armenia, from 26-28 October 2023. Meetings were held with more than 20 local stakeholders, both from Armenia and from the former Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh).
Semi-structured interviews with representatives from the public sector, universities, museums, professionals and NGOs revealed the needs and challenges of the involved actors in the cultural heritage sector in Armenia. The Europa Nostra team was also able to meet with representatives of some governmental organisations displaced from Nagorno- Karabakh which, despite the current lack of legal structure and economic resources, continue to work towards their cultural objectives. The on-site visit was organised in the frame of the pilot project European Heritage Hub, funded by the European Union and led by Europa Nostra, in which Elliniki Etairia participates as an affiliated partner. Arch. Gaianè Casnati, Council member of Europa Nostra, and Dr. Stavroula Thravalou representing the Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Athens, took part in the on-site visit.
On 30 October, Dr. Stavroula Thravalou held a presentation at the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia (NUACA) for the students of the recently inaugurated Master Course in Monuments Preservation. The presentation was attended by numerous students and 4 professors and included a detailed presentation of the European Heritage Hub project, the activities of Europa Nostra and of Elliniki Etairia in the fields of civil society engagement and awareness-raising. The lesson brought European experiences to the local audience and promoted reflection on the importance of vernacular architecture and of its preservation.
It was an important opportunity to verify on the spot the difficult situation of the displaced people from Artsakh and the threats to the preservation of their immovable, movable, tangible and intangible cultural heritage. It also served to test the relevant capacity of Europa Nostra to create networks and share good practices. Within a few days, Europa Nostra experts made an impact by connecting different experts and organisations and promoting future collaborations through a participatory approach, which is quite new in the Armenian context.