Horizon 2020 project, funded by the European Commission, connects historic pilgrimage routes and cultural heritage in their rural surroundings, facilitating economic impact of sustainable tourism in geographically and socially isolated areas.
The rurAllure works in pilot areas – laboratories of ideas - and develops new cultural experiences, based on heritage found in rural environment and its cultural, historical, sociological and economic background.
The project’s four pilot areas are:
- Legendary pilgrimage route crossing Europe towards the tomb of the Apostle James the Greater in Santiago de Compostela. The pilot focuses on stretches of the route along the French, Winter, and Coastal Portuguese ways in Spanish Galicia and Northern Portugal
- Three major medieval itineraries that lead to Rome: Via Francigena, Via Romea Strata and Via Romea Germanica. The research of thermal heritage is focused on Italian stretches of the routes
- Scandinavian network of Saint Olav's pilgrimage paths leading to his tomb in Norwegian Trondheim. The pilot focuses on the routes along the lake Mjøsa in Norway, studying their rich ethnographic heritage
- The Ways of Mary or Mária Út is a spiritual route crossing countries of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The pilot focuses on stretches in Hungary, Slovakia and Romanian Transylvania and studies their natural heritage
Mapping heritage sites along and in the proximity of the routes constitutes the core of the project’s research phase. The materials are compiled into a digital repository of cultural points of interest, available both as web platform and mobile application. Pilgrims can use the tool to discover new cultural spots, integrate them into their travel itineraries and share featured travel plans with the community, while private and public stakeholders can contribute to the heritage repository to strengthen the visibility of local resources.
Impacts & Results
The pilgrimage itineraries may be traversed by thousands of visitors, but their impact is concentrated in popular tourist areas and rarely goes beyond the path limits. The rurAllure project works to boost the potential of proximity tourism and generate greater economic, social and cultural impact in less popular territories by promoting local and rural heritage and attracting new visitors.
The key findings obtained in four pilot studies form the basis of the rurAllure platform, adapted for the use of travellers interested in cultural tourism and enriching their walking experience. The platform is free and allows visualising heritage attractions located in the vicinity of the chosen pilgrimage route, building tailor-made itineraries, and exploring audio-visual materials related to heritage objects. The platform will remain accessible to travellers and cultural promotion organisations after the end of the project.
A network of institutions is created to consolidate action towards the promotion of cultural sites in European rural settings crossed by pilgrimage routes. Apart from the Consortium partners, the project involves more than 50 associated partners, exchanging knowledge, sharing best practices in the heritage field, organising joint workshops and developing studies with a cross-border perspectives.
Enhancement of the academic research
In line with developing a heritage inventory, the project elaborates studies and publications on sustainable tourism and pilgrimage, policymaking and community involvement, digital user experience, communication and marketing strategies.
Development of policy-brief and best practice
The findings gathered from the pilot regions will be transformed into a policy-brief and recommendations for professionals working in heritage, tourism, policy-making and other relevant fields at regional, national and international levels.