This week Eutropian’s Levente Polyák was in Pontes (Liebana, Cantabria, Spain) with Eurocities, KEA European Affairs and ERRIN (European Regions Research and Innovation Network) to explore how a region and its communities can benefit from their religious and natural heritage.
Cantabria region worked on the transformation of a religious building (Domus Dei) into an inclusive centre (Domus Populi) to facilitate community encounters and welcome tourists and pilgrims. Located in a thousand-year old church, Liébana is a public-private initiative that has improved the local awareness of the value of the regional religious heritage. The process has included a fourfold strategic dimension which has taken into account a research dimension, acquisition and protection of infrastructure, an approach to business development and a marketing concept linked to tourism.
Importantly, the rural development and territorial cohesion of the region via various cultural heritage initiatives and projects, the use of European funds and projects for regional cultural heritage initiatives and the connections to the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the UN.
The mayor of Penarrubia, Segundo Caso, who was a keynote speaker at the conference said that “Locals need to become the protagonists of change: nothing hurts local identities and belonging more than a paternalistic approach to rural areas.”