Good Practice: Project combining research, local animation, tourism and social participation.
Shtetl Routes – Jewish heritage cultural tourism trail in the borderland of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus is a perfect example of a transborder cultural project where heritage acts as means for social integration. It may be seen as a way of strengthening human capital through swift collaborations with local communities which act as informers and memory keepers. It was a successful project linking places with memories and making both of them accessible. The balance between conservation and interpretation was perfectly sustained, while the leader, Teatr Brama Grodzka, acted “as a bridge” between the past and the present by revitalizing human stories. Membership in the European Routes of Jewish Heritage gave the leaders and other participants opportunities for learning and exchanging skills and know-how, especially within the domain of heritage interpretation. A guidebook was one of the results of the project making it an excellent tourist companion available for everyone ready to discover a kind of Atlantis, the land which does not exist anywhere else but in the past of Jewish towns. The following passage describes the spirit in which tourists are encouraged to follow the Route:
We do not promise that everything will run smoothly and pleasantly. We promise you will learn an important part of European history and see the wonderful cultural heritage in places you might have never heard of before. We promise you will meet interesting people and hear interesting stories, but sometimes you can be tired or full of emotions. Such a journey can be an important experience. There are people for whom the trip to the old shtetls was the most important journey of a lifetime. Shtetl Routes is an expedition that asks the traveller different, sometimes difficult, questions. Find out what questions it will ask you.