Image by Tourist Office City Hvar, Jakša Kuzmičić

The winners of the 2020 European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s top honour in the field, were celebrated with a virtual gathering that connected heritage lovers, professionals, volunteers and supporters from across Europe and beyond. The town of Hvar took part in the celebration from the Arsenal building, which won in the category of “conservation” for the renovation and strengthening of the Arsenal’s load-bearing structure.

Due to the safety precautions against COVID-19, the European Heritage Awards Ceremony was held entirely online for the very first time, with the virtual participation of Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and Hermann Parzinger, Executive President of Europa Nostra. Award-winning projects from 15 countries were presented and then the best of the best in the category of Grand Prix, Public Choice Awards and special ILUCIDARE awards were announced. The live program was followed by more than a thousand people via the registration link.

The 2020 Grand Prix laureates are:
1) the exemplary restoration of the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio, L’Aquila (Italy), heavily damaged by the devastating earthquake of 2009;
2) the outstanding project Tramontana Network III (France, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain), dedicated to the research of the tangible and intangible heritage of Europe’s mountainous regions;
3) and the major exhibition “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away”, marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the largest Nazi concentration camp – the exhibition is the result of the collaboration of two European entities, Musealia from Spain and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland.

The Public Choice Award went to the education, training and awareness-raising project The Ambulance for Monuments (Romania), which has rescued hundreds of heritage-listed buildings in the country through a large network of active heritage organisations. This project received the largest number of votes, cast via an online poll with the participation of over 12,000 citizens from all over Europe.

Further information about the award and laureates can be found under the link of the Europa Nostra Association in cooperation with the European Commission and with the support of the Creative Europe program of the European Union, this award has been awarded since 2002:

The winners were selected by independent juries made up of heritage experts from across Europe. This resulted in a detailed assessment of the nominations submitted by organizations and individuals from 30 European countries.

After the award ceremony, an informal one-hour meeting of all participants, representatives of Europa Nostra, members of the expert jury and the public in several thematic groups took place, where interesting discussions result about the preservation, regeneration and promotion of cultural heritage.

Hvar’s Arsenal

One of the winner was the Arsenal building, centrally located in the town of Hvar (Croatia), the most important harbour of the island. It has been carefully restored and successfully transformed into a vibrant cultural centre for visitors and the local community alike. The Croatian Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Regional Development were partners to Grad Hvar in the 30-year project to rehabilitate Hvar’s Arsenal. The project was funded by the Hvar municipality, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Regional Development and Split – Dalmatia County with additional funds coming from civil associations and the European Regional Development Fund.

Image by Tourist Office City Hvar, Jakša Kuzmičić

The Jury noted that “this respectful revitalisation project has adapted a very significant building to the modern needs of the community and adds a new cultural dimension to the tourism of the area. It represents a long-term effort to ensure the preservation of the Arsenal, a site of high heritage value. The stratification of the 16th-century building and the later 18th-century theatre has been properly recognised in the conservation works. These sites are evidence of a long history of international trade in Europe and are significantly located in the harbour area where they continue to play an important role as a place of connection”.

“With congratulations to all laureates and the Europa Nostra Association, the City of Hvar once again thanks the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union Funds and all institutions, companies and individuals, all experts and enthusiasts who worked for three decades to renovate the Arsenal building with the theatre. Recognition goes to everyone involved! After the annual award of the Ministry of Culture „Vicko Andrić“ for 2018, which was awarded to a group of associates for the overall work on the renovation of the Arsenal and theatre in Hvar in July last year, this great European recognition confirms the value of an extremely demanding 30-year Arsenal revitalization project.” – statement by Hvar.

Video about the Arsenal renovation project with the theatre:
Excellence Fair 2020 – Hvar’s Arsenal