Historic towns and their landscapes are a unique part of Europe’s identity.  While Europe’s 500 million population is largely concentrated in larger settlements 80% of its territory is rural in character. These rural landscapes are home to a scattered pattern of smaller historic towns and villages. 


 HISTCAPE focuses on these historical assets – some 4,500 small towns of under 20k population which have traditionally acted as community hubs –a focal point for economic activity and social cohesion. This role has, however, come under serious threat over recent decades with outmigration, particularly of young people as a direct consequence of changing patterns of economic activity - adversely affecting demographic balance and sustainability. The ensuing loss of facilities and services combined with a loss of economic activity has resulted in a lack of investment in these communities. The acceleration of this trend, exacerbated by the recession, directly threatens the existence of much of Europe’s historic assets.

The HISTCAPE project addresses this challenge by focusing on the sustainable management of historical assets in small rural towns. Through interregional workshops, study visits and a special online practitioners’ forum the project will identify and establish effective policies and plans for the sustainable management of cultural heritage assets and related landscapes. 



HISTCAPE aims to arrest the decline of historical assets in rural areas.  It plans to do this by developing sustainable management solutions to help responsible bodies develop a more dynamic view of cultural heritage assets in rural areas.

The project will:

  • identify and disseminate good practice
  • contribute to increased skills and capacities within regional authorities
  • identify, implement and transfer improved models of heritage protection
  • improve the networking of regions and heritage management
  • develop policy recommendations at a European level


The project's objectives are to:

  • improve the protection of cultural heritage assets of historical value
  • improve the efficiency of sustainable management of cultural heritage assets by the responsible bodies
  • develop a territorial dynamic view of cultural heritage assets

These objectives will be achieved through:

  • the identification of Good Practice in 6 Thematic Topics related to the project objectives
  • a contribution to the increased skills and capacities of regional authorities staff
  • policy recommendations and contribution for the programming of the post-2013 structural funds
  • development of a network of regions and local heritage management authorities
  • the identification, transfer and implementation of improved models of heritage protection