The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
Restoring the rich history of Albania’s cultural heritage sites
UNOPS and the European Union (EU) are restoring cultural heritage sites in Albania and supporting local community development.
In 2020, the EU launched the €40 million EU4Culture project to support the restoration, revitalization and sustainable development of cultural heritage sites in Albania. Implemented by UNOPS in close partnership with the Ministry of Culture of Albania, the project is one of the largest cultural heritage programmes designed by the EU.
The project aims to restore and revitalize a total of 20 cultural heritage sites damaged by the earthquake that hit Albania in November 2019, including the upgrading of tourism services at these sites. In addition to the restoration works, the EU4Culture project will provide modern equipment for four sites and also support the socio-economic development of local communities through the promotion of traditional crafts and cultural tourism.
Impressed by work done on restoration of the Venetian tower - a landmark cultural heritage site in Durres, damaged in 2019 earthquake, rehabilitated with EU support #EU4Culture together with @UNOPS pic.twitter.com/MGI6xLXt6M— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) March 16, 2023
“The restoration teams, led by UNOPS experts, are doing an amazing job. Through EU4Culture, we are restoring damaged cultural objects in 11 municipalities and also supporting local economic development, promoting cultural heritage sites with a high potential for tourism and the country's wider economy," said Christiane Hohmann, EU Ambassador to Albania.
The EU4Culture project will help boost Albania's socio-economic recovery by increasing the tourism potential of the selected cultural heritage sites. This will provide a direct boost to local production and social well-being by supporting local entrepreneurship, artisanship and creative creation evolving around selected sites through grants.
“EU4Culture is not just a programme of rebuilding monuments destroyed by the earthquake, but also a programme of community support,” explained Elva Margariti, Minister of Culture.
“Without engagement of communities, these monuments will remain lifeless ruins. It is the communities that give them a second life, that convey our intangible heritage and make these monuments attractive to visitors. Therefore, community support is one of the most important ways of recovery after destruction,” she added.
The project will also develop cultural heritage management and business plans to improve the management and governance of the sites, make them financially viable and profitable, and diversify their functions and services.
Some of the renovated sites will also serve as cultural heritage interpretation centers that will allow visitors to experience historical events and places through various digital and multimedia tools, including VR headsets, digital periscopes and dome multimedia projections. Users will get to experience augmented reality, looking through the history of the site in which you can see medieval ships approaching on the horizon or knights guarding the walls of the neighbouring fortress.
“UNOPS is proud to be part of the EU4Culture project. It is a crucial initiative for the sustainable development of Albania's cultural heritage sites,” said Pamela Lama, Country Manager for UNOPS in Albania.
“Introducing cutting-edge technologies, UNOPS is also helping to bridge the digital gap by bringing in expertise, spurring innovation, building capacity and bringing the quality education to the next level – making them more effective, efficient and accessible to wider audiences,” she added.