The programme of Cultural Routes, launched by the Council of Europe in 1987, currently spans 33 certified networks covering over 50 countries with more than 1,600 members. The programme of Cultural Routes was formalised in 2010 by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes (EPA), designed to facilitate improved cooperation among countries with a strong interest in developing Cultural Routes. It therefore helps add to the potential of these routes for cultural cooperation, sustainable territorial development and social cohesion, with a particular focus on themes of symbolic importance for European unity, history, culture and values and the discovery of less well-known destinations.
They do not consist solely of classical linear routes, such as Via Francigena. The routes also include thematic trails organised as site networks, for example Le Corbusier Destinations. These routes extend beyond national cultural trails and aim to show that the cultural heritage of different European countries contributes to a shared legacy.
The EPA also strengthens the democratic dimension of exchanges and cultural tourism by involving networks and associations in the different countries, plus local and regional communities, universities and professional organisations. In addition, the agreement aims to preserve diversity through Cultural Routes and projects based on alternative themes and tourist trails.
As a signatory to the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes, Switzerland contributes to promoting sustainable tourism that upholds Europe's cultural heritage.