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The European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH) is a tourist route of the most important industrial heritage sites in Europe. This is a tourism industry information initiative to present a network of industrial heritage sites across Europe. The aim of the project is to create interest for the common European Heritage of the Industrialisation and its legacy. ERIH also wants to promote regions, towns and sites showing the industrial history and market them as visitor attractions in the leisure and tourism industry.
The concept of using a European Route of Industrial Heritage was born in 1999; it was recognised there had been no single event to shape the European landscape greater than the industrial revolution. That changed the working culture of all Europeans, and gave common experiences to communities across Europe whether it be deep mine coal working in the Rühr or South Wales. Four countries, Great Britain, Belgian, Germany and the Netherlands successfully applied for EU Interreg IIC (North-Western Europe) funding to draw up a master plan. The plan demonstrates the economic potential as a primarily marketing brand. It also shows a possible structure. Its reasoning was that many individual sites had great footfall others had a very low profile. They used the analogy of small shops gathering together in large shopping centres for joint promotion. In the language of EU proposals the hubs are called anchor points; these could be cities or existing industrial sites with a developed tourism infrastructure.
With the plan adopted its implementation was funded by Interreg IIIB-north-western Europe, and the scheme rolled out; starting in the northwest and progressing south and east. ERIH is a registered association under German law. When funding ran out there were 850 member attractions which has risen to 1,850 sites across the EU28 countries. In October 2014 further funding was obtained from the EU Creative Europe programme . The European Route of Industrial Heritage has been a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe since 2019.
The – virtual – main route is built by the so-called Anchor Points. These are Industrial Heritage sites which are the historically most important and most attractive for visitors. The route leads through 13 countries thus far (in 2014): United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
The anchor sites in are:
- Styrian Iron Trail
- Industrial Valleys
- Euregio Maas-Rhine
- Saar Lor Lux
- Euregio Maas-Rhine
European Theme Routes
Thirteen European Theme Routes show the diversity of industrial landscapes all over Europe and the common roots of industrial history:
- Application of Power
- Housing and Architecture
- Industry and War
- Iron and Steel
- Industrial Landscapes
- Production & Manufacturing
- Service and Leisure Industry
- Transport & Communication
- The Declaration of Duisburg
In this era of great changes to our European nations and cities, Industrial heritage is an important witness to our common history and identity.
The common history of European industry has played and will continue to play an important part in the culture and identity of our European nations and it offers possibilities to create both shared and individual identities. The accessibility of our cultural heritage is a key element in experiencing this identity and it helps us to understand better our common roots.
The sustainable development of our industrial heritage helps to secure the economic and social regeneration of municipalities.
Historical continuity creates a sense of belonging and respect for the historical environment.
“The European Route of Industrial Heritage” is a project that underlines the importance of our shared industrial past. It will create accessibility to Europe’s industrial heritage for the inhabitants of our nations and will help identify the locations where sustainable redevelopment has to take place.
In our professional involvement with industrial heritage, we are aware of its major importance for the future of spatial planning, cultural heritage tourism and recreation and for the individual identities of nations.
We embrace the ERIH concept with its network of Anchor Points, Transnational Theme Routes, and Regional Routes as a convincing programme for transnational cooperation and regional tourism development.
Therefore ERIH - The European Route of Industrial Heritage – is our common concern.
Duisburg, 1 December 2001 
- European Route of Industrial Heritage home page
- "ERIH's History and Goals - ERIH". www.erih.net. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
- "Creative Europe". Creative Europe - European Commission. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
- Anchor Points. The milestones of European industrial heritage
- "Regional Routes – ERIH". www.erih.net (in German). Retrieved 2017-03-24.
- "I want to go there! – ERIH". www.erih.net (in German). Retrieved 2017-03-24.
- "I want to go there – ERIH". www.erih.net (in German). Retrieved 2017-03-24.
- "european route of industrial heritage".
- "European Theme Routes – ERIH". www.erih.net (in German). Retrieved 2017-03-24.
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