The “European Heritage Days” cultivate the art of sharing

From Saturday 15 to Sunday 16, September 2018, the 35th European Heritage Days took place, a cultural event in which the Caribbean island, Guadeloupe, fully participates. After the theme “Youth and Heritage” of the 2017 edition, this year, the theme was “The Art of Sharing”.

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Celebrated today in about fifty European countries, the European Heritage Days are enjoying growing success. In France, the Ministry for Arts and Communication manages this annual event which takes place every year in mid-September. Locally, the Department of Cultural Affairs (DAC) coordinates and centralizes the various appointments, because Guadeloupe, the Caribbean, French and European island, fully participates in that.

“This 35th edition is particularly strong in symbols, in this year 2018 which was proclaimed “European Year of Cultural Heritage” and which also marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. Placed under the theme of “The art of sharing”, this edition offers us the opportunity to question what brings us together, what connects us (…) This privileged access offered to young people is part of the actions we support for the artistic and cultural education of all from an early age.This 35th edition is also marked by the first edition of the Heritage Lottery, organized by La Française des Jeux with the participation of the Fondation du Patrimoine (Heritage Foundation), I wanted to create to back the restoration of heritage in danger. The proceeds will benefit the restoration of 251 sites selected as priorities”, said Françoise Nyssen, Minister for Arts in France. Note that, in Guadeloupe, only The Bisdary House in Gourbeyre – dating from the early 19th century and located on a former and large sugar factory managed by the Jesuits in the 18th century – was chosen to take advantage of the national lottery for its restoration.

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More than 200 activities on the island

The vast majority of discovery places offered to visitors in 26 towns and cities in Guadeloupe and the Community of St Barthélemy was free. These include, for example, houses from the 17th to the 20th century that often belonged to slave owners (Bisdary, La Grivelière, Zévallos, Thomas Hermitage, Bouvier, Massieux, Beausoleil, La Ramée, Loiseau, etc.), forts and military vestiges of the past (Louis Delgrès, Fleur d’Épée, Napoléon, Powder magazine of Houëlmont, Arsenal in Le Carmel …), public buildings (Regional Council of Guadeloupe, Law Courts in Basse-Terre, Sainte-Anne town hall, Saint-François town hall, Saint-Louis town hall, libraries and media libraries, Departmental Archives of Guadeloupe, Vulcanological and seismological observatory of Guadeloupe, House of Architecture and Heritage etc.), public and private museums (St. John Perse, Edgar Clerc, Costumes and Traditions, La Vie d’Antan, Gerty Archimède, Kréol West-Indies Guadeloupe, Rum Museum, Coffee Museum, Les Beaux Arts etc.), art galleries (La Maison de l’Art, Atelier Odyssée), natural sites (Les Roches Gravées Archaeological Park, “Sylvathèque” in Blanchet, Anse Colas, Botanical Garden in Basse-Terre, Buckingham Garden, Jardins et Pierres, etc.) and various places like La Kassaverie in Capesterre Belle-Eau, the Pitt a Coq in Bélair, the geothermal power station in Bouillante, the cemetery in Morne-à-l’Eau, the West Indian Association of Ancient Automobiles in Sainte-Rose, the Guadeloupean Centre for Indian Culture in Petit-Canal etc…

This weekend dedicated to heritage was again a great success by the presence of many Guadeloupeans and foreigners on the various sites. This is the only time visitors can queue for a long time without complaining. Note that at the national level, the Élysée Palace was the most visited with 20,000 people who waited until eight hours to enter… In Guadeloupe, several activities were cancelled because of tropical storm Isaac…