Cultural Route based on Intangible Cultural Heritage is an innovation. The Argonautica route is an excellent case for cultural tourism development & promotion.
Cultural Routes (CRs) of Council of Europe (CoE) are pioneers in initiatives concerning European cultural integration and European identity. They involve Cultural Heritage as a strong link of European nations, linking Culture with Tourism.

CR is a route which includes two or more countries or regions and is organized on a theme whose historical, artistic or social interest is European, either according to the geographical route’s features it follows or according to its nature and/or significance. The route is based on multitude of features which present European culture as a whole, and it includes destinations rich in historic associations.

Most existing Cultural Routes are mainly based on tangible heritage, such as castles, monuments, products, places of worship, archeological sites, spas, cemeteries, etc. Cultural Routes based almost exclusively on
intangible heritage is an innovation, particularly based on: Mythology, Poetry and Visual arts.

The Argonautic expedition dating back to 1200 BC is the oldest legendary long-distance maritime journey in the world ever, covering several countries, seas,crivers, cities, places, referred to:
- in ancient Greek theatre tragedy Media by Euripidis, in 4th century BC
- in poetry ‘Argonautica’ by Apollonius Rhodius 250 BC, Orpheus 6th centrury BC and Pindar
- depicted at paintings and frescos of the Rainessance, also in modern art.

‘The Return of the Argonauts’ as a CoE Candidate Cultural Route is hence developed.

Resources needed

Human resources to prepare the submission as a candidte route to Council of Europe. A network association must be fomed involving national, regional and local authorities, Tourism Boards, Destination Management Organisations, Universities and research Institutes, relevant cultural NGOs and citizens.

Evidence of success

The ‘Return of the Argonauts’ Candidate Cultural Route has been presented at the Cultural Routes Training Academy of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in June 2016. It was also presented at the 9th European Cultural Tourism Conference in Guimaraes, Portugal in September 2016. There has been a lot of interest from several countries. The result is an innovative Cultural Route Network that develops sustainable cultural tourism based on intangible heritage to be certified by the Council of Europe.

Difficulties encountered

The development of a CR as a candidate for CoE certification is a very demanding process. In the case of Argonautica, it is even more challenging, since it is based on intangible cultural heritage, even with strong materials, regarding mythology, poetry, literature, visual arts, folk and traditions.

Potential for learning or transfer

The mission of Jason and the Argonauts to bring back the 'golden fleece' has inspired several works of art, including poetry, literature, pottery, theatre, painting, sculpture, cinema, documentaries, music and publications. Although a lot of attention has been given to the onward journey from Iolkos to Colchis, the return journey of the Argonauts has not been given the exposure it deserves. This is despite that the return journey is more that three quarters of the overall journey. The return of the Argonauts has left a cultural footprint in several places: Jason is considered to be the founder of Lubliana, capital of Slovenia and Argonautica is celebrated at the Dalmatian coast in Croatia, as well as in Marseille south of France. Alternative routes of the return hourney involve several countries and seas.

The 'Return of the Argonauts' cultural route development forms a very good basis for learning about intangible cultural heritage and for transfer to other regions and cities.
Main institution
Argonautica Network
Θεσσαλία, Greece (Ελλαδα)
Start Date
June 2016
End Date


Manos Vougioukas Please login to contact the author.

Good Practices being followed by

Nasos Hadjigeorgiou

Pafos Regional Board of Tourism