In Europe, hundreds of thousands of people set out each year from their homes –or from popular starting points– to make their way to major worship places and lesser-known ones. The pilgrimage routes have undoubtedly become a significant economic and political asset for Europe.
The rurAllure project addresses one weak point hidden behind this depiction of success: the pilgrimage routes may be traversed by thousands, but their impact is almost exclusively perceived in the places located directly on the paths, rarely permeating into the surrounding rural areas. Thus, entire provinces and regions of a predominantly rural nature, which are facing significant economic and demographic challenges all over Europe become passive witnesses of the flows of pilgrims, whereas they could actually add much of content and value to the experiences.
The goal of rurAllure is to overcome this situation through the allure of the cultural heritage found in the rural environment. The opportunity arises from the fact that pilgrimage is usually planned with some flexibility regarding dates, distances travelled in successive journeys, places to rest, etc. Many pilgrims are amenable to serendipitous findings, too. This makes pilgrimage largely different from other types of cultural and touristic experiences, thus opening possibilities of increasing the numbers of visitors to the least-known heritage sites by:
The project sets the goal of simplifying the task of thematically connecting the experiences offered in different rural locations. The intended effect is that some pilgrims decide to take a break or a detour, and spend some time in a nearby town or village.
By designing, implementing and testing technological tools and promotional strategies, the project will seek to generalise that effect and, thereby, contribute to generate economic activity and also reinforcing a more diversified employment, to help preserve cultural heritage at risk (professions, customs, rural architecture, art and music, etc.) and to fight the rural exodus that is leading to a worrying spiral of loss of population and services.
The concept put forward by rurAllure is that of a network of cultural institutions (museums, libraries, natural heritage sites, civil associations, …) that could benefit from the flows of people on nearby pilgrimage routes.
Those institutions will work together towards the creation of multimedia contents that will be offered to the pilgrims before, during and after their travels, and towards the design of means of promotion suited to the specifics of the region. Their collaboration will be facilitated by a technological platform with specialised content management facilities, as well as mobile apps that will cohesively present the heritage of the regions traversed over several days or weeks, featuring functionalities for the following:
RurAllure does not directly seek to further promote or develop the pilgrimage routes, and it does not deal with religious heritage. Instead, it seeks symbiosis with the pilgrimage routes, so that, on the one hand, the ongoing investment put into the pilgrimage routes leaves a mark also in the nearby rural areas, and, on the other, the pilgrims enjoy enriched experiences thanks to the cultural heritage of the rural environment (that they wouldn’t get to know otherwise).
The goals of rurAllure are the following: