On the 4th of March 2005, in Strasbourg, the relevant
committee of the Council of Europe awarded the title of Major Cultural
Route of the Council of Europe to The Routes of the Olive Tree,
organised by the homonymous Cultural Foundation and by the Chamber of
Commerce in Messenia (Greece). This honorary distinction was awarded following
the proposition by the Direction of International Relations and Organisations
of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture.
This award constitutes a further step in the international recognition
of the route, which was elected the 2nd World Cultural Itinerary
by UNESCO in 2003.
Olive Tree Civilisation
an itinerary of culture and sustainable development, of dialogue
The Routes of the Olive Tree are itineraries of sustainable
development and intercultural dialogue, realized around a common theme.
They consist in the rediscovery and recognition of this diverse natural
heritage, linked to the technical, economic, social and cultural development
of the civilisations inhabiting the Mediterranean basin since ancient
times up until today. The initiative rests on the importance of the presence
of the Olive Tree in the Mediterranean as an element, which unifies the
people who live in its environment.
These itineraries work towards a common valorising of the history of this
tree, for the benefit of oil-producing regions, and towards expanding
the universal symbol of prosperity, spirituality, and peace that it represents.
aims and objectives
These itineraries wish to create interactive synergies
between conservation, tourism and development by:
· favouring dialogue between the regions concerned, between developed
areas and those in difficulty, between urban and rural spaces
· encouraging thematic tourism and sustainable development through setting
up exemplary initiatives in oil-producing regions
· carrying out an inventory of the material and immaterial heritage of
the olive tree, and increasing its value
· contributing to public awareness and educating young people
· leading specialised, multidisciplinary research on the widened theme
of the olive tree.
The Routes of the Olive Tree are part of a common initiative
by the Cultural Foundation The Routes of the Olive Tree and the Chamber of Commerce
in Messenia, with the cooperation of an important network of international organisations:
Greek and Mediterranean Chambers of Industry and Commerce, European universities
and research centres, Olive Tree Museums and Non-Governmental Organisations
from olive-growing countries. It has been placed under the aegis of the International
Oil-producing Council, of Hellenic Ministries of Culture, Development, Tourism
and Foreign Affairs, of the Peloponnesian Region, of the Athens Town Council,
of the International Federation of Motorcycling, etc.
The 1st cultural itinerary of The Routes of the Olive Tree was inaugurated in
1999 in the ancient town of Pylos, where tablets of linear B writing were discovered
with the ideogram of the Olive tree (which became the logo of the Foundation):
16 000 kilometres and 40 days of motorbike circuits, realized from Greece to
France, passing through Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Italy. These routes, which
take place once a year, are made up of a course of relays across all of the
olive-growing Mediterranean countries with the participation of Friends
of the Olive Tree and the motorcycle clubs of the IFM. The journey is
divided into several stages and continues towards several destinations, from
a predetermined town to another town of arrival, where all the participants
meet. The meeting of the Olive Tree Messengers is celebrated through
several events, organised in cooperation with local organisations.
Beyond the Mediterranean countries, The Routes of the Olive Tree have, since
2004, participated in the promotion of the olive tree in non-olive-growing countries,
such as Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland etc. These particular routes are
Full map of the itineraries 1999-2004
Photograph and painting exhibitions, commercial and cultural meetings, olive
oil competitions, information days etc. have been achieved in Greece and various
countries, as well as the publication of editions about the history and the
importance of the Olive tree and the nutritional value of its products, and
the publication of calendars.
For example, from 2001 to 2003, a series of cultural and commercial meetings
and exhibitions, entitled Life Cycles under the Light of the Olive Tree
were organised in Marseille, Bal Amand, Topruk, Montreal, Paris, Constantine,
Damask, Moura, Brussels et Izmir, in the framework of the European heritage
Days. The first Festival of the Routes of the Olive Tree took
place from the 14th to 19th December 2004 in the Exhibition Hall of the Syntagma
metro in Athens, with 5 days of exhibitions, educational workshops, round tables,
musical animations and culinary tasting sessions dedicated to the history and
the civilisation of the Olive Tree.
the euro-mediterranean importance of the theme
Through its geographic and historic extent, the olive
tree has not only marked the landscape, but also the daily life of Mediterranean
civilisations; it is associated with their rites and religious traditions,
and it has influenced their habits and techniques.
A mythical and sacred tree for the three monotheist religions, a material
and spiritual reference for the whole of the Mediterranean, a universal
symbol of peace and reconciliation, the Olive tree represents a wide variety
of living natural and cultural landscapes. Together with wine and wheat,
the Olive Tree has enabled communities in the Mediterranean, thanks to
maritime or terrestrial trade routes, to contribute to the formation of
harbour towns such as Marseilles, Genoa, Barcelona, Piraeus. The ports
and towns of the Mediterranean, both East and West, North and South, the
bazaars and markets, the olive groves and the both ancient and modern
oil factories, all constitute an exceptional common heritage, important
witnesses to the history and development of technology, soap-production
Today, it is in the Mediterranean that 98% of the world production of
olive oil takes place. The techniques and traditions continue to cross
over around the culture of the Olive Tree. Globally, the production of
olive oil plays a deciding role for economies and employment, as well
as for the biodiversity of Mediterranean regions. The areas with olive
tree plantations cover almost 4.5 million hectares, whilst the sector
includes 2,240,000 producers.
orientation and perspectives
In the years to come, the Foundation wishes to pursue
and develop its issues and activities along the maritime routes of the
Mediterranean and beyond the Euro-Mediterranean olive-growing region.
In 2006, it will inaugurate the first Maritime Route of the Olive Tree,
towards Mediterranean ports by following the traces of the distribution
of the olive tree and of merchant vessels. Another significant event is
forecast for the 2008 Olympic Games, in Peking. On this occasion, the
Routes of the Olive Tree and Eleodromia will depart from the Ancient town
of Pylos and Ancient Olympia in the direction of Asia, where they will
meet the Silk Routes to transfer the Olympic Flame.
The actions envisaged aim to reinforce intercultural dialogue, as well
as to engage or develop international cooperation.
Other initiatives promoting the civilisation of the olive tree are also
· Equipping a vehicle into a mobile activity centre, The Oleobus-museum,
composed of museum spaces, a library and facilities for tasting olive-based
· The creation of an electronic resource centre: Euro-Mediterranean
corpus that regroups the research and work carried out on the theme of
the olive tree.
other web sites