More than revealing history: archaeology, tourism, and urban development

Archaeological excavations do not necessarily adhere to the glamorous nimbus, whether they are based on epochs (e.g. Roman times or the Middle Ages), regions (e.g. Middle East), or themes (such as industrial archaeology). Most spectacular finds sometimes reach wider public attention, and even then they usually require popular scientific preparation and interpretation in order to be understood in their historical relevance.

However, the European project ARCHEODANUBE proves that archaeology can play a decisive role when it comes to the interaction between different fields and topics: Here archaeology, cultural tourism, and urban development are brought together in examples from nine European cities and regions. Numerous instruments have been created to support the establishment and management of archaeological parks.

Archaeology is an increasingly important topic in integrated urban development and cultural tourism, but so far, especially in large cities, where “the city under the city” is becoming more and more interested in citizens as well as visitors. Archaeological relics become part of reconstruction and new construction measures and experience a staging as a “window into the past”. In public spaces, new paths, archaeological paths, special plastered pavements, and information boards point to the archaeological heritage.

On the basis of the archaeological inventory, inner cities can thus be developed in a planning and design sense and can be preserved in terms of location and cityscapes. An integrated approach and joint action involving citizens’ interests are crucial. The initial question in ARCHEODANUBE was how archaeological sites in the inner-city area of small to medium-sized cities can be included in urban development and tourism in such a way that they can become a value-added factor. The value added did not only relate to economic factors, but should also take into account cultural, social, future planning, and education aspects and involve citizenship.  For this purpose, various instruments have been developed that build on each other, complement each other meaningfully and keep an eye on implementation aspects.

Available are now

For further reading

ARCHEODANUBE – Archaeological Park in urban areas as a tool for Local Sustainable Development:

The project’s homepage, supported by the European Interreg Danube Programme, offers free access and download options for all mentioned instruments as well as other materials.

Information about ARCHEODANUBE in German can be found on the website of the only German partner: The Association “Culture and Work” contributed to the project’s aspects in cultural tourism and in processes of civic participation.

The ArcheoTales are available for download for Apple and Android devices: In the Apple AppStore, the app can be found here:; in the Google PlayStore here:  There is also a video via the app:

Federal Institute for Building, Urban and Spatial Research on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development. 2014. Urban archaeology and urban development in World Heritage.

The publication documents contributions from a conference of the same name of the investment programme National UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which took place in Lübeck in 2012. Although it refers mainly to metropolitan conditions, some of the described requirements and solutions can also be transferred to small cities that were the target group of the ARCHEODANUBE project.

(Authoress: Karin Drda-Kühn)

Picture credit: Pixabay CC

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