Photo: Arben Llapashtica / UNDP Kosovo

 

During difficult times it's essential not to lose sight of our unity. Cultural heritage and monuments are reminders of the diversity of our communities that we live in, as well as of co-existence and mutual respect. 

Held every year on 21 May, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development celebrates culture and highlights its diversity as a symbol of inclusion and positive change. Today, to commemorate this day, we asked young people across Europe and Central Asia to tell us what cultural heritage means to them, and to talk about some of their favourite monuments.

What does cultural heritage mean to you?

Genc Buca, Kosovo*

 

Photo: Arben Llapashtica / UNDP Kosovo
Photo: Arben Llapashtica / UNDP Kosovo

 

“I work for the regional centre of cultural heritage in my hometown. It has changed my connection to cultural heritage completely. I have visited many old buildings I didn’t even know existed.

Here we collect information about old buildings, write stories, describe how they were built, take photos, document them. We go out to heritage sites, I take measurements, I make drawings. I come back to the office and draw them in AutoCad. If, in the future, we need to make interventions to any of these sites, we will have all our heritage in a database.

This is my job. It’s also my passion. I am happy I get to contribute to promoting and preserving our cultural heritage sites. I want other citizens to know what I know.”

 

Neşe Topal Küskü, Cyprus

 

Photo: Neşe Topal Küskü
Photo: UNDP Cyprus/Flycam Aerial Photography & Filming


“Vibrant, diverse, colourful. A link between our past, present and future. Cultural Heritage can be found in the most surprising places. In a song, a dance, a building, present on both land or under the sea. We have a dream, to protect our heritage for the future”.

 

Boban Petrović, Kosovo

Photo: Boban Petrovic
Photo: Boban Petrovic

“Cultural monuments can teach us a lot about history. The Balkans have an extremely turbulent history. Over the centuries we have been recipients of a great influence of Eastern and Western cultures. Under this influence, the region gained an extremely rich cultural diversity and many different cultural monuments. Unfortunately, many cultural monuments were destroyed during the centuries due to wars and negligence of the people who did not understand the importance of preserving the cultural heritage. Only by better understanding, respecting and educating about the importance and preservation of the cultural heritage of other communities can we prevent the same mistakes from happening again in the future.”

 

What is your favorite cultural heritage site and why?

Nita Llonçari, Kosovo

Photo: UNDP Kosovo
Photo: UNDP Kosovo
Photo: UNDP Kosovo


“Cinema ‘Lumbardhi’ in Prizren is one of my favorite sites. It’s a great representation of national culture because it goes beyond the usual definition of material heritage. The Cinema has not become a monument due to its astonishing architecture or its very old age, but because of its genuine value to the people of Kosovo. 

“Cultural monuments in their most basic form can teach us about the why we live the way we live. Every decision taken about a monument - how it was built, why it was built, how it is protected - has an ideology behind it, whether it is their protection, demolition, restoration or reinterpretation. When we look at a monument, we learn about the power heritage has to alter societies. That’s the reason we should not allow our past to be erased. Otherwise, we risk  history falling into oblivion”.

 

Tamila Gabitova, Kyrgyzstan

Photo: Zafer Dincer
Photo: Zafer Dincer


"Uzgen Tower is a unique archaeological and architectural museum complex in the south of  Kyrgyzstan. It was built in the 12th century during the Karakhanids Era and the areas where it was built used to be the capital of their state. It’s a complex structure and ornaments represent deep history, and how skillful, influential, and powerful our ancestors were. We should try our best to save this heritage and bring its story to the next generations."

 

 

Baktygul Rakymbaeva, Kyrgyzstan

Photo: Janarbek Amankulov
Photo: Janarbek Amankulov



"'Manas' is one of the finest narratives and an encyclopedia of the Kyrgyz people’s life and fight for independence, statehood, culture, life-style, education and all other aspects of their life. Counting up to 937,000 lines of sentences, the oral epic has been included in UNESCO's list of masterpieces of cultural heritages of humanity. 'Manas' has also been considered for World Guinness Records as the World’s Biggest Epic. 

The epic has traveled through more than 1,000 years by word of mouth depicting the Kyrgyz hero Manas, his wife Kanykei, their relatives, family and their efforts to build the strong and independent Kyrgyz state. 

People who tell the epic of 'Manas' are called 'Manaschy.' These people have taken on the responsibility to pass it to the next generation."
 

Saidakhror Khodzhaev, Kyrgyzstan

Photo: Zafer Dincer
Photo: Zafer Dincer



"The Sulaiman-Too mountain is located in the heart of Osh and is one of the main attractions of Kyrgyzstan, which is listed in UNESCO world heritage. It is also known as Solomon's throne because according to the legend, the mountain was visited by the Prophet Sulaiman and was named after him. For many years in the past, it was the main point of the Great Silk Road connecting East and West. For us, residents of Osh, it is not just visually appealing, but also a symbol of who we are: it represents our deep and diverse history to lean on while appreciating our present and creating our future."

 

Savvas Evangelides, Cyprus

Savvas Evangelides


“Cultural heritage to me is dropping a coin to check whether the acoustics of the ancient theatre of the historical city of Salamis has remained unaltered throughout the centuries…In this ancient theatre, the tossing of the coin sounds the same to all of us, whether we are Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot. The sound remains the same regardless of the race and colour of the performer, as the art of ancient theatre can accommodate every language, including Greek, Turkish, Cypriot Arabic, Latin and Armenian.”

*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)

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