EUWATHER - European Waterways Heritage: Re-evaluating European MinorRivers and Canals as Cultural Landscapes


The presence in many European countries of artificial waterways connected to natural hydrography can be considered a relevant cultural heritage. Characterized by an intrinsic hydraulic complexity, this heritage goes back at least to the Middle Age, develops further during the Renaissance and reaches its maturity during the industrial era. The connection between natural and artificial waterways favoured the expansion of urban centres and the development of European trade, thus interacting with flood control strategies and the 'construction' of rural landscapes. It is indeed a multi-functional heritage that deserves today a renewed, coordinated commitment to its re-valuation, by considering both its structural hydraulic artefacts (canals, bridges, locks, shipyards, mills...) and their related water-scapes.
As to European major hydrography, such a hydraulic network is often a tourist resort already. However, as to minor hydrography, it’s still a hidden potential for sustainable development. Aims and objectives of the project and its relevance
EUWATHER aims to promote the knowledge and rehabilitation of the unique cultural heritage of minor waterways and historic canals in 4 European pilot regions. The project is aimed at co-designing with people (local and visitor, stakeholder and public sector etc) to generate a body of data that can reveal the cultural and artistic heritage of minor waterways, in order to make a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), interactive maps, and promote associated ways of communicating this heritage to a range of audiences.

The overall objective is to develop new opportunities for eco-tourism and outdoor recreation as a driver for sustainable development, together with better management and planning of secondary waterways networks. Also, EUWATHER aims to foster trans-boundary exchange of experiences to develop new, more coordinated institutional strategies and encourage research activities (oral history) that reflect tourist interests as well as local values. In this way, EUWATHER fits perfectly the aims of Heritage+, as it combines in an unpublished way the 3 key elements (the tangible, the intangible and the digital) set by the JPI-SRA.

Expected outcomes
1. A digitally collected, stored and managed census of the waterscape heritage (both tangible and intangible, including the heritage in fine arts and historic photography) based on an interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder and trans-national approach.
2. An innovative Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) to support both local recreation and ecotourism practices: it is the first digital tool of this kind (SDI with related Apps for Smartphones and Tablets) dedicated expressly to the European secondary hydrography
3. A series of cultural itineraries to re-evaluate waterways’ tangible and intangible heritage
4. Participation to two International Tourism Fairs to disseminate the use of the SDI
5. Four workshops involving research groups and stakeholders and one publication



  • M.E.N. van den Heuvel(2018): Picturing Landscape. , Leiden  18 september 2018

Hoofdstuk in boek

  • M. Proto, F. Visentin, M. Opmeer, V. Greco, V. Albanese(2018): Geography and the ICT. pp. 113 - 132 , Bologna





Prof. dr. C.J.M. Zijlmans

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS)


Dr. L.M.F. Bertens, Dr. L.M.F. Bertens, Drs. M.E.N. van den Heuvel, Dr. N. van Manen, M. Opmeer MPhil, M. Opmeer MPhil


01/10/2015 tot 30/09/2017