Culture & Heritage

Interpret Europe Conference at iASK – Heritage and Identity – 23-26 March 2018.

Crossing borders, convening cultures

Heritage and Identity – International cross-professional and cross-disciplinary conference in Kőszeg

Between 23 and 26 March 2018, the annual conference of the Interpret Europe network will be organised jointly by the Association of Cultural Heritage Managers (KÖME), the Institute of Advanced Studies Kőszeg (iASK) and the Local Government of the town of Kőszeg with nearly 200 experts from over 30 countries. The conference will be opened by Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport who launched the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Before the conference opening, a joint press conference will be held with the representatives of the organising institutions.

Participants of the press conference: Árpád Bőczén (KÖME), Ferenc Miszlivetz (iASK), Béla Básthy (Kőszeg), Thorsten Ludwig (Interpret Europe)

Venue: Kőszeg H-9730, Zwinger, Chernel St. 16

Date: Friday, 23 March 2018 15.30


Who are we and where do we belong? These are essential questions everybody asks themselves. In an age characterised by protracted crisis and search for identity, answering these questions is of great importance considering the past, present and future of our cultural heritage including tangible and intangible, natural and symbolic environment. In order to preserve this joint heritage and to transfer to future generations, a new, little-known and not widely practised professional field can provide guidance: heritage interpretation.

The professional field with decades-old traditions in the international arena will be now presented in Hungary within the framework of an international conference. The venue will be Kőszeg and its surrounding border area. The choice is not incidental: this town, that protected itself from the invading Turks in the 16th century witnessed centuries-long political tensions, became a border region after seceding from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in the beginning of the 20th century. The rich history of the town and its neighbourhood provide an excellent venue for presenting the diversity and often conflict-affected nature of cultural heritage.

Having obtained the right to organise the event, the Association of Cultural Heritage Managers (KÖME) as the Hungarian member of the Interpret Europe network has the unique opportunity to invite representatives of international cultural heritage professionals to Hungary. The major objective of the Association of Cultural Heritage Managers, being responsible for the training of experts and methodological development, is to spread, test and teach practical knowledge related to the meaningful, experiential and participatory presentation of heritage in Hungarian institutions. In the past years, this young organisation launched its own heritage interpretation training in collaboration with diverse Hungarian heritage sites and educational institutions.

The co-organiser of the conference, the Institute of Advanced Studies is closely related to the topic of the conference through its scientific projects. The KRAFT project is a research-based integrated development program in Kőszeg, results of which are applied by the settlements related to the Pannon Cities Alliance. The essence of KRAFT is to utilise the identity building components of local cultural – built and intangible – heritage in compliance with the needs of our age. Its objective is to enhance the liveability of the town and its neighbourhood thus strengthening the cohesion of local communities. Within the framework of the “Talking Houses” project researchers reconstruct and interpret the history of inner town buildings and their former residents. It is a key objective of the project to raise the touristic attractiveness of the inner town. In collaboration with the University of Pannonia Kőszeg Campus, iASK also operates a UNESCO Chair thus granting international acknowledgement for its postgraduate course.

The conference is organised as a part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 program series. The topics of heritage and identity will be covered by more than 80 lectures, presentations, workshops and heritage tours in Kőszeg. Participants will be guided by experts to various sites including the historic town centre of Kőszeg, Fertő / Neusiedlersee Cultural landscape, Iseum in Szombathely, country houses around Lake Neusiedl and memorial sites of the Iron Curtain along the border. The central question of each tour and event will be how cultural heritage can be presented in an experiential and thought-provoking way? How does heritage shape our identity and how can we shape heritage based on our needs?

Participants will have the opportunity to study heritage sites in Kőszeg and its neighbourhood through presentations by actors having close ties with them and the events of their past. Therefore, former organisers and key figures of the Pan-European Picnic as well as Antal Esterházy are invited who will explain what the Esterházy heritage –including the largest Baroque-Rococo castle of Europe – means to him.

Keynote speakers of the conference include Prof. Dr. Ferenc Miszlivetz, founding director of iASK, president of the Social Sciences unit of the Hungarian UNESCO Committee, Dr. Constanze Itzel, founder, advisor and curator of the House of European History in Brussels, Kenan Malik writer on topics of identity politics, multiculturalism and migration ethics and science historian as well as

Prof. Laurajane Smith head of the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies at the Australian National University. During the conference, the Naturpark Geschriebenstein Foundation and the town of Kőszeg will organise a free program series titled Hidden secrets of Kőszeg presenting the towers of the town, valuable assets, the history of particular buildings thus exploring the local cultural heritage.

For more information please consult [email protected] and the website of the conference: Should you have any questions please contact the organisers at [email protected] .


Cultural heritage is not restricted to borders; it unites cities, regions and countries to create a network of cultural identities. This is exactly the idea behind 2018’s Interpret Europe Conference – taking place 23-26 March 2018.

Venue: Jurisics Castle, H-9730 Kőszeg, Rajnis st. 9. 

85 lecturers from 30 countries. Here is a list of lectures and workshops:

Early bird registration closes on 15 February and standard registration will be open until 15 March 2018.

More information is HERE!

Programme overview





Tibor Navracsics – Europen Comissioner of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport

Ferenc Miszlivetz – Director of iASK

Dr. Constanze Itzel – Founder, Advisor of House of European History

Kenan Malik – Writer, Historian, Philosopher


Under the theme of “Heritage and Identity”, the conference will begin in Vienna and travel across the Austro-Hungarian border to Budapest. On the way, it will pass through the town of Kőszeg – where the main conference will be held on the grounds of the historic Jurisics Castle.

Kőszeg has a rich cultural history, with nearby landmarks including the Fertő/Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Pan-European Picnic Park, a European Heritage Label site, where the Iron Curtain first came down in 1989. The 4 day event that takes place from the 23rd to the 26th of March 2018 aims to reflect upon the diversity and unity of Europe; as experienced in our past, as envisioned in our future and its current place in our cultural identity.

Participants from all over Europe and beyond will offer more than 50 workshops and presentations. Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, will open the conference in the Knight’s Hall of Jurisics Castle in Kőszeg.

Interested in attending or submitting a paper?



Our Interpret Europe Conference 2018 will take place from 23 to 26 March in Kőszeg (Hungary). It will be organised by the Hungarian Association of Cultural Heritage Managers (KÖME) and opened by the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics.

Our aim is to link this conference to the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage and we chose ‘Heritage and Identity’ as our theme. The question of identity is key when it comes to one’s feelings towards Europe in all its diversity and one’s relationship with single nation states, regions and local communities.

One European region where identities most intermingle is the Austro-Hungarian border area. We will, therefore, run the conference as a border-crossing event, starting our pre-conference tour in Vienna from where we will travel into Hungary and ending our post-conference tour in Budapest.

Kőszeg itself was a free royal town in medieval times and its castle became famous for its insolent resistance in slowing down a huge Ottoman campaign against Vienna. This castle, with its large Knight’s Hall, will be our central venue. Besides this, we will seek to bring alive the surrounding historic centre where there is almost no traffic and all sites are within comfortable walking distance.

Study visits around Kőszeg will lead to interesting sites within the border-crossing Fertő / Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Destinations will be as different as Esterháza, the ‘Hungarian Versailles’, which belonged to one of the most famous landowner families of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or the Pan-European Picnic Park where the Iron Curtain was first lifted in 1989. And last but not least we will have several opportunities to taste local varieties of wine and the famous Hungarian cuisine.

The European Green Belt along the former borderline between East and West is famous for its stunning natural heritage, especially the Fertő-Hanság and Neusiedler See-Seewinkel National Parks, which are important resting places for migratory birds. We plan to include a range of partners from the natural heritage field and also review how nature influences identity.

Winery in Kőszeg