A traditional shop in Lisbon with a typical tiled facade, Source: Depositphotos

Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Lisbon launch a municipal alliance for the preservation of emblematic local shops

Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Lisbon launch a municipal alliance for the preservation of emblematic local shops

The aim of the four cities is to promote the initiative on an international scale

Four European major cities – Barcelona, Paris, Rome and Lisbon – created a municipal alliance aimed at the preservation of historic local shops. This happened yesterday at the 1st International Symposium of Emblematic Trade in European Cities, which was held in Barcelona, ​​and whose main objective is to create joint strategies between the different cities to preserve European commercial heritage.

Turning small and resilient businesses into heritage sites

The emblematic commercial establishments are shops considered to possess character and historical tradition. In some cases, they are centuries old, a testament to the efforts and dedication of several generations of business owners and which reinforce the conception of Europe as a cultural community, based on values ​​and a shared history.

According to the officials, they are a clear example of cultural expressions and creativity that include both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. These shops have contributed to economic development and have generated identity, job creation and nowadays have become something of a tourist attraction in their own right.

Currently, a whole series of risks have been detected that affect the protection and preservation of these establishments. Among these are the viability of the business in modern times, the conservation and safeguarding of tangible and intangible heritage, generational succession, gentrification and real estate pressure, and the digital divide or adaptation to climate change.

The aims of the new alliance

The four cities consider that an international charter on emblematic commercial establishments should be created, which will determine, by consensus, what is considered an emblematic or unique establishment and the different typologies defined with the levels of heritage protection (property, furniture, materials) and cultural (creativity) corresponding, so that the instruments of protection and valorization of this type of establishment can be defined. 

In this sense, it is essential to create specialized management units in public administrations, in which the private sector also participates. The alliance considers that the following three objectives need to be pursued:

  • Encourage the protection, conservation and heritage enhancement of emblematic commercial establishments through recognition of emblematic commercial establishments as a category in the legal framework of heritage protection, the promotion of a census and cataloguing;  On the other hand, to achieve recognition from the conventions and initiatives of Unesco, FAO, the European Union, the Council of Europe or the Organization of Ibero-American States. Finally, the European Parliament will be urged to promote a resolution to recognize the value of these establishments for European identity;
  • Disseminate the commercial and unique role of emblematic commercial establishments. Instruments (guidelines, good practices), capacity-building programs and coordinated common actions can be generated, such as International Day of Flagship Commercial Establishments or an annual agenda;
  • Work between cities committed to flagship stores: articulate an international network to promote the exchange of experiences and build an alliance for flagship stores in our cities with the aim of sharing solutions, knowledge and best practices with the support of European and international institutions.



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