The Barcelona Charter



The VENICE CHARTER was created in 1964 as a statement of principles for the conservation and restoration of monuments and sites. It opens with the preamble:

"Imbued with a message from the past, the historic monuments of generations of people remain to the present day as living witnesses of their age-old traditions. People are becoming more and more conscious of the unity of human values and regard ancient monuments as a common heritage. The common responsibility to safeguard them for future generations is recognized. It is our duty to hand them on in the full richness of their authenticity.

It is essential that the principles guiding the preservation and restoration of ancient buildings should be agreed and be laid down on an international basis, with each country being responsible for applying the plan within the framework of its own culture and traditions.

By defining these basic principles for the first time, the ATHENS CHARTER of 1931 contributed towards the development of an extensive international movement which has assumed concrete form in national documents, in the work of ICOM and UNESCO and in the establishment by the latter of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and the Restoration of Cultural Property"

Both Charters focus on monuments and sites ashore. Maritime heritage is not covered despite ist close affinity. Therefore the 4th EMH Congress, meeting in Barcelona in 2001, resolved to adapt the VENICE CHARTER for maritime heritage in Europe, to be known as the "BARCELONA CHARTER".


ARTICLE 1. The concept of maritime heritage afloat embraces the single traditional ship in which is found the evidence of a particular civilisation or significant development as well as traditional sailing, seamanship and maritime workmanship. This applies both to larger ships and to more modest craft of the past, which have acquired cultural significance with the passing of time.

ARTICLE 2. The preservation, restoration and operation of traditional ships must have recourse to all the sciences, techniques and facilities, that can contribute to the study and safeguarding of the maritime heritage afloat. .


ARTICLE 3. The intention in preserving and restoring traditional ships in operation is to safeguard them whether as works of art, as historical evidence or for perpetuating traditional skills



ARTICLE 4. It is essential for the continued survival of traditional ships in operation that they be maintained on a permanent basis.

ARTICLE 5. Making use of traditional ships for some socially useful purpose always facilitates their preservation. Such use is therefore desirable but it must not significantly change the exterior layout of the ship. Modifications demanded by a change of function should be kept within these limits.

ARTICLE 6. A traditional ship is inseparable from the history to which it bears witness and from the waters it sailed. Therefore its homeport and area of operation ideally should be in the regions of its former usage.


ARTICLE 7. The process of restoration is a highly specialised operation. Its aim is to preserve and reveal the aesthetic, functional, and historic value of traditional ships and is based on respect for original material and authentic documents. The restoration in any case must be preceded and accompanied by a historical study of the ship.

ARTICLE 8. The restoration of traditional ships will best be accomplished by means of traditional materials and techniques. Where traditional materials or techniques prove inadequate, the consolidation of traditional ships in operation can be achieved by the use of modern materials for conservation, the efficacy of which has been shown by scientific data and proved by experience.

ARTICLE 9. The restoration of a traditional ship does not require that the ship shall be restored to the original building year. Some ships have a great historical value in a later period of their former time of working. Restoration to any period should be executed only after thorough consideration of the quality of the historical and technical documentation available for the chosen period.

ARTICLE 10. Obligatory navigation- and safety equipment must integrate harmoniously with the whole, but at the same time must be distinguishable from the original so that restoration does not falsify the artistic or historic evidence.

ARTICLE 11. Additions cannot be allowed except in so far as they do not detract from the interesting parts of the ship, its traditional setting and the balance of its composition.

ARTICLE 12. In all works of restoration there should always be precise documentation in the form of analytical and critical reports, illustrated with drawings and/or photographs and other appropriate media. Every stage of the work of dismantling, treatment, reassembly and addition of new parts, as well as technical and structural features identified during the course of the work, should be included.


The BARCELONA CHARTER as adopted by the EMH Working Group 28th of September 2002 in Enkhuizen.



Arne Gotved                                                        Anders Berg                                Chairman EMH Cultural Council                          President EMH  


Signed March 30th 2003 on board Fregatten Jylland, Ebeltoft DK

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