Doesn’t it ever hit you that 100, 300, 500 years ago someone stood right where you are? That you might be walking the footsteps of a stranger? When I visit historical sites, my mind can’t fully grasp that, long ago, someone was looking at a freshly painted new door that now looks rusty and worn out. It’s those moments that, for a second, make me travel back in time, forging an invisible bond with an imaginary someone from a past generation. In a second, I tie the past and the present seamlessly without realizing that that moment has seized my conscience. It’s an intoxicating feeling, almost like magic. This is why the past fascinates me so much, and this is why I love history. It’s certainly not because I like politics, art, and culture (which I do), it’s because I can’t stop myself from thinking of everyone who was behind all those things. It’s not only the place that we inherited, it’s the spirits of the past generations, in a way, that we did.

 Today is World Heritage Day. A day dedicated to celebrating the joint history and cultural heritage of the human race. This day is also known as International Monuments and Sites Day, and it’s all about raising awareness of the importance of preserving our cultural heritage. Think of the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, the Great Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum… All these are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but there are thousands, if not millions more of sites all around the world that hold their own charm. As a society, we must unite to protect our history and heritage, so they can become assets for the next generations.

 CILL is working on bringing heritage to the youth. With projects that stretch from Oman to Spain and beyond, we are looking for new ways to show that history should not be overlooked, as it is the source of everything that we have come to be. Through our cultural heritage, we aim to demonstrate that history is more than just books, buildings, and bridges. Rather, heritage and history are a well of knowledge and possibilities for young people. I am thrilled to have the possibility to work on something that I am truly passionate about, and all to bring it to others. To show them what heritage truly is and why it’s not just words and bricks, but the spirits of the people who worked. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to share something you hold so dear.

By now, it goes without saying that I’m a lover of stories. I can get so wrapped up in all the details and intricacies in history that it sometimes can mentally feel like The Garden of Earthly Delights, but in the best way. That’s what history and heritage is for me. That’s why, today, I want to encourage you to think what heritage is for you. I want to encourage you to go out and explore, it doesn’t have to be the Alhambra, it can be your local museum or a small site close to your home. I encourage you to think of who was there and why, and let’s celebrate World Heritage Day together!

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

― Confucius

by María Irigoyen, Heritage Projects Assistant