Small Towns /
Charter Of Murau






Charter of Murau – in Favour of our Small Towns
  • Results from the "1. Middle European Symposium of Small Towns”
    • Austria, Styria, Murau, September 1998.
The Participants and Speakers in the "1. Middle European Symposium of Small Towns” wish to express their conviction that Small Towns, these pearls of the European Land-scapes, do not receive the amount of awareness that is appropriate to their most important role for the future of Europe as a whole, and for the countries, the regions and the countryside in particular.

Therefore the undersigned appeal to all European citizens, the decision makers, the authorities at all levels, the media, the scientists and politicians to take over responsi-bility and be concerned and to protect the further development of Small Towns in the interest of our selves and of Europe.

Therefore we state:

- From time immemorial the historic Small Towns sustain an outstanding living heritage and offer a cultural and economic role for the future and welfare of Europe, its countries and re-‘ gions.

- Small Towns are mainly responsible for the cultural density of the rural regions.

- They are outstanding examples as much of the cultural variety as the unity of Europe; and they are marked by an extraordinary compress succession of styles and characteristic architectonic features.

- Very often the Small Towns act successfully as the "small capitals” of regions and home- lands.

- Small Towns are connected with the surrounding landscapes, their villages and other settlements as an inseparable unity.

- Small Towns in a very specific way are capable of combining the advantages of living in a big town with the advantages of villages without necessarily putting up with all the dissadvantages.

- They act as points of co-ordination between rural regions, its villages , big towns and the wider world.

- In particular the Small Towns fulfil a role that reflects spirituality, helping people to identify with their homelands, as much in a traditional as a modern way, as they mostly are of unmistakable and specific character and offer resistance to faceless uniformity.

- Small Towns finally offer a quality of life and advantages of position and are essential components of cultural tourism.

On the other hand

- Small Towns have no one to speak for them and seem to be taken for granted;

- they are not sufficiently appreciated and taken care of by existing policies, scientists and authorities.

- Also Small Towns suffer from desolation of their centres caused by depopulation, local shops and services loosing out, due to the location of supermarkets at the edge of town and external effects that have not been sufficiently opposed by counter measures.

- There also exists the thread of migration of the well educated and

- Small Towns often are subject to severe traffic problems.

- Many Small Towns are running the risk of disassociating themselves from the options of modern opportunities for development, thus getting deeper into isolation.

- The tight rope walk between preservation – of the essential – and the changing – of details - must also be accomplished in particular by Small Towns.

Therefore it is essential for Small Towns

- to gain increased sympathy from all sections of the population, the politicians, the scientists and the authorities on all levels,

- to take part in networking in all dimensions,

- to co-operate as much with big towns as with villages anjd the rural regions,

- to create and take part in the special networks of towns (for which one can recognise examples (e.g. RECEVIN, Douce Large, Walled Towns),

- to safeguard and develop their strengths; starting points of development should be their individuality and specific characteristics, which often are identical with the natural resources of their surrounding landscapes (e.g. wine growing towns, mining towns, spas, skiing or health resorts),

- to foster the dialogue between old and new in the matters of the town´s features and architecture, and finally

- to be deliberately conscious of their role – both ideal and material – in the course of the reshaping and structuring of Europe.

The participants of the "1. Middle European Symposium of Small Towns”, being aware of all the above mentioned opportunities and threats, therefore appeal to all citizens of Europe, the governments and decision makers, to be concerned not only about the pre-servation but also about providing the requirements for the further and agreeable deve-lopment of our historic Small Towns, this great, living heritage, fundament and identity of Europe´s desirable future.

finished in Vienna, April 2000,

Dr. Arthur Spiegler



Austrian Board for Agricultural Engineering and Rural Development (ÖKL)

e-mail: a.spiegler@aon.at and office@oekl.at