It is in times of crisis that culture finds its way to the surface, spurring change and helping people to reinvent themselves and come up with great ideas.

One of those ideas, born out of Greece’s financial debris is YouGoCulture, an initiative that aims to promote Greek culture through technology, showcasing the country’s rich cultural heritage whilst acquainting the international public with aspects of today’s Hellenic reality.

“Through an interactive online platform, YouGoCulture offers unique and individualised experiences that combine both learning and entertainment,” scientific collaborator Panos Charitos tells Neos Kosmos.

The platform uses technology to eradicate distances through either an exclusive, online educational tour or an actual, comprehensive touristic visit to Greece. In what has been coined as e-travel, people from across the world can now experience ‘Virtual Tours’of certain sites across Greece and the eastern Mediterranean.

“The app allows the user to be immersed in both the past and the future of extraordinary destinations, whether it be popular modern touristy spots or historical landmarks,” Charitos explains.

“YouGoCulture is an integrated environment of images, videos, and sounds and other types of information, but also consists of consolidated popular knowledge in a broad range of subjects provided by Greece’s leading academics, researchers, and creatives.”

The initiative runs under the auspices of the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Tourism, and it is supported by act4Greece and in affiliation with the Epidaurus Lyceum and the Athens and Epidaurus Festival 2017. In collaboration with the National Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUoA) and the E-learning Programme of its Continuing Education Center, the team of specialists tries to introduce fascinating facets of Greece to the world through an international language with bite-sized history lessons along the way.

“YouGoCulture attempts to record points of global interest and to offer access to them by familiarising the world with the achievements of civilisations that constituted the cradle of the evolution and the values of the modern world, as we know it,” the team states on the website.

“It extends an invitation to internet users worldwide, either experienced or future ones, and to potential visitors who are on a quest for substantial contact with culture and the evolutions of mankind. Especially, to experienced travellers for whom a skin deep and ‘mainstream’ relationship with a destination and the culture of its people does not suffice and who feel the need to know it on a deeper level by getting acquainted with all its aspects prior to their visit, after it, or without actually visiting it at all.”

The vision of the people behind this project has as its starting point the need to utilise the competitive advantages of the Greek and wider Mediterranean heritage, while it is founded upon the experience and high level of specialisation of the academic staff of the UoA, and hopefully of others, who are also embracing the effort. Each destination is being presented on the basis of its important cultural heritage (the ‘Myth’) and its contemporary life (the ‘Experience’).

Points of Interest (POIs) are identified, having as reference marks the archaeological sites and other spots of cultural significance, based on the rationale of consolidated documentation of each destination, providing the history and contemporary life, through the production of original audiovisual material, accompanied by informative text.

“Actions of a broader scientific and social character are constantly planned towards a systematically established direction, rendering UoA an inseparable and vivid part of the Greek society, with presence in all facets of the social processes, both in Greece and internationally,” Charitos adds.

Balancing learning and entertainment in a promising and technologically updated way, brings about an interactive online platform which aspires to offer unique and individualised experiences of Greece’s great history and of the uniqueness of its regions (including the broader south-eastern Mediterranean) to anyone interested the only requirement being an internet connection. While Greece is known to come alive in the summer, the tool is also a chance to promote all-year round tourism.

At the moment, the acclaimed team of academics includes NKUoA director Meletios Dimopoulos, NKUoA’s Professor of Economics and Scientific superior of the University’s eLearning programme Panagiotis Petrakis, Emeritus professors of Classical Archaeology Petros Themelis and Vasilis Lambrinoudakis and Professor of Media Organisation and Policy Stylianos Papathanassopoulos.

The team is also equipped with seven elearning management and administration professionals and 11 creatives: scientific collaborator Panos Charitos, film director Elpida Skoufalou, cinematography director Takis Bardakos, author Aimilia Alexandra Kritikou, video editor Giorgos Zafiris, author and Doctor of Philosophy Giorgos Patios, anthropologist Dimitra Anastasiadou, filmmaker Chris Giatrakos, composer and multimedia artist Elias Perrakos, Doctor of Archaeology Evangelos Papoulias, and communication, mass media and culture specialist Anna Mavroleon.

YouGoCulture has already started its mission by depicting the Peloponnese and Attica, while it undertakes to highlight the diptych of the cultural heritage and modern life around the country by continuing with significant destinations, backed by the crowdfunding act4Greece program:
Through act4Greece the YouGoCulture team is raising funds to cover the costs of creating original audiovisual material for the development of the second phase of the the platform.
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