It is one of the world’s most successful programmes for cultural exchange: in 2012 UNESCO is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention. That’s why people around the globe will be focusing this year on the significance of the convention for cultural cooperation. Germany is also planning a variety of world heritage celebration events. The country is one of the 189 states around the world that have signed the convention since 1972.
The UNESCO World Heritage List currently contains 936 sites of special cultural and natural significance in 153 countries. In Germany, Aachen Cathedral became one of the first twelve monuments on the World Heritage List in 1978. Today there are an additional 36 cultural and natural heritage sites, including five cross-border sites, such as the Wadden Sea or the prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps. The German World Heritage Sites reflect the diversity of the cultural heritage, ranging from the Wadden Sea to Berlin’s Museum Island, the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen and the Hanseatic ports of Stralsund and Wismar on the Baltic coast (photograph).
The historic town centres of Stralsund and Wismar were added to the World Heritage List ten years ago as outstanding examples of the cultural heritage of the medieval Hanseatic League. The German UNESCO Commission is officially celebrating the “40th Anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention” in Stralsund on 21 June 2012 where some 500 guests are expected from the fields of politics, science, education and culture.
In 2011 Germany was elected onto the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for the second time following a 14-year interlude. This means Germany will be represented until 2015 on the committee that makes decisions on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The 36th meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee is taking place in St Petersburg from 24 June to 6 July 2012. This year Germany has nominated the Electoral Summer Residence in Schwetzingen and the Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth for the World Heritage List.
Image © Dr. Hans-J. Aubert