Friday, 15 January 2021

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Our legacy from the past

World Heritage 1Photo: UNESCO/Javier Pérez González

20.07.2016 – “Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration”, UNESCO.

Every year, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets to discuss sites that have been proposed as new members of their list. In order to be a UNESCO World Heritage site, a place or structure must have great cultural, historical, and/or natural significance – examples include Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and Machu Picchu in Peru.

This year's committee has added 21 new spots to the list, a few of them situated in Western Europe. Have you heard of or had the chance to walk any of these wonders?

Antequera Dolmens Site, Spain

World Heritage 2Photo: UNESCO/Javier Pérez González

Located at the heart of Andalusia in southern Spain, the site comprises three megalithic monuments: the Menga and Viera dolmens and the Tolos of El Romeral, and two natural monuments: the Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal mountainous formations, which are landmarks within the property. Built during the Neolithic and Bronze Age out of large stone blocks, these monuments form chambers with lintelled roofs or false cupolas. These three tombs buried beneath their original earth tumuli, are one of the most remarkable architectural works of European prehistory and one of the most important examples of European Megalithism.

Gorham's Cave Complex, United Kingdom

World Heritage 3Photo: Clive Finlayson, Gibraltar Museum

The steep limestone cliffs on the eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar contain four caves with archaeological and paleontological deposits that provide evidence of Neanderthal occupation over a span of more than 125,000 years. This exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions of the Neanderthals is seen notably in evidence of the hunting of birds and marine animals for food, the use of feathers for ornamentation and the presence of abstract rock engravings. Scientific research on these sites has already contributed substantially to debates about Neanderthal and human evolution.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement, Belgium, France, Germany & Switzerland

World Heritage 4Photo: UNESCO/Paul Koslowsky

Chosen from the work of Le Corbusier, the 17 sites comprising this transnational serial property are spread over seven countries and are a testimonial to the invention of a new architectural language that made a break with the past. They were built over a period of a half-century, in the course of what Le Corbusier described as “patient research”. The Complexe du Capitol in Marseille (France) reflect the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply during the 20thcentury to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society. These masterpieces of creative genius also attest to the internationalization of architectural practice across the planet.

More than ‘words on paper’

The World Heritage Convention is not only 'words on paper' but is above all a useful instrument for concrete action in preserving threatened sites and endangered species.

UNESCO contributes to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals through its work on: EducationNatural SciencesSocial and Human SciencesCulture and Communication and Information.

World Heritage in Europe Today, a UNESCO publication, brings together the experience, challenges and success stories of the thousands of people who are directly involved with World Heritage in Europe - a region which accounts for close to half of the World Heritage List.

With the European Heritage Day fast approaching (18 September) share your heritage story with the rest of the world today! #OurWorldHeritage

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