The World Heritage Committee today inscribed five cultural sites, including one transnational property, in Saudi Arabia, Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on UNESCO’s World Heritage List during its 44th session held online and chaired from Fuzhou (China).
The following sites were inscribed today:
Saudi Arabia, Ḥimā Cultural Area
Located in an arid, mountainous area of southwest Saudi Arabia, on one of the Arabian Peninsula’s ancient caravan routes, Ḥimā Cultural Area contains a substantial collection of rock art images depicting hunting, fauna, flora and lifestyles in a cultural continuity of 7,000 years. Travellers and armies camping on the site left a wealth of rock inscriptions and petroglyphs through the ages and until the late 20th century, most of which are preserved in pristine condition. Inscriptions are in different scripts, including Musnad, Aramaic-Nabatean, South-Arabian, Thamudic, Greek and Arabic. The property and its buffer zone are also rich in unexcavated archaeological resources in the form of cairns, stone structures, interments, stone tool scatters and ancient wells. This location is at the oldest known toll station on an important ancient desert caravan route, where the wells of Bi’r Ḥimā date back at least 3,000 years and still produce fresh water.
Austria / Belgium / Czechia / France / Germany / Italy / United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, The Great Spa Towns of Europe
The transnational site of The Great Spa Towns of Europe comprises 11 towns, located in seven European countries: Baden bei Wien (Austria); Spa (Belgium); Františkovy Lázně (Czechia); Karlovy Vary (Czechia); Mariánské Lázně (Czechia); Vichy (France); Bad Ems (Germany); Baden-Baden (Germany); Bad Kissingen (Germany); Montecatini Terme (Italy); and City of Bath (United Kingdom). All of these towns developed around natural mineral water springs. They bear witness to the international European spa culture that developed from the early 18th century to the 1930s, leading to the emergence of grand international resorts that impacted urban typology around ensembles of spa buildings such as the kurhaus and kursaal (buildings and rooms dedicated to therapy), pump rooms, drinking halls, colonnades and galleries designed to harness the natural mineral water resources and to allow their practical use for bathing and drinking. Related facilities include gardens, assembly rooms, casinos, theatres, hotels and villas, as well as spa-specific support infrastructure. These ensembles are all integrated into an overall urban context that includes a carefully managed recreational and therapeutic environment in a picturesque landscape. Together, these sites embody the significant interchange of human values and developments in medicine, science and balneology.
France, Cordouan Lighthouse
The Lighthouse of Cordouan rises up on a shallow rocky plateau in the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Gironde estuary, in a highly exposed and hostile environment. Built in white limestone dressed blocks at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, it was designed by engineer Louis de Foix and remodelled by engineer Joseph Teulère in the late 18th century. A masterpiece of maritime signalling, Cordouan’s monumental tower is decorated with pilasters, columns modillions and gargoyles. It embodies the great stages of the architectural and technological history of lighthouses and was built with the ambition of continuing the tradition of famous beacons of antiquity, illustrating the art of building lighthouses in a period of renewed navigation, when beacons played an important role as territorial markers and as instruments of safety. Finally, the increase of its height, in the late 18th century, and the changes to its light chamber, attest to the progress of science and technology of the period. Its architectural forms drew inspiration from ancient models, Renaissance Mannerism and the specific architectural language of France’s engineering school École des Ponts et Chaussées.
Germany, Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt
The Darmstadt Artists’ Colony on Mathildenhöhe, the highest elevation above the city of Darmstadt in west-central Germany, was established in 1897 by Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse, as a centre for emerging reform movements in architecture, arts and crafts. The buildings of the colony were created by its artist members as experimental early modernist living and working environments. The colony was expanded during successive international exhibitions in 1901, 1904, 1908 and 1914. Today, it offers a testimony to early modern architecture, urban planning and landscape design, all of which were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and the Vienna Secession. The serial property consists of two component parts including 23 elements, such as the Wedding Tower (1908), the Exhibition Hall (1908), the Plane Tree Grove (1833, 1904-14), the Russian Chapel of St. Maria Magdalena (1897-99), the Lily Basin, the Gottfried Schwab Memorial (1905), the Pergola and Garden (1914), the “Swan Temple” Garden Pavilion (1914), the Ernst Ludwig Fountain, and the 13 houses and artists’ studios that were built for the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony and for the international exhibitions. A Three House Group, built for the 1904 exhibition is an additional component.
Italy, Padua’s fourteenth-century fresco cycles
The site is composed of eight religious and secular building complexes, within the historic walled city of Padua, which house a selection of fresco cycles painted between 1302 and 1397 by different artists for different types of patron and within buildings of diverse functions. Nevertheless, the frescos maintain a unity of style and content. They include Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel fresco cycle, considered to have marked the beginning of a revolutionary development in the history of mural painting, as well as other fresco cycles of different artists, namely Guariento di Arpo, Giusto de’ Menabuoi, Altichiero da Zevio, Jacopo Avanzi and Jacopo da Verona. As a group, these fresco cycles illustrate how, over the course of a century, fresco art developed along a new creative impetus and understanding of spatial representation.
The inscription of sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage is scheduled to continue through 28 July.