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Jewish-mediaeval heritage in Erfurt on World Heritage list

New World Heritage site in Germany: UNESCO lists Jewish-mediaeval heritage in Erfurt as World Heritage.

A look inside the Old Synagogue in Erfurt
A look inside the Old Synagogue in Erfurt © pictureAlliance/dpa

Erfurt/Riyadh (dpa) – UNESCO has listed the Jewish-mediaeval heritage of Erfurt, the state capital of Thuringia, as a new World Heritage Site. This was decided by the UN cultural organisation at a meeting in the Saudi Arabian city of Riyadh. Among other things, several buildings in the old city have been listed, including a mediaeval ritual bath (Mikveh) that was discovered by chance some 16 years ago, the so-called Stone House, which is thought to have been built in around 1250, and Erfurt’s Old Synagogue. Consequently, Germany now boasts 52 World Heritage Sites.

“The inclusion of Erfurt’s Jewish-mediaeval heritage as a new and second Jewish site on the UNESCO World Heritage list makes another important contribution to making the shared roots of Jews and Christians in Germany and Europe visible and preserving them for the future,” said Kerstin Püschel, Germany’s ambassador to UNESCO. She went on to say that the new World Heritage site promotes understanding of cultural diversity in Germany and mutual respect for its rich historical heritage.

UNESCO first placed Jewish cultural heritage in Germany on its list two years ago. The so-called ShUM sites in Mainz, Worms and Speyer were awarded World Heritage status for being the cradle of European Judaism.

Erfurt’s Old Synagogue is thought to be one of the oldest synagogues in Central Europe to be preserved up to the roof. Today it houses a museum in which evidence of Jewish life in mediaeval Erfurt is exhibited.