Cologne Cathedral, the Taj Mahal and the Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru have more in common than you might imagine at the first glance: they are all witnesses of past cultures and artistic masterpieces that represent irreplaceable treasures for the whole of humanity. This means that the responsibility for protecting cultural heritage sites cannot lie entirely with an individual state; rather, it is a task of the community of states.
That’s why the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972. “The World Cultural Heritage helps us to understand the traces of our own history and that of other cultures on our planet,” says Dr. Roland Bernecker, Secretary General of the German UNESCO Commission. “When people embark on a journey into the past in their region, they experience magnificent architectural monuments, historical old towns, industrial sites and natural landscapes.”
Up to now, 190 states have signed this World Heritage Convention. Meanwhile, the list includes more than 900 natural and cultural sites around the globe. In Germany, 37 cultural and natural sites are recognized as being especially worth protecting. They range from the palaces and parks in Potsdam to the industrial iron works of Völklinger Hütte and the Wadden Sea.
And if the cultural authorities are successful, the 38th cultural heritage site in Germany will soon be added to the list: the federal state of Hesse has nominated the “water features and the Hercules statue within the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe”. In his writings about European art and cultural history the doyen of modern monument preservation, Georg Dehio, once said that the park in Kassel “... is perhaps the most magnificent Baroque venture ever to be undertaken in the combination of architecture and landscaping.” Now the UNESCO World heritage Committee will be deciding, whether the imposing figure of Hercules in the documenta-city of Kassel will soon be included in the famous list.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is meeting in Phnom Penh from 17 to 27 June 2013