Italy is now home to the largest number of UNESCO world heritage sites in the world, as reported by the World Economic Forum (WEF). After the annual announcement of new sites by the UNESCO committee, the country has 58 world heritage locations.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations.UNESCO
What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.
The most significant feature of the 1972 World Heritage Convention is that it links together in a single document the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties. The Convention recognizes the way in which people interact with nature, and the fundamental need to preserve the balance between the two.
Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world’s heritage.
New additions in Italy are the porticoes, or sheltered walkways, of Bologna, the fourteenth-century fresco cycles of Padua as well as the Montecatini Terme of Tuscany, part of the designation of “The Great Spa Towns of Europe”, which stretch across seven countries.
With the new announcement, Italy pulls ahead of China. Formerly head-to-head at 55 properties each, China could only add one site – the Song-Yuan era Emporium of the World in Quanzhou – leading to a total of 56 properties for the country.
Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.UNESCO
With 51 world heritage sites, Germany now ranks third ahead of Spain and France after having made a whopping five new additions. The Mathildenhöhe historic artists colony in Darmstadt, Jewish sites in Speyer, Worms and Mainz and appearances among the European spa towns are included in these as well as the Roman Empire Lower German Limes (shared with the Netherlands) and the Danube Limes (shared with Austria and Slovakia).
In total, the UNESCO list includes 1,155 monuments in 167 countries as world heritage sites. No matter how many additions a country could make, any new property on the list is often a boost to tourism in the region.
According to the WEF, the US remained at 24 listed sites in 2021, thereby leaving the top 10. The listed properties include the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the Taos Pueblo and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. The UK added two properties – the slate landscape of Northwest Wales and Bath as part of the spa towns of Europe – but sadly also lost one. The Maritime Mercantile City in Liverpool was deleted due to new building developments in its area.