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ASSOCIATION OF WORLD HERITAGE CITIES OF SPAIN: ITS CREATION AND ACTIVITIES

On the 17th of September of 1993, the city halls of Avila, Caceres, Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia and Toledo, met in Avila to formalize the constitution of the "Group of Cities Patrimony for Humanity of Spain". Its objective, as it appears in the constitution, is the "conservation and development of the six cities (later on, in 1994, Cordoba would join them and in 1998, the city of Cuenca) through the realization of common projects, that face problems shared by cities for their singular historical, architectural, and cultural values, all that have deserved the recognition by the Unesco as Cities Patrimony for the Humanity".

The fundamental objective of the Pact-setting the cooperation with the Spanish Commission of the Unesco, signed in Avila on the 13th of October of the same year, under the Honorable Presidency of Her Royal Majesty the Infanta Doña Cristina of Borbón, is that of the „establishment and limitation of the form of cooperation by both sides, through a working program for the following years, and thus contribute to the specifications in the International Chart for the safeguarding of the Historical Cities and of the other resources and programs set up by Unesco, relative to the protection of the Artistic Patrimony, as well as to promote a favorable integration of these Spanish cities into the network of international historical cities of Unesco.

How did the idea was born?

What are the objectives of the Committee of World Heritage?

What cities can aspire to be World Heritage Cities?

How is the term "World Heritage Good" defined?

Is it more than a privilege the declaration and inscription of a place into the list of world heritage?



HOW DID THE IDEA WAS BORN?

Its origin begins in the 1960s with the construction of the Aswan Dam in Egypt, placing the Nubian monuments in jeopardy. The international community‚s conscience was stirred at the thought of the disaster that such a happening may mean for humanity, not only for Egypt and Sudan, at the total loss of the rich artistic treasures. Therefore, on March 8th of 1960, the UNESCO Director, Rene Maheu, launched a worldwide call to save the Nubian treasures, the arguments were made for the international solidarity in the gathering of resources needed, knowing that such could not be afforded by the countries directly interested. The response was large enough to save many of the artistic treasures in danger, and yet the most important fact was the resurgence of a conscience of governments and countries that would later influence Unesco decisions.


WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIVES OF THE "COMMITTEE OF WORLD HERITAGE"?

The objectives of the Program of the Committee of World Heritage are as follows:

* To encourage the countries that form part of the convention to define places of an exceptional universal value to include them into the list of world heritage.
* To watch over the places inscribed in the list of world heritage, in order to prevent possible risks and to encourage the creation of their own programs to maintain them.
* To help the different countries to create mechanisms to protect and save the places that are recognized as world heritage, with the help of the World Fund, proceeding by,
* Lending necessary emergency help to the countries to protect the patrimonies that are identified as being in immediate risk.
* To promote the conservation of the cultural and natural patrimony in general terms.

WHAT CITIES ASPIRE TO BE WORLD HERITAGE CITIES?

In accordance with the 1st article of the "Convention For the Protection of the Natural and Cultural World Heritage", approved on the 32nd and 33rd meetings of the convention, on the 16th of November of 1972, the General Council of the UN for Education in its 17th meeting at Paris, from the 17th of October through the 21st of November of 1972, makes reference to what had to be considered "cultural heritage". In the second clause of the article, it cites that "the ensembles: the group of constructions, whether isolated or joined, which architecture, united or integrated in the setting gives them an exceptional universal value from an artistic, historical, or scientific point of view". Without expressly mentioning possible World Heritage cities, the persons responsible for these historical or urban centers decided to form a Worldwide Federation of the same, and constitute them as an organization, integrating in it all of those cities which had been declared already by Unesco, which were 70.
Later on, in 1991, at the "International Symposium of the World Heritage Cities", celebrated in Quebec, Canada in it was made public the "Declaration about the protection of the urban centers".

HOW IS THE TERM "WORLD HERITAGE GOOD" DEFINED?

The criteria, in order to determine whether a monument, construction, or place should be included in the list of World Heritage Good, are as follows:

* It constitutes a unique artistic achievement, or it is a masterpiece from a genius.
* It has exerted a considerable influence during a determined period of history, or within a cultural area of the world, about the developments of architecture, the arts, or scenic urban planning.
* It has been or contributed a unique testimony, or at least an exceptional one, that illustrates a representative period of history.
* It is an excellent example of a traditional human settlement, representative of a culture which is now vulnerable by the impact of an irreversible change.
* It is directly and perceptively associated with events, ideas or beliefs of an exceptional universal importance.
* It must satisfy the proof of authenticity referring to design, materials used, labor or setting.
* As an additional factor, it must be taken into account that the state of preservation of the same must be evaluated, i.e., comparing it with the state of similar goods of the same period.

IS IT MORE THAN A PRIVILEGE THE DECLARATION AND INSCRIPTION OF A PLACE INTO THE LIST OF WORLD HERITAGE?

Yes, it is more than a national privilege or prestige to the country, for their political and cultural leaders, its citizens, and especially with those directly involved in the upkeep of the structure or place identified as World Heritage Good. Its declaration means more than anything a responsibility. This then is a reminder to all who took part in the decision to inscribe it within the Heritage-whether natural or cultural-Good- to keep watch over its conservation and protection, and to also deepen their understanding through its study, with the end in mind that the World Heritage Good can contribute to the education and learning of others. The philosophy of the World Heritage Good is neatly showcased in the "establishments" and the "considerations" in the introduction of the "Convention For the Protection of the Natural and Cultural World Heritage", approved on the 32nd and 33rd meetings of November of 1972.

A Good, declared to be a World Heritage, is a legacy for the international community, and its presence in a determined country, demands specially of the same an increase in the creativity, preoccupation and spending in order to maintain its upkeep, and protection of the same.


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