Friday, May 25, 2007

Poland’s presence on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Professor Jerzy KŁoczowski Chairman of the Polish Committee for UNESCO

The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted in 1972 was recognition by the international community of mankind’s common heritage. Starting in 1978 to draw up the UNESCO World Heritage List, the World Heritage Committee decided to ensure special protection to sites that should be preserved for future generations intact in view of their unique historic, cultural scientific and aesthetic values.Poland can be proud of the fact that the first entries in 1978 included the Old Town complex in Kraków and the Wieliczka Salt Mine.Poland is currently among 138 countries with World Heritage sites on their territory. The World Heritage List currently covers 830 properties which include 644 cultural, 162 natural and 24 mixed sites. 13 entries on the List cover sites in Poland. Most are old town complexes. Apart from the one in Kraków, listed are the Old Town in Warsaw (1980), the Old City of Zamość (1992) and the Mediaeval Town of Toruń (1997). The other Polish sites on the List consist of the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork (1997), the Manneristic Architectural and Landscape Complex and Pilgrimage Park in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska (1999), the Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica (2001), six wooden churches in southern Małopolska (2003) and the former Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp (1979) – a unique entry on the List representing all concentration and extermination camps in the world. Two entries have a trans-border character: the Białowieża National Park (1979) which is a Polish-Belarussian site, and the Polish-German site of Muskauer Park (2004). The latest Polish entry on the List is the People’s Hall in Wrocław inscribed in 2006 under its original name of Centennial Hall.

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