The copper-clad Kronborg Castle, Roskilde’s reddish-colored cathedral, Denmark’s birth certificate in Jelling and the Ilulissat Ice Fjord in Greenland all have one very important thing in common: they have all been declared as having “outstanding universal value” for mankind.
The most valuable parts of the world’s cultural and natural legacy are included on the The World Heritage List.
The list is administered by UNESCO, the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Three places in Denmark
In Denmark, there are three world heritage sites: Kronborg Castle, Roskilde Cathedral and the Jelling monuments. Greenland has one site – the Ilulissat Ice Fjord – on the World Heritage List.
The World Heritage List has its source in UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention, which was first organized in 1972; a total of 185 countries are now affiliated with this organization.
All in all, there are 890 properties on the list world wide, and the Danish World Heritage sites are in the distinguished company of miraculous sites like the Pyramids, the Acropolis, the Taj Mahal and The Great Wall of China.
What is it?
The world’s cultural and natural heritage subsumes monuments, buildings, settlements, cultural landscapes and natural sites. These might have been formed by nature or they might be man-made. Or they might have been created by people and nature in ensemble. The site could be a building that represents an important historical stage of development or it could be a natural phenomenon of outstanding aesthetic of scientific significance.
The World Heritage List aims at making us curious
As one of its overriding purposes, The World Heritage List is supposed to give rise to insight in and fascination with the world’s cultural and nature-related diversity.
The sites offer the visitors unique and unparalleled experiences and each one of the sites instills respect for the culture it happens to spring from and a sense of recognition and appreciation about the natural values it stands for.
The guiding notion behind the World Heritage Convention builds on a common human and cross-cultural understanding.
UNESCO’s formidable criteria for being included on the World Heritage List are presented here:
To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. These criteria are explained in the "Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention" which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working tool on World Heritage.
The criteria are regularly revised by the Committee to reflect the evolution of the World Heritage concept itself.
Until the end of 2004, World Heritage sites were selected on the basis of six cultural and four natural criteria. With the adoption of the revised Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, only one set of ten criteria exists.
I. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
II. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
III. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
IV. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
V. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
VI. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
VII. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
VIII. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
IX. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
X. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
In this booklet, you can read about the Danish and Greenlandic World Heritage sites (in Danish). The booklet also describes the new places that have been included on the Tentative List of candidates as of spring 2009.