While the 46 sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in Germany have been closed for six months, the association managing the nation’s sites is preparing for a rapid reopening. And Germany’s UNESCO destinations will celebrate many special anniversaries this year.

UNESCO’s listed world heritage sites in Germany have their own non-profit association:. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites Germany e.V. regroups the tourism organisations of cities, regions and federated states in which World Heritage Sites are located.

Times have been tough since last year due to the coronavirus pandemic as sites have been closed for over six months. For the 46 German World Heritage sites, those closures represent a major challenge. The highly acclaimed cultural and tourist attractions are for now only opened virtually to the public. Consequently, in 2020, the main task for the association was to create a digital offer. This helped to partially compensate traveller frustration, by enabling at least some virtual tours.

However, as the situation in Europe is improving with vaccination campaigns rolling out, UNESCO World Heritage Sites Germany e.V. is looking to celebrating a number of jubilees this year. And the UNESCO World Heritage Day on June 6 might be the right time to reopen sites to visitors…

All will depend upon the evolution of the pandemic and the decisions to be taken by both the Federal government as well as regional administrations to lift restrictions. So far, cultural institutions will only reopen when a region shows a Covid incidence value under 100 for 100,000 inhabitants.

Trier cathedral and Liebfrauen church are exceptional examples of Romanesque and early Gothic architecture in Germany (Photo: L Citrinot/Cleverdis)

A string of celebrations in 2021

Despite the uncertainties, German World Heritage Sites want to go on with anniversary celebrations. This includes :
40 years Speyer Cathedral.
40 years of the Würzburg Residence with the Court Garden and Residenzplatz.
35 years of Roman monuments, cathedral and Liebfrauen Church in Trier
30 years Lorsch Monastery
25 years Cologne Cathedral
25 years Bauhaus and its sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau
25 years Luther memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg
20 years of the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen
15 years of Regensburg old town with Stadtamhof
10 years of the Fagus (Beech) factory in Alfeld, an early example of rationalist architecture from architect Walter Gropius.
10 years Ancient beech forests and primeval beech forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe.
10 years Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps.
5 years World Heritage of architectural work of Le Corbusier, another major contributor to modern international style.

Another important event will be the association’s annual conference. Originally planned for May 2021 at the Rammelsberg World Cultural Heritage Site in the Harz Mountains, it has been postponed to 12-14 October 2021.

Germany – “Shaping World Heritage sustainably” is the theme of this year’s annual conference of UNESCO World Heritage Sites Germany e.V. and the German Commission for UNESCO from 12 to 14 October 2020. Beside the conference itself, representatives of the 46 German UNESCO World Heritage Sites will look at opportunities to integrate more sustainable products in their tourist offering.

“How do we shape sustainable development in our World Heritage sites? What do our residents and visitors expect? What sustainable tourism offers do we have in store? How do we inform and guide our visitors? What are our goals for a sustainable future?” These questions will be discussed by World Heritage experts, speakers with different backgrounds. In addition, three to four working groups will exchange ideas and discuss concrete topics.

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