World Heritage List

World heritage logo
World heritage logo

With the Convention on the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage, UNESCO defined the concept of World Heritage Site and sanctioned the creation of a "World Heritage List" (or WHL).

The sites or assets included in the list are products of man or nature and belong to all peoples of the world regardless of the territory on which they are located. They can be a natural habitat, a work of art, a monument, a cultural landscape, which stand out because they have an "Exceptional Universal Value" for all of humanity.

The concept of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) is officially recognized by the World Heritage Committee and therefore defines certain distinctive characteristics of the sites and assets registered on the list, qualifying them as among the most important in the world.


World Heritage Sites

Under the 1972 Convention, UNESCO has so far recognized a total of 1121 sites (869 cultural sites, 213 natural and 39 mixed) in 167 countries around the world.

Currently Italy and China are the nations that hold the largest number of sites included in the list of world heritage sites: 55 sites, without considering the Vatican City; there are seven sites on the list of the Tuscany Region and among these, since 1987, Piazza del Duomo in Pisa.

For Italy, of these 55 sites, 5 are natural sites (Aeolian Islands, Monte San Giorgio, Dolomites, Mount Etna, Ancient primeval beech forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe) and, within the remaining 50 Heritage sites World, 8 are cultural landscapes: Amalfi Coast, Portovenere, Cinque Terre and Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto), Cilento National Park and Vallo di Diano, with the archaeological sites of Paestum, Velia and the Certosa di Padula, Sacri Monti del Piedmont and Lombardy, Val d'Orcia, Medici villas and gardens in Tuscany, Piedmont wine landscapes: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato, The Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.


The inscription on the World Heritage List

The main body in charge of implementing the Convention is the World Heritage Committee (WHC), which has developed precise criteria for inclusion on the World Heritage List. These criteria are contained in the "Operational guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention", drawn up for the first time in 1977 and periodically updated.

To obtain recognition, each signatory state of the Convention must propose the candidacy of its own Property, arguing it with documents and research and drawing up a dossier that proves the OUVs based on some of the UNESCO selection criteria.

The World Heritage Center verifies the completeness of the candidacy dossier, and, if so, submits it to the World Heritage Committee which meets once a year to examine the applications.

The assembly of the Committee then decides whether or not to proceed with the registration of the Property in the World Heritage List.