I Want To Be A World Heritage Site – Or Do I?

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has declared a select number of sites around the globe, 936 so far, to be World Heritage Sites. These sites have an “outstanding universal value” for the human race according to UNESCO.

Of the designated sites, 183 are natural wonders, such as the Grand Canyon, and the rest are historical and cultural sites. Examples of the most famous of these are the Pyramids in Egypt, the Acropolis in Athens and Stonehenge in England. Cities that have been declared World Heritage Sites include Split, Venice, Bath, Vienna, and Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv was declared a World Heritage Site due to the large number of buildings built in the Bauhaus style. Indeed, Tel Aviv has the largest concentration of Bauhaus buildings in the world.

Attaining this coveted title sounds great. It certainly brings a lot of tourists to the city. It also comes with a nice budget for the renovation and preservation of the site. However, are we really thinking about the ramifications of what it means to be a World Heritage Site?

There have been instances where UNESCO succeeded in halting large construction projects in these cities claiming that adjacent tall buildings would dwarf the buildings within the World Heritage Site.  This is what happened in Vienna.

So, while on one hand, designation as a World Heritage Site brings with it prestige, tourists and money, on the other hand, it can hinder the development of other projects which may be just as important to the development and economy of that particular city.