You may have noticed AmaWaterways sometimes uses “UNESCO-designated” or “UNESCO World Heritage Site” when describing excursions available on our river cruises. But what is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and why do we design our itineraries to include so many of them?
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, is dedicated to giving both cultural and natural locations of significance the protection and recognition they deserve. The United Nations founded this assembly in 1942, and UNESCO composed an international treaty 30 years later that set the standard for what places must emulate to be considered a World Heritage Site.
Standards and Criteria
Cultural sites, such as Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park or the magnificent Cologne Cathedral in Germany, must present an outstanding example of human traditions, architecture, values or creative genius to be accepted as a World Heritage Site. These locations exude the wisdom of the past and set a vibrant display of what the world looked like before our time. Natural sites, such as Zimbabwe’s spectacular Victoria Falls, and Austria’s breathtaking Wachau Valley, must display significant ecological and biological development, either past or present, as well as immense native beauty. These preserved pictures of untouched environment boast special gems that can be admired across the globe — many along the rivers we sail.
A Label of Protection
When a location, building, or monument is considered UNESCO-worthy, it receives special care from the organization. Significant resources and time are devoted to ensuring these places thrive. UNESCO’s goal is to keep natural and human history intact, so we can learn from the authentic cultural experience each location offers. The Rhine River, lined with alluring castles and charming historic towns, embodies the long history of human involvement along the region’s natural landscape, which can be explored on our Rhine River itineraries.
Being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is an impressive honor, and thus the landmarks that receive this qualification are held to a higher standard. The universal value UNESCO sites possess rises above country borders, placing responsibility for their care on an international community dedicated to their conservation. Places with the UNESCO stamp of approval are actively demonstrating their importance to the rest of the world by allowing people to come and take part in the culture and history that are cherished and nurtured by their local communities.