International World Heritage Day: why it is celebrated

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Heritage is what we receive from the past, what we live and enjoy in the present, and what we pass on to future generations. All the countries of the world have sites and monuments of local or national interest, but for it to be considered “world heritage” it is necessary that it also possess an “exceptional universal value”: that is, features that make it distinctive.

Currently located in 167 different countries, the World Heritage List includes a total of 1,073 sites, within this number there are 832 cultural sites, 206 natural and 35 mixed. In addition, the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity includes 429 inscriptions corresponding to 117 countries.

Read also: The 5 places in Latin America that UNESCO added to the World Heritage list

The declaration of a property as a world heritage site is a privilege and a prestige for the country, for its political and cultural leaders and for citizens more directly. But, at the same time, it is a great responsibility, since they must maintain its conservation and protection, as well as deepen its study so that this heritage can contribute to the integral education of other people and peoples.

Spain is the third country with the most properties declared World Heritage by UNESCO, followed by Italy and China. This country received its first 5 declarations on November 2, 1984: Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Alhambra and Generalife of Granada, Cathedral of Burgos, Monastery and Site of El Escorial in Madrid, and Güell Palace, Güell Park, and Casa Milà in Barcelona.

Since then, the list has increased until in 2019 there are 48 declarations of Cultural and Natural Heritage and 18 declarations of Intangible Heritage, which gives us an idea of ​​the wealth and heritage diversity of Spain.

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Why is this date celebrated

November 16 is the International World Heritage Day. This commemorates the signing in Paris of the Convention on World Cultural and Natural Heritage on November 16, 1972, which laid the foundations for developing this type of protection, linking the concept of nature conservation with the preservation of cultural sites.

In addition, in 1999 UNESCO launched the Masterpieces Program of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, which was conceived as an instrument to make known, value and protect this other type of heritage, which includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and transmitted to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social uses, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices related to nature and the universe, and knowledge and techniques related to traditional crafts.

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