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Committee Decisions

32 COM 8B.84

Revision of Statements of Signifiance and Statements Outstanding Universal Value - Historic Centre of Prague (CZECH REPUBLIC)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B.Add and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add,

2. Adopts the following Statement of Significance for the Historic Centre of Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe in terms of its setting on both banks of the Vltava River, its townscape of burger houses and palaces punctuated by towers, and its individual buildings

The Historic Centre represents a supreme manifestation of Medieval urbanism (the New Town of Emperor Charles IV built as the New Jerusalem). The Prague architectural works of the Gothic Period (14th and 15th centuries), of the High Baroque of the 1st half of the 18th century and of the rising modernism after the year 1900, influenced the development of Central Europe, perhaps even all European architecture. Prague represents one of the most prominent world centres of creative life in the field of urbanism and architecture across generations, human mentality and beliefs.

Prague belongs to the group of historic cities which have preserved the structure of their development until the present times. Within the core of Prague, successive stages of growth and changes have respected the original grand-scale urban structure of the Early Middle Ages. This structure was essentially and greatly enlarged with urban activities in the High Gothic period with more additions during the High Baroque period and in the 19th century. It has been saved from any large-scale urban renewal or massive demolitions and thus preserves its overall configuration, pattern and spatial composition.

In the course of the 1100 years of its existence, Prague's development can be documented in the architectural expression of many historical periods and their styles. The city is rich in outstanding monuments from all periods of its history. Of particular importance are Prague Castle, the Cathedral of St Vitus, Hradćany Square in front of the Castle, the Valdgtejn Palace on the left bank of the river, the Gothic Charles Bridge, the Romanesque Rotunda of the Holy Rood, the Gothic arcaded houses round the Old Town Square, the High Gothic Minorite Church of St James in the Stark Mĕsto, the late 19th century buildings and town plan of the Nave Mĕsto.

As early as the Middle Ages, Prague became one of the leading cultural centres of Christian Europe. The Prague University, founded in 1348, is one of the earliest in Europe. The milieu of the University in the last quarter of the 14th century and the first years of the 15th century contributed among other things to the formation of ideas of the Hussite Movement which represented in fact the first steps of the European Reformation.  As a metropolis of culture, Prague is connected with prominent names in art, science and politics, such as Charles IV, Petr Parléř, Jan Hus, Johannes Kepler, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Kafka, Antonín Dvořák, Albert Einstein, Edvard Beneš (co-founder of the League of Nations) and Václav Havel.

Criterion (ii): The historic centre of Prague admirably illustrates the process of continuous urban growth from the Middle Ages to the present day. Its important role in the political, economic, social, and cultural evolution of central Europe from the 14th century onwards and the richness of its architectural and artistic traditions meant that it served as a major model for urban development for much of central and eastern Europe.

Criterion (iv): Prague is an urban architectural ensemble of outstanding quality, in terms of both its individual monuments and its townscape, and one that is deservedly world-famous.

Criterion (vi): The role of Prague in the medieval development of Christianity in central Europe was an outstanding one, as was its formative influence in the evolution of towns. By virtue of its political significance in the later Middle Ages and after, it attracted architects and artists from all over Europe, who contributed to its wealth of architectural and artistic treasures. The 15th century foundation of Charles University made Prague a renowned seat of learning, a reputation that it has preserved up to the present day. Since the reign of Charles IV, Prague has also been the intellectual and cultural centre of central Europe, and is indelibly associated with such world-famous names as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Kafka.

3. Recommends that assessment for statements of authenticity and integrity / statements of protection and management should be postponed to the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee (2009) awaiting adoption of a methodology and an agreed format for Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for inscribed properties. 

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Czech Republic
Session: 32COM