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International Expert Meeting on Astronomical Heritage and Sacred Places

Gran Canaria, Spain, 23-24 May 2018

Alfredo Kraus Auditorium, meeting place, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria © Cabildo de Gran Canaria

The meeting aims to establish and identify the links that exist between astronomical heritage, religious heritage and sacred sites. Sacred sites embrace areas of special spiritual significance to peoples and communities, and many of these sites also have clear connections with astronomy or the skyscape. 

This thematic meeting will address the confluence and synergies to be found between two important UNESCO World Heritage Centre initiatives: the Astronomy and World Heritage Thematic Initiative and the Initiative on Heritage of Religious Interest

Two main objectives will be:

  • Contribution to the development of guidance on an holistic approach for recognition and management of the associations of both cultural and natural heritage as part of the Outstanding Universal Value of property and on the appropriate use of the various criteria for such recognition in line with the recommendations of the International World Heritage Expert Meeting on criterion (vi) endorsed by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session (St. Petersburg, 2012);
  • Contribution to the development, by the WHC/Advisory Bodies Steering Group on Heritage of religious interest, of a general guidance on management of their cultural and natural heritage of religious interest requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011).

The working sessions will focus on:

  • Information exchange on existing sacred and astronomical sites (natural and cultural) and potential World Heritage properties;
  • Identification of the potential of sacred sites and monuments connected with astronomical observations;
  • Provide examples of cultural and daily life impacts of cosmological observation and beliefs on human communities;
  • Recommendations for identifying, assessing and recognising the importance of this specific heritage. 

Experts will present case studies in order to illustrate the confluence between sacred properties with astronomical connotations that could contribute to the Global Strategy for a balanced, representative and credible World Heritage List.

Representatives of UNESCO/WHC, Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Committee (ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN), IAU (International Astronomical Union), ICOMOS PRERICO and Expert Working Groups, representing two thematic initiatives, will attend.

The meeting has the support of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. The Cabildo of Gran Canaria, as the organiser, and the Canary Island Government have provided generous support for the meeting.