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Venice and its Lagoon: A World Heritage Site
No place is quite like Venice, the venue of the World Heritage Convention’s 30th anniversary celebration in November.
The whole of Venice is considered an extraordinary architectural masterpiece, and it was inscribed as such on the World Heritage List in 1987.
Under the World Heritage Convention, Venice fulfills all six criteria for a cultural site of outstanding universal value. Founded some 1500 years ago, the maritime city built on scores of islands developed in a unique way, with water as its unifying theme. It is a unique artistic achievement (criterion i), seeming to float on the waters of the lagoon and harbouring monuments of exceptional beauty such as San Marco, the Scuola di San Rocco and the Palazzo Ducale.
Venice had considerable influence on the development of architecture and monumental arts (criterion ii), with painters such as Bellini, Titian and Veronese profoundly altering perceptions of space, light and colour.
Historically, Venice was a cultural and commercial crossroads between East and West, a cosmopolitan city state that was the centre of a maritime empire of unequalled power.
As a still vibrant archaeological site, Venice bears unique testimony to a cultural tradition (criterion iii), living on through thousands of monuments and vestiges of a time gone by.
The city, presenting a complete typology of medieval architecture, is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble illustrating a significant stage in human history (criterion iv).
To this day, canals and pedestrian passageways remain the only thoroughfares, lending Venice its legendary romanticism. Venice and its lagoon make up a coherent ecosystem considered an outstanding example of land use that has become vulnerable as a result of irreversible changes (criterion v). Its remarkable longevity is thanks largely to the robust construction techniques of the early Venetians.
The “Queen of the Seas” is directly and tangibly associated with universal history (criterion vi), her influence extending far beyond the Mediterranean.