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Decision 44 COM 8B.21
Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences (Spain)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/21/44.COM/8B and WHC/21/44.COM/INF.8B1,
  2. Inscribes Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences, Spain, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii), (iv) and (vi);
  3. Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

    Brief synthesis

    Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences is located at the urban heart of Madrid. It was the prototype of a Hispanic alameda (tree-lined avenue) from the 16th century, a public space based on the presence of nature within the city for the enjoyment of citizens. It was also an example of a new idea of urban space and of a green urban development model from the enlightened absolutist period of the 18th century. This model quickly expanded and became a model that exercised social influence in Latin America, illustrating the aspiration for a utopian society during Spanish overseas territory in the 16th Century. Together with the Gardens of Buen Retiro and combining culture and nature, it is a designed cultural landscape in an urban environment that has evolved over centuries. It was a new concept and a complex project with a clear social element that included the establishment of an innovative group of buildings and facilities dedicated to science and to educating the public, and which would also embellish the city. Buildings dedicated to the arts and sciences joined others devoted to industry, healthcare and research in a 200-hectare cultural landscape. Its special links to arts and sciences increased during centuries, resulting in an extraordinary area that still is dedicated to nature for leisure of citizens together with museums, cultural institutions and research and scientific centres.

    Criterion (ii): the Paseo del Prado constitutes the very first green space designed within a European capital in the Modern Age; it is a tree-lined avenue, originating in the 16th century though substantially modified in the 18th century, that had a strong influence in the Spanish America as a town development model. It was the first and important example of an alameda or paseo (boulevard).

    Criterion (iv): the Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro is also a town green development model of the enlightened absolutist period, a prototype of a new idea of improvement of urban space with a strong social content guided by rational criteria to enhance ornamentation, hygiene and functionality. It is a unique expression of enlightened ideals applied to town development projects with the unique addition of the sciences as an essential component, all with a view to the democratisation of knowledge and making it available to all citizens. Its different parts are linked geographically and ideologically by the idea of creating a great green urban space (composed of a tree-lined avenue, a park and a botanical garden) in different stages of history, from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.

    Criterion (vi): The nominated property represents a utopian society linked to the Arts and the Sciences, the paradigm of Culture, in a natural frame within the city. It also represents the idea of democratisation of knowledge, introducing the opportunity to learn sciences and to enjoy arts, in an area for citizen’s leisure. It was an idea to improve society that crossed the borders of Spain and extended to America. The arts, sciences, healthcare, industry and research, all as part of an exchange of human and scientific values that promote the dissemination of knowledge and whose public and social roles have been preserved with outstanding vitality.


    All the important identified attributes are preserved within the property’s limits; they are adequately maintained and are in good condition, and no significant neglect has been identified. It retains its integrity as a planned urban development. Existing contemporary interventions in historical buildings should be considered for the future and special attention should be placed in the short-term intensity of use and overexploitation, adaptation to climate change specifically in relation with trees in Paseo del Prado, Buen Retiro and Real Jardín Botánico, traffic and air pollution.


    The major attributes of the property have demonstrated their authenticity, and the sources of information are credible. There is a great amount of original documents, plans, etc. in municipal archives such as the Archivo de Villa, and others such as the Archives of the Real Jardín Botánico. There is also a great amount of literary and graphic information. The green areas, the Paseo del Prado, Gardens of Buen Retiro and Royal Botanical Garden continue with their use and function. Many of the buildings on the Hills of Sciences are still used as originally intended, and other buildings such as the Prado museum and the Atocha railway station preserve their original use.

    Protection and management requirements

    The three main green areas (75% of the property) are listed as Properties of Cultural Interest (Bien de Interés Cultural), the highest legal protection available, together with more than 30 other elements (fountains and monuments) and 35 major buildings included within the property’s limits. Furthermore some 300 individual trees are included in the municipal inventories and the Catálogo de Árboles Singulares de la Comunidad de Madrid. 

    Three different institutional levels are involved in the protection of the property: national, providing the general framework with the Ley de Patrimonio Histórico Español (LPHE, Ley 16/1985), regional (Ley de Patrimonio Histórico de la Comunidad de Madrid, Ley 3/2013) and municipal, as the whole area is protected by the Madrid General Urban Development Plan (PGOUM). Mandatory legislation of a European level that affects the member states must also be included. 

    A new Management System has been implemented and tested that considers the already management public and private initiatives. It is an important Plan based on the coordination of the parties, both public, private institutions and local associations. It is designed to function at different levels, promoting engagement with the property by citizens and stakeholders. This plan  coordinates different departments and agents involved in the property, particularly the institutional agents with legal responsibilities, and addresses implementation of different groups: a World Heritage Commission, composed of the three institutional levels -state, region, and local-  a Scientific Council, composed of independent experts, and an Advisory Civic and Social Board formed of the representatives of the three administrations, private institutions, plus relevant associations, and cultural and scientific institutions.

  4. Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:
    1. Further developing and implementing the full monitoring system, with special care to achieve an integrated approach,
    2. Completing the documentation of the historic buildings within the property, such as the headquarters of the Ministerio de Marina,
    3. Clarifying the last property delineation, specifically the extent to which the buildings and their façades at the edge of the property are included within the revised boundaries, and to clearly identify the attributes included,
    4. Establishing an adequate buffer zone according to the option provided by the State Party on the basis of the Historical Centre in the Madrid General Urban Development Plan (PGOUM),
    5. Undertaking further studies to achieve an appropriate balance of conservation with intensive uses, while ensuring the protection of OUV,
    6. Considering diverse general actions in order to improve integrity regarding vegetation and some of the urban fabric, especially pavements, in the Paseo del Prado,
    7. Finalizing the listing process for all buildings, as, although some of the listings as BICs are already integrally protected, the finalization of the process has been somehow delayed,
    8. Developing an interpretation strategy for the overall property within the management system,
    9. Enhancing the role and independence of the Civic and Social Board as a means of ensuring community involvement;
  5. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2022 a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session.
    Decision Code
    44 COM 8B.21
    Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
    States Parties 1
    Decisions adopted at the 44th extended session of the World Heritage Committee
    Context of Decision