Explore the UNESCO Urban Heritage Atlas

Wednesday, 14 February 2024
access_time 2 min read

UNESCO has launched a new digital platform, the UNESCO Urban Heritage Atlas that leverages the power of digital technology to support the conservation and management of the world’s historic cities and promote their diversity.

Historic cities and settlements have their own unique character that is the outcome of the history, geography, local culture and influences that have shaped them. The Atlas is a tool to identify, document, map, and protect these attributes. It gathers and organizes cultural information on built tangible heritage at different scales, be it a historic building, as urban elements, or at the scale of the wider settlement. It also features intangible elements and natural features essential to each city or settlement. The holistic information provided on the platform helps better manage historic urban areas by ensuring that new projects and interventions are compatible with the distinctive character of the historic city or settlement.  

The Atlas currently features 10 World Heritage cities from all regions that were part of the pilot project:

The heritage of these pilot historic cities is presented with visuals and analytical narrative in addition to detailed and analytical geo-referenced maps using a GIS database, highlighting distinctive structures, places, and characters that make each of these cities unique. The information was gathered through capacity building and a mapping process which was implemented in close collaboration between the local stakeholders and UNESCO. While the pilots are World Heritage properties, the Atlas is intended to serve as a compendium for all historic cities and settlements beyond the World Heritage List, including those on national Tentative Lists for World Heritage.

The Atlas serves as a practical aid for implementing the UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL Recommendation), a landmark legal instrument which guides the integration of heritage conservation with urban development plans and processes. The HUL approach is a way of understanding urban heritage as the interrelationships between the built and natural heritage, as well as the local communities, their knowledge and practices.

The methodology for the Atlas follows a resource manual on urban heritage management to be shortly published by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre with the valuable support of the Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Committee.

How can you participate?

A digital form will be made available for stakeholders to contribute further urban heritage studies to the Atlas through images, text, and georeferenced data from historic cities and settlements. If you are a local authority who would like to contribute to the UNESCO Urban Heritage Atlas regarding your city or settlement, please contact:  heritage4cities@unesco.org

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Presentation of the information meeting on the UNESCO Urban Heritage Atlas

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