Prague, Czech Republic – UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has been meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, to decide which sites deserve to be singled out for their “outstanding universal value” to humanity and given special status and protection. Among this year’s additions to UNESCO’s prestigious world heritage list, we find sites from Poland and the Czech Republic.
The additions of Poland’s prehistoric flint mines in Krzemionki, the Czech Republic’s stud farms in Kladruby nad Labem, and the mining cultural landscape of Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří, between Saxony and Bohemia, now take Central Europe’s grand total of protected sites to 45.
Poland still has the most in the region, with 16 World Heritage sites, made up of 15 cultural sites and one natural landscape, the Białowieża Forest. Slightly behind, the Czech Republic can now nonetheless boast of 14 cultural sites inscribed on UNESCO’s list. Hungary and Slovakia have no reason to blush either, with eight and seven World Heritage sites respectively.
The 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee continues until 10 July. Other additions include the ancient city of Babylon in Iraq, the Hyrcanian forests in Iran, an ancient metallurgy site in Burkina Faso, the French austral lands and seas, Jaipur City in India, Bagan in Myanmar and the Plain of Jars in Laos.
But let’s have a look at Central Europe’s latest additions…
Krzemionki Prehistoric Striped Flint Mining Region (Poland)
Located in the mountain region of Świętokrzyskie, Krzemionki is an ensemble of four mining sites, dating from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age (about 3900 to 1600 BCE), dedicated to the extraction and processing of striped flint, which was mainly used for axe-making. With its underground mining structures, flint workshops and some 4,000 shafts and pits, the site features one of the most comprehensive prehistoric underground flint extraction and processing systems identified to date. The site provides information about life and work in prehistoric settlements and bears witness to an extinct cultural tradition. It is an exceptional testimony of the importance of the prehistoric period and of flint mining for tool production in human history.
Landscape for Breeding and Training of Ceremonial Carriage Horses at Kladruby nad Labem (Czech Republic)
Situated in the Střední Polabí area of the Elbe plain, the site consists of flat, sandy soils and includes fields, fenced pastures, a forested area and buildings, all designed with the main objective of breeding and training kladruber horses, a type of draft horse used in ceremonies by the Habsburg imperial court. An imperial stud farm was established in 1579 and has been dedicated to this task since then. It is one of Europe’s leading horse-breeding institutions, developed at a time when horses played vital roles in transport, agriculture, military support and aristocratic representation.
Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region (Czech Republic/Germany)
Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří (Ore Mountains) spans a region in south-eastern Germany (Saxony) and north-western Czechia, which contains a wealth of several metals exploited through mining from the Middle Ages onwards. The region became the most important source of silver ore in Europe from 1460 to 1560 and was the trigger for technological innovations. Tin was historically the second metal to be extracted and processed at the site. At the end of the 19th century, the region became a major global producer of uranium. The cultural landscape of the Ore Mountains has been deeply shaped by 800 years of almost continuous mining, from the 12th to the 20th century, with mining, pioneering water management systems, innovative mineral processing and smelting sites, and mining cities.