World Heritage in the Czech Republic

By inscribing a site on the UNESCO World Heritage List, it is agreed that it represents the natural or cultural heritage of our planet and possesses an outstanding universal value for the entire world community. The Czech Republic ratified the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1991 and since then a total of 16 sites have been inscribed on the World Heritage List.

On 24 July 2021 the World Heritage Committee inscribed the transnational serial site of The Great Spa Towns of Europe, including the spa triangle of Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně, and Františkovy Lázně on the UNESCO World Heritage List. On 28 July 2021, the Committee further decided to inscribe an extension of the existing site of Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe to include Jizerskohorské bučiny, making it the first natural World Heritage site in the Czech Republic. 

Heritage conservation of World Heritage sites in the Czech Republic is overseen by the National Heritage Institute, which administers expert assistance and provides supporting materials in the nomination process for potential new sites, draws up relevant documentation for the purposes of monitoring sites already inscribed on the World Heritage List, and provides further information regarding their conservation and management. The NHI helps the owners and site managers of World Heritage to meet the requirements that ensue from its international significance, monitors the situation and state of conservation of historic buildings and sites, and prepares documentation for the Ministry of Culture, or in some cases directly for the World Heritage Centre.

In the Czech Republic, it is the task of the Ministry of Culture to ensure the requirements of the Convention are met and to ensure cooperation and communication with the World Heritage Centre on matters of conservation of cultural heritage.

World Heritage List Nominations

A Tentative List is an inventory of those properties which each State Party intends to consider for nomination.

Czech nominations

The Criteria for Selection

To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of the following ten selection criteria.

  1. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius
  2. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design
  3. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared
  4. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history
  5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change
  6. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria)
  7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance
  8. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features
  9. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals
  10. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation

The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations. Since 1992 significant interactions between people and the natural environment have been recognized as cultural landscapes.

The names of the Czech World Heritage sites tend to be well-known among the public. However, not many are aware of their outstanding universal value and boundaries. The World Heritage and the Czech Republic publication, produced by the National Heritage Institute with support from ICOMOS Czech Republic, therefore focuses on promoting and presenting World Heritage sites in conjunction with their specific attributes. The decision to produce a bilingual publication with a glossary aims to strengthen international cooperation and share the universally important values and responsibility for the preservation of these sites for future generations. For this reason, the publication also shines light on the roles of the various actors in heritage preservation. The book provides statements of outstanding universal value for each site, as well as maps demonstrating their boundaries.