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Culture

UNESCO Honors Three German Treasures

Dresden's romantic Elbe Valley, Bremen's historic spots and a park on the Saxon-Polish border will rub shoulders with the likes of Venice and Angkor Wat as UNESCO accepted the German gems to the World Heritage site list.

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Dresden hopes the recognition will boost tourism

Meeting in the Chinese city of Suzhou to consider 41 applications to the World Heritage site list, a UNESCO governing committee on Friday gave the go-ahead to Bremen's historic city hall and its liberty statue, Dresden's picturesque Elbe Valley as well as the Fürst-Pückler Park grounds in Bad Muskau on the Saxon-Polish border to be included in the prestigious list.

That takes Germany's contribution to the World Heritage site list to 30 places. They include spots such as the Cologne Cathedral, the classical Weimar of Goethe and Schiller, Berlin's Museum Island and the towns of Eisleben and Wittenberg that are associated with Martin Luther.

"An image-boost"

UNESCO's decision has been greeted with delight by officials in Germany. Dresden mayor Ingolf Rossberg said it was an internationally significant honor for the Elbe Valley, renowned for its stunning blend of nature and architecture and added he hoped the "World Heritage" status would "provide an impetus, particularly in tourism."

"It's like being exalted to knighthood," said Saxony's Culture and Science Minister Matthias Rößler. He also stressed that the entire eastern German state of Saxony would profit from the image-boost bestowed by the worldwide coveted quality seal.

Galerie Bundesländer Bremen Rathaus UNESCO

Bremen's City Hall

Bremen mayor Henning Scherf described the decision as "a wonderful piece of news and a great honor for the city of which we are very proud."

"Florence of the Elbe"

Dresden, the capital of Saxony and also known as "Florence of the Elbe", had justified its bid to the UNESCO World Heritage site list two years ago by pointing out that nature and architecture had developed in an unusually close and harmonious relationship in the Elbe Valley.

Indeed, the 20-kilometer-long valley which snakes from the southeast to the northwest fringes of Dresden, encompasses a rich ensemble of historic architectural monuments as well as swathes of natural reserves and river landscapes.

Festung Königstein

The winding Elbe Valley is a must-see for tourists to Germany

On either side of the Elbe banks, traces of early settlements and burial grounds dating from the Bronze and Ice Age, medieval villages and fortified structures from the Renaissance and Baroque periods as well as ornate royal residences stemming from the 19th century vie for attention.

Other splendors include expansive Wilhelminian villas, rolling vineyards and the famous 18th century Chinese-style Pillnitz Palace, which form the easternmost point of the winding Elbe Valley.

Enigmatic symbol of freedom

Bremen's contribution to the World Heritage list, the 9,61-meter-high stone statue of Roland and the historic town hall with its Renaissance façade, are the port city's best-known emblems.

Built in 1404, the exact identity of the giant enigmatic-looking Roland at the Market square still remains unknown. What is clear though is that the towering figure is a symbol of freedom for civil society, trade, independence and individuality. Roland remains a popular figure in Bremen. Every year, the inhabitants donate a massive gingerbread heart to their statue of liberty.

The city's town hall, which turns 600 next year, houses both the mayor's office as well as Germany's oldest barrel of wine in its cellar.

Tumulus Fürst Pückler-Muskau Park in Branitz

Fürst Pückler-Muskau Park

Bad Muskau's Fürst Pückler Park was put forth as a bid for "World Heritage" status in a joint German-Polish effort. Spread out over 750 hectares and created by Hermann Fürst von Pückler Muskau (1751-1871), nearly two-thirds of the verdant area fall on Polish soil.

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