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German Cathedral wins World Heritage designation

July 1, 2018

The 13th century cathedral in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt is known for its Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It is the second German site to win a World Heritage designation in as many days.

Naumburg cathedral with tourists, Copyright: imago/blickwinkel
Image: imago/blickwinkel

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee on Sunday declared the Naumburg Cathedral in eastern Germany a cultural landmark.

The cathedral, which was built some 800 years ago, between 1213 and 1250, is famous for its mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture as well as its sculptures inside.

It is considered one of the most important cathedrals built during the High Middle Ages, which stretched from 1000 – 1250 A.D.

Naumburg Cathedral

The 12-stone sculptures depict the cathedral's founders. The cathedral and the sculptures are the work of a man simply known as the Naumburg Master.

The World Heritage Committee noted the artistic qualities of the cathedral, which provide insight into the art, architecture and technology of its time. The site includes the cloister, a cathedral garden and the surrounding Curia buildings.

Germany had also sought heritage designation for the surrounding Medieval Cultural Landscape of the Saale and Unstrut rivers. It was not granted but German officials seemed unperturbed by that rejection.

The World Heritage designation means "that the Naumburg Cathedral is a masterpiece of human creativity," said Maria Böhmer, President of the German UNESCO Commission. "It is in line with the cathedrals of Amiens in France, Modena in Italy and Burgos in Spain."

Michelle Müntefering, deputy minister in the German Foreign Ministry, issued a statement applauding the designation.

"This is a great award, a special tribute to Naumburg and the region," the statement read. "As the main work of the Naumburg Master, the Naumburg Cathedral shows how important the cultural exchange and the mobility of artists have always been to artistic development in Europe."

Viking heritage

The Viking-age sites Hedeby and Danevirke

On Saturday, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee declared the German Archaeological Border Landscape of Hedeby and Danevirke, one of the world's largest Viking settlements, heritage sites.

Hedeby is a historic Viking trading post near the southern end of the Jutland Peninsula, which today is Denmark. The settlement, however, is located in northern Germany in what is now the Schleswig-Flensburg district of the state of Schleswig-Holstein.

The Danevirke is a system of Danish fortifications in Schleswig-Holstein. The 30-kilometer (18-mile) fortification formed the southern border of the Kingdom of Denmark between the eighth and 11th centuries.

The site was re-discovered in 1897. Archaeological excavations began there three years later and continue to this day.

The Naumburg site was twice rejected by the UNESCO committee, including last year. The committee is in the midst of a 10-day-long meeting in Manama, Bahrain — whic will last until July 4. All told, the committee is considering 22 cultural and five natural sites.

Germany now has 44 World Heritage sites but there are no more sites under consideration this year.

bik/ng (dpa, AFP, KNA, epd)

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