The picturesque Wilhelmshöhe mountainside park has become the 38th UNESCO World Heritage site in Germany. Some sites were subject to lengthy negotiations but Wilhelmshöhe got the thumbs-up in just eight minutes.
On Sunday, experts with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization added the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe to its World Heritage list. The beauty spot in Kassel, in the central state of Hesse, is the largest park built on a hillside in Europe. It took about 150 years to complete, with work beginning late in the 17th century.
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe becomes the sixth UNESCO heritage site in Hesse and the 38th in Germany. Leading state officials were already in the state's second city of Kassel to mark the annual "Hessentag" (Hesse Day) festival on Sunday.
"This is the jewel in the crown of Hesse Day," state Premier Volker Bouffier said.
The Christian Democrat also said the title bestowed "honor and responsibility in equal measure" on the site. UNESCO World Heritage status is subject to conditions and can be revoked by the organization; the Dresden Elbe Valley, for example, was struck from the list in 2009 after the city built a modern bridge across the river.
UNESCO delegates in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, this weekend named several new additions to its World Heritage list. Many of the entries prompted lengthy discussions, but German news agency DPA reported that the Wilhelmshöhe discussion and vote lasted just eight minutes.
"With this, Kassel will no longer just be known as the documenta-city, which pulls in the contemporary art scene every five years," Gerd Weiß, president of Hesse's authority for cultural heritage preservation, said, referring to the major exhibition held every five years in Kassel. "It will also become a meeting point for people who are interested in landscape and gardening architecture."
Kassel had first expressed an interest in applying for the status for Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe in the 1980s. At next year's UNESCO meeting, which is to take place in Qatar, Germany is likely to seek a place on the World Heritage list for the Imperial Abbey of Corvey - a Benedictine monastery founded in the ninth century in Höxter, North Rhine-Westphalia.
msh/pfd (dpa, epd)