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World Heritage Sites


World Heritage Sites



How was the World Heritage List created? 


In the framework of its institutional mandate, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted on 16 November 1972 by UNESCO’s General Conference, which comprises all of its Member States.

The Convention is an international tool for the identification, protection and conservation of the world’s cultural and natural heritage. It foresees the adoption of a List of properties with possess an outstanding universal value.

The List is updated each year. At present, it contains 1154 sites, 58 of which are Italians (53 cultural and 5 natural).

Italy possesses the highest number of World Heritage sites, together with China, followed by Germany, Spain and France.

The World Heritage Convention:


  • sets four property categories for insertion on the WH List: natural heritage, cultural heritage, mixed cultural and natural heritage, cultural landscapes ;
  • sets obligations for State parties concerning the selection of properties, their protection and conservation;
  • encourages State parties to carry out public awareness-raising campaigns on World Heritage sites and to foster the latter’s protection by means of educational and information activities.


Each State party may propose properties for insertion on the World Heritage List after drafting an inventory of national cultural and natural sites it wishes to present in the near future - the so-called Tentative List.


How are World Heritage properties chosen?


In order for a property to become part of the World Heritage List, it must possess an outstanding universal value and satisfy at least one of the ten criteria that are outlined in the Convention’s Operational Guidelines. It must also abide by some integrity and authenticity standards and be duly managed and protected.

All the requirements concerning the candidature procedure and its attachments are outlined in the Operational Guidelines.  

National governments are responsible for the choice of their candidatures, together with their National Commissions for UNESCO. The 1972 Convention has established a World Heritage Committee which meets once a year and is responsible for accepting, refusing or postponing these candidatures until further information is provided. 

For more details on the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, its bodies and the WH List, please see here or visit the website of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO.