New additions to the UNESCO World Heritage list

Back in July I wrote about UNESCO World Heritage sites and decisions to be taken at the impending 44th session of the World Heritage committee. Sadly, as feared, Liverpool did lose its World Heritage status. However, the two new nominated sites that I highlighted, Nice in France and the ShUM sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz in Germany, were both successful in being added to the list. This blog post is the first of three which will take a look at a few of the other new additions and consider relevant books in which you can find out more.

First, and also in Germany, is Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, site of the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony, established in 1897 by Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse, a grandson of Queen Victoria. This was an important early 20th century artistic centre and the buildings show the influence of the Art Nouveau and Vienna Secession movements.

Wedding Tower and Exhibition Hall (both designed 1908 by Joseph Maria Olbrich), picture by Jean-Pierre Dalbera via Wikimedia Commons (figure on roof is 1999 Zwischen den Zeiten by Hubertus von der Goltz)

Between 1901 and 1914 four international exhibitions were held there and we have a facsimile edition of the catalogue for the first: Die Ausstellung der Darmstädter Künstlerkolonie (S400:4.b.9.865). Other books about the site include:

  • the beautifully illustrated Künstlerkolonie Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, 1899-1944: das Buch zum Museum (S400:4.a.9.409) and

  • Ein Dokument deutscher Kunst: Darmstadt, 1901-1976 (S400:4.c.9.188-193), a 6-volume set with volumes 4 and 5 of particular interest on the artists and buildings of the colony.

Several of the Mathildenhöhe buildings listed by UNESCO are artists’ houses, including one designed by Peter Behrens, himself the subject of an earlier blog post.

Peter Behrens’ House, picture by Störfix via Wikimedia Commons

Heading south and more than 500 years back in time, we come to Padua’s 14th century fresco cycles in Italy, with stunning frescoes in eight religious and secular buildings included in the listing. The most famous of these is perhaps Giotto’s masterpiece in the Scrovegni (or Arena) Chapel and much has been written on this over the years. Some of the most recent publications include:

  • La Cappella Scrovegni: sotto il segno dei templari by Maria Beatrice Autizi (C213.c.9270)
  • Giotto and the Arena Chapel: art, architecture & experience by Laura Jacobus (405:95.b.200.6)
  • Giotto: the frescoes of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua edited by Giuseppe Basile (S950.a.200.3165)
  • La Cappella degli Scrovegni nell’anfiteatro romano di Padova: nuove ricerche e questioni irrisolte edited by Rita Deiana (C215.c.4332)

Another key site is the vast hall of the Palazzo della Ragione decorated with around 500 frescoes and featured in Il Palazzo della ragione a Padova: dalle pitture di Giotto agli affreschi del ‘400 (S405:95.a.9.69-70) and Palazzo della ragione a Padova: vita e arte sotto la volta degli astri (S400:4.a.9.411). Photographs of these and other sites are also to be found in Padova: città d’arte e di luce (S578.a.200.2).

Before this year Padua already had a World Heritage site in the form of the Botanical Garden, one of the earliest to be created, in 1545. Now, the Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, west of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, is the first modern tropical garden to be inscribed on the list. The gardens, occupying a site over twice the size of Cambridge University Botanic Garden, were developed over a 40 year period by the landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994) and are home to more than 3500 plant species.

Picture by Halley Pacheco de Oliveira via Wikimedia Commons

More information on the Burle Marx gardens and the man behind them can be found in:

  • The gardens of Roberto Burle Marx by Sima Eliovson (439.b.99.11)
  • The tropical gardens of Burle Marx by P.M. Bardi (9440.b.57)
  • Burle Marx: the lyrical landscape by Marta Iris Montero (S438.a.200.3)
  • Roberto Burle Marx, Brazilian modernist (S950.a.201.4270), catalogue of a recent international exhibition

For my final new addition we move from landscape architecture to built architecture and the works of Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana in Slovenia, a new urban design conceived between the World Wars by Plečnik (1872-1957). One of the public buildings included is the National and University Library, opened in 1941, just a few years after Cambridge University Library; it is the central square building at the top of the photo below.

Picture by Vladimir Yaitskiy via Wikimedia Commons

You can read more about the work of Plečnik, including his wider work in Vienna and Prague, in the following:

  • Jože Plečnik, architect, 1872-1957 (401:7.b.95.139)
  • Jože Plečnik: Städtebau im Schatten der Moderne by Jörg Stabenow (401:7.c.95.540)
  • Joze Plečnik, 1872-1957: architectura perennis by Damjan Prelovšek (S401:7.b.9.1027)
  • Plečnik: the complete works by Peter Krečič (S401:7.b.9.953

Katharine Dicks

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