The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972. As of 2020, there are ten properties in the Kingdom of the Netherlands inscribed on the World Heritage List. Nine of those sites are in the Netherlands and one is in Curaçao, in the Caribbean.

UNESCO lists sites under ten criteria. The sites must be of “outstanding universal value” in cultural or natural perspective. Therefore, UNESCO sites are often play a big part in tourism where people would like to visit. Here, we list few most famous UNESCO sites in the Netherlands. Which of them you haven’t visit yet?

1. Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht

The Amsterdam Canal District was designed at the end of the 16th century and constructed in the 17th century, as a new and entirely artificial port city. The canals are laid out in concentric arcs, intersected with radial waterways and streets. The majority of the houses erected in the 17th and 18th centuries are preserved, while the old civil and hydraulic structures have generally been replaced. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Amsterdam was seen as a reference model for several projects around the world.

“to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history”

2. Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout

This property is an example of the human-made landscape created by draining the water from the polders. Construction of hydraulic works began in the Middle Ages to create the land for agriculture and to settle. Technological heritage includes high- and low-lying drainage and transport channels for superfluous polder water, embankments and dikes, 3 pumping stations, 2 discharge sluices, 2 Water Board Assembly Houses, and 19 drainage mills, the majority of which were constructed between 1738 and 1740.

“to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design”

3. Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour, Curaçao

Willemstad was established as a trading settlement by merchants from the Netherlands in 1634. The modern town consists of several historic districts, which reflect the mix of Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese cultural influences, as well as the Afro-Caribbean. Several historic houses are painted in bright colours, which is a tradition dating to the early 19th century.

“to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change”

4. The Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats in the world. It is an important biodiversity spot, harbouring species such as harbour seal, grey seal, and harbour porpoise. The sites in Germany and the Netherlands were inscribed to the World Heritage List in 2009, the site in Denmark was added in 2014.

“to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation”


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