Beit Shalom Synagogue in Speyer. UNESCO has recognized the Jewish cultural origins at the so-called Shum sites in Mainz, Worms and Speyer as a New World Heritage Site. Lower Germanic Lymes as part of the borders of the ancient Roman Empire received this award. Photo: Uwe Anspach / dpa
Lower Germanic lime as part of the borders of the ancient Roman Empire has also been designated a New World Heritage Site. The responsible committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) made surprising decisions on Tuesday at its meeting in Fuzhou, China.
After awarding the spas of Baden-Baden, Bad Ems, and Bad Kissingen with eight other European baths and the Matildenhoehe artists’ colony in Darmstadt for the weekend, Germany could decorate itself with four new World Heritage titles at the current meeting. Only cultural and natural sites of “outstanding universal value” have been designated as World Heritage.
Schaum sites in Mainz, Worms and Speyer in the Rhineland-Palatinate are places of the Jewish Middle Ages and also called “Jerusalem on the Rhine”. Shum is an abbreviation of the medieval Hebrew initials for cities. The old cemetery in Mainz is part of the legacy of the Jewish people. About 1,000 years after the first burial, many historical tombstones can still be found. There is also a Jewish cemetery in Worms, as well as a quarter with a synagogue, a ritual bath (mikveh) and a museum. Speyer had a similarly rich Jewish community.
After the discussion about the Danube River Limes as part of the frontiers of the Roman Empire had to be moved to a working group the day before for procedural reasons, the Lower German Lime Prize went smoothly. Both sections have been individually nominated as part of the World Heritage Series “The Frontiers of the Roman Empire”. The 400-kilometre Lower Germanic Mountains with their forts and legion encampments stretch along the Rhine. They also talk about “wet lime” there.
The applicants are the residents: the Netherlands and the German federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. The border section begins at Rheinbruhl in the Rhineland-Palatinate and ends at the North Sea in the Netherlands. In NRW there are 220 kilometers between Boone and Cliffe. The border region was the center of ancient culture and the beginning of cities in the Rhineland. Roman ruins include military installations, sanctuaries, statues, and everyday objects.
“Along the Rhine, the Romans developed fortresses and settlements from which large cities such as Cologne, Bonn and Nijmegen were to grow,” said the chair of the German UNESCO Commission, Maria Boehmer. “They owe their prosperity to the fact that Limes did not act to isolate themselves, but was always an exchange between Rome and its neighbours.”
The inclusion of the Lower Germanic lime in the World Cultural Heritage aims to bridge the gap between two already protected sections – the Upper Germanic-Rae lime as well as Hadrian’s Wall and another in Great Britain. A decision on the Danube Limes can be expected on Friday.
Since Hungary left the joint application with Germany, Austria and Slovakia at short notice, UNESCO has faced an “unprecedented case”. The International Council for the Preservation of Monuments (Icomos) indicated that, excluding Hungary, about 400 km of the Danube has been removed, and thus more than half of the boundary has been removed from implementation.
The World Heritage Committee meets online and on site through Saturday. It is made up of 21 elected signatories to the World Heritage Convention. As a rule, it annually decides on the inclusion of new cultural and natural sites in the World Heritage List and deals with the status of the inscribed sites. Due to the pandemic, the conference was postponed last year. More than 1,100 cultural and natural sites in 167 countries are on the World Heritage List. 51 of them are considered threatened. Germany now has 50 World Heritage sites.
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