People have envisaged a better future for humanity, a world based on achievements and education. And this includes understanding and respecting heritage in its uniqueness, its outstanding universal value (OUV), at each and every locality. World Heritage was conceived to embody the values in this vision. Focusing on cultural and natural sites and monuments, it is now an institution that aims to identify and safeguard the heritage of humanity for the next generations. The mission of the UNESCO World Heritage Center ⧉ is to actively protect and promote World Heritage, highlighting its universal value. Extending beyond physical monuments and sites, UNESCO aims to also protect the Intangible Heritage ⧉, taking the concept of World Heritage to the next level.
The Acropolis of Athens ⧉ is a unique monument of one of the most influential cultures in human history. It was recognised as a World Heritage site in 1987 and, in acknowledgement of its gravity and symbolic presence throughout history, UNESCO has stated that the Acropolis can be seen as the symbol of World Heritage itself.
“Illustrating the civilizations, myths and religions that flourished in Greece over a period of more than 1,000 years, the Acropolis, the site of four of the greatest masterpieces of classical Greek art – the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erectheum and the Temple of Athena Nike – can be seen as symbolizing the idea of world heritage”
– UNESCO Ref.404, 2006 document ⧉
It is the beauty, depth and symbolism of the Athenian Acropolis which make its physical and conceptual restoration essential. In 2022, it was the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention. The time has long come for museums, institutions and educational establishments to support, together, the key values of World Heritage. The key idea is to set the foundations for a cultural landscape of mutual appreciation and respect in a world of cultures. Considering the Acropolis of Athens as the symbol of World Heritage, there has never been a more appropriate time to reunite all of the Acropolis sculptures to celebrate a world vision through local heritage. It is the outstanding universal value (OUV) of every single site and monument which makes the entire world the definitive universal museum.
World Heritage is a vision reflecting humanity’s evolution. Ultimately, preserving cultural heritage and helping others preserve cultural heritage in their locality is a matter of respect.