Just as the bridges between the cities and regions in their countries have been creating links for more than 100 years, the joint World Heritage application today connects the partners in Europe. Municipalities and regions are involved, as are the respective owners of the bridges, the railroad companies. The initial spark came from the mayors of the three major Bergisch cities of Remscheid, Solingen and Wuppertal, and the starting signal was given in 2017 on the 120th anniversary of Müngstener Brücke. Since then, there have been several World Heritage congresses, working meetings are taking place, organizational structures are being built up, networks are being established. The international process is managed from Solingen.
World Heritage coordinator Carsten Zimmermann states: "With the 2017 congress under the Müngstener Brücke, we have created a spirit of optimism. The idea, which was born in the Städtedreieck, ignited and inspired all partners."
Five years later, Solingen's Mayor Tim Kurzbach sums it up: "The Müngstener Brücke is our landmark, a masterpiece of architecture. It has connected our cities for 125 years, and commuters use it every day. In the application process, it creates new connections. At the operational level, we have found each other as partners, forging friendships between Germany, Portugal, Italy and France. We are building bridges in Europe."
At the first World Heritage Congress in 2017 at Müngstener Brückenpark, the partners signed the "Memorandum of Understanding" for the first time. In it, they declared their binding intention to support the proposal to nominate the bridge community for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List and made agreements for the application process.
Signatures were added to the memorandum at the second congress in Portugal in 2018, and a further update in the ongoing process followed at the third congress in France in 2019.
The global health crisis caused by the Corona pandemic led to considerable disruptions since March 2020, and personal contacts were not possible for a long time. It was therefore not until April 2022 that the fourth congress was held in Italy. With their signatures to the "Memorandum of Unterstanding", the partners confirmed their common desire to move the project forward, again signatures were added. The list is now almost complete.
With the memorandum, the partners agree, among other things, to intensify international cooperation along these lines, to exchange experts and expertise in the application process and to draw up a joint nomination dossier.