In 1972, the member states of UNESCO adopted the Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Convention). More than 190 countries have ratified it so far. The aim is to preserve natural and cultural assets of outstanding universal value as part of the common heritage of humankind for future generations.
The most important instrument of the Convention is the so-called World Heritage List. It lists the sites that are of outstanding importance worldwide and thus summarizes the heritage of mankind. All states that have acceded to the World Heritage Convention are required to maintain a so-called "Tentative List", which lists proposals for future World Heritage nominations. The intergovernmental World Heritage Committee set up by UNESCO regularly decides which proposals are to be newly included in the World Heritage List.
THE GERMAN TENTATIVE LIST
In Germany, the tentative list (registration list) was largely completed in 2020. It was therefore opened up and each federal state was able to submit two new proposals for inclusion in the national list. In summer 2021, the North Rhine-Westphalian state cabinet voted in favor of just one proposal: the nomination of the "European Bow Arch Bridges of the late 19th Century" as a serial, transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The decision was made in December 2023: Müngsten Bridge will be included on the new German tentative list along with five other large arch bridges in Italy, France and Portugal.
A total of 21 sites from 13 federal states had applied and seven made it onto the future list. The Conference of Culture Ministers thus followed the recommendation of an advisory board. The application "European Bow Arch Bridges of the late 19th Century" is in fourth place.
THE INTERNATIONAL APPLICATION
With the inclusion on the German tentative list, an important milestone has been reached. Now the next step in the extensive and lengthy process begins: the application for nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List will be processed in several stages. According to the current plan, a decision could be made by the World Heritage Committee in 2033.
Back in 2011, the Bergisches Städtedreieck took part in the expression of interest procedure of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and proposed Müngstener Brücke as a potential World Heritage site. At that time, the jury attested to the region's outstanding application and expressly called for the launch of a serial, transnational application with comparable and constructively related bridge structures in Europe. This suggestion was taken up with the new application. Five other comparable arch bridges in Portugal, France and Italy from the same era, which were predecessors and also models for Müngstener Brücke, were examined and included.