MADRID WELCOMES ITS FIRST UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Madrid’s Landscape of Light, the area between Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, has become the first UNESCO World Heritage site found in the city. This recent addition joins three other inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Community of Madrid - the Monastery and Royal Site of El Escorial, the University and historic centre of Alcalá de Henares, and the cultural landscape of Aranjuez - yet is the first within the capital itself.
The decision was made that the site should fall under the category of Cultural Landscapes at the 44th session of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee in Fuzhou, China. The committee, composed of representatives from 21 of the States Parties to the Convention, recognised the locations outstanding universal value and beauty of nature, culture, and science in the urban setting.
The site originally made Madrid Europe’s first sustainable capital city back in the 16th century and today Madrid’s mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, expressed his excitement on the decision to declare it a UNESCO World Heritage site. He said that Madrid welcomed the distinction “with pride and honour” and was mindful of the “enormous responsibility of having a site inscribed in the World Heritage List”. He added that the city would “meet the challenge” of having this title.
The site combines a sense of culture and nature and is situated in the heart of the city for all its citizens to enjoy. Paseo del Prado is the earliest example of an urban promenade and represents the societies of Madrid and Spain. It is linked historically to the park, Buen Retiro, that King Charles III opened in the 18th century, and both were declared as areas for the community to enjoy nature, arts, and sciences within the boundaries of the city.
This gives the Landscape of Light exceptional universal value that has been recognised by UNESCO and distinguishes it as a unique model of singular urban development that was ahead of its time. It has gained prominence beyond Spain’s borders as a rich, diverse, evolving, and dynamic urban cultural landscape that was meticulously designed for recreation and the education of citizens in contact with nature. These reasons led UNESCO to recognise the Landscape of Light as a site that deserves its place on its World Heritage List.