World Heritage List

UNESCO has created a World Heritage emblem, which it awards to listed sites. Formed by a square surrounded by a circle, it symbolises natural and cultural heritage. There is also the UNESCO logo, a Greek temple surrounding the UNESCO inscription.
UNESCO logo and World Heritage emblem.

The World Heritage List comprises those sites acknowledged by the World Heritage Committee for their exceptional universal value. The sites are distributed among three categories: cultural, natural and mixed. The list currently contains over 1100 sites.

Inscription of a site on the World Heritage List

The sites on the World Heritage List must be of exceptional universal value, i.e. have a cultural and/or natural significance that transcends national borders and presents the same unparalleled appeal to current and future generations all over the world.

To meet this requirement, the site proposed for inscription must meet at least one of the ten criteria set out in the “Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention”. It must also meet the authenticity and integrity conditions and undergo a comparative analysis attesting to its uniqueness in the world.

The World Heritage Committee is the decision-making instance for world heritage. It consists of representatives of the 21 states parties to the convention and is supported by experts from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). The World Heritage Committee evaluates the applications at its annual meeting and decides whether they are eligible for inscription on the World Heritage List. It also examines reports on the state and evolution of those sites already listed.

Swiss Tentative List

As required by the World Heritage Convention, each country draws up a national Tentative List of the next prospective sites for inscription on the World Heritage List. At its meeting of 9 December 2016, the Federal Council approved the review of the Swiss Tentative List of UNESCO world heritage. It is envisaged that Switzerland put forward a cultural property for inscription in the next few years: the bridge over the Salgina gorge at Schiers in Grisons, designed by architect Robert Maillart.

List of World Heritage in Danger

World Heritage sites in danger can be included on the List of World Heritage in Danger. There are currently about 50 sites on the list. As a last resort, UNESCO can remove the site from the World Heritage List.


Federal Office of Culture
Section Baukultur
Hallwylstr. 15
3003 Bern
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