top of page


Updated: Nov 13, 2021

By David John Smith


As we move further into the story of the Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site, let us first take a step back to learn a bit more about UNESCO World Heritage.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention designated by UNESCO for having natural, cultural, historical, scientific or other form of outstanding significance.

Over 1,000 Unique Sites

UNESCO World Heritage has become one of the most widely recognised international agreements and the world’s most popular cultural programme. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world’s heritage.

There are over 1,000 unique UNESCO World Heritage sites located all over the world, some examples of these sites are included in this blog post.

The World Heritage Convention

The idea that there are places in the world with such a value that they belong to all mankind emerged from an emergency situation in Egypt, where the construction of a dam in the 60’s would submerge the temples of Abu Simbel. After UNESCO received a call for help from the governments of Egypt and Sudan, an international safeguarding campaign was launched, collecting about 80 million dollars from some 50 countries. The temples of Abu Simbel and Philae were dismantled and moved to higher ground, where they safely still stand today.

This successful project led to other important campaigns as Saving Venice, the emergency response to the Venice floods of 66. At the same time awareness on the importance to preserve the natural beauties of the world was raising. ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, was supporting UNESCO on the preparation of a draft for a convention on safeguarding the cultural heritage of the world and IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature was doing the same for its members.

Commitment and Protection

These proposals were presented to the 1972 United Nations conference on Human Environment in Stockholm and a final joint text was agreed upon.

The World Heritage Convention commits state parties to protect sites on the World Heritage List from threats such as armed conflict, deliberate destruction, economic pressures, natural disasters and climate change, whether in own territory or not. It also commits member states to notify the World Heritage Committee of any World Heritage site in danger.

Heritage is our Legacy

Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations.

What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.

Cultural and natural heritage are irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration, a legacy from our past. By inscribing a location as a World Heritage Sites, UNESCO seeks to help the legacy be passed on to future generations in a sustainable way.

It is with this background that we continue the inspiring story of the Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site. Follow us on Facebook, and of course here on the Wild Telemark.


Photo 1

M’Zab Valley (Algeria)

A traditional human habitat, created in the 10th century by the Ibadites around their five ksour (fortified cities), has been preserved intact in the M’Zab valley. The architecture of M’Zab was designed for community living, while respecting the structure of the family.

© UNESCO Author: Francis Tack

Photo 2

Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (Peru)

Located on the eastern slopes of the Andes, Machu Picchu stands 2,430 m above sea-level in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height.

© UNESCO Author: Francesco Bandarin

Photo 3

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites (United Kingdom)

Stonehenge and Avebury, in Wiltshire, are among the most famous groups of megaliths in the world. The two sanctuaries consist of circles of menhirs arranged in a pattern whose astronomical significance is still being explored.

© UNESCO Author: Francesco Bandarin

Photo 4

Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville (USA)

Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, was also a talented architect of neoclassical buildings, designing Monticello (1769–1809), his plantation home, and his ideal ‘academical village’ (1817–26), which is still the heart of the University of Virginia.

© UNESCO Author: Francesco Bandarin

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page