"Unesco World Heritage sites, my nominees" Netherlands Travelogue by OlafS

Netherlands Travel Guide: 32,757 reviews and 87,743 photos

The list

"The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity . This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage , adopted by UNESCO in 1972.

Cultural heritage refers to monuments, groups of buildings and properties with historical, aesthetic, archaeological, scientific, ethnological or anthropological value. " (source: the Unesco World Heritage website)

This list of heritage of the world contains important cultural and natural objects, buildings, monuments, places etc.. Some famous, others obscure. It's a varied list mostly. But not the objects in The Netherlands. It looks as if politicians and tour operators nominated each of these conforming to the country's shallow international image of tulips, windmills and water. People like the morons behind the horrible www.holland.com website. A half-hearted effort at best. Let's take a look, shall we?

1. Schokland and Surroundings: a former island that was evacuated in the 19th century. Fits the myth of the everlasting struggle with water.

2. Defence Line of Amsterdam: a group of fortresses and defensive installations around Amsterdam, "the only example of a fortification based on the principle of controlling the waters". Yes, water again. And I have strong doubts about that "only example". It's part of the only example at best. The fact that it's close to Amsterdam will have helped too.

3. Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout : a group of windmills. "The outstanding contribution made by the people of the Netherlands to the technology of handling water is admirably demonstrated by the installations in the Kinderdijk-Elshout area". Water again! And windmills! As if windmills weren't used for other purposes, and I just hate the sense of nationalism in that "The outstanding contribution made by the people of the Netherlands". The entire people? In ALL of the country? Rubbish!

4. Ir.D.F. Woudagemaal: a pumping station used to turn water into land. Fits the cliche "God created earth but the Dutch created their own country". More water, and the successor of windmills.

5. Droogmakerij de Beemster: a polder, water turned into land. Same as above for comment.

6. Rietveld Schröderhuis: oh, this one's different, it's a house! Only the architect happened to be internationally famous. And because it is carefully preserved in its original state nobody minds this nomination.

Apart from that house, do you see a system here? Obviously all of their history the Dutch haven't been doing much more than keeping water out, finding exciting new ways to use water or to expand their territory at the expense of the sea. Oh, and in between attempts to keep their feet dry they built a house. Please forgive me my sarcasm, but I just don't think this list is good enough. This is a list of touristic objects for which the World Heritage status wouldn't be inconvenient, a list of places that are already known to the average tourist or at least might appeal to them. I won't deny the importance of some of these, but this list is just too obvious, too unimaginative and just too plain boring. Aren't there any old towns worthy of the status? Yes there are, no doubt about that, but they aren't being nominated because the status could hinder further development. Doesn't The Netherlands have any important buildings of "aesthetic value"? Sure, lots of them, and many much more interesting than that boring Rietveld Schröderhuis, but most weren't designed by internationally famous architects and don't fit into the water/windmill category. And look at the map, where these sites are! In the west and north only! Isn't The Netherlands any bigger than that? Of course it is. Isn't there anything worthwile in the rest of the country then? Sure there is, but those who contribute to the list obviously don't care much about that.

My nominees

Here's a list of places that I think deserve to be on the World Heritage list. Not because they are of great international importance or appeal, but because together they give a far more complete picture of The Netherlands than the current list. I think that's more important, don't you?

1. Kampen, old town: a lovely old town, once the most powerful of The Netherlands, now one of the best preserved and least spoiled, with elements of the Middle Ages, Renaissance etc..

2. Oudenbosch, basilica: a copy of the St. Peter in Rome, one of the highlights of 19th century Roman Catholic megalomania.

3. Amsterdam, housing complex Het Schip: highlight of Amsterdam School architecture, major improvement in workers' housing conditions in the early 20th century. Of great importance for its esthetic value.

4. Bergen op Zoom, Markiezenhof: large Gothic city palace, designed and built by members of the famous Keldermans family.

5. Eindhoven, old Philips factory: small factory for lightbulbs, was in 1891 the start of what would become a major multinational corporation.

6. Brielle, pilgrimage park: place where 19 monks were tortured for weeks and eventually murdered by protestant pirates in 1572. Shines a different light on the myth of the fight for religious freedom during the 80-Years War.

And of course there must be much, much more.....

  • Page Updated Nov 17, 2006
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