UNESCO adds Madrid's Retiro Park and Paseo del Prado to its world heritage list

Retiro Madrid
29 July 2021, Redaction

The famous Madrid sites of the Paseo del Prado and the Retiro Park have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This is the first time sites in Madrid have been given in the city of Madrid, joining other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Community of Madrid: the Monastery of El Escorial, the university and historic centre of Alcalá de Henares, the cultural landscape of Aranjuez and the Montejo Beech Forest.

In 2019, Spain presented the Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, "Paisaje de las Artes y las Ciencias" (Landscape of Arts and Sciences), to UNESCO as a candidate for inclusion on the World Heritage List, and its proposal was favourably resolved in 2021. The fact is that this area constitutes an extraordinary urban landscape where culture and nature have been united since the mid-16th century to the present day, which gives it the status of outstanding universal value.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes sites of outstanding universal value. This list was created in 1972 by the World Cultural and Natural Heritage Convention with the aim of protecting heritage considered to be of importance to all humanity and worthy of preservation for present and future generations.

Each year, countries submit nominations, which are examined in detail. How many UNESCO world heritage sites are in Spain? The UNESCO World Heritage list is made up of more than 1,100 sites, spread all over the world, while Spain, with a total of 49, is one of the countries with the highest number of declared sites, along with Italy and China. 

Why Madrid's Paseo del Prado and Retiro are World Heritage Sites

The Paseo del Prado is a unique tree-lined street and the first of its kind in Europe, created in the 16th century to offer the inhabitants of Madrid a spatial environment for leisure and relaxation in a tree-lined setting. It is also a model of urban planning intervention that combines nature and science as a driving force for the transformation of society.

At the time of the Enlightenment, this same spatial area constituted an exceptional urban landmark, thanks to the development of the Paseo del Prado as the headquarters of a series of institutions (Natural History Cabinet, Royal Botanical Garden and Royal Observatory of Madrid) to promote scientific research and disseminate this knowledge to society as a whole. This model spread to most cities in Spain and throughout Latin America.

Meanwhile, Madrid's famous Retiro Park, home to the Crystal Palace and a large lake where both locals and tourists enjoy going for a row, is a large urban park beside the Paseo del Prado. For both of these sites, being recognised by UNESCO will also help attract more tourists from around the world.

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