Baden near Vienna could in the future decorate itself with a World Heritage sign. The city was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on Saturday, along with ten other health resorts as a “Great Spa Towns of Europe” world heritage site, the Austrian Commission for UNESCO announced. The decision was made at the 44th meeting of the responsible committee in Fuzhou, China.
In addition to Baden, European health resorts are Spa (Belgium), “Bohemian Spa Triangle” Karlovy Vary / Carlsbad, Františkovi Lazne / Franzenbad and Mariánski Lazne / Marienbad (Czech Republic), Vichy (France), Bad Ems, Baden-Baden and Baden Kissingen (Germany), Montecatini Terme (Italy) and Bath (Great Britain) are part of the “Great Spa Cities of Europe”. All of them, she said, were “unique testimonies to the rich spa culture of the 18th and 19th centuries”, which is why they were given “exceptional universal value”.
Thermal springs in Baden were first documented in Roman times. Since the 15th century, the place gained increasing importance under the Habsburg dynasty, before Baden became Austria’s leading spa town since 1793 under Emperor Franz II. As a result, the first free-standing spa hotel in Europe opened in 1820, and by 1870 at the latest, the city had progressed to become a world-class spa.
Secretary of State for Culture Andrea Mayer (Greens) expressed her delight at the “high award” via the broadcast. “The “Great Spa Towns of Europe” project is a great example of international cooperation between ministries, institutions, experts and community representatives in seven European countries. I therefore very much hope that this successful cooperation will continue into the future and will permanently lead to comprehensive protection and increased cooperation in the areas of monument conservation “.
Lower Austrian Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) described Baden’s inclusion on the World Heritage List as “another distinction of our wealthy nation”. Mention was made of the Wachau and Semmering railway, which has already achieved World Heritage status. “As a place steeped in tradition, practicing spa culture with a health conscious since Roman times, Baden has its own flair: as an architectural gem of first-class cultural life in the midst of a unique landscape.” The resolution also underlines the potential for inter-city cooperation at the European level.
Sabine Haag, Chair of the Austrian UNESCO Commission, was also pleased with the decision: “I congratulate the city of Baden, which is an integral part of this nomination, very warmly for this international recognition and for this commitment to preserving this cultural legacy.” Baden Mayor Stefan Siroczyk (ÖVP) also cheered. “This is the greatest award our unique historical legacy has ever received,” he said on a radio programme. “Entering into the World Heritage List makes us realize what makes Baden so exceptional: a special combination of physiotherapy resources, therapeutic infrastructure and special recreational scenery.”
From the beginning of the eighteenth century, the bathing traditions dating back to antiquity were in full bloom in Europe, which formed entire towns and cities with thermal and mineral springs. This included not only the bathing and spa facilities themselves, but also large parts of the infrastructure such as hotels, parks, theatres, parks and extensive residential areas.
In terms of world heritage, tomorrow, Sunday, may be exciting again from an Austrian point of view. Then a decision must be made on the engraving of the Roman border walls Danube Limes and Lower German Limes. This would bridge a gap between two already protected sections, the upper German-Rightian Lims and Hadrian’s Wall. The western part of the Danube is a joint application of Austria, Germany, Slovakia and Hungary.
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