UNESCO Remembers the Alamo as One of New World Heritage Sites

the AlamoThe United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) remembers The Alamo and other Spanish missions in the San Antonio, Texas, region on Sunday as one of the new World Heritage sites. The missions (Concepción, San Juan. San Jose, Espada and The Alamo, which was actually a mission) were among 10 sites named this weekend. missions at, all in San Antonio.

On Saturday, the committee announced five cultural sites: Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church settlement founded in 1773 and the Par Force Hunting Landscape in North Zealand, both in Denmark; the Climats vineyard area in Burgundy and the Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars, both in France; as well as the Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens area along the Upper Tigres River in Turkey. On Sunday, besides the Texas missions, the organization designated Norway’s Rjuken-Notodden industrial area; the Bet She-arim Necropolis catacombs near Haifa, Israel; the Forth Bridge built in 1890 in Scotland, and two urban zones in Hamburg, Germany, Speicherstadt and the Kontorhaus. The World Heritage Committee is currently meeting in Germany and will probably name more sites before their 39th session ends on July 8, 2015.

As UNESCO notes on its Web site, “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.” The designations are given based on 10 criteria, such as “an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;” unique for showing a cultural tradition or civilization; associated with events with outstanding universal significance, or representing stages of the earth’s geological history.

The Texas missions, which were built in the early 18th century, were part of a nine-year campaign by the San Antonio and the state to get them, the first Texas locations, recognized worldwide. The designation draws considerable tourism dollars to the area as well as training on conservation and protection for endangered sites.

The missions in Texas – like the ones in California, Arizona and Florida – were founded by the Spanish Catholic church as part of their colonization efforts in the areas. The Alamo is probably the best known for being to the site of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo against Mexican Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna’s army. Immortalized in television shows and movies, the battle casualties included Jim Bowie and David “Davy” Crockett. One of the issues the battle was that is not widely known was slavery (Texas was still part of Mexico, and Mexico abolished slavery). “Remember the Alamo” became the battle cry for Texan independence.

UNESCO now remembers the Alamo as one of new World Heritage Sites. Other ones in the U.S. include the Statue of Liberty, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Taos Pueblo and Monticello,Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia home. Many national parks are also World Heritage Sites, including the Everglades, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. Worldwide, there are more than 1,000 now, including Stonehenge, England; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; the Galápagos Islands; and Crac des Chevaliers from the Crusades that was recently damaged in the Syrian civil war.

Written and edited by Dyanne Weiss

UNESCO: World Heritage Convention: Sites in Denmark, France and Turkey inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List
UNESCO: The Criteria for Selection
USA Today: UNESCO designates the Alamo ‘World Heritage’ site
Business Standard: Heritage Sites named in Norway, Germany, Israel, Britain and US

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