Holstentor Lübeck und der Salzspeicher

UNESCO World Heritage in Schleswig-Holstein

UNESCO has been awarding the title of World Heritage Site to natural and cultural sites of exceptional importance and unique character since 1972. 51 of the 1,000+ World Heritage Sites worldwide are located in Germany. And three of them are in Germany’s true north!

What do the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Taj Mahal in India, the Tower of London in England and the Statue of Liberty in New York have in common with Lübeck, Haithabu and the Wadden Sea? Correct! They are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

Our Queen of the Hanseatic League, the Hanseatic City of Lübeck, was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987. For the first time in Northern Europe, the medieval city centre of the Hanseatic city was included as an entire district. The Wadden Sea has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. With almost 4,000 km², the national park is home to many thousands of creatures and, together with its North Sea neighbours, is part of the largest national park in Europe. The settlement of Haithabu and the Danewerk joined in July 2018. Haithabu was one of the most influential trading centres in northern Europe and a transport hub for traders from all over the world.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lübecker Holstentor
© sh-tourismus.de

The Hanseatic city of Lübeck exemplifies the Hanseatic family of cities in the Baltic region, it is still considered the “Queen of the Hanseatic League” and is particularly famous for its unmistakable city skyline with seven towers. In 1987, the historic city centre of Lübeck was the first entire city area in northern Europe to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Wikingersiedlung Haithabu
© Beate Zoellner

From the 9th to the middle of the 11th century, the settlement of Haithabu on the Schlei was an influential trading centre and important transport hub for traders from all over the world. Thus, Haithabu and the Danewerk defence system, which is over a thousand years old, were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2018.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea

Did you know that the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea is the largest national park between the North Cape and Sicily and the area with the most birds in Europe? In 2009, the Wadden Sea was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site across all countries. It is one of the world’s largest ecosystems, and with its mudflats, salt marshes, dunes, beaches and sands provides a habitat for around 250 animal species. Halligen and islands also characterise the landscape of the Wadden Sea.

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Wattwanderer bei Husum
© sh-tourismus.de

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage is characterised by human knowledge and skills, creativity, identity and social coexistence. Unique traditions, customs, rituals and festivals are included in the list.

Reetdachhaus auf Sylt
© Beate Zoellner

The first documented thatched roofs existed as early as 4,000 BC. The thatching of roofs with the natural building material reed is one of the oldest handicraft techniques in house building. Thatching roofs requires great professional skill to design the roofs with reeds – or, as was often the case in the past, with straw. In 2014, this traditional craft was included as an intangible cultural heritage.

Hummerbuden und Dampferbörte im Hafen von Helgoland
© CC0

The “Dampferbörte” is an old maritime tradition of Helgoland that characterises the appearance of the North Sea island. As a form of landing service, it transports passengers of the anchored seaside resort ships from and to the ship. 

Dänische Flagge
© CC0

The German-Danish borderland is characterised by cultural diversity and civic engagement. The coexistence of Danish and German minorities, the neighbourly ties across borders and the cultural characteristics have, therefore, been included in UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage since 2018.

Ring riding

Ring riding has become a popular leisure activity in recent decades, taking place between May and August. It originates from the rural equestrian economy and is widespread, especially in Schleswig-Holstein. Tournaments and pageants celebrate this equestrian sport in which participants try to impale rings. 

Rote Stühle im Theater
© CC0

Low German theatre is one of the main pillars of Low German culture. The combination of theatre and the regional language Low German is what makes it so special. Low German theatre takes place predominantly on municipal stages in rural regions of northern Germany. 

Traditionelles Biikefeuer in Tönning
© CC0

“Biikebrennen” on Schleswig-Holstein’s North Sea coast has been a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage site since 2014. On 21 February each year, the “Biikebrennen” – an annual bonfire celebration – blaze on the islands and Halligen, as well as in various places in North Friesland. The pagan custom heralds the arrival of spring.