AVOIDING THE EXISTING CONFUSION ON TE CONCEPT OF CULTURAL ROUTES


 

With respect to the new WH category of Cultural Routes, the CIIC of ICOMOS recommends to read the new Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (February 2005). See: Page 83. Annex 3 (Guidelines on the inscription of specific types of properties on the World Heritage List. Items 5 & 21-24).

Concerning Cultural Landscapes, which are now clearly defined as a different category, they may include “long linear areas which represent culturally significant transport and communication networks” (See item 11 of the same annex). Evidently these are any other kind of ways of communication and / or transport which may have served for many different purposes, but cannot be confounded with Cultural Routes, which require meeting some very specific requirements like, for instance, to be deliberately created or used to serve a concrete and peculiar purpose.

As specified in the current project for a Charter on Cultural Routes which is being prepared by the CIIC of ICOMOS:

“The innovation introduced by the concept of “Cultural Routes” reveals the heritage content of a specific phenomenon of human mobility and exchange that developed via communication routes that facilitated their flow and which were used or deliberately served a concrete and peculiar purpose. A Cultural Route can be a road that was expressly created to serve this purpose or a route that takes advantage either totally of partially of preexisting roads used for different purposes. But its existence and significance as a Cultural Route can only be explained by its use for this specific purpose and by it being provided with functional elements expressly created and serving the route.

Cultural Routes have sometimes arisen as a project planned a priori by the human will which had sufficient power to undertake a specific purpose (for example, the Incan and the Roman Empire Routes). On other occasions, they are the result of a long evolutionary process in which the collective interventions of different human factors coincide and are channeled towards a common purpose (such as in the Route to Santiago, the African trade caravan routes, or the Silk Route). In both cases, they are processes arising from the human will to achieve a specific objective.”  

The CIIC of ICOMOS hopes that this may help to avoid the confusion existing before the new Guidelines finally recognised Cultural Routes as a new WH category, setting up their independence with respect to that of Cultural Landscapes.

 

 

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