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World Heritage FAQs

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What is World Heritage?

World Heritage represents places on Earth having outstanding universal value for humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. As of September 2023, the World Heritage List contains 1199 cultural, natural and mixed properties.

How many World Heritage Sites are there in the United States?

There are currently 25 World Heritage Sites in the U.S. including the Grand Canyon National Park, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home, and Yosemite National Park.  

These sites are located in 21 U.S. states and include two locations in Puerto Rico.  

Pennsylvania is currently home to two World Heritage Sites: Independence Hall, Philadelphia, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House in Mill Run, Fayette County. 

What is UNESCO?

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It is one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations that contributes to the building of peace, the reduction of poverty, sustainable development, and intercultural dialogue through the implementation of programs in the fields of education, natural and social sciences, culture, communication and information.

What does it mean for a site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List?

Once a country joins the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and has sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, the resulting prestige often helps to raise awareness among the general public and the state authorities of heritage preservation. Greater awareness leads to a general rise in the level of protection and conservation given to heritage properties. A country may also receive financial assistance from the World Heritage Fund and expert advice from the World Heritage Committee to support activities for the preservation of its sites.

How would an addition to the World Heritage List benefit the City of Bethlehem?

Being added to the exclusive list would bring Historic Moravian Bethlehem worldwide recognition. It would also attract tourism and boost the economy.  

Why Historic Moravian Bethlehem?  

Historic Moravian Bethlehem is being considered because it meets two selection criteria. The first is its “exceptional testimony” to the Moravian Church’s principles, and the community’s way of life, architecture, and craftsmanship. Historic Moravian Bethlehem also is an example of innovative town planning, influential architectural style, and enhanced community life. 

How soon could “Moravian Church Settlements – Bethlehem” be added to the World Heritage List?

The U.S. Government has officially submitted a transnational serial nomination for Bethlehem’s Historic Moravian Church settlement to be designated as a World Heritage Site in conjunction with Herrnhut, Germany and Gracehill, Northern Ireland/UK and will now undergo a formal review process by the Advisory Bodies. 

This will take approximately 18 months.  

Once approved, the nomination will be sent to the international World Heritage Committee — which meets once a year — to decide if the Moravian Church Settlements of Historic Moravian Bethlehem, Herrnhut and Gracehill will be added to the List. 

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