World Heritage City

The Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was established by UNESCO in 1972, within the context of the international recognition of cultural heritage. It facilitated the preservation of monuments threatened by submersion due to the construction of the Aswan Dam, notable among them the temples of Abu Simbel and Debod. The Convention’s aim was to promote the identification, protection, and preservation of world cultural and natural heritage considered particularly valuable to humanity, culminating in the creation of the World Heritage List.

Why is Alcalá designated as a World Heritage City?

The city of Alcalá de Henares was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List on December 2nd, 1998, during the 22nd session of the World Heritage Committee held in the Japanese city of Kyoto, under the designation ‘University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares’.

The inscription of a property on the World Heritage List is based on possessing elements and characteristics that make it unique and different, known as Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and meeting at least one of the ten criteria established by the World Heritage Convention. In the case of Alcalá de Henares, three criteria are met, and its designation hinges upon being the first city designed and built as the seat of a university (Criterion II), its status as the first model of a City of God “Civitas Dei” on Earth (Criterion IV), and its contribution to the intellectual development of humanity, particularly in linguistic advancements and the definition of the Spanish language, notably through Cervantes and his masterpiece Don Quixote (Criterion VI); all of this complemented by the integrity and authenticity of our city, which also possesses appropriate management tools ensuring its conservation. Alcalá de Henares belongs to the Group of World Heritage Cities of Spain.

You can access the file that allowed Alcalá’s inclusion on the World Heritage List through the following link.

Alcalá, World Heritage City, 20th Anniversary