definition of cultural heritage

The concept of cultural heritage designates the heritage of a cultural type that corresponds to a given community and that as such is protected and communicated to both present and future generations.

Some historical monuments, archaeological remains or popular traditions have such value that they are considered as Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This denomination has existed officially since 1972, when UNESCO reached an agreement to grant this distinction.

There are local and international institutions that have the mission of identifying, classifying, and caring for those assets that are considered invaluable for a people, a region, a community, or for all of humanity. Thanks to this protection, these assets help transmit and keep alive the past culture of a community, especially for those who for a temporary reason could not be witnesses, while the possibility of visiting or studying them allows them to have a direct experience of the same, a direct access.

A preservation-oriented recognition

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known by its abbreviation: UNESCO , is a specialized agency of the United Nations that since its foundation has aimed to contribute to world peace and security through the promotion of education, science and culture and everything inherent to them. Meanwhile, since the 1970s, the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is concerned with identifying and protecting the world's most valuable cultural and natural heritage in order to preserve it for generations to come.

UNESCO official documents emphasize the need to ensure the non-disappearance of Cultural Heritage. Its protection and conservation are necessary to combat its degradation or its possible permanent disappearance.

Natural spaces can also receive this distinction, as some geological or biological formations have an extraordinary and unique value.

When this recognition is achieved, all kinds of measures are adopted, such as the rehabilitation of the place, its promotion, as well as guarantees for its conservation.

Intangible Cultural Heritage

From its origins to the present, the concept of cultural heritage has not stopped evolving. In recent years the notion of immaterial has been incorporated to refer to all that heritage that cannot be located in a specific space, but is a living expression of the culture of a people. Thus, certain festive acts, oral traditions or social uses receive this label.

Illustrative examples

In Mexico there are numerous examples of Cultural Heritage, such as the area of ​​historical monuments of Tlacotalpan or the historic fortified city of Campeche. The El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve is a sample of natural heritage.

In Peru, the carnival festivals of Ayacuchano, the Huaconada dance or the Corpus Christi festival in Cuzco stand out as examples of intangible heritage.

In Spain, the Burgos Cathedral, the Alhambra in Granada and the Casa Milà in Barcelona stand out.

In Argentina we can mention the Jesuit Missions of the Guarani or the Cueva de las Manos del Río Pinturas as examples of cultural heritage.

Obviously, in order to achieve this recognition, demanding requirements must be met, as well as an expert assessment. In most countries there are institutions associated with cultural heritage (in the case of Spain it is the Historical Heritage Council).

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