World Heritage Site: How does a place become one?

  • 10 July 2017
Lake District

The Lake District in the north-west of England has been given the very special title of a Unesco World Heritage Site.

It's been specially chosen because of its beauty, its farming and the inspiration it gives to artists and writers.

What's the big deal?

Being a World Heritage Site means that the area is officially recognised as being extremely important to the world's history and culture, and it is protected.

The place will become more famous so lots of people will visit it and learn about it. It can get more money to help look after it so that people can enjoy the site for many years to come.

There are over 1,000 World Heritage Sites around the world, with more still being added to list.

Thirty-one of these are in the UK, including Stonehenge.

Image caption In 1986, Stonehenge was one of the very first sites in the UK to get onto the World Heritage list

How does a place get chosen to be a World Heritage Site?

There's a list of rules that a place should follow for it to become a World Heritage Site.

One of these is that a place must have an interesting story that shows how important it was in history.

For example, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA, tells us a lot about the history of the Earth and how it has developed over millions of years.

Another reason a place could become a World Heritage Site is if it is exceptionally beautiful, such as the Taj Mahal in India, which is famous for its amazing architecture.

A more unusual and less famous site is the Fagus shoe factory in Germany. It may not be as pretty as the Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal, but it is important in the history of art and architecture so is a World Heritage Site as a result.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption This is a model of the famous shoe factory.

Can you lose it?

Yes, some places have been warned that if they don't look after their site properly, they could lose the World Heritage Site status.

One of these place is Liverpool. It's beautiful and historic waterfront was given Heritage status in 2004.

But some experts have warned that plans for new modern buildings to be used as homes and offices there, could change the way it looks so much that Unesco change their mind.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The UNESCO World Heritage site features the buildings known as the Three Graces

Liverpool says it wants to work with Unesco to find a compromise.

And not all old sites can say they are World Heritage Site.

Image copyright Getty/johnkellerman
Image caption St Paul's Cathedral isn't a world Heritage Site.

For example, St Paul's Cathedral in London has no status, but the Tower of London does.

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