Das Brunnenwerk am Vogeltor ©Martin Augsburger/Stadt Augsburg

The Candidature for Augsburg World Heritage

An overview of the World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are outstanding testimonials to human history and to the history of the natural world. In 1978 the World Heritage organization began with a list of 12 sites. Over the years magnificent monuments such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the Great Wall of China were added to the list. In Germany, unique cities like the old town of Bamberg, the breathtaking cathedrals in Aachen and in Cologne as well as important industrial structures like the “Zollverein” coal mines in Essen belong to the exclusive family of World Heritage sites. The sites encompass 1,199 objects in 168 countries around the globe. Germany currently has 52 of these extraordinary places, 10 of those are in Bavaria.

The Path to World Heritage Status

The city of Augsburg has applied for World Heritage status with its water management system, which is unique worldwide. On the basis of the research in various scientific works, the city expressed interest in becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.

Until 2014 the process went quickly through the list of Bavarian candidates. In that year experts from the cultural affairs conference put Augsburg and its water management system in third place on the list of recommended German World Heritage site candidates.

The next important step was to attract UNESCO World Heritage site experts to draft the application. In addition, the city established an official office exclusively for the UNESCO candidature. In the beginning of 2018 the crucial phase of the application process began. This culminated in the timely submission of an over 800 page application with extensive maps and detailed data to the UNESCO World Heritage center in Paris on February 1, 2018. This docume was subsequently assessed and evaluated by World Heritage experts. On 06.07.2019 Augsburg was registered with it's water management system in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

    The areas of the World Heritage application

    Five areas form a complex water management system in Augsburg with significant technical, architectural and industrial archaeological monuments from the 15th to the early 20th century - the 22 objects. To protect this unique system and make it visible to the whole world, the city has applied for the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    The nomination area is defined by the watercourses & canals as the most important parts of the water management system. The canals run from south to north in an extension of more than 20 kilometres, their total length is about 200 kilometres. They were built before 1276, when the Vorderer, Mittlerer and Hinterer Lech rivers were first mentioned in writing, until the Eiskanal was converted into a canoe route in 1972. The outlets from the Lech and Wertach rivers, also called Anstiche, as well as the Singold and the springs of the Stadtwald provided the water for these canals. Most of the canals still follow their original course and have not changed their position over the centuries. However, the canal enclosures often had to be repaired due to their stress, for which different materials were used. Hydrotechnical facilities and installations such as hydraulic structures, drinking water plants and power plants belong directly to the canals, are arranged above them, so to speak, and are thus also part of the nomination area. In the area of the Lechviertel and Maximilianstraße, the nomination area is partially widened to include the buildings, monumental fountains and waterworks belonging to the water system.

    Chronology of the application

    Initial thoughts about a city application for the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site matured into a concrete vision in 2010: the unique water system and water art should elevate Augsburg to the rank of a World Heritage Site. From then on, everything happened very quickly. Here is the chronology of the application in the most important steps:

    • 2011


      The city council gives the official go-ahead: Augsburg applies with an expression of interest for inclusion in the Bavarian list of nominees.

    • 2012


      The city council has the expression of interest revised and expanded. The basis for this is the expert recommendation of the expert commission appointed by the Bavarian Ministry of Art. At the same time, Augsburger context verlag and its director Martin Kluger are commissioned to produce an accompanying reference book.



      The City of Augsburg submits the expression of interest.



      The Golden Hall is the setting for the official launch event. Martin Kluger's book project will also be presented.



      The Bavarian Minister of the Environment, Marcel Huber, assures the City of Augsburg of state support amounting to 25,000 euros for the application activities.

    • 2013

      The topic is moving further and further into the centre of the administration and the city society - among other things through these activities:

      An advisory board and a steering group are formed. The volunteer centre is involved.

      The Augsburg Water Days, held for the first time, are very well received. Every 1st Sunday from May to October, interested citizens have since been able to experience the extraordinary universal value of Augsburg's water system up close.

      The already submitted expression of interest will be improved once again. Donations are being collected for a new construction of the water wheel on the Schwallech, which was dismantled in 2012.



      The annual Long Art Night is themed "The Long Night of Water".



      The expert advisory board of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs to evaluate the proposals for the German Tentative List is scrutinising the contents of Augsburg's application. Among other things, the Model Chamber and the fountain figures in the Maximilian Museum, the water towers at the Rotes Tor, the Hochablass and the Lech Canals are on the agenda.



      The 1st symposium "Fascination of Water" with selected expert lectures takes place in the Haag Villa.


    • 2014


      The German Conference of Ministers of Culture decides: The application of the City of Augsburg is placed third on the German Tentative List!


    • 2015


      The Bavarian Ministry of Culture informs the City of Augsburg in a letter about the timetable: In summer 2017, the application is to be submitted for preliminary examination; the final submission is to be made by 01.02.2018.



      Prof. Dr. Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office and then President of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, visits the city of Augsburg together with 15 UNESCO Ambassadors and Bundestag Vice-President Claudia Roth to get a close-up look at the bid content.



      The newly built water wheel on the Schwallech, financed by donations, is ceremoniously put into operation.



      The city council commissions the office scheuvens+wachten with the preparation of a management plan



      The 2nd "Fascination of Water" symposium takes place at the Liliom cinema.



      The Büro für Industriearchäologie Darmstadt with its director Rolf Höhmann is commissioned to carry out industrial archaeological investigations.


    • 2016


      The public symposium on Augsburg's application in international comparison will be held in the Augustana Hall and the Stadtwerkesaal.



      The Cultural Committee resolves to hold a special exhibition on the application theme of the art collections in 2018.



      The Cultural Committee commissions the Büro für Industriearchäologie Darmstadt (in cooperation with planinghaus-Architekten Darmstadt) to prepare the World Heritage application and the nomination dossier.



      The Organising Committee decides to establish the "UNESCO World Heritage Bid Project Office" under the direction of Ulrich Müllegger.


    • 2017


      The application is submitted to the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs for preliminary examination.



      The application is submitted to the Federal Foreign Office for preliminary examination.

    • 2018


      The application is submitted to UNESCO headquarters in Paris.



      The application is successfully checked for "technical completeness".



      ICOMOS Panel in Paris. Final questions about the application will be answered.

    • 2019


      Final questions from ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre will be answered.



      ICOMOS recommends the Augsburg application for enrolment.



      The UNESCO World Heritage Committee accepts the application and decides: Augsburg is a World Heritage Site.


    • 2020


      At a ceremony, the official UNESCO certificate will be presented to the city of Augsburg by Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office for International Cultural Policy.