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UNESCO Sites in Central Europe

Architectural World Heritage in Central Europe is especially rich. Lose yourself amongst gracious buildings in charming old towns of Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

Interactive map of UNESCO locations in the Central Europe Region

Architectural standouts

The lovely City of Graz - Historic Centre in Austria is the kind of place where you stop in your tracks, look around and say “wow”. Because Graz was under Habsburg rule for so long, and the Habsburg rule covered so many different cultures, an unexpected blend of Germanic, Balkan and Mediterranean styles give the city a unique look. UNESCO recognizes this successful fusion and the different eras it represents. The city is still mixing it up: the juxtaposition of the big blue bubble modern art museum with the detailed finish on older buildings is now its signature.

Olomouc used to be the capital of Moravia, a region in the southeastern Czech Republic. It was also a bishopric, so a very religious and architecturally expressive town: only Prague has more monuments! UNESCO notes the 18th century Holy Trinity Column for representing the quintessence of its era and the regional Olomouc Baroque style. The 35 meter-high memorial monument is replete with ornate carvings expressing the triumph of the church.

As if the collections themselves aren’t impressive enough, the very museum buildings that house many of Germany’s greatest treasures are on the World Heritage List. The Museumsinsel (Museum Island) Berlin consists of five museums, all on an actual island in the River Spree. Built between 1824 and 1930, they were designed so that the building architecture harmonized organically with the collection within. UNESCO cites the importance of these buildings as a record of museum design evolution, and by dint of the amazing collections, the development of civilization itself.

Eastern Slovakia has a remarkably intact little Gothic jewel, listed by UNESCO because it is so typical of the way villages evolved into towns in this region. Bardejov Town Conservation Reserve was a successful trade and craft center in the 15th century, and the evidence of this prosperity is clustered in the walled town center. Burghers’ houses, the former town hall, and the church of St Egidius surround the central square, for starters. Bardejov also has an 18th century synagogue and a small Jewish Quarter

Natural gifts

Central Europe has equally important gifts from nature, some of then happily destined for the kitchen and the wine glass:

If you haven’t tasted a drop of Hungary's liquid gold, get on it! For three hundred years, grapes and wine makers have been giving their all in the Tokaj Wine Region Historic Cultural Landscape of northeast Hungary, and UNESCO applauds them for it. The entire landscape shows the impact of this viticulture: vineyards covering the rolling hillsides, the network of subterranean Tokai wine cellars, with their peaked roofs and arched doorways, and the very fabric of the towns and villages that grew up around – and to support - this old and delicious tradition.

The Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland is one of the most famous salt mines in the world, included on the UNESCO World Heritage list because it’s such a fantastic example of this how this irreplaceable commodity has been extracted and refined. The Wieliczka-Bochnia mine was first worked 800 years ago. Could those first miners have imagined that their caves are now a multi-level, multi-use, multi-interesting place to tour? In addition to viewing the old salt mining apparatus, you’ll see salt sculptures, art galleries, altars, and can listen to live music performances in the former salt caves! 

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