The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has designated 36 World Heritage Sites in eight countries (also called "state parties") commonly referred to as Northern Europe: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, i.e. Greenland lying on the North American continent is not included in this list despite of its political ties with Denmark; it is included in the List of World Heritage Sites in the Americas.
The United Kingdom and Ireland are included in Western Europe even though they are sometimes listed in Northern Europe.
Human habitation of this elongated sand dune peninsula, 98 km long and 0.4-4 km wide, dates back to prehistoric times.
Today, some 62 buildings remain of this former townscape.Sweden is home to the most inscribed sites with 15 sites, two of which are transborder properties.Three sites are shared between several countries: the Curonian Spit (Lithuania and Russia), the High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago (Sweden and Finland) and the Struve Geodetic Arc (ten countries in Northern and Eastern Europe).Founded in 1773 in South Jutland, the site is an example of a planned settlement of the Moravian Church, a Lutheran free congregation centred in Herrnhut, Saxony.The town was planned to represent the Protestant urban ideal, constructed around a central Church square.
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Gammelstad, at the head of the Gulf of Bothnia, is the best-preserved example of a 'church village', a unique kind of village formerly found throughout northern Scandinavia.The 424 wooden houses, huddled round the early 15th-century stone church, were used only on Sundays and at religious festivals to house worshippers from the surrounding countryside who could not return home the same day because of the distance and difficult travelling conditions.The settlement’s plan opens onto agricultural land and includes important buildings for the common welfare such as large communal houses for the congregation’s widows and unmarried men and women.The buildings are still in use and many are still owned by the local Moravian Church community .Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen, is a reminder of the town’s importance as part of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire from the 14th to the mid-16th century.
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Many fires, the last in 1955, have ravaged the characteristic wooden houses of Bryggen.
Each year, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee may inscribe new sites on the list, or delist sites that no longer meet the criteria.
Selection is based on ten criteria: six for cultural heritage (i–vi) and four for natural heritage (vii–x).
Its survival to the present day has been made possible only as a result of ceaseless human efforts to combat the erosion of the Spit, dramatically illustrated by continuing stabilisation and reforestation projects.
Seven timber houses are listed in this site located in the east of Sweden, representing the zenith of a regional timber building tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages.