Tower of Hercules (Spain) inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List alongside two Swiss watch-making towns
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The World Heritage Committee, chaired by María Jesús San Segundo, the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Spain to UNESCO, has inscribed a Spanish lighthouse dating back to antiquity, The Tower of Hercules in La Coruña, on the World Heritage List alongside the watch-manufacturing towns of La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle watch-making town-planning (Switzerland).
The Tower of Hercules has served as a lighthouse and landmark at the entrance of La Coruña harbour in north-western Spain since the late 1st century A.D. when the Romans built the Farum Brigantium. The Tower, built on a 57 metre high rock, rises a further 55 meters. It is divided into three progressively smaller levels, the first of which corresponds to the Roman structure of the lighthouse. Immediately adjacent to the base of the Tower, is a small rectangular Roman building. The site also features a sculpture park, the Monte dos Bicos rock carvings from the Iron Age and a Muslim cemetery. The Roman foundations of the building were revealed in excavations conducted in the 1990s. Many legends from the Middle Ages to the 19th century surround the Tower of Hercules which is unique as it is the only lighthouse of Greco-Roman antiquity to have retained a measure of structural integrity and functional continuity.
The site of La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle watch-making town-planning consists of two towns situated close to one another in a remote environment in the Swiss Jura mountains, on land ill-suited to farming. Their planning and buildings reflect watch-makers’ need of rational organization. Planned in the early 19th century, after extensive fires, the towns owed their existence to this single industry. Their layout along an open-ended scheme of parallel strips on which residential housing and workshops are intermingled reflects the needs of the local watch-making culture that dates to the 17th century and is still alive today. The site presents outstanding examples of mono-industrial manufacturing-towns which are well preserved and still active. The urban planning of both towns has accommodated the transition from the artisanal production of a cottage industry to the more concentrated factory production of the late 19th and 20th centuries. The town of La Chaux-de-Fonds was described by Karl Marx as a “huge factory-town” in Das Kapital where he analyzed the division of labour in the watch-making industry of the Jura.
The World Heritage Committee will continue inscribing sites and examining the state of properties already included on the List over coming days. It remains in session until 30 June.