Cultural heritage protection to be more effective after Kaunas' UNESCO listing – city

  • 2023-09-26
  • BNS/TBT Staff

KAUNAS – Following Kaunas modernist architecture's inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the municipality of Lithuania's second-biggest city says the maintenance and protection of the area "will become more effective, not more stringent".

"We received this nomination not for any future commitments but for what we have already done," Saulius Rimas, head of the cultural heritage division at Kaunas City Municipality, told a press conference on Tuesday.

Rimas said all the nominated areas are already registered as cultural assets and are currently under protection.

"There will be no new concerns for the city's residents," he said. 

However, a draft council resolution on the installation of skylights and awnings in historic buildings is planned to be submitted to the Council at its next meeting, in what Rimas described as "the first tangible step towards more effective protection of cultural heritage". 

The official emphasized that cultural heritage protection following the UNESCO listing "will become more effective, not more stringent".

Kaunas' modernist architecture was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List during the UNESCO World Heritage Committee's session in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 18. 

The municipality says that following this decision, Kaunas is the only European city representing extensive interwar urbanization and diverse modernist architecture.

Before making the decision, the World Heritage Committee's members provided certain recommendations to Kaunas, which Lithuania must implement within a year and a half. 

Lithuania has until December 1, 2025 to submit a report on their implementation to the World Heritage Centre so that the World Heritage Committee could evaluate it during its 48th session.

Kaunas modernism was formed in the 1930s when the city was the temporary capital of Lithuania after Poland occupied the Vilnius region.

The city has dozens of outstanding examples of modernist architecture.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes cultural and natural heritage sites and places of outstanding universal value. 

Until now, Lithuania had four sites on the World Heritage List: the historic center of Vilnius, the Kernave Archaeological Site, the Curonian Spit, and the Struve Geodetic Arc.