World Heritage and Estonia

UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. Estonia ratified the Convention in 1995. 

Cultural heritage refers to monuments, groups of buildings and sites with historical, aesthetic, archaeological, scientific, ethnological or anthropological value. Natural heritage refers to outstanding physical, biological and geological formations, habitats of threatened species of animals and plants and areas with scientific, conservation or aesthetic value.

The World Heritage List includes natural and cultural sites of outstanding universal value (OUV) that form part of the common heritage of humankind. Estonia has two entries in the World Heritage List.

Tallinn’s Old Town has outstanding universal value because its medieval trading city characteristics have been preserved through the centuries and it continues to function as a living environment with a variety of dwelling houses, public buildings and churches. Its original street network, largely intact town wall and many of its buildings date from medieval times. The Old Town is also known for historic earthworks that have been turned into green areas and its rich layers of archaeological finds. 

The Struve Geodetic Arc, which links ten countries, was named after the well-known astronomer and geodesist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, who worked at the University of Tartu. Between 1816 and 1855 he and his colleagues calculated the first accurate measurements of a meridian to establish the size and shape of the Earth. The 2820 km long segment stretches from northern Norway to the Black Sea. Three out of 34 listed original station points are found in Estonia – Tartu Observatory and the points in Võivere and Simuna. 

Contact point for world heritage matters and for world heritage periodic reporting in Estonia is Ms Liina Jänes, Adviser on Cultural heritage from Ministry of Culture (liina.janes @ kul.ee).