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The protection and preservation of historic centres is one of the most complex and controversial tasks within the management of contemporary cities. Runyu has highlighted the case of Regensburg, one of the most traditional villages in the region of Bavaria and one of the few settlements that preserved its medieval legacy almost intact during the bombings of World War II.

Urban conservation, as Runyu mentions, is divided into different instances, which range from the national level to local management policies. However, the status of Regensburg as a World Heritage Site (WHS) also implies surveillance by international organizations such as UNESCO, which is responsible for ensuring the comprehensive conservation of sites that are part of that classification. This issue brings with it several benefits, which range from the establishment of greater control and supervision regarding the maintenance of historic buildings and urban spaces, to the opportunity to obtain a greater tourist influx and international promotion (Nasser, 2003).

Image 1: Density of World Heritage Sites in European countries (sites per thousands of km2)

However, being part of the WHS list can also mean greater limitations for the construction of new buildings or the modification of public space (Wang, 2011). Cases like the Historic Centre of Vienna, which was recently added to the list of Heritage in Danger by UNESCO, are examples of the fact that contemporary developments must involve an adequate management of heritage, seeking a balance between innovation and conservation of the existing heritage.

Image 2: Render of Heumarkt development. The height of this project has put the Vienna Historic Centre into the list of World Heritage in Danger.

Block, I. (2017). Isay Weinfeld high-rise puts Vienna UNESCO world heritage site under threat. Available at:

Nasser, N. (2003). Planning for urban heritage places: Reconciling conservation, tourism, and sustainable development. Journal of Planning Literature, 17 (4), 467-479.

UNESCO (2018). Historic Centre of Vienna. Available at:

UNESCO (2018). List of World Heritage in Danger. Available at:

UNESCO (2018). World Heritage List. Available at:

Wang, J. (2011). Problems and solutions in the protection of historical urban areas. Frontiers of Architectural Research, 1, 40–43.

World Heritage Regensburg (2018). Restoration and Development. Available at:

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