World Heritage Site

„Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps“


The idea…

The lakeside settlements in the Alpine region count among the most important archaeological cultural assets in Europe. Because the pile-dwelling sites are shared by all Alpine nations, it was clear at the outset that candidacy for inscription in the World Heritage List must be serial and transnational.
The nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage will further increase the awareness of this extraordinary cultural heritage among the wider public. In addition, the international exchange of knowledge and experience with regard to the protection and presentation of pile-dwelling sites will be promoted in the context of the candidature.
The candidature Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps has being staged under the auspices of the Swiss committee. All Alpine countries – Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and of course, Switzerland, are involved. From about 1000 sites we actually know, the 111 with the greatest scientific potential have been chosen for this serial nomination.

…and the way to the nomination

First considerations for a Word Heritage candidature of the pile dwellings took place in Switzerland in 2003. After adding the project to the Swiss Tentative List in 2004, official contacts with other States Parties took place. From 2007 to 2010, the six participating States Parties prepared the nomination file according the Operational Guidelines.

This nomination file Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps has been submitted in January 2010. At the same time the participating States Parties implemented an intergovernmental management agreement. The first meeting of the International Coordination Group took place 4 May 2010 at Ljubljana.
The candidature will be reviewed before May 2011 by an organisation commissioned by UNESCO. In this case ICOMOS mandated an expert for the Evaluation Mission. This expert visited the pile-dwelling sites in September and October 2010 and has authored a report. 
By letter of 14 December 2010, ICOMOS asked for clarification of several issues (Additional Information), above all a clarification on the contribution of each single component to the overall Outstanding Universal Value. This Additional Information submitted in Paris together with a reduced list of 111 component parts and the revised Management Plan Version 2.0 end of February 2011.

In May, ICOMOS recommended to inscribe the nomination to the World Heritage List. The 24 June, World Heritage Committee inscribed the prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps on the World Heritage List at the occasion of the 35th session in Paris from 19 to 29 June 2011.

Serial Nomination

Because the pile-dwelling sites are shared by all Alpine nations, it was clear at the outset that candidacy for inscription in the World Heritage List must be serial and transnational. It is provided, that the series as a whole, and not necessarily each of its component parts taken individually, is of outstanding universal value.

A serial nomination is any nomination which consists of two or more unconnected areas. A single World Heritage nomination may contain a series of cultural and/or natural properties in different geographical locations, provided that they are related because they belong to:

  1. the same historico-cultural group,
  2.  the same type of property which is characteristic of the geographical zone; or
  3. the same geological, geomorphological formation, the same biogeographic province, or the same ecosystem type (Operational Guidelines §§ 137–139).


The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps are protected according to the legal systems applying in the participating States Parties. Any proposed actions that may have a significant impact on the heritage values of the archaeological areas nominated for inscription are restricted. The common management system of the nomination is comprehensive and transversal: it integrates all States levels and competent authorities, including the local communities, in each country, and connects the different national systems to an international management system, through an already implemented International Coordination Group, based on a Management Commitment signed by all States Parties. Common visions and aims are translated into concrete projects on international, national and regional / local level in a regularly adapted management plan.