UNESCO Urban Heritage Atlas

The Urban Heritage Atlas is an atlas and an archive that documents and explains, visually, narratively and with analytical maps, the diversity and uniqueness of the world's historic cities and settlements.

© UNESCO World Heritage Cities Programme / Creative Commons

The UNESCO Urban Heritage Atlas is

  • An atlas of the World's historic cities and settlements.
  • A technical aid for implementing the 2011 HUL (Historic Urban Landscape) Recommendation.
  • A platform for cultural mapping and urban heritage.
  • A resource for education, capacity building, and participation.

The UNESCO Urban Heritage Atlas identifies, maps, and visually presents the structures, places, and characters expressing the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and Urban Heritage Values (UHV) of historic cities and settlements at different scales. It applies equally to World Heritage properties as to all other historic cities and settlements, including those on the national Tentative Lists for World Heritage. It invites contributions from World Heritage stakeholders, such as site managers, National Focal Points for World Heritage and experts, to identify and map the unique character of the city or settlement using a digital base to provide this information online, including for mapping on a GIS database. Each city study is done with local authorities using online digital tools to input information through capacity-building and close cooperation between UNESCO and the local authorities. 

The platform highlights the opportunities to guide new interventions and design projects in and around historic cities and settlements to be compatible with the character and architectural identity of its heritage. The city studies involve working with local stakeholders to identify both tangible and intangible structures, places, and characters of the city or settlement. While these structures, places, and characters need to be protected to ensure the unique and heritage values are conserved, at the same time, the mapping and documentation of the character provide valuable guidance for new interventions and design projects to be compatible with the uniqueness of the historic pace. 

Finally, the UNESCO Urban Heritage Atlas advances the participation and engagement of all stakeholders to enable informed decision-making about conservation and new interventions and projects that will improve urban heritage management. As historic cities and settlements worldwide seek to further sustainable urban development and climate resilience, the HUL Recommendation (approach helps by enhancing the understanding of urban heritage as a system and a resource for sustainable urban development and an active contributor to climate action. 

For more information visit the Urban Heritage Atlas webpage.


Further reading on the use platform:

To access case studies on heritage and cultural vibrancy you can search the use platform database by SDG 11, or the topics: heritage and cultural vibrancy. Additional information can be found on the topic page for Cultural Heritage.


Call to Action
The use platform is seeking more content on heritage and cultural vibrancy. We invite interested citymakers and local governments to contribute case studies, recommendations for publications, reports or other useful resources for our use picks format, or announcements for events, conferences, awards and other activities for our bi-weekly newsletter. 

Click here to see our current call for content


Published on 15/04/2024