UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Emilia-Romagna (And San Marino)

Ferrara historic centre

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Emilia-Romagna has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites of its own, and is also part of one multi-region, multi-country site. And it has two UNESCO Creative Cities. This is a list of all the World Heritage Sites in Emilia-Romagna (for the sake of completeness I have also included the neighbouring state of San Marino).

1. Early Christian Monuments Of Ravenna

Ravenna was the one-time capital of the Roman Empire and subsequently of Byzantine Italy. The UNESCO site Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna incorporates eight buildings from that period, notable for their history, architecture and mosaics.

Interior of a church with arches, dome and mosaics
Mosaics in Ravenna (Image by anto-dc from Pixabay)

Read more about The Byzantine Mosaics Of Ravenna.

2. Cathedral, Torre Civica And Piazza Grande, Modena

The Cathedral, Torre Civica and Piazza Grande form a complex of buildings at the heart of the city of Modena. The 12th century Cathedral and its bell tower (the Torre Civica, or “Ghirlandina”) are described as “a supreme example of early Romanesque art”.

Together with the adjoining Piazza Grande, these buildings had a significant impact upon subsequent Romanesque design. The sculptures of the Cathedral are particularly noted as having created a new relationship between sculpture and architecture. Read more – Visit Modena, A World Heritage Site.

Cathedral and belltower of Modena, one of the World Heritage Sites of Emilia-Romagna
Romanesque buildings of Modena (Image by Ermanno Ferrarini from Pixabay)

3. Ferrara And The Po Delta

Ferrara, City of the Renaissance, and its Po Delta is a twofold inscription. Firstly, it relates to the city of Ferrara itself, and its contribution to the Italian Renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries. This was the first planned Renaissance town, an “ideal city” that set the standard for future urban design, superseding the earlier Roman style. The World Heritage Site includes the historic centre, Castle, Cathedral and city walls.

Looking down on the historic buildings of Ferrara
The historic city of Ferrara (Image by alex1965 from Pixabay)

The site also includes the delta of the River Po, which was an integral part of the development of Ferrara. It is recognised as a “planned cultural landscape”, and also for the villas and gardens built along the delta by the powerful Este family.

4. Ancient Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe covers 12 countries across Europe, celebrating the adaptation of the beech tree to a variety of climates and physical environments.

Within Emilia-Romagna, the site is represented by the Forest of Sasso Fratino, which contains some of the oldest beech trees in Europe. At the centre of the forest is the Sasso Fratino Nature Reserve, to which access is strictly controlled. However, there are several hiking trails within the UNESCO site that are open to visitors.

New For 2021 – The Porticos Of Bologna

News is just in (July 2021) that Italy has three new World Heritage Sites. One of these is the Porticos of Bologna (this includes the 4 km Portico of San Luca).

San Marino

San Marino is actually an independent state within Italy, but I have included it here as it is very easy to get to from Emilia-Romagna. The UNESCO inscription – San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano – recognises it as one of the oldest republics in the world, and the last remaining city-state in Italy. It covers the historic town, complete with fortifications and defensive walls, as well as the hill of Mount Titano upon which it stands.

Fortress surrounded by trees on top of a tall mountain
The hill town of San Marino (Image by Volker Glätsch from Pixabay)

Read More: How To Visit San Marino, The Oldest Republic In Europe.

Intangible Heritage

Two cities in Emilia-Romagna are designated as UNESCO Creative Cities: Bologna and Parma.

Bologna, Creative City Of Music

With the oldest university in the western world, Bologna was the first place in Italy to offer a degree in music. Historically the city was frequented by musicians such as Mozart, Liszt and Rossini, and it is home to an opera house and several musical establishments.

As a UNESCO Creative City Bologna hosts a number of music festivals (classical, jazz and contemporary) throughout the year, and runs projects to promote musical education.

Parma, Creative City Of Gastronomy

With so many local brands, including the famous Parma ham and Parmesan cheese, it is perhaps no surprise that Parma should be a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. But not just about local production: the province of Parma also has an International School of Italian Cuisine and several museums. And, of course, there are also lots of excellent restaurants!

Round parmesan cheeses stacked on shelves
The famous parmesan cheeses (Image by DEZALB from Pixabay)

UNESCO Tentative List

The UNESCO Tentative List includes the Evaporite Karst and Caves of Emilia Romagna Region and the Via Francigena in Italy, a multi-region site based around an important Roman road.

Finally, if you’re inspired to explore the region further, have a look at this Complete Guide to Emilia Romagna.

About Bewitched by italy

Bewitched By Italy is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), but Italy remains one of my favourite destinations. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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