The Unesco World Heritage List, with more than a thousand references, already has a Madrid landmark: the Paseo del Prado and the Buen Retiro park have been included in the Urban Cultural Landscape category. Andrés Perelló (PSOE), ambassador of Spain to UNESCO, has exposed the exceptionality of this group to the members of the Committee, held telematically from Fuzhou (China), from the conference room of the Prado National Museum. The ambassador has managed to gather more than two-thirds of the votes necessary to carry out a candidacy that came with the rejection of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). This Unesco advisory body had drawn up a devastating report against the Madrid candidacy made up of the two assets. Despite the reluctance, due to the high pollution of the city and the inconsistency in the union of both goods, diplomacy has obtained the votes in favor of Australia, Mali, Nigeria, Egypt, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Arabia Saudi, Thailand or Kyrgyzstan, among others.
Gone is the closure of Medialab Prado executed by the person in charge of the Culture Area, Andrea Levy, in the middle of the process that weakened the candidacy. The outstanding universal value of the Retirement has been fundamental for the candidacy to succeed. But the fundamental thing has been that the Madrid City Council has accepted in recent weeks a list of a dozen conditions to highlight the values of this property and the Paseo del Prado, the first tree-lined avenue in the world open to all social classes. Among these conditions is the fight against pollution in the city with more mortality caused by pollution from cars. If the City Council fails to comply with this condition, its inclusion in the prized List will be withdrawn, as has happened in the case of Liverpool this week.
ICOMOS claimed that the file presented by the Madrid City Council “artificially brings together different areas, although geographically close, whose common history took different paths 500 years ago.” The geographical proximity of the Paseo del Prado and the Buen Retiro is unquestionable, but “its development was driven by very different reasons and was carried out in a different way, and its function and character became distant with the passage of time.”
Andrés Perelló has intervened to recognize that it is “a complex and tremendously innovative candidacy and perhaps there we have the problems to understand it.” There is only one such candidate on the list, Rio de Janeiro. In this way, Madrid assumes the first Urban Cultural Landscape in Europe. Perelló has turned to the Spanish, to the economy and science and to the “sexy”: the ambassador has assured that the Madrid Botanical Garden is “the sexiest in the world”, for that reason it cannot be claimed that the candidacy is different. Perelló has refused to change the identity of the candidacy in order to be registered. And he ended with an amendment to the popular saying: “When in Madrid they say from Madrid to heaven, why do they want to go there, if they are already in heaven”.
Princess Haifa Al Mogrin, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to UNESCO, presented the Madrid candidacy. “This ensemble is made up of different parts and they all come together beautifully. All these attributes make it a singular place, with its unique complexity and will enrich the diversity of the List. It is a unique example of a type of cultural landscape not yet included in the Ready, “said the Saudi princess. The property cannot be summed up as a tree-lined avenue contrary to what ICOMOS proposes. The Brazilian ambassador has emphasized the development and influence of the Spanish mall in Latin American communities “and hardly questionable.” Brazil has asked the Spanish ambassador to clarify the legal protection defined by ICOMOS as “sufficient but insufficient.”
Norway has said it is a green candidacy, “there is work to be done” and moving from postponement to registration does not meet the guidelines. Ethiopia has supported the proposal for registration because the criteria are met despite opposition from ICOMOS. “The contribution of the good to other parts of the world in urban development has been clarified,” said the Ethiopian ambassador. From the Russian Federation it has been pointed out that it is an “important” nomination for the World List. “A concentration of culture, science and history is difficult to find. The unifying idea is the unique urban landscape. The title is precise and correct: the landscape of arts and sciences,” stressed the Russian ambassador, who spent ten years of his life in Madrid.
The Ugandan ambassador has said that the proposed amendments to inscribe the property are “satisfactory” and “timely”. Oman has also supported the candidacy, because it is a new interpretation of what an urban landscape is. “It allows all citizens to be more exposed to science and the arts, one of the main missions of today’s societies,” said the representative of Oman, an absolutist monarchy.