As of 2020, there are 1 121 World Heritage sites listed by UNESCO in 167 countries worldwide. Four Unesco World Heritage sites in the South Baltic region have united to develop the region's sites from natural and cultural assets to their full potential as sustainable tourist destinations.
Find out more about the Naval Port of Karlskrona, the Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland, Curonian Spit and the historic centres of Wismar and Stralsund.
Naval Port of Karlskrona
Karlskrona’s impressive and well-preserved architecture and town plan gained the town World Heritage status in 1998, and everywhere you go you can see evidence of this.
Karlskrona was founded in 1680 when Karl XI decided to establish the country's new naval base here. The key to the appointment is the actual planning of the city, which was built according to King Karl XI's will and vision.
More than 300 years later the naval base is still here in Karlskrona – the town where old meets new and tradition meets innovation.
Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland
An exquisitely beautiful landscape and unique cultural district stretch from Karlevi in the west to Gårdby in the east and all the way south. This area was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2000.
The justification is that the Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland is fundamentally different from other places on earth. This is partly due to its limestone bedrock, mild climate and geographic location, which have resulted in unique conditions for life on the island, and partly due to the effect of Öland's inhabitants on the district over thousands of years – since the Stone Age.
The Curonian Spit is a narrow strip of sand stretching 97 kilometres along the Baltic Sea. According to the legend, the spit was formed a long time ago by Neringa, a girl giant who poured the sandy peninsula into the Baltic Sea to protect the peaceful bay from the stormy sea and create an embankment for fishermen to live.
In 2000, the Curonian Spit cultural landscape was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Human habitation on this elongated sand dune peninsula dates back to prehistoric times. Throughout this period it has been threatened by the natural forces of wind and waves. Its survival to the present days has been made possible only as a result of ceaseless human efforts to combat the erosion of the Spit.
One part of the 50 kilometres long Curonian Spit belongs to the Republic of Lithuania. The other to the Russian Federation.
Historic Centre of Stralsund
The medieval city layout of Stralsund – a network of streets, quarters, squares and plots – has been preserved nearly unchanged.
Beautifully restored buildings date back almost eight centuries, including gabled houses, monasteries, town hall and brick gothic churches.
The Historic Centres of Stralsund and Wismar are recognised as globally significant and worthy of special protection. In 2002 they joined the global ranks of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Historic Centre of Wismar
Wismar is located in the Bay of Wismar, sheltered by the island of Poel. It lies on the southern edge of the Baltic between Lübeck to the West and Rostock to the East and North of the state capital Schwerin.
As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Wismar is particularly well-known for its harbour and traditional shipping and fishing industries. The many historic buildings and houses in the centre have been carefully restored to their original Hanseatic style. Today these buildings house the small cafés, restaurants and hotels that give Wismar its characteristic romantic charm, as do the magnificent red-brick gothic churches, the unique market square and, most importantly, the friendly local people that welcome so many visitors to their town every year.