Edinburgh World Heritage - Managing the World Heritage Site


Managing the World Heritage Site

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh were inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in December 1995. The inscription recognised that the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town are of international importance.

“Edinburgh, capital of Scotland since the fifteenth century, presents the dual face of an old city dominated by a medieval fortress and a new neoclassic city whose development from the eighteenth century onwards exerted a far-reaching influence on European urban planning. The harmonious juxtaposition of these two highly contrasting historic areas, each containing many buildings of great significance, is what gives the city its unique character.” UNESCO

Find out more about World Heritage at http://whc.unesco.org

Read the inscription documents and Statement of Significance for the World Heritage Site.

What does World Heritage status mean?

World Heritage status does not bring any extra controls, so the Site is protected by identifying listed buildings and conservation areas as a part of the planning system.

Listed buildings – buildings of architectural or historical interest are listed as category A (national or international importance), B (regional or more than local importance), or C (local importance).

Around 75% of the buildings within the World Heritage Site are listed.

Conservation areas - protect the historic character of an area. Not only buildings, but also features such as trees, parks, paving and street furniture.

All the World Heritage Site is protected by the Old Town, New Town, Dean Village and West End Conservation Areas

Listed buildings and conservation areas are not meant to stop change. They make sure that change happens in a managed way, so that the unique character of the World Heritage Site can be maintained.

Key to managing the World Heritage Site is the Management Plan, a joint document written by Historic Environment Scotland, the City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh World Heritage. This provides a framework for ensuring the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site are protected, enhanced and promoted... Read more

Recent Projects

From the three year Twelve Monuments Project to the major restoration of Well Court.


EWH Historic Home Guides, Annual Reviews and the World Heritage Site Management Plan available for download.

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