Only the unique places in the world are accepted on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The city of Ferrara and its territory of the historic Po Delta is one of these.
UNESCO has identified ten criteria, ten different definitions of excellence based on which a site can be accepted on the list. The first six criteria identify cultural values and the last four natural values.
The Ferrara site, which in 1995 obtained UNESCO recognition for its historic centre only, has also been listed from 1999 onwards for the vast area of the ancient Po delta marked by the “delizie” and qualifies as a cultural landscape. This means that the site is not connoted by the beauty of the individual monuments but by the significant and coherent entirety of an area planned in the Renaissance era where the motivations for the emergence of monuments and natural elements can be noted in a way that is still perfectly clear today.
Its exceptional universal value essentially consists of the visible evidence of how the Renaissance culture was transcribed into the layout of the city of Ferrara, making it an urban planning model and how, at the same time, it shaped the territory through a vast land drainage program, planning the production development and structuring it with the insertion of farms and villas, and the Estense “delizie”, which constituted monumental landmarks and control points for protecting the new lands.
Five of the six culture-related criteria put together define it as follows:
Ferrara, exemplarily designed in the Renaissance, still has its historic centre fully intact. The rules of urban planning expressed herein had a profound influence on the development of urban planning over the following centuries. (Criteria ii, iv and vi);
The residences of the dukes of Este in the Delta of the Po River perfectly visualize the Renaissance culture effects on natural landscape. (Criterion iii);
The Po Delta is an outstanding planned cultural landscape that retains its original shape. (Criterion v).