On 1 July 2018, Naumburg Cathedral was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a masterpiece of human creativity and a significant intersection of human values in relation to the development of architecture. Now the World Heritage Centre is being built in the building of the former bishop's curia at Domplatz 1 opposite Naumburg Cathedral. This consists of a visitor information centre for the UNESCO World Heritage Naumburg Cathedral and the cultural landscape along the Saale and Unstrut rivers, including a museum and an event area. In addition, the surrounding gardens will be restored. The official start of construction took place on 10 March 2023 with the handover of the funding decision from the state of Saxony-Anhalt and the placement of the time capsule.
"With the establishment of the World Heritage Centre, we can advance the communication and strengthening of the World Heritage idea. A place will be created to present the World Heritage Site of Naumburg Cathedral and the surrounding cultural landscape on the Saale and Unstrut rivers and to highlight their exceptional value. Furthermore, it is our concern to promote the understanding of cultural and historical developments as well as to create a sense of identity for the World Heritage Site as a whole. Against this background, the other UNESCO World Heritage sites in Saxony-Anhalt will also be presented in the World Heritage Centre," says the Director of the United Cathedral Foundations, Dr Holger Kunde.
Tourism Minister Sven Schulze says: "Naumburg Cathedral is one of the most important cultural monuments in Saxony-Anhalt and an absolute visitor magnet. For the Saale-Unstrut region and for Naumburg, it makes an important contribution to tourism value creation. The World Heritage title also radiates nationally and internationally, and the number of visitors has risen once again since then. I am very happy that we as a state will continue to promote the development of Naumburg Cathedral and create further attractive incentives for a visit with the emerging visitor centre and the Bishop's Garden".
In addition, the World Heritage Centre will be a central information point for tourists in the future. As a major visitor magnet on the "Romanesque Road", Naumburg Cathedral attracts thousands of regional, national and international visitors to the Saale-Unstrut region every year. The new centre is intended to strengthen access to the cultural heritage of the entire region and thus also its tourist appeal. As a first point of contact for visitors, tickets for the cathedral are sold here and other bookable offers for the cathedral and the region are offered. In addition, a multilingual exhibition will highlight the cultural and tourist attractions in the Saale-Unstrut region and emphasise the importance of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saxony-Anhalt as important cultural and tourist highlights. Furthermore, further education, seminars and lectures are to be offered in cooperation with numerous partners, which will find their spatial place in the lecture room on the 1st floor as well as in the large hall on the top floor. An annual number of 150,000 to 200,000 visitors are expected to use the World Heritage Information Centre and its historic garden as a central point of contact.
The Ostdeutsche Sparkassenstiftung and the Sparkasse Burgenlandkreis, the state of Saxony-Anhalt and the Friede Springer Foundation support the museum production in the Bishop's Curia.
The handing over of the funding decision by the state of Saxony-Anhalt and the placement of the time capsule on 10 March 2023 mark the official start of construction of the World Heritage Centre, which is scheduled for completion in 2025.
"In the course of the renovation work, we will carry out a comprehensive general overhaul," says cathedral architect Prof. Regine Hartkopf. "Due to many reconstructions in the last centuries, the inner structure of the house is hardly recognisable. Therefore, we will strengthen the original substance of the monument through various repair and restoration measures." Adjacent to the historic bishop's building at Domplatz 1 is the former curia garden, which will also be restored in a manner appropriate to the monument and then made available free of charge to visitors to the World Heritage Centre and Domplatz.
The funding will be handed over by Sven Schulze, Minister for Economy, Tourism, Agriculture and Forestry of Saxony-Anhalt, and by Dr. Sebastian Putz, State Secretary for Culture of Saxony-Anhalt. A total of 11.4 million euros will be invested. The state of Saxony-Anhalt is supporting the project with funds from the joint task "Improvement of the Regional Economic Structure" (GRW). The Burgenlandkreis is also supporting the construction project with 800,000 euros. No structural change funds are flowing into this project.
The Bishop's Curia Episcopalis with its Romanesque residential tower and curia garden is, along with the cathedral and the Ägidien Chapel, the most historically valuable ensemble on Domplatz. In terms of both its structural and cultural-historical development, it has a formative effect on the square opposite the east choir. The palatial main building was erected in the 16th century under the last Catholic bishop Julius Pflug in the Renaissance style. The curia was later used by the canons and remodelled several times. The 18th century (representative interiors, pavilion, etc.) and the 20th century (disfiguring but reversible conversions to clinical facilities) brought significant changes. The Romanesque residential tower is a special gem of the entire complex. As the core of the complex, it dates back to the 12th century, was rebuilt many times and its surfaces show a maximum of visible changes. Inside, fragments of valuable paintings have been preserved.