Unesco heritage nomination Flemish and Dutch Colonies

  • January 20, 2020

On 20 January Minister Matthias Diependaele (Finance and Budget, Housing and Immovable Heritage) and Dutch Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (Education, Culture and Science) went to Wortel, Antwerp to sign the transfer of the UNESCO World Heritage nomination file for the Colonies of Benevolence .

Nominating the Colonies of Benevolence as a site of landscape and cultural heritage on the World Heritage List of UNESCO is a joint dossier of Flanders and the Netherlands. The file was a first time before the World Heritage Committee in Bahrain in 2018, where the Committee made a number of recommendations. The reworked file contains the Colonies of Wortel (FL), Frederiksoord (NL), Wilhelminaoord (NL) and Veenhuizen (NL) and will be submitted at the end of January, aiming at recognition at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Fuzhou in June, China.

Prior to the signing, a guided bicycle tour through the Wortel-Colony domain was planned for the ministers and partners involved. The place exudes history. In 1818, the “Maatschappij van Weldadigheid” (Company of Benevolence)  established its first colony. The idea was to get people - often poor and alienated - to pick up the thread of life through work, education and discipline. They lived on what they themselves produced through agriculture and craftwork. Through the years, the colonies converted almost 1,000 hectares of waste land in Antwerp (de Kempen) into beautiful domains with agricultural land and forests, and neatly laid out alleys and buildings. The “Maatschappij van Weldadigheid” built seven of these colonies in five years: five in the north of the Netherlands and two in the province of Antwerp.

Today, the Flemish and Dutch sites are working together to preserve these valuable landscapes and cultural-historical immovable heritage for future generations.

Koloniën van Weldadigheid  - Kolonie 57

Departement Onroerend Erfgoed

General Representation of the Government of Flanders to the OECD, UNESCO and Council of Europe

General Representation of the Government of Flanders in the Netherlands