Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List
At its 38th session in Doha/Qatar today (21 June), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Committee decided to award the status of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site to the former Benedictine Abbey of Corvey in the valley of the River Weser.
Corvey Abbey, which was founded in 822, was one of the most influential abbeys in the Carolingian Empire. The importance of the abbey is backed up by archaeological evidence as well as by the inscription “Civitas Corvey” found on a plaque dating back to its founding years. The Weser valley proved to be the ideal location to implement the concept of a base for the itinerant kingship and a great Carolingian abbey, as recorded on the Plan of the Abbey of Saint Gall.
Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, welcomed the decision:
I am delighted that UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has approved the Federal Republic of Germany’s application. The Westwork and the Civitas deserve their status as World Heritage sites. They are unique examples of the Carolingian Renaissance.
Corvey is home to the only Westwork still standing, which exemplifies a new type of church building developed during the time of Charlemagne. This is unusual, as almost all other forms of Pre-Romanesque and Romanesque architecture derive from the late Antique period. The decoration on the Westwork, which still bears traces of a cycle of sea creatures, including a scene from the Odyssey, also proves that in the Carolingian era profane images from the Antique period were used to adorn sacred buildings. The sinopias and fragments of the stucco figures are also outstanding examples of Carolingian architecture.