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Unesco: the parish enclosures of Finistère take a “decisive step” for their classification

The parish enclosures, architectural ensembles typical of Brittany in the 16th and 17th centuries, have taken an important step towards being classified as a UNESCO world heritage site, announced the holders of the application file.

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Unesco: the parish enclosures of Finistère take a “decisive step” for their classification

The parish enclosures, architectural ensembles typical of Brittany in the 16th and 17th centuries, have taken an important step towards being classified as a UNESCO world heritage site, announced the holders of the application file.

Launched two years ago, this inscription project was retained on the indicative list of French properties as possible candidates for UNESCO world heritage, announced the president of the Finistère department Maël de Calan (various right), Friday during of a press conference. “We have taken a first and formidable step, which makes us official candidates of France,” he said. “It’s a decisive step,” added former Minister of Culture Jean-Jacques Aillagon, president of the mission responsible for carrying out the candidacy, who stressed that this step generally took “six or seven years, and for some others more than ten years.”

Architectural groups composed in particular of a church, an enclosure wall, a monumental door, a calvary or a cross, a plaister (enclosed ground) and an ossuary, the parish enclosures are characteristics of Lower Brittany. Out of around a hundred sites listed, the mission selected 31 because of their state of conservation and their integrity. This list should be gradually reduced to around fifteen particularly remarkable enclosures.

This architectural heritage belongs to the history of the golden age of Brittany (1500-1700), based on maritime trade and the production of linen fabrics for clothing, exported to England and Spain. It is in this context of economic prosperity, coupled with a “particular religious fervor” that these enclosures will be built, according to Jean-Jacques Aillagon. A magnificent work by Hervé Quéméner and Jean-Yves Guillaume, published by Georama editions, lists this heritage of the Breton golden centuries. Places of worship scattered on either side of the Élorn valley, a river which flows into the Arrée mountains, crosses Sizun and Landerneau before flowing into Brest Harbour.

“There is still a lot of work to be done. I am hopeful that, with this work accomplished, we will ultimately succeed in including the parish enclosures on the world heritage list,” assured the former minister of Jacques Chirac. “World Heritage means that we will find ourselves in the same category as the pyramids of Giza or the Parthenon of Athens,” he underlined.

Without waiting for this registration, which will take at least four years, work potentially reaching several tens of millions of euros will be scheduled to restore the main enclosures.

In October 2022, France's indicative list included 33 sites, according to the UNESCO website. Some have been there since 1996, such as the megaliths of Carnac, whose world heritage listing is expected in 2025 or 2026, according to the mayor of the Breton town.

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