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In revisiting the 1931 Athens Charter, the 1964 Venice Charter codified the tenants of universal heritage based on principles of good practice at that time. The Venice Charter articulated a preservation philosophy, with an emphasis on the tangible constructs of culture—monuments and sites. Subsequent years have seen a broadening of the concept of cultural heritage, and the Venice Charter has been both heralded and criticized by a breadth of disciplines within heritage preservation.
With an eye to the ever-evolving world of cultural heritage, this paper explores the Venice Charter and other guiding documents through the lens of cultural landscapes. The Venice Charter influenced the 1982 Florence Charter on Historic Gardens as the concept of cultural heritage broadened to be inclusive of landscapes. By 1992, UNESCO’s Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention fully recognized cultural landscapes as a valued cultural resource. Since then, the concept of cultural heritage has continued to broaden to include intangible heritage, cultural routes, historic urban landscapes, and most recently, a world rural landscapes initiative.
The paper closes with an overview of the challenges and opportunities in cultural landscape conservation today as practitioners address new types of landscape heritage, recognition of associative values and indigenous knowledge, and continuing agricultural landscapes.