World Heritage Site

World Heritage properties must display Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), which is the basis of any nomination. Outstanding Universal Value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.

According to UNESCO, “Outstanding Universal Value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the permanent protection of this heritage is of the highest importance to the international community as a whole.” In order to be considered of Outstanding Universal Value, a property must meet one or more World Heritage Criteria.

These criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working tool on World Heritage. The criteria are regularly revised by the Committee to reflect the evolution of the World Heritage concept itself.

OUV selection criteria:

  • to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius
  • to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design
  • to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared
  • to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history
  • to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change
  • to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria)
  • to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance
  • to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features
  • to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals
  • to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

World Heritage Site Paramaribo Historic Inner City Center​

Paramaribo Inner city center met two of the ten World Heritage Criteria and was declared a World Heritage Site in 2002.

Criterion (2): Paramaribo is an exceptional example of the gradual fusion of European architecture and construction techniques with indigenous South American materials and crafts to create a new architectural idiom.

Criterion (4): Paramaribo is a unique example of the contact between the European culture of the Netherlands and the indigenous cultures and environment of South America in the years of intensive colonization of this region in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Brief History

Paramaribo is a former Dutch colonial town dating from the 17th and 18th centuries planted on the Northeastern coast of tropical South America. Composed of mainly wooden buildings, the plain and symmetrical architectural style illustrating the gradual fusion of Dutch and other European architectural and later North American influences as well as elements from Creole culture, reflects the multi-cultural society of Suriname.

 The historic inner city is located along the left bank of the Suriname River and is defined by the Sommelsdijkse Kreek to the north and the Viottekreek to the south. Laid out from 1683 on a grid pattern along an axis running north-west from Fort Zeelandia, the main streets follow shell ridges which provided a naturally drained base for building. At the end of the 18th century, Dutch engineering and town planning skills enabled the town to be extended over marshy land to the north. Important elements in the townscape are Fort Zeelandia built in 1667 and the large public park (Garden of Palms) behind it, wide, tree-lined streets and open spaces; the Presidential Palace (1730) built in stone but with a wooden upper floor, the Ministry of Finance (1841) a monumental brick structure with classical portico and clock tower, the Reformed Church (1837) in Neoclassical style, and the Gothic Revival Roman Catholic Cathedral (1885) built in wood.


At the time of inscription it was recorded that most of the urban fabric of Paramaribo dating form 1680-1800 still survives virtually intact, mainly due to low economic growth in the past three decades. The original urban pattern is still authentic in relation to the historical built environment, because no major infrastructural changes have taken place, no building lines have been altered and no high-rising buildings have been built in the city Center. The timber buildings are vulnerable to fire, and the inner city is vulnerable to lack of enforcement of protective controls 

as well as neglect due to the socio-economic situation. ​Since then the integrity of the property has been compromised by insertion of a new flag square, altering the urban pattern around Independence Square and introducing a hard paved surface in place of green landscaping. The property’s integrity is vulnerable to Waterfront development, which while having the potential to contribute positively to the town’s economy, also has the potential to impact severely on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property if not appropriately designed and located. 


There are 291 listed monuments in Paramaribo and in the past three decades only a few have disappeared in favor of new developments. Many of the monuments exhibit high authenticity because of the use of traditional techniques and materials in repair and rehabilitation works, although some timber buildings have been replaced in concrete.

Protection and management requirements

Protection of the about 250 listed monuments of Paramaribo was initially guaranteed under the 1963 Monuments Act. In 2002 this Act was replaced by a new Monuments Bill (S.B. 5 September 2002 No. 72) which provides for the designation of protected historic quarters with controls over interventions and provision for subsidies to owners for conservation works. In 2007 and 2010 two new monuments were added to the monuments list of Paramaribo and in 2011 the list was further enlarged with another 25 official monuments.