Liverpool Town Hall dome
Liverpool Town Hall dome

World Heritage Sites are ‘places of outstanding universal value to the whole community’.


Why is Liverpool a World Heritage Site?

Defined as ‘the supreme example of a commercial port at the time of Britain’s greatest global influence’, Liverpool was awarded the global accolade of World Heritage Site status for its rich inheritance of 19th and early 20th century buildings and its pivotal role in world history.

The site is of international significance because:

  • Liverpool played a leading role in the development of dock construction, port management and international trading systems in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • The buildings and structures of the port and the city are an exceptional testimony to mercantile culture.
  • Liverpool played a major role in influencing globally significant demographic changes in the 18th and 19th centuries, through its involvement in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and as the leading port of mass European emigration to the New World.

This remarkable legacy of commerce and culture has shaped the city’s historic townscape and created the distinctive character and unique spirit of place that we see and experience today. This spirit of place continues to be the inspiration for the development and growth of Liverpool as a global city for the 21st century.

Attributes of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV)

Liverpool’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) as a World Heritage Site stems from its historic role as an eminent international seaport from the early 18th century to the early 20th century. The surviving urban landscape testifies to that role.

Attributes are aspects of the WHS which underpin and express the OUV. They can be tangible – such as buildings or docks, or intangible – such as traditions, a sense of pride or memory. The following attributes for the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City were adopted in 2011:

  1. The spirit of innovation illustrated by the architecture, engineering, transport, port management and labour systems created and developed in Liverpool.
  2. The buildings and monuments, stories and records that evidence Liverpool’s central role in the development of the British Empire and global trade.
  3. The buildings and monuments, stories and records that evidence Liverpool’s central role in global migration.
  4. The docks, warehouses, commercial buildings, cultural buildings and dwelling houses and their relationships to each other that illustrate Liverpool’s development as a port city of global importance.
  5. The tradition of cultural exchange exemplified by Liverpool’s roles in the development of popular music and as a patron of the visual arts.

Find out more about Liverpool’s Oustanding Universal Value as a World Heritage Site at UNESCO