Revitalizing historically rooted urban gardening within the World Heritage City of Bamberg, Germany

City of Bamberg /Jürgen Schraudner
Published: 05 October 2020
Last edited: 10 March 2021
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The Town of Bamberg was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993 under criteria (ii) and (iv) due to the preservation of its medieval layout and its historic buildings. The city illustrates the link between agriculture (market gardens and vineyards) and the urban distribution centre. The Market Gardeners’ District is an integral part of the site. However, the historic urban gardens have been progressively fragmented due to the distribution among heirs. Families who still cultivate their gardens for commercial purposes struggle. In 2012, the Bavarian State Garden Show (Landesgartenschau) was held in Bamberg and drew attention to the Market Gardeners’ District. It was in this context that traditional urban gardening has been revitalized. This effort was supported with some 1.3 million Euro from the National Investment Programme for World Heritage for awareness raising activities, a marketing campaign and the implementation of a sustainable land use approach. A follow-up programme is being developed.


West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Buildings and facilities
Freshwater ecosystems
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
River, stream
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Local actors
Traditional knowledge
Urban planning
World Heritage
Increasing temperatures
Ecosystem loss
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 18: Traditional knowledge


Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany


Social and economic factors hamper the conservation of Bamberg’s historical urban gardens. Since the World Heritage recognition of Bamberg was mostly focused on its architectural values, the urban gardens that are hidden behind private houses were often overlooked. The Market Gardeners’ District is not a self-explanatory destination. The heterogeneous ownership structure of the area limits the municipality’s influence on its development. Commercial gardening activities face spatial restrictions, which preclude the employment of machinery. High costs for essential resources such as water pose another obstacle. At the same time, increasing development pressure tempted several building activities in the past causing the loss of biodiversity and traditional local knowledge.


Bamberg local community, gardeners, gardeners’ associations: Oberer Gärtnerverein, Unterer Gärtnerverein, Verein Gärtner- und Häckermuseum, Sortengarten e.V., Süßholzgesellschaft, educational institutions, researchers, tourists

How do the building blocks interact?

The building blocks are part of an overall strategy to revitalize historically rooted urban gardening within the Town of Bamberg World Heritage site. In their entirety the building blocks can best unfold their impact enhancing each other. Establishing multi-level partnerships (BB1) among municipality, gardeners associations, educational institutions and local citizens facilitates the awareness raising (BB2) among the diverse stakeholders, achieving a common understanding of the value of the historical urban gardening and the traditional practices involved. A success factor is the diversity of actors with the gardeners as the knowledge bearers playing the key role. For the long term effect, schools are involved as well following an intergenerational approach. Finally, media acts as a multiplier for the different measures and slowly helps to increase people’s openness towards the perception of Bamberg’s gardening tradition as a joint heritage that needs to be passed on to future generations. These steps allow the development of a local brand (BB3) which enables the sustainability of the initiative with the commitment of gardeners, as well as the engagement of the local population to re-cultivate urban fields (BB4).


(1) A legally binding land-use plan was adopted to protect the urban gardening fields from building development.

(2) New semi-public spaces were established such as the Heritage Garden with endemic plants as well as liquorice fields.

(3) Educational initiatives with school children have been initiated.

(4) Strong local, national and international media coverage attracted young people and led to solidarity agricultural projects and an increased touristic interest in the district.

(5) Local gardening knowledge was documented and made accessible.

(6) Along with the increased visibility of the Market Gardeners’ District and Bamberg’s gardening tradition, in 2014, Bamberg’s gardening tradition was inscribed on the Bavarian Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage. In 2016, it was included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.


Christian Beyer

Since the Middle Ages, urban gardening has been practiced in Bamberg. The Market Gardeners’ District together with the City on the Hills and the Island District forms an integral part of the World Heritage site “Town of Bamberg”. In 2009, a survey was conducted to find out whether owners of gardening fields are open to new forms of gardening that are compatible with the limitations of the Market Gardeners’ District. The results were sobering.


Seven years after the survey, long-established gardeners started to collaborate with young families: In 2016 – when Bamberg’s gardening tradition was included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage -  the local transition group launched its first pick-your-own garden on the outskirts of Bamberg. Filmmaker Christian Beyer accompanied this development and captured the development of this community garden. He captured how they grew their own vegetables in organic quality and how this changed their perception of food production.


The film “Reaping What You Sow” ( was awarded at the Bamberg Short Film Festival in 2018 in the category "Made in Upper Franconia”.  Currently, the local transition group creates another pick-your-own garden within the historic Market Gardeners’ District. (Patricia Alberth, Head of Bamberg World Heritage Office)

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Patricia Alberth City of Bamberg

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ICCROM-IUCN World Heritage Leadership