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Switzerland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

According to Article 78 of the Swiss Federal Constitution, cultural heritage and properties are regulated by the Nature and Cultural Heritage Act and Ordinance, whose aims are to:

  • preserve and protect the landscape and scenery, including historical sites and natural and cultural monuments; and
  • support the research and training of specialists.

In order to achieve these objectives, the federal government may protect its own buildings and direct concessions, authorisations and contributions (see chapter 4.2.5) for the preservation of non-publicly owned sites.

There are two federal advisory commissions on cultural heritage, namely, the Federal Commission for Nature and Heritage Conservation and the Federal Commission for Historical Monuments and Site Conservation. The Federal Office for the Environment, Forestry and Landscape and the Federal Office of Culture only play a consultative role. Cantonal offices also collaborate with these commissions.

Other federal legislation in this domain includes the Priority List for Nature and Heritage Conservation of 1966, the Federal Act on Museums and Collections of the Swiss Confederation of 2009, and the Federal Act on the International Transfer of Cultural Property of 2003. 

Switzerland is a member of many conventions, including the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, the Convention on the Protection of Historical Buildings in Europe, and the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

Chapter published: 13-11-2014

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