Eise Eisinga Planetarium in Friesland declared an UNESCO world heritage site
Update 13:09 - article updated with comments from the planetarium, mayor, province, and astronaut Andre Kuipers
Eise Eisinga’s planetarium in Franker, Friesland, has been declared a World Heritage site. The UN organization UNESCO included the model of the solar system on the prestigious list on Tuesday.
Eise Eisinga (1744-1828) was an entrepreneur involved in astronomy in his spare time. Between 1774 and 1781, he recreated the solar system in the ceiling of his living room. He did this to prove that doomsday scenarios were wrong. Eisinga made the six then-known planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn - and the moon revolve around the sun. A pendulum clock powers the system. The Royal Planetarium Eise Eisinga is the oldest working planetarium in the world.
In response, the planetarium said it was pleased UNESCO recognized “the outstanding universal value of this impressively large model of our solar system.” Work on the application for World Heritage status began in 2003. According to Mayor Marga Waanders of the municipality of Waadhoeke, which covers Franeker, the recognition is “an invitation to all citizens of the world: experience in our planetarium the mighty workings of the solar system that we share with each other.”
The planetarium is “heritage at its best,” said outgoing State Secretary Gunay Uslu, responsible for heritage policy. “Unique, irreplaceable, and it tells a special story that is also important far beyond the Netherlands.” She added that Eisinga built the planetarium “to dispel terrifying rumors with scientific evidence. That makes it still relevant.”
The planetarium also received congratulations from other quarters. Astronaut and TV presenter Andre Kuipers called it a “magisterial work” and said the recognition was “justified and well deserved.”
The cultural representative of Friesland, Sijbe Knol, responded with pride. “It is great to see that years of work have been rewarded for the Eise Eisinga Planetarium. We, as a province, are extremely proud of that.”
The World Heritage List contains approximately 1,200 places around the world. The planetarium is the 13th place in the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the list. Others include the Wadden Sea, the Waterlinie, the Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam, Amsterdam’s canal belt, the windmills of Kinderdijk, and the center of Willemstad on Curacao.
Reporting by ANP