Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans and saltworks of Salins-les-bains - Visit time : 1 day.
Royal Saltworks of Arc et Senans, begun in 1770, is a masterpiece of industrial architecture, reflecting the ideal of progress of the Enlightenment. The architectural heritage of the Royal Saltworks, its history and its rehabilitation make it a unique monument that remains a rare example of industrial history and architecture classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
As for the Great Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains, active for 12 centuries, it marked the history of the production of open-pan salt (by evaporation). This "white gold" was an essential commodity of great economic importance, and for several centuries the state levied a tax on its sale, the salt tax. Visiting the two sites allows visitors to relive their prestigious history.
The saltworks of Salins-les-Bains and Arc-et-Senans demonstrate outstanding universal value in terms of the chronological timeframe during which the extraction of salt lasted in Salins, certainly from the Middle Ages, and probably from prehistoric times, to the 20th century. The thermal spa aspect of the site is still in use today. The saltworks also demonstrates outstanding universal value by the specificity of salt production in Salins-les-Bains and Arc-et-Senans, based on a technique of tapping sources of salt deep underground, the use of fire to evaporate the brine and the 18th century innovation of creating a 21 kilometer-long pipeline to carry the brine between the two sites. The saltworks express their value as well in the exceptional architectural quality of the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans and its participation in the movement of ideas in the Age of Enlightenment. It is testimony to a visionary architectural project of a ‘model factory.’ Developed and built by the architect and supervisor of saltworks in Franche-Comté and Lorraine, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (1736–1806), Arc-et-Senans is the modern and Utopian extension of the Great Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains.
The Royal Saltworks of Arc et Senans was chosen as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. In 2009, The Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains joined the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans on the World Heritage List because of its important industrial heritage.
Criteria for selection
Criterion (i): The Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans is the first architectural complex on this scale and of this standard designed as a place of work. This is the first instance of a factory being built with the same care and concern for architectural quality as a palace or an important religious building. It is one of the rare examples of visionary architecture. The Saltworks was the heart of an Ideal City that Claude-Nicolas Ledoux imagined and designed encircling the factory. The unfinished Utopian architecture of the Saltworks still carries the full impact of its futuristic message.
Criterion (ii): The Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans bears witness to a fundamental cultural change in Europe at the end of the 18th century: the birth of industrial society. Besides being a perfect illustration of an entire philosophical current that swept Europe during the Age of Enlightenment, the Royal Saltworks heralded the industrial architecture that was to develop half a century later.
Criterion (iv): The saltworks of Salins-les-Bains and Arc-et-Senans provide an outstanding technical ensemble for the extraction and production of salt by pumping underground brine and the use of fire for its crystallization, since at least the Middle Ages through to the 20th century.
Source : Unesco / ICOMOS