Following a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in early December 2015, the Classical Horsemanship and the High School of the Spanish Riding School Vienna were collectively added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This year a total of 34 forms of cultural expression, tradition and customs were nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO list, and the decision to add the Classical Horsemanship and the High School of the Spanish Riding School Vienna was taken by the official committee following thorough evaluation. The intergovernmental committee is made up of 24 elected representatives of the States Parties.
Vienna’s Spanish Riding School is the oldest riding school in the world to practise classic equestrian skills (haute école) in their original form, a tradition spanning some 450 years. Basic knowledge of horse husbandry is passed down from one generation to the next by word of mouth, with performances at home and abroad used to present the High School to the public. The Lipizzaners, a special breed that dates back to the Baroque period, perpetuate a proud equestrian tradition which has been nurtured since its heyday in ancient Greece
Comprising more than 300 different traditions that are practised all over the world, the UNESCO list now includes three Austrian entries, alongside other highlights such as the traditions of the Peking Opera, Spanish Flamenco, the Mongolian Naadamm festival, Iranian carpet weaving skills, Columbian marimba music and Chinese acupuncture. The High School of the Spanish Riding School Vienna takes its place on the list next to Schemenlaufen at the carnival of Imst and falconry, both of which were added in 2012.