In December 1996 at UNESCO's 20th World Heritage Committee Convention in Merida, the Atomic Bomb Dome was listed as a World Heritage site being a building that communicates the total devastation caused by nuclear weapons.
Designated Site:The area on which the Atomic Bomb Dome is situated: Approx. 0.39 hectare
The Atomic Bomb Dome was constructed in 1915 as a facility for the display and sale of commercial products within Hiroshima prefecture and was the location for the Hiroshima prefecture art exhibition and other such events. When it was established, it was called that "Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall". Following that it was renamed the "Hiroshima Prefectural Product Exhibition Hall" and finally in 1933 was named the "Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall."
The designer, Mr. Jan Letzel a Czechoslovakian architect, used a brick construction partially reinforced with a steel frame with the exterior walls being made of stones and mortar. This was a modern building, the main body being three stories with a five-story stairwell capped with an oval shaped copper dome located in the center of the entrance hall. At that time such a grand European style building was extremely rare and the contrast of this modern beauty with the river surface led it to be counted as one of Hiroshima's major sites.
1945, August 6, 8:15 a.m. The first atomic bomb used in the history of mankind exploded approximately at a height of 580 meters, 160 meters southeast of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Products Exhibition Hall. The force of this terrible blast was 35 tons per square meter with a blast speed of 440 meters. The atomic blast and heat wave washed over the Dome setting its roof ablaze and completely gutting the building. As the blast wave traveled in a nearly vertical direction while the center of the main building was miraculously spared from destruction, all the people within the building died instantly. The metal frame of the Dome, which was laid bare, formed the ruins that over time came to be called the "Atomic Bomb Dome" by the local residents.
In 1953 management of the site was transferred from Hiroshima Prefecture to Hiroshima City, and in 1966 the Hiroshima City Council passed a resolution to preserve the Atomic Bomb Dome. Since that time due to weathering, extensive preservation works have been carried out on the building twice made possible by goodwill donations from both Japan and abroad.
Further requests by the City, City Council and widespread local residents' campaigns to have the site listed as a World Heritage site resulted in the building being designated as a historical site in June 1995 and the Agency for Cultural Affairs making application for registration to UNESCO. In December 1996, it was listed as a World Heritage site.
Presently as a remaining landmark of the devastation caused at the time of bombing, it is a symbol for the motto "No More Hiroshimas." Spanning the generations it has become a symbol for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the importance of lasting peace throughout the world.