How many sites have you visited?

Find out how many World Heritage Sites you already have visited. Check the appropriate boxes below, and then hit the button "Send".

To see a map per country or to read up on each site click on the corresponding icon.

If you are a community member, please log in first to update your count. If not consider joining.

Afghanistan
Bamiyan Valley

The Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley is an outstanding representation of Gandharan Buddhist art and culture in Central Asia.

The kingdom of Bamiyan was a Buddhist state that was strategically located on the Silk Road and was an important centre of pilgrimage. The site consists of eight components, including caves with painted decorations and Buddha statues carved into the cliffs. The cliffs held two standing Buddhas, measuring 55 and 37 meters high respectively, that were the largest examples of standing Buddha carvings in the world.  They were deliberately destructed in March 2001 by the Afghan Taliban government and only the niches remain.

Community Perspective: Sidney visited in 1971 and witnessed a spectacular sunset on the Buddha statues. Noone since has reviewed it, although Bamiyan is usually part of Afghanistan travel itineraries.

Minaret of Jam

The Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam comprise a masterwork of Islamic architecture and decoration.

The well-preserved minaret and its surrounding remains are the products of the Ghurid civilization, which in the 12th and 13th centuries controlled not only Afghanistan, but also parts of eastern Iran, Northern India and parts of Pakistan. The 65-metre-high minaret is built entirely of baked bricks, with intricate brick, stucco and glazed tile decorations such as alternating bands of calligraphy, geometric patterns, and verses from the Qur'an.

Community Perspective: this site has been unreviewed so far and has been rarely visited in the past. Since the most recent takeover by the Taliban in 2021, tourists have been reaching it again.

Albania
Berat and Gjirokastra

The Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra are both well-preserved Ottoman towns, decorated with outstanding examples of kule: Balkan-Ottoman style tower houses.

Berat has been particularly marked by the peaceful coexistence of Ottoman Islam with a large Christian minority. The designated area includes Berat castle, mosques, churches, and the Gorica bridge.

Gjirokastra was built around a 13th-century citadel. From the 14th to the 19th century it developed into a regional center. Residential quarters, the bazaar, churches, and mosques were built vertically and in stone.

Butrint

Butrint is an archaeological site that provides valuable evidence of ancient and medieval civilizations on the territory of modern Albania.

The site, on a hill next to a lake connecting to the sea by a canal, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. A Greek colony was founded there in the late 7th century BC. Roman occupation prompted the development of the city and, during the Christian era, it became the seat of a bishopric. Many religious structures were built by the Christians. 

The city's last era of prosperity was under Byzantine administration (Epirus). After a short period of occupation by the Venetians (late 14th century), the city under Ottoman administration was threatened by the marshes that formed around the lake and was abandoned by the population.

Ohrid Region

The Natural and cultural heritage of the Ohrid Region comprises the ancient city of Ohrid and nearby Lake Ohrid, one of the deepest and oldest lakes in Europe.

The city of Ohrid has been a cultural centre of great importance for the Balkan and the Slavonic language. Its churches are renowned for their frescoes and icons. As an episcopal city, Ohrid was an important cultural center. Almost all surviving churches were built by the Byzantines and by the Bulgarians.

The lake's water holds many endemic species of fish, molluscs etc. The lakeshore reed beds and wetlands provide critical habitat for hundreds of thousands of wintering water birds, including rare and threatened species such as the Dalmatian Pelican, Ferruginous Duck, Swan, Spotted Eagle, and Eastern Imperial Eagle.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Algeria
Al Qal'a of Beni Hammad

The Al Qal'a of Beni Hammad is an archeological site, which holds the first capital of the Hammadid empire. It was founded in 1007 and destroyed in 1152.

The Qal'a (Fortress) is located at more than 1,000m altitude.

The town includes a 7 km-long line of walls. Inside the walls are four residential complexes, and the largest mosque built in Algeria after that of Mansurah. The remains of the emir's palace, known as Dal al-Bahr, include three separate residences separated by gardens and pavilions.

Djémila

Djemila is a mountain village in Algeria, near the northern coast east of Algiers, where some of the best preserved Roman ruins in North Africa are found.

It was recognized because of its unique adaptation of Roman architecture to a mountain environment. Buildings present in Djemila include a theatre, two fora, temples, basilicas, arches, streets, and houses.

Kasbah of Algiers

The Kasbah of Algiers was founded on the ruins of old Icosium, a Phoenician commercial outpost called which later developed into a small Roman town. It is a small city which, built on a hill, goes down towards the sea, divided in two: the High city and the Low city.

One finds there masonries and mosques of the 17th century; Ketchaoua mosque (built in 1794 by the Dey Baba Hassan) flanked by two minarets, mosque el Djedid (built in 1660, at the time of Turkish regency) with its large finished ovoid cupola points some and its four coupolettes, mosque El Kébir, mosque Ali Betchnin, Dar Aziza, palate of Jénina. In the Kasbah, there are also labyrinths of lanes and houses that are very picturesque.

M'Zab Valley

The M'Zab Valley is a region of the northern Sahara that holds five traditional fortified villages (ksour), an intact example of traditional human habitat perfectly adapted to the environment.

The Ibadis settled here from the 11th century on, making the most of the defensive possibilities. Their settlements included palm groves where they built a summer citadel (used during the seasonal migrations).

The five ksour included are El Atteuf, Bou Noura, Beni Isguen, Melika, Ghardaia.

Tassili n'Ajjer

The Tassili n'Ajjer is a mountain range characterized for its impressive rock art and geological formation of sandstone "rock forests".

Erosion in the area has resulted in nearly 300 natural rock arches being formed, along with many other spectacular landforms. It lies in the Sahara desert in southeast Algeria.

Its prehistoric rock paintings and other ancient archaeological sites date from neolithic times when the local climate was much moister, with savannah rather than desert. Over 15,000 rock paintings have been inventarized. They date from five different periods up until the first centuries AD.

Timgad

Timgad, called Thamugas by the Romans, was a Roman colonial town in North Africa noteworthy for being one of the best extant examples of the grid plan as used in Roman city planning.

It was founded by the Emperor Trajan around 100 AD.

Notable features include:

  • streets: decumanus maximus and cardo, lined by a partially-restored Corinthian colonnade.
  • Trajan's Arch, a 12 m high triumphal arch
  • 3,500-seat theater
  • four thermae
  • a library
  • the Capitoline Temple
Tipasa

Tipasa is a product of the Punic and Roman civilizations. It was founded by the Phoenicians as a Carthaginian trading centre.

They left behind one of the most extensive cemeteries the Phoenician world. Then it was made a Roman military colony by the emperor Claudius, and afterwards became a municipium. The Roman city was built on three small hills which overlooked the sea.

Of the houses, most of which stood on the central hill, no traces remain; but there are ruins of three churches - the Great Basilica and the Basilica Alexander on the western hill, and the Basilica of St Salsa on the eastern hill, two cemeteries, the baths, theatre, amphitheatre and nymphaeum.

Andorra
Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley

The Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley is a pastoral landscape reflecting an agricultural way of life that was once widespread in the upland regions of Europe but now survives only in this part of the Pyrenees.

The valley was a place of passage with tracks linking it to France and Spain. Shepherds, charcoal burners, miners, blacksmiths, farmers and even smugglers have used these footpaths over the centuries. It corresponds with the Madriu river basin. The highest part is a glacial landscape, the rest was and still is used as pastures for the grazing of cows and horses during the summer. The two settlements within the valley are only used in the summer months. Terraced fields have been constructed to grow rye, and wheat and to provide hay. The land is communally owned. 

Community Perspective: A number of marked trails lead into the area. But as beautiful as the scenery might be, it will not bring you closer to understanding the cultural value and one reviewer even wondered how alive the pastoral tradition really is.

Angola
Mbanza Kongo

Mbanza Kongo, Vestiges of the Capital of the former Kingdom of Kongo, represents the political and religious centre of a vast African kingdom that was transformed by the arrival of the Portuguese in the late 15th century.

The site (now a town of some 175,000 inhabitants) is located on a plateau. It comprises both archaeological remains of the precolonial period as well as colonial structures – often overlapping each other. The Kingdom of Kongo has strong intangible links with the slave trade and the early conversion of African kings to the Catholic religion (with a Cathedral and Jesuit College in place from the early 17th century).

Community Perspective: this site has been unreviewed so far.

Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua Naval Dockyard

The Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites are late 18th, early 19th century defensive structures made by the British Navy.

They were built in an ideal natural setting, around a series of bays known as the English Harbour. Enslaved laborers from plantations in the vicinity were sent to work on the dockyard. A wide range of buildings has survived. They were built in the Georgian style, with some modifications for the tropical climate.

Community Perspective: the site gets mixed reviews, but it is probably the only place of historic interest in Antigua. The dockyard area now unfortunately mostly is used for modern shops and restaurants which scream “tourist trap”.  Dow's Hill Interpretation Centre and Shirley’s Heights both have good views of the harbour and the short hike out to Fort Berkeley is recommended as well.

Argentina
Cueva de las Manos

Cueva de las Manos, Río Pinturas, is a cave of archaeological and paleontogical importance.

The Cave lies in the valley of the Pinturas River, in an isolated spot in the Patagonian landscape. It is famous (and gets its name) for the paintings of hands, made by the indigenous inhabitants (possibly forefathers of the Tehuelches) some 9,000 years ago.

Iguazu National Park

Iguazu National Park, with the Falls as its main feature, was added to the World Heritage List for two reasons: its exceptional natural beauty and because it's the habitat of rare and endangered species.

The Argentinian side of the park measures 49.200 ha. The adjacent Brazilian side is a separate World Heritage Site.

The waterfalls on both sides together span over 2700 m., and have a height of 80 m. Iguazu is an indigenous (Tupi-Guarani) name, meaning Great Waters.

Ischigualasto / Talampaya

The Ischigualasto and Talampaya Natural Parks were established to protect geological formations of the Triassic Period.

They are rich in diversity of both plant and vertebrate fossils. The parks are contiguous and belong to the same geological formation, though divided between two Argentinian provinces.

The Triassic Period (popularly known as the Age of the Dinosaurs) lasted from 245 to 208 million years B.P. Some of the oldest known dinosaur remains were found in this location, which makes it one of the most important palaeontological sites in the world.

Also, geologically, it is the only place in the world where a complete sequence of continental sediments with abundant fossil fauna and flora for the Triassic Period can be seen.

Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba

The Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba are religious, educational and agricultural developments by the Society of Jesus between 1604 and 1767. Together they form the origins and the core of the missionary activities of the Jesuits in South America.

In Córdoba proper, the Jesuits were allocated one of the blocks in the checkerboard plan of the city, like the other orders (Franciscan, Dominican). This grew into the core of their mission, with a university (Colégio Maximo) based on Jesuit teachings, a college and a church that also held the Jesuit political/administrative bodies.

The rural estancias were to provide the necessary resources through farming and textile production. Irrigation systems, factories and mills were constructed to let them flourish economically (which they did).

Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis

The Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis are the archeological remains of towns created by the Jesuit Order.

The towns existed between 1609 and 1818, and aimed to socially, culturally and religiously elevate the local Guarani Indians. They also provided protection and economic stability. Originally there were 30 missions, spread out over Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. The two Jesuit missions in Paraguay are now a separate WHS.

This designated site consists of five different missions:

  • São Miguel das Missões (Brazil)
  • San Ignacio Mini (Argentina)
  • Nuestra Señora de Santa Ana (Argentina)
  • Nuestra Señora de Loreto (Argentina)
  • Santa María la Mayor (Argentina)
Los Alerces National Park

Los Alerces National Park is a visually stunning Andean landscape moulded by glaciations.

It is covered by lakes and temperate forests that include the best conserved pockets of globally endangered Alerce tree species. The Alerce (or Patagonian Cypress) is the second-longest living tree species in the world (> 3,600 years).

Los Glaciares

Los Glaciares National Park is a national park in southern Argentina known for its glacial activity.

It holds 47 larger active glaciers. The park is situated on the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the largest ice cap in the world outside of Antarctica and Greenland.

The biggest glacier in the park is the well-known Perito Moreno. The area is also shaped by two large lakes: Lake Argentino and Lake Viedma.

Peninsula Valdes

Península Valdés is the natural habitat of the endangered southern right whale. The peninsula also holds important groups of elephant seals, sea lions and orcas (a.k.a. “killer whales”).

With an isthmus of only 11 kms wide, the Valdes Peninsula is almost an island. It has a dynamic coastal zone with active sand dunes. There are also numerous cliffs, bays and lagoons. The interior of the land is Patagonian desert steppe. The climate is dry with strong winds.

Southern right whales come to these bays to breed and give birth between June and December. They number circa 3000. The whales can be up to 17 meters long and weigh 100 tons. The orcas in these waters have developed a unique and successful hunting strategy: they chase small sea lions or elephant seals into the shallow surf until the beach, where they grab them.

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, is the communication and trade network developed by the Inca Empire.

The infrastructure needed exceptional technological and engineering skills in a difficult geographical setting in rural and remote parts of the Andes. The network supported the Inca Empire’s integration and was a symbol of its strength.

Community Perspective: As a serial transnational site comprising over 720km of road and 273 archaeological sites, it is hard to determine whether you have 'seen' it. Even more so as it is unclear whether the so-called Associated sites are inscribed as well. The latter include sites that are also WHS in their own right (Cusco, Tiwanaku). The main approach chosen is checking out a few locations near Lima or Cuzco and looking for traces of infrastructure (described well in Clyde’s review). Additionally, Allan has visited locations in Chile, and Els Ingapirca in Ecuador.

Quebrada de Humahuaca

The Quebrada de Humahuaca is a mountain valley that has been in use as a cultural route between the Andean highlands and the plains for over 11000 years.

The valley, carved out by the Rio Grande, is ca. 150 km. long. The river is dry in winter but flows copiously through the Quebrada in the summer.

Numerous tracks, roads and settlements testify to the civilizations that once lived here: hunter-gatherers, indigenous Omaguacas, Inca, Spanish and the Argentine Republic. Due to its strategic position it has been colonized by both the Inca and the Spanish, who were after the trade, minerals and agricultural products. It also has been a stage for many battles of the Argentine War of Independence.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier comprises 17 of his works across the world.

The renowned French-Swiss architect is seen as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. The series shows the dissemination of his ideas over the world during a period of 50 years, spanning seven countries on three continents. Many of the sites reflect new architectural concepts, principles, and technical features.  All were innovative and had a significant influence over wide geographical areas They also contributed to the birth of three major trends in modern architecture: Purism, Brutalism and sculptural architecture.

Community Perspective: Hubert has become our expert on this subject, having visited 14 of the 17 components. Reviews that include the interior are available of Casa Curutchet (Serianne, Nan, Michael, Timonator), Villa Savoye (Ian, Els, Ilya), Weißenhofsiedlung  (Solivagant), Sainte Marie de La Tourette in Éveux (Hubert), Firminy-Vert (Hubert), the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille (Hubert, Jakob), Maison La Roche (Hubert), Molitor (Hubert), National Museum of Western Art (Frederik), Chandigarh (Solivagant), Notre Dame du Haut Chapel (Clyde), Cité Frugès (Hubert).

Armenia
Echmiatsin and Zvartnots

The Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots are two prime examples of Armenian church design.

Echmiatsin is the center of the Armenian Church. It locates the Echmiatsin Cathedral, which was built in 480 (making it the most ancient church in Armenia).

Zvartnots dates from the 7th century, and was built to surpress the Echmiatsin Cathedral in grandeur. This complex consists of a temple and the palace of Catholicos Nerses III. Presumably, the architect if Zvartnots knew of Syrian and Byzantine structures.

Haghpat and Sanahin

The Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin represent a fusion of vernacular and Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture.

Both monasteries are located in the Debed Canyon, in the Lori-region of North Armenia. Their oldest structures date back to the 10th century. Haghpat also has a number of splendid khachkars (cross-stones) of the 11th-13th centuries standing on the territory of the monastery.

In 1996, only Haghpat was inscribed. The site was extended to Haghpat and Sanahin in 2000 after the ownership of the latter monastery became clear.

Monastery of Geghard

The Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley has been named a WHS for the influence it had on Armenian monastic architecture.

While the main chapel was built in 1215, the monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave. The complex is carved into the side of the mountain. It consists of several churches, tombs, a defensive wall and carved crosses (khatckars).

Geghard is the Armenian word for lance or spear, reflecting the legend that it housed one of the lances that was associated with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Australia
Australian Convict Sites

The Australian Convict Sites consists of a series of 11 sites that, in combination, express the key aspects of the Australian convict experience that are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of global history.

The sites are:

  • First Government House Site, New South Wales
  • Hyde Park Barracks, New South Wales
  • Great North Road Complex, New South Wales
  • Darlington Probation Station, Maria Island National Park, Tasmania
  • Port Arthur Historic Site, Tasmania
  • Coal Mines Historic Site, Tasmania
  • Cascades Female Factory
  • Fremantle Prison, Western Australia
  • Kingston and Arthur`s Vale Historic Area
  • Brickendon and Woolmers Estates
  • Cockatoo Island Convict Site
Australian Fossil Mammal Sites

The Australian Fossil Mammal Sites Riversleigh and the Naracoorte are superb illustrations of the key stages of the isolated evolution of Australia's unique fauna.

Riversleigh is located in North West Queensland and has fossil remains of ancient mammals, birds, and reptiles of Oligocene and Miocene ages. Thirty-five fossil bat species have been identified at the site, which is the richest in the world. The skull and nearly complete dentition of a fifteen million-year-old monotreme, Obdurodon dicksoni, provide a window into the evolution of this characteristically Australian group.

The Naracoorte Caves are located in the southeast of South Australia. The caves are often not far below ground, and holes open up creating traps for the unwary mammals and other land creatures. The fossil record has been preserved in strata formed from eroded topsoil washed and blown in. In some places, the fossil-bearing silt is up to 20 metres thick.

Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape covers an ancient aquaculture system developed by the Gunditjmara Aboriginal people.

They manipulated the water flow through volcanic rock and trapped fish there (especially kooyang). The associated practices are still part of the Gunditjmara living cultural tradition.

Fraser Island

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.

It has over 100 clean freshwater dune lakes, spectacular coastal dune formations, sand cliffs and sandy beaches. Tall rainforest grows on the dunes.

Birds are the most abundant form of animal life on the island with over 230 species being recorded. It is a particularly important site for migratory wading birds which use the area as a resting place during their long flights between southern Australia and their breeding grounds in Siberia. Few mammal species occur. Dingoes were once common on the island, but are now decreasing.

Gondwana Rainforests

The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia are renowned for their geological features and unique record of the evolutionary history of Australian rainforests.

The site consists of 41 different parks in Queensland and New South Wales. The Queensland areas include Lamington National Park, Mount Chinghee National Park, Springbrook National Park, Mount Barney National Park and Main Range National Park. Those in New South Wales are Barrington Tops National Park, Dorrigo National Park, Mount Warning National Park, New England National Park, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, Washpool National Park, Willi Willi National Park and Werrikimbe National Park.

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system, composed of roughly 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands, that stretch for 2,600 kilometres covering an area of approximately 344,400 km².

The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia. A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The coral reefs hold a huge biodiversity, with dugong, whales, Dolphins and turtles among the most notable marine species.

Greater Blue Mountains

The Greater Blue Mountains Area is a sandstone plateau that holds a high diversity of eucalypts, representing all four existing groups. It is an area of rugged tablelands, sheer cliffs, deep, inaccessible valleys and swamps.

The Area also contains ancient, relict species of global significance. The most famous of these is the recently discovered Wollemi pine, a 'living fossil' dating back to the age of the dinosaurs.

The site includes 8 protected areas:

  • Blue Mountains National Park
  • Wollemi National Park
  • Yengo National Park
  • Nattai National Park
  • Kanangra-Boyd National Park
  • Gardens of Stone National Park
  • Thirlmere Lakes National Park
  • Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve
Heard and McDonald Islands

Heard Island and McDonald Islands are uninhabited, barren islands located in the Southern Ocean, with a complete absence of alien plants and animals, as well as human impact.

The islands have been territories of Australia since 1947, and contain the only two active volcanoes in Australian territory, one of which, Mawson Peak, is the highest Australian mountain.

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park is one of the larger national parks in the world, consisting of four major river systems and various landforms.

It is the breeding habitat of the endangered saltwater crocodile and the pig-nosed turtle. Its flora is very diverse and includes 46 rare or threatened species.

The park is also renowned for the richness of its Aboriginal cultural sites. There are more than 5000 recorded art sites illustrating Aboriginal culture over thousands of years. The archaeological sites demonstrate Aboriginal occupation for at least 20 000 and possibly 50 000 years.

Lord Howe Island

The Lord Howe Island Group represents an island system developed from submarine volcanic activity with a characteristic insular biota.

It consists of islands and rocks that are home to many species of nesting seabirds and other endemic or rare animals. It also features the most southerly coral reef in the world. Besides Lord Howe Island, the designated area includes the Admiralty Group, Mutton Bird and Sail Rock, Blackburn (Rabbit) Island, Gower Island and Ball's Pyramid.

Community Perspective: airfares and accommodation are extremely expensive because of the tourism restriction of 400 beds. Climb the peaks, visit the Lord Howe Island Museum or enjoy its beaches.

Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island is the only place on earth where rocks from the earth's mantle (6 km below the ocean floor) are being actively exposed above sea-level. This makes it an important focus of geological study.

The island lies in the southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean, about half-way between Australia and Antarctica. Fauna found on the island include: Subantarctic Fur Seals, Antarctic Fur Seals, New Zealand Fur Seals and Southern Elephant Seals - over 80,000 individuals of this species. Royal Penguins breed only on this island; King Penguins, Southern Rockhopper Penguins and Gentoo penguins also breed here.

Ningaloo Coast

The Ningaloo Coast holds a fringing coral reef known for its seasonal feeding concentrations of the whale shark.

It is located off the west coast of Australia, approximately 1200 km north of Perth. The reef is 260 km long and is Australia's largest fringing coral reef and the only large reef positioned very close to a landmass.

Adjacent to Ningaloo Reef, the limestone karst landscape of Cape Range has a remarkable density of more than 500 caves and other karst features, supporting globally outstanding fauna.

Purnululu National Park

Purnululu National Park is famous for the sandstone domes, unusual and visually striking with their striping in alternating orange and grey bands.

The banding of the domes is due to differences in clay content and porosity of the sandstone layers: the orange bands consist of oxidised iron compounds in layers that dry out too quickly for cyanobacteria to multiply; the grey bands are composed of cyanobacteria growing on the surface of layers of sandstone where moisture accumulates.

Royal Exhibition Building

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens represent the 19th century international exhibition movement, showcasing technological innovation and change that was made possible by the industrialisation.

The Exhibition Building was designed by the architect Joseph Reed. It was completed in 1880, in preparation for the Melbourne International Exhibition. The building consisted of a Great Hall of Industry of over 12,000 square metres and many temporary annexes in the Gardens.

The Melbourne Centennial Exhibition was held at the same Exhibition Building in 1888 to celebrate a century of European settlement in Australia.

Shark Bay

Shark Bay, covering 23,000 square kilometers, is an area of major zoological importance and home to about 10,000 dugongs (sea cows) and many dolphins.

The area supports 26 threatened Australian mammal species, over 230 species of bird, and nearly 150 species of reptile. It is an important breeding and nursery ground for fishes, crustaceans, and coelenterates. There are 323 fish species, with many sharks and rays.

Shark Bay also has the largest known area of seagrass, including the 1030 km2 Wooramel Seagrass Bank, the largest seagrass bank in the world. It also contains the largest number (12) of seagrass species ever recorded in one place. At Hamelin Pool in the south of the bay, living microbes are building stromatolites that are over 3000 years old. The Hamelin Pool contains the most diverse and abundant examples of stromatolite forms in the world.

Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most distinctive and famous 20th century buildings.

It is situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour. The building and its surroundings (like the Harbour Bridge) form an iconic Australian image.

In 1955 a competiton for a design of a large, dedicated opera house and concert hall was started. It was won by the Danish architect Jorn Utzon. It was later finished by Arup & Partners and Australian architects Hall, Todd & Littlemore and Ted Fmer.

The Opera House was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Queen of Australia, on October 20, 1973.

Tasmanian Wilderness

The Tasmanian Wilderness area constitutes one of the last expanses of temperate wilderness in the world, including the renowned South West Wilderness. Also, important prehistoric aboriginal sites were discovered here.

The following National Parks and reserves make up the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area:

  • Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
  • Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park
  • Hartz Mountains National Park
  • Mole Creek Karst National Park
  • Southwest National Park
  • Walls of Jerusalem National Park
  • Central Plateau Conservation and Protected Areas
  • Devils Gullet State Reserve
Uluru

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a striking physical landscape that contains two rock formations which contrast sharply with the surrounding sand plains and desert.

Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (Mount Olga) are isolated remnants left after the slow erosion of an original mountain range.

In 1994 Uluru-Kata Tjuta was renominated under cultural criteria, to be recognized as a cultural landscape. It illustrates the combined works of nature & man by making use of the physical constraints and opportunities of the landscape. It also is an associative landscape via the spiritual relationship the Aboriginal owners have with the land. The area holds numerous sites sacred to the local Aboriginal people, the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara.

Wet Tropics of Queensland

The Wet Tropics of Queensland is an area mainly consisting of wet tropical rainforest with a great variety in animal and plant species.

Its area extends along the north-east coast of Queensland for a distance of ca. 45Okm. It comprises 41 national parks and dozens of other forests and reserves, including Barron Gorge National Park, Cedar Bay National Park, Daintree National Park, Girringun National Park and Wooroonooran National Park.

Willandra Lakes

The Willandra Lakes Region is a geologically unique area of dry lakebeds rich in fossils. Globally it is important for its very early homo sapiens findings.

They include the world's oldest cremation site (26,000 years old) and remains of a settlement up to 40,000 years ago (agricultural use, stone tools). It is the most important site in Australia to observe the period when the giant marsupials became extinct and the human race became dominant.

The WHS covers 7 former lakes in 2,400 square kilometers. The lakes dried out about 15,000 years ago. High winds on the exposed lake floors formed large clay dunes, lunettes, which are rare in the world.

Austria
Danube Limes

Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Danube Limes (Western Segment) is a serial transnational site that comprises the remains of the Roman border along the Danube river.

  • The German part consists of 24 locations between Eining near Regensburg and Passau near the Austrian border. The eastern end of the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes is directly adjacent to the Danube Limes. The majority of the structures are preserved below ground, original remains are visible at Bad Gögging (thermal baths), Regensburg (Porta Praetoria, included in the WHS Old Town of Regensburg), and at the Roman Museum Boiotro in Passau.
  • The Austrian part consists of 47 locations between the German border close to Passau (Bavaria) and the Slovakian border near Bratislava. The majority of the structures are preserved below ground, visible remains can be found at Mautern, Traismauer, Tulln, Zeiselmauer, and Petronell-Carnutum.
  • The Limes Romanus in Slovakia comprises 6 locations, centered around the remains of the Roman military camp Gerulata in Rusovce (Bratislava) and the military fortress Kelemantia in Iza. They date from the 1st and 2nd century respectively.
Fertö/Neusiedlersee

Fertö/Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape is the result of the symbiotic process of human interaction with second largest steppe lake in Central Europe.

Traces of human settlement around Lake Neusiedl go back to the neolithic period. The area became densely populated from the 7th century BC onward, initially by people of the Hallstatt culture and remained so throughout Roman times.

The designated area comprises of the settlements of Podersdorf, Illmitz and Apetion, parts of Rust and Fertörákos, the Palace of Nagycenk and Fertöd Palace.

Most of the lake is surrounded by reeds which serve as a habitat for wildlife (making the lake an important resting place for migratory birds) and are harvested in winter as soon as the ice is solid enough.

Graz

The City of Graz - Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg is recognized due to the harmonious co-existence of typical buildings from different epochs and in different architectural styles.

Being situated in a cultural borderland between Central Europe, Italy and the Balkan States, Graz absorbed various influences from the neighbouring regions and thus received its exceptional townscape. Today the old town consists of over 1000 buildings, their age ranging from Gothic to Contemporary.

The baroque Eggenberg Castle and its gardens, at the western edge of the city, were added to the included area in 2010.

Great Spa Towns of Europe

The Great Spa Towns of Europe represent the development of a specialized urban landscape that combined medical aspects, physical exercise and leisure.

These eleven Spa Towns are centered on natural mineral springs, which waters were used for bathing and drinking. The towns were expanded with important examples of  ‘spa architecture’, such as the ‘kurhaus’, drinking halls, theaters and casinos. They flourished from around 1700 to the 1930s.

Community Perspective: expect to find some fine Art Nouveau buildings, do some hiking, taste the water and most of the towns have modern spa facilities as well. Reviews of all inscribed towns are available: in Austria, Baden (Tsunami), in Belgium, Spa (Els, Clyde), in the UK, Bath (a double entry), in Italy, Montecatini Terme (Marian), in France, Vichy (Tsunami), in Germany, Baden-Baden (Caspar, Hubert), Bad Kissingen (Hubert), Bad Ems (Els), and in Czechia: Karlovy Vary (Matejicek, Hubert, Nan), Mariánské Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert), and Františkovy Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert).

Hallstatt-Dachstein

The Hallstatt-Dachstein Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape is an area of great prosperity originating from salt production, which is "reflected in the fine architecture of the town of Hallstatt".

Its name is forever linked to European prehistory for a discovery of early Iron Age remains, which became the type site for the Halstatt culture.

The designated area covers over 280 square km. In addition to the town of Halstatt it also includes the Halstätter Lake, the Dachstein massif, the town of Obertraun and the surrounding areas. The Dachstein mountains are renowned for their caves, among them a large ice cave.

Prehistoric Pile Dwellings

The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps are the remains of prehistoric stilt houses at the edges of lakes and rivers.

The site consists of 111 locations, spread out over 6 countries. They date from 5,000 to 500 BC, and represent the life of early agrarian communities in Europe.

Rising water levels since prehistory led to the abandonment of settlements which were then covered by lake and river sediments. About 30 different cultural groups were responsible for creating these pile dwellings.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Salzburg

The Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg with its world famous baroque architecture is one of the best-preserved examples of an European ecclesiastical city-state.

Its monuments date from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Notable monuments are:

  • Burgher houses
  • Cathedral of St. Rupert and St. Virgil
  • Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter
  • Nonnberg Benedictine Nunnery
  • Hohensalzburg Fortress
  • Archbishop's Residence

Furthermore, Salzburg is historically associated with music and festivals. Its most famous son was the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Schönbrunn

The Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn comprise an 18th century Baroque Gesamtkunstwerk and symbol of Habsburg power.

Schönbrunn Palace is the former Habsburg summer residence. Empress Maria Theresia choose Schönbrunn as her main residence. She added the theatre and the garden to make her stay more enjoyable. And inside, she refurbished the rooms in baroque and rococo style.

In the palace garden there are several other interesting buildings. One of those is the green steel Palm House, constructed in 1882 in the tradition of Eiffel. Or the Neptune-fountain, with its group of Greek-Roman statues. It also includes the first zoo in the world.

Semmering Railway

The Semmering Railway is the first mountain railway which crossed a high-mountains area and counts therefore as the prototype of railway lines mastering very difficult terrain and considerable altitude difference.

The railway was constructed between 1848 and 1854 by some 20,000 workers under the project's designer and director Carl Ritter von Ghega. He had to develop new surveying methods and instruments to mark out the terrain.

The construction features 14 tunnels (among them the 1,431 m vertex tunnel), 16 viaducts (several two-story) and over 100 curved stone bridges as well as 11 small iron bridges. Travel time was cut in half, and it opened up the Semmering region as an early Alpine resort.

Vienna

The Historic Centre of Vienna holds significant architecture from three periods (Middle Ages, the Baroque period, and the Gründerzeit), and is a capital of music.

It still is a living tribute to Habsburg times, which ruled most of Central Europe between 1273 and 1918. Its emperor Frederick III transformed Vienna from a medieval market town into an imperial residence. This attracted other nobility and a lot of artists. The Hofburg was its center of power - an evergrowing palace with over 2500 rooms. The giant Stephansdom features an 137 m. high church tower, and is adorned with coloured tiles.

The former canal Graben now is a luxurious shopping street. Here you can find the exuberant baroque Plague statue (1679). In this area there are also many baroque and Jugendstil buildings.

Along the Ring, fine examples of 19th century architecture can be seen. Examples are the Rathaus and the Burgtheater.

Wachau Cultural Landscape

Wachau Cultural Landscape comprises a Danube valley with a long historical evolution. There has been human occupation in the Wachau from Palaeolithic times.

The valley is well-known for its production of apricots and grapes, both of which are used to produce specialty liquors and wines. It also has impressive buildings and picturesque historic towns.

The Wachau is located along the Danube between Melk and Krems, together with the slopes and the adjoining Dunkelsteiner Wald and the southern Waldviertel. The abbeys of Melk, Dürnstein and Göttweig are among the finest Baroque buildings in Austria.

Azerbaijan
Gobustan Rock Art

Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape has an outstanding collection of more than 6,000 rock engravings.

They can be found on three flat-topped hills within a volcanic landscape. The oldest engravings were made during a warmer and wetter period. Dating from Prehistory to the Middle Ages, they depict primitive men, animals, battle pieces, ritual dances, bullfights, boats with armed oarsmen, warriors with lances in their hands, camel caravans, and pictures of sun and stars.

Community Perspective: All international visitors seem to be steered towards the Boyukdash location. A visit here should also include the modern Gobustan Museum. Gobustan had a rocky path to inscription, adequately described by Solivagant.

Sheki

The Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace is an 18th-century trade town known for its silk farming.

Sheki was the capital of the short-lived Shaki Khanate, with the Khan’s palace as one of its most notable remaining landmarks. The urban plan was geared towards sericulture, with a hydraulic system distributing the water to the cultivated gardens with mulberry trees and residential houses with spacious attics to accommodate silkworm breeding.

Community Perspective: traditional architecture and small-town feeling in a beautiful setting in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, with the Sheki Palace as the most memorable monument with abundant and detailed decoration both in- and outside.

Walled City of Baku

The Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower comprises the remains of a historic town, that has been the capital of Azerbaijan since 1191.

The Old City has preserved much of its 12th-century defensive walls. Within the walls lies a maze of narrow alleys, with ancient residences, stores and mosques. It also harbours the Maiden Tower, the city’s most ancient monument. Its Shirvanshah’s Palace is the most prominent example of Azeri architecture from the Shirvanshah dynasty.

Community Perspective: the cosmopolitan city of Baku gets lots of praise, but this historic center won’t hold your attention for more than an hour or so.

Bahrain
Dilmun Burial Mounds

The Dilmun Burial Mounds represent the architecture and sepulchral traditions of Early Dilmun culture.

Newly gained prosperity lead the ancient inhabitants to start using less fertile land for the development of these cemeteries. There are thousands of burial mounds, spread across 21 locations. Each of the mounds - usually meant for one deceased person - is composed of a central stone chamber that is enclosed by a low ring wall and covered by earth and gravel. The graves can vary considerably in size and style and are not all from the same era. People from different social strata were buried this way, and the more elaborate mounds also included alcoves filled with mortuary gifts.

Community Perspective: the mounds and the fields are underwhelming, but the sheer numbers of them do leave a lasting impression. A’Ali seems to be the best to visit and also is reachable on public transport. The National Museum of Bahrain has good displays of these tumuli.

Pearling

Pearling, testimony of an island economy, is a group of historic sites related to the harvest and trade of natural pearls.

The island city of Muharraq was the main pearl trading city in the Gulf and was prominent in the world until the introduction of cultured pearls by Japan in the 1930s. A pearl industry already existed here in Roman times. The inscribed area comprises Oyster beds in the territorial waters of Bahrain, two fortresses and the remaining buildings of the merchant quarter in Muharraq.

Community Perspective: although all components supposedly are connected via a Pearling Path, many are being renovated or are of little interest. The most rewarding components to visit are the Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House and the nearby Siyadi Complex in Old Muharraq. 

Qal'at al-Bahrain

Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun is the archaeological site of a port that was once the capital of the Dilmun civilization and served more recently as a Portuguese fort.

It is a typical tell - an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation. The hill shows almost continuous remains of fortifications and palaces from ca. 2300 BC to the 16th century BC. They span the Dilmun, Tylos, later Islamic societies, and the Portuguese period. This makes it a rare archeological and historical reference site in Eastern Arabia and the Gulf region.

Community Perspective: it is the most famous tourist attraction of Bahrain and popular among locals and tourists, and can easily be visited by rental car or on public transport. Reviewers found the Portuguese fort (too) heavily reconstructed and the excavated remains of the Bronze Age Dilmun civilisation are not very extensive.

Bangladesh
Bagerhat

The Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat comprises the remains of a 15th-century city renowned for its early Muslim architecture.

Bagerhat, the historical Khalifatabad, was founded by Khan Jahan, an Islamic preacher probably of Turkic origin. He adorned the city with mosques, roads, bridges, palaces and reservoirs constructed from baked brick. He established all of this within a short time span while introducing a distinct architectural style. The unique Shait-Gumbad mosque is a central feature.

Community Perspective: the site essentially consists of two locations a few km apart - the impressive main mosque and the mausoleum which attracts plenty of local worshippers. Those who have visited the Bangladeshi Hindu temples (from a later period) will notice the “similarity of building materials and, to some extent, style and decoration”.

Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur

The Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur comprise a Buddhist Monastery dating from the late 8th century.

The monastery was a renowned center of Buddhist religion until the 17th century. It was built from terracotta as a massive single structure.  Its architectural style influenced temples in Myanmar, Java and Cambodia. The building is covered in carved decorations, both in stone and terracotta, with bands of terracotta plaques in rows all around the terraces.

Community Perspective: located deep into the Bangladeshi countryside, so "getting there is a pleasure in itself as you pass the myriad of Bengali rural activities". It’s a very large complex and it doesn't see many visitors. Local reviewers worry about the lack of protection and more interpretative signs would be useful.

The Sundarbans

The Sundarbans are part of the world’s largest delta and hold among the largest remaining areas of mangroves in the world.

Its ever-changing landscape is fed by three major rivers and shaped by tidal shifts and monsoon rains. The site also has exceptional biodiversity, with a population of about 400 Bengali tigers (the highest density in the world) and over 300 species of birds.

Community Perspective:  the park can be reached by boat from Mongla, there are day tours or multi-day trips to choose from. But discount the idea of seeing a tiger! The Indian Sundarbans are inscribed as a separate WHS and no international cooperation seems to exist to merge the two.

Barbados
Bridgetown

Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison represent a fortified port town designed by the British to safeguard their trade interests in the region.

Bridgetown was an entrepot for goods and enslaved persons, linked to the island's sugar industry and the rest of the Caribbean. The site comprises the old town, the port and the former garrison. The old town still has the medieval English-style street plan, and holds examples of creolized forms of architecture, including Caribbean Georgian. The former garrison protected the town and the port, and served as the headquarters of the British Navy in the region.

Community Perspective: Most reviewers find it underwhelming, but Sebasfhb and Clyde have more flattering things to say and consider the unique Screw Dock as one of the highlights.

Belarus
Białowieża Forest

Białowieża Forest is an ancient woodland, the only remaining part of the immense forest which once spread across the European Plain.

Pine, beech, oak, alder and spruce are found in the (partly) old-growth forests, and the many dead trees make it important for the conservation of fungi. These little disturbed forests are home to viable populations of large mammals such as wolf and lynx, and the European Bison was reintroduced here in 1929 and now forms the species’ largest free-roaming population.

Community Perspective: the site straddles the Polish-Belarusian border and crossing it here was relatively easy before the current crisis in diplomatic relations. The Polish side is covered by Solivagant, who clarifies which elements are part of the core zone and which aren’t, by Nan who describes a visit to the museum area and the Bison Reserve, and by Els and Clyde who entered the Strict Reserve with a guide. Tips for the Belarusian side are provided by Jakob, who cycled there from Poland, and Tamas who ended up at a “dodgy Sovjet era museum, with grey and brown displays of the local flora and fauna, and a gloomy zoo”.

Mir Castle

The Mir Castle Complex is a piece of military architecture which reflects the long confrontational history of the region. Its harmonious design shows Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance cultural influences.

The 16th century castle has five towers made of alternating brick and large boulders. 3 meter thick walls link the towers. The castle was built by the Ilinich family to withstand attacks of the Crimean Tatars. The family died out in the same century, and the castle fell into the hands of a member of the Radziwill family. They had it converted into a Renaissance-style residential palace.

In addition to the castle, the grounds also hold a chapel with the burial vault of the Svyatopolk-Mirsky Princes, a landscape garden with artificial lake and a Mir ghetto memorial.

Nesvizh

The Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh consists of a residential castle and the Corpus Christi Church, which had their influence on architecture all over Central and Eastern Europe.

The Radziwill dynasty acted as politicians and patrons of art from the 16th to 19th centuries. They incorporated influences from Southern and Western Europe, leading to the Renaissance and Baroque design of this complex.

An Italian architect was responsible for creating the church with its dome. It became one of the earliest Jesuit churches in the world. The crypt of the church contains the coffins of 72 member of the family.

Struve Geodetic Arc

The Struve Geodetic Arc is a technological ensemble that played an important role in the development of earth sciences.

This chain of survey triangulations, stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, was established to measure the exact size and shape of the earth. It was developed and used by the German-born Russian scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve in the years 1816 to 1855.

Community Perspective: with its 34 remaining stations, spanning 10 countries and over 2,800 km, this has become a real Community Cult Classic, representing the “reductio ad absurdum” of the scheme. To the uninitiated: you may expect to see a slab of concrete with a small concrete fence around it; Ian describes the cult appeal well in his review. Many are located in remote rural areas, often on hilltops. The best among them is the Tartu old observatory, which has an exhibition inside. The ones in Belarus are covered by Jarek and Zoe, the one in Moldavia by History Fangirl, Michael ‘did’ Ukraine, while Svein and Solivagant described Norway. Others in the Baltic States, Sweden and Finland have been regularly reviewed as well.

Belgium
Belfries

The Belfries of Belgium and France are 56 bell-towers, built between the 11th and 20th centuries.

They are mostly found in town centers, and connected to the local town hall or church. At their time, the Belfries represented the growing importance of cities instead of the feudal system in the Middle Ages.

After several fires, stone began to be used as building material instead of wood. Mainly square, robust towers were built in this period. Later, from the 14th to the 17th century when most of the still remaining belfries were built, the towers lose their defensive character. They become narrower, and the styles are influenced by Baroque. In the 19th and 20th centuries, newly created belfries had a more symbolic value of independence and prosperity.

Brugge

The Historic Centre of Brugge represents a medieval town built in mostly brick Gothic, which also has been the birthplace of the Flemish Primitives painting school.

From the 13th century onwards, Brugge became an international trading center. The produce of cloth and the role of Hansean wharehouse brought the city its wealth. The heydays resulted in the construction of numerous Gothic buildings and churches.

Also, the Flemish Primitive painting school could flourish here. Notable artists from here include Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.

Already in the 16th century, Brugge's wealth had vanished. But this sorry state is the main reason that the whole town has preserved its medieval character so well.

Colonies of Benevolence

The Colonies of Benevolence comprise a relict cultural landscape of isolated peat and heath wastelands that were colonized in the 19th century in a model for pauper relief.

As part of an Enlightenment experiment (lasting from 1818 to 1918), agricultural colonies were founded in rural areas to transform the colonists into ideal citizens and make the land productive. There were free colonies, founded by the Society of Benevolence to help poor citizens, and unfree colonies, where people were sent by the State and had to live under a more strict regime.

Community Perspective: “If you’re looking for perfect photo opportunities, this is not the site for you.” Expect to see farmland, rural school buildings and small protestant churches. For a quick visit, Frederiksoord-Wilhelminaoord may be the best bet with its recent (2019) visitor center. Brendan visited all three components and his review even comes with hiking and drinking recommendations! And Clyde almost ended up imprisoned…

Flemish Béguinages

The Flemish Béguinages are secluded compounds made by a religious movement.

The Beguines were women who entered into a life dedicated to God without retiring from the world. In the 13th century they founded the béguinages, enclosed communities designed to meet their spiritual and material needs.

The béguinages hold houses, churches, public buildings and gardens make up a secluded town.

In Belgium, the 13 world heritage béguinages consist of the ones in Gent, Leuven, Kortrijk, Mechelen, Brugge, Dendermonde, Turnhout, Sint-Amandsberg, Sint-Truiden, Lier, Diest, Tongeren and Hoogstraten.

Grand Place, Brussels

Grand Place, Brussels comprises a central square and harmonious ensemble of surrounding buildings that represent the culture of this mercantile city from the late 17th century.

The square is 110 x 70 m, and is in use as a marketplace since the 15th century. It is now surrounded with buildings dating from the late 17th century. Most of them used to be guild-halls. Their facades are decorated with statues, symbols and the name of the house. The City Hall is the most remarkable of them, and is still used for marriages.

Great Spa Towns of Europe

The Great Spa Towns of Europe represent the development of a specialized urban landscape that combined medical aspects, physical exercise and leisure.

These eleven Spa Towns are centered on natural mineral springs, which waters were used for bathing and drinking. The towns were expanded with important examples of  ‘spa architecture’, such as the ‘kurhaus’, drinking halls, theaters and casinos. They flourished from around 1700 to the 1930s.

Community Perspective: expect to find some fine Art Nouveau buildings, do some hiking, taste the water and most of the towns have modern spa facilities as well. Reviews of all inscribed towns are available: in Austria, Baden (Tsunami), in Belgium, Spa (Els, Clyde), in the UK, Bath (a double entry), in Italy, Montecatini Terme (Marian), in France, Vichy (Tsunami), in Germany, Baden-Baden (Caspar, Hubert), Bad Kissingen (Hubert), Bad Ems (Els), and in Czechia: Karlovy Vary (Matejicek, Hubert, Nan), Mariánské Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert), and Františkovy Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert).

Major Town Houses

The Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels) are pioneering works of art and architecture in the Art Nouveau style.

Belgian architect Horta was one of the most prominent men in the Art Nouveau movement, a radical new decorative style that developed in the late 19th century. Characteristics are the use of industrial materials like steel and iron in the visible parts of houses, new decorations inspired by nature, and decorative façades of houses. The site comprises four buildings: Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde, and the Maison & Atelier Horta.

Community Perspective: the incredible interiors of these four are mostly “out of bounds for mere mortals”. The most accessible is the Maison & Atelier Horta. The others sometimes open up as well on special occasions or to exclusive group tours. Els describes an exclusive visit to Hôtel Solvay, and Caspar managed to get inside Maison Eetvelde.

Mining Sites of Wallonia

The Major Mining Sites of Wallonia are the best-preserved coal mining sites in Belgium.

Developed in the 19th century, the Walloon mining basin became an exemplary centre of the Industrial Revolution outside England.

The four inscribed mining complexes are:

  • Grand-Hornu
  • Bois-du-Luc
  • Bois du Cazier
  • Blegny
Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes

The Neolithic flint mines at Spiennes, covering more than 100 ha, are the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines in Europe.

They were actively used from 4400 - 2000 years B.C. The extraction was carried out in open quarries and in pits. Flint is found in chalkland, there it forms layers within beds of chalk. It's an easy-to-shape material, with sharp edges. From the early beginnings, humans used flint tools for personal use. For example to make robust axes (to be used by hand or with a wooden grip).

Probably there are thousands of pits in this area. There is no horizontal network that joins them. When a new pit was hewn out, the older pit was used to dump the rocks. It all was done on quite a small scale: no residential area was found near the mines, and the flintknappers came from kilometers away. The site was used for excavations by numerous generations.

Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai

The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai is seen as a precursor of the vast Gothic cathedrals, constructed in the school that developed north of the Seine.

The building of the Cathedral of Tournai lasted from 1146 until 1325. At first, a Romanesque cathedral was built because Tournai had become seat of a bishopry. The main nave of the present cathedral was constructed during that period.

Later on, the architects became more influenced by the then fashionable Gothic style. This can be seen in the 5 towers and the choir.

Plantin-Moretus Museum

The Plantin-Moretus Museum is linked with the spreading of ideas of European humanism via its printing business Officina Plantiniana.

The museum is housed in the former residence and printing establishment of famous printers Christoffel Plantijn and Jan Moretus. Plantijn (Plantin) set himself up as a printer in 1555, founding his publishing house 'De Gulden Passer' (The Golden Compasses). In 1576 he moved his printing business to the Vrijdagmarkt square. That building is now the oldest part of the Plantin-Moretus Museum.

Plantin's business instinct turned his company into a thriving enterprise. In six years' time, the number of presses tripled from five to sixteen. By 1575 he was running a printing empire with seventy employees.

His son-in-law, Jan Moretus, inherited the business after Plantin's death in 1589. He and his successors printed far fewer humanist and scientific publications. They were mainly oriented toward religious documents (promoting the catholic Counter-Reformation).

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Stoclet House

The Stoclet House is a private mansion designed by architect Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte between 1905 and 1911.

It was built for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet. He gave them an unlimited budget and an artistic freehand. The integration of architects, artists, and artisans of the Wiener Werkstätte makes it an example of Gesamtkunstwerk, one of the defining characteristics of Jugendstil. Although the marble-clad facade is radically simplified, the house contains commissioned works by Gustav Klimt in the dining room, four copper figures at the top by sculptor Franz Metzner, and other craftwork inside and outside the building. Expensive materials were used all over, like Norwegian marble, gilded material and leather.

Community Perspective: the only thing that can be seen is the austere exterior (you actually look at the back of the house) and it is possible to take photos from different angles from the sidewalk. However, as with the nearby works of Victor Horta, the interior is what makes this house so incredible; hopefully, in the near future, the owners will decide to open parts of this WHS to the public.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier comprises 17 of his works across the world.

The renowned French-Swiss architect is seen as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. The series shows the dissemination of his ideas over the world during a period of 50 years, spanning seven countries on three continents. Many of the sites reflect new architectural concepts, principles, and technical features.  All were innovative and had a significant influence over wide geographical areas They also contributed to the birth of three major trends in modern architecture: Purism, Brutalism and sculptural architecture.

Community Perspective: Hubert has become our expert on this subject, having visited 14 of the 17 components. Reviews that include the interior are available of Casa Curutchet (Serianne, Nan, Michael, Timonator), Villa Savoye (Ian, Els, Ilya), Weißenhofsiedlung  (Solivagant), Sainte Marie de La Tourette in Éveux (Hubert), Firminy-Vert (Hubert), the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille (Hubert, Jakob), Maison La Roche (Hubert), Molitor (Hubert), National Museum of Western Art (Frederik), Chandigarh (Solivagant), Notre Dame du Haut Chapel (Clyde), Cité Frugès (Hubert).

The Four Lifts

The four hydraulic boat lifts on this short stretch of the historic Canal du Centre are industrial monuments of the highest quality. Together with the Canal itself and its associated structures, they constitute a remarkably well preserved and complete example of a late 19th-century industrial landscape.

The lifts were necessary because of the differences in height of the Canal. There is a rise of some 90 metres from Mons to the summit level of 121 metres above sea level. Most of this rise is concentrated in a few kilometres - hence the artificial help. The first of the lifts was built here in 1888 by the John Cockerill company, after an English design.

Of the eight hydraulic boat lifts built at the end of the last and the beginning of this century, the only ones which still exist in their original working condition are the four lifts on the Canal du Centre. 

Belize
Belize Barrier Reef

The Belize Barrier-Reef Reserve System is a marine and coastal landscape containing a series of coral reefs.

It extends for about 300 km, making it the second-largest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. A wide array of reef types contained in a relatively small area can be found here. The submarine seascape is diverse, and there are unique geological features such as the Blue Hole and Rocky Point where the barrier reef touches the shore. It is also rich in fauna, ranging from jaguars to great hammerhead sharks.

Community Perspective: It’s a scuba diver heaven, with the Blue Hole as the holy grail (though only experienced divers are allowed to do the most spectacular 40m dive, it is less spectacular at less depth). Half Moon Caye comes recommended even more as it is rich in marine fauna. If you don’t dive or snorkel, your options are to take a sightseeing flight across the reef and the Blue Hole, to visit Bacalar Chico NP which is a land component (covered on a bike by Jarek), or stay on Tobacco Caye.

Benin
Royal Palaces of Abomey

The Royal Palaces of Abomey testify to the power of those who ruled the Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful in West Africa.

The site consists of a number of former palaces (one for each successive king) within the same enclosure in the center of Abomey and one palace a few km’s away. These palaces were the political centers of their time and also stored the treasures of the kingdom. They were made with traditional earthen materials and decorated with polychrome bas-reliefs.

Community Perspective: inside the complex, you will find the best polychrome bas-reliefs. The tombs and museum are also interesting to visit. Solivagant’s review tells more about the history of the Fon of Dahomey.

W-Arly-Pendjari Complex

The W-Arly-Pendjari Complex comprises a savanna landscape recognized for its biodiversity of birds, fish and plants.

These three contiguous parks are located within the Volta River basin at a transition zone between savannah and woodlands, with both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The area is a refuge for species that have mostly disappeared from the rest of West Africa, such as elephants, wild dogs, lion, leopard, cheetah and manatee.

Community Perspective: you won’t find wildlife in the innumerable quantities of the East African parks, but at least in visible herds. The facilities suffer from underinvestment and the border area with and in Burkina Faso is considered unsafe. Tamas made an adventurous approach to the part in Niger (Park ‘W’) as did Michael, while Solivagant and Chris focused on Pendjari in Benin.

Bolivia
El Fuerte de Samaipata

El Fuerte de Samaipata comprises a gigantic sculptured rock, made by a prehispanic Andean culture for ceremonial use.

The natural sandstone hill measures 200x600m, and is completely sculpted with felines, snakes, birds and geometrical motifs with a magical and religious character for the pre-Inca Chané people. Below it lies a former provincial capital of the Inca of a later date. It includes a central plaza, public buildings, houses and agricultural terraces.

Community Perspective: The site lies some 10km outside of the town of Samaipata, and can be reached via taxi or (hitch)hiking. Reviewers praise its setting, in the Amboro National Park, with great mountain vistas and abundant birdlife. The well-crafted trail around the site is self-guided and there are snacks and drinks available on site.

Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos

The Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos are a group of six churches that show the adaptation of Christian religious architecture to local conditions and traditions.

They represent the living heritage of the reducciones: theocratic settlements inspired by the “ideal cities” of the humanists. The churches have unique architecture and are mostly made out of wood. They also hold popular art objects from the Chiquitos population.

Community perspective: Chiquitania is unique, with a slow pace of life, but also tough (“it takes a special kind of people to thrive here”) and often hot. Most reviewers visited only one or two of the churches due to infrequent public transport, but Patrik managed to cover all of them in four days. It’s best to start from San José if you want to do the full circuit. Timonator provides additional tips for that route.

Noel Kempff Mercado National Park

The Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, located in the Amazon Basin, is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Ranging in altitude from 200 to 1000m, the park has Cerrado savannah, seasonally flooded forests, wetlands and evergreen rainforests.

An estimated 4,000 species of flora as well as over 600 bird species and viable populations of many globally endangered or threatened vertebrate species live in the park. Among these are the giant otter, giant anteater, hyacinth macaw, giant armadillo, pink river dolphin, maned wolf, marsh and pampas deer.

Community Perspective: this site has not been reviewed yet. It has been virtually inaccessible for decades due to neglect and the production of illegal drugs. An update (2023) on the current possibilities can be found here in our Forum

Potosi

The City of Potosí comprises an urban and industrial landscape shaped by one of the major silver mines of modern times.

Dating from the 16th century and still in use, the site shows the whole production chain (including dams, smelters and ore-grinding mills) and its social context in the colonial city center. Its architecture and arts, using a baroque style incorporating Indian influences, have been influential across the Central Andes. It delivered so much silver to Spain that it resulted in major economic change. 

Community perspective: La Casa de la Moneda (the former Mint) is now the main attraction in the city. Our reviewers have mixed opinions on taking an underground tour of Cerro Rico mine, arguments pro are given by Michael Anak Kenyalang and some of those against by Timonator. Potosí can best be visited as a day trip from Sucre, as the combination of dust, dirt and altitude make it a not very pleasant place to stay.

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, is the communication and trade network developed by the Inca Empire.

The infrastructure needed exceptional technological and engineering skills in a difficult geographical setting in rural and remote parts of the Andes. The network supported the Inca Empire’s integration and was a symbol of its strength.

Community Perspective: As a serial transnational site comprising over 720km of road and 273 archaeological sites, it is hard to determine whether you have 'seen' it. Even more so as it is unclear whether the so-called Associated sites are inscribed as well. The latter include sites that are also WHS in their own right (Cusco, Tiwanaku). The main approach chosen is checking out a few locations near Lima or Cuzco and looking for traces of infrastructure (described well in Clyde’s review). Additionally, Allan has visited locations in Chile, and Els Ingapirca in Ecuador.

Sucre

The Historic City of Sucre is a well-preserved colonial urban landscape that shows the blending of European and local architectural styles.

Sucre became a cultural center, the seat of an archbishopric and the seat of the Supreme Court that reigned over large parts of South America. For much of its colonial history, Sucre's temperate climate was preferred by the wealthy Spanish involved in the silver trade coming from Potosí. Its typical Spanish-colonial checkerboard street pattern is still intact, as are the religious and public buildings from the 16th-19th centuries.

Community Perspective: An attractive, relaxed city and with a climate comparable to a British colonial hill-town, Sucre is considered a good place to spend a few nights. It can be hard though to find anything open (especially the churches). The Casa de Libertad is a must-do, and good city views are to be had from the roofs of the San Felipe Neri church and La Recoleta. Furthermore, Timonator recommends a Free Walking Tour and the indigenous textile museum, Nan the Gutierrez Museum.

Tiwanaku

“Tiwanaku: Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture” comprises the ruins of the capital of an important and distinct pre-Hispanic empire in the Andes.

The ancient city was mostly built of adobe, especially the residential buildings that have now faded away. For ceremonial and administrative architecture, lithic material was used. Notable remaining monuments include the Akapana (the major temple, a stepped pyramid), a semi-underground temple (with monolithic stelae and heads (clavas) built in the walls), and the Kalasasaya (an open temple built on a platform; it includes stelae and the Gate of the Sun frieze).

Community Perspective: Tiwanaku is usually visited as a day trip from La Paz. In addition to the architectural ruins, there are also two on-site museums that are worth seeing. Most reviewers find the site overall a bit underwhelming and it does not take much time to visit.

 

Bosnia Herzegovina
Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge

The Mehmed Paša Sokolovic Bridge in Višegrad is one of the best remaining examples of Ottoman architecture and civil engineering.

It is almost 180m long and has 11 arches. It spans the Drina River in the Republic of Srpska.

The bridge was built at the end of the 16th century by the Ottoman court architect Sinan. He was one of the greatest architects and engineers of the classical Ottoman period and a contemporary of the Italian Renaissance, with which his work can be compared.

The Grand Vizier Mehmed Paša Sokolovic, who was born in this area, ordered the construction.

Mostar

The Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar is a place of memory to its multicultural background.

The town developed mainly during the Ottoman period, from the 16th century on. The (Old) Bridge is its major landmark, and the town even was named after the bridge keepers (mostari). The Bridge was built in 1566 upon the design of the great Ottoman architect Kodja Mimar Sinan and constructed by his pupil architect Hayruddin.

Other Ottoman constructions include the Kriva Cuprija (“Crooked”) bridge, the Cejvan Cehaja Mosque, the Koski Mehmed Pasa mosque complex, the Vucjakovic Mosque, the Neziraga Mosque, a Hamam and Tabhana. Also there were many common buildings such as shops, inns, and houses. During the Austro-Hungarian period of the 19th century, a number of administrative and Christian religious buildings were added to Mostar’s cityscape. These were mainly located on the right bank of the river, across from the old Ottoman (Muslim) town.

Between 1992 and 1995 the town and bridge have been badly damaged during the Bosnian war. Its excellent reconstruction based on in-depth research has been compared to that of Warsaw. The completely rebuilt bridge opened on July 23, 2004.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Stećci

The 'Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards' are 28 medieval cemeteries in south-eastern Europe.

The decoration and inscriptions on the mostly limestone monolithic tombstones represent a specific tradition of the area. They include Christian religious symbols, dancing and hunting scenes, geometric shapes and Cyrillic inscriptions.

The inscribed tombstones have been selected from the surviving 70,000 or so still standing in the region and date from the 12th to the 16th centuries. The singular ‘Stećak’ (plural: Stećci) means ‘tall, standing thing'.

Botswana
Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta is a vast area of swamps and seasonally flooded grasslands that attract large numbers of wildlife.

This inland delta has no outlet to the sea, being formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the dry Kalahari desert. The annual flood peaks between June and August, when the delta swells to three times its permanent size and attracts animals from afar. The area is home to some 130 mammal species, such as white and black rhinoceros, elephant, cheetah, lion, leopard and lechwe antelope. The population sizes are especially noteworthy, including the world’s largest population of elephants. It is also an Important Bird Area.

Community Perspective: generally considered an expensive site when you want to have the full experience and visit for multiple days: “it is going to involve a safari company, probably a flight in and out on a small plane and a stay at a “Luxury lodge” and/or the rental of a 4x4”, but Solivagant managed to do it somewhat budget-friendly. Els enjoyed the helicopter flight and the walking safaris, and Svein describes visiting from the Okavango Panhandle.

Tsodilo

Tsodilo is a prehistoric archeological site in the Kalahari desert known for its outstanding rock art.

It comprises a group of rocky hills that hold over 4,500 rock paintings. The rock art is considered to date back from the Stone Age til the 19th century. The area has provided shelter for humans for millennia, and it still is a place of worship for the local San communities.

Community Perspective: Randi describes her visit arriving by car from the Caprivi Strip, Els ‘did’ it on a day trip by helicopter from Maun, and Stanislaw shares how he managed to exhaust the local guides.

Brazil
Atlantic Forest South-East

The Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves comprise 25 protected areas of Atlantic forest in the southeast region of Brazil.

Atlantic forest is the richest rainforest in terms of biodiversity. It has high endemism and a large number of tree species.

Rare and threatened animals include the woolly spider monkey, Southern muriqui, Southern Brown Howling monkey, four species of tamarin, the ocelot, Jacutinga, Harpy eagle and the Brazilian red-tailed parrot.

Brasilia

Brasilia is one of the major examples of the 20th century´s modern movement in architecture and urban planning.

The city officially became Brazil´s capital on April, 1960. Four years before, it didn´t even exist. At that time, President Juscelino Kubitschek commisioned Lucio Costa (urban planner), Oscar Niemeyer (architect) and Burle Marx (landscape architect) to build a new city from scratch.

Lucio Costa drew the Plano Piloto, in which Brasilia is shaped like an airplane (or a bird). There´s a wide north-south axis for transportation. Around this are the residential zones, divided into blocks, each with its own churches, shops, schools etc. At the tip of the east-west axis there are formidable government buildings, like the Congress and the Itamaraty Palace.

The city was planned for 500.000 to 700.000 people. More would have to live in sattelite cities, which are abundant now because of Brasilia´s 2 million population.

Brazilian Atlantic Islands

Brazilian Atlantic Islands: Fernando de Noronha and Atol das Rocas Reserves comprise two groups of islands with rich marine biological diversity, 340km off Brazil's coast.

The peaks of Fernando de Noronha, of volcanic origin, are also the only known occurrence of insular Atlantic Forest - a subtype of Atlantic Rainforest. The Atol das Rocas is the only atoll in the South Atlantic: an elliptical reef including two small islands surrounded by a marine reserve. The marine areas, which are considerably larger than the terrestrial core zone of both island groups, hold large volumes of tuna, sharks, dolphins, turtles and tropical seabirds.

Community Perspective: the added costs of flights and accommodation, plus the park fees and environmental protection fees, make this an expensive destination to visit, certainly, if you leave it to the last minute. Michael had to limit himself to the terrestrial areas but managed to see three of the island’s endemic animals. Els checked out some hikes and did a boat tour, with spinner dolphins and the red-footed boobies as the highlights. And we even have a review from John who was shipwrecked for 20 days on Atol das Rocas…

Central Amazon Conservation Complex

The Central Amazon Conservation Complex comprises four nature reserves in northwestern Brazil, which together represent the most important ecosystems of the Amazon. 

These include várzea forest, which is seasonally flooded by silty river water, and blackwater rivers. Consisting of some 400 islands, Anavilhanas is the second-largest river archipelago in the world. The area is also known for its fish, many plant species, and endemic birds.

The site includes the following parks:

  • Jaú National Park
  • Amana Sustainable Development Reserve
  • Demonstration area of the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve
  • Anavilhanas Ecological Station
Cerrado Protected Areas

The Cerrado Protected Areas: Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas National Parks represent the Cerrado Ecoregion, one of Earth's oldest tropical ecosystems.

Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park is located in the Chapada dos Veadeiros, an ancient plateau with an estimated age of 1.8 billion years. Many endangered species are found within the park's boundaries, such as the maned wolf, capybaras, rheas and others.

Emas National Park shows a typical cerrado ecosystem; a treeless savannah with tall termite houses and an interesting amount of wildlife: the giant anteater, the maned wolf, armadillos and the namesake greater rhea, among others.

Congonhas

The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas is an ensemble of Catholic religous art, executed in rococo and baroque style.

The story behind this WHS is the story of two remarkable men: the Portuguese immigrant Feliciano Mendes and the sculptor Aleijadinho. Mendes as the fundraiser and Aleijadinho as the artist constructed a group of monuments in the city of Congonhas (Minas Gerais) that has been called the best of Brazilian art.

This group consists of:

  • Bom Jesus Church (1772)
  • the parvis with the 12 statues of the prophets (1800-1805)
  • the 6 chapels containing the 7 stations of the cross (1796-1800)

After having been miracleously cured of an illness, Mendes used his own money and a succesful fundraising campaign to construct this sanctuary. He hired the best artists and craftsmen in Minas to work on the church and its decoration.

The master was Aleijadinho (Little Crippled One), the son of a Portuguese architect and a black slave. Although without being able to use his hands and legs due to (probably) lepra, he was responsible for the graceful statues and carvings that can be seen at the site.

Diamantina

The Historic Centre of the Town of Diamantina comprises a city landscape adapted from European models to an American context.

The city's history began in 1713 when an expedition found diamonds on the mountain slopes and along the rivers in this region. A first settlement was started, Arraial do Tijuco. In 1731 the Portuguese Crown became aware of its wealth and set up a separate body to administer the region. Mining rights were granted to private enterprises at first, but soon the Crown took back ownership.

Mining blossomed in Diamantina in the 18th and early 19th century. After that, richer and better quality deposits in South Africa were found.

Because of this, the historical center of Diamantina has been preserved very well. Some distinct features set it aside from other Portuguese colonial towns (and they can still be seen today): its pavement (large grey stones called capistranas) and the use of wood and adobe on the walls of its houses.

Discovery Coast

The Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves are 8 nature reserves that protect Brazil’s Northeastern remnants of the Atlantic rainforest, probably the most endangered forest in the world.

They contain about 20% of the world's flora, including 627 species of endangered plants. There are no longer any corridors between the areas, which has led to an "archipelago of forests" and exceptionally high endemism.

Goias

The Historic Centre of the Town of Goías covers an isolated town in Central Brazil that has preserved much of its colonial heritage. The settlement of Goías is closely linked to the discovery of gold.

Goías was founded by the famed Bandeirante explorer Bartolomeu Bueno da Silva, nicknamed Anhangüera, and was called in colonial times Vila Boa ("good village" in Portuguese). It dates from 1727, its name being a tribute to the Goyaz Indians, the inhabitants of the area before the arrival of the Europeans. Its houses, chapels and churches are testimony to the height of the gold rush era.

Iguacu

Iguacu National Park, with the Falls as its main feature, was added to the World Heritage List for two reasons: its exceptional natural beauty and because it's the habitat of rare and endangered species.

The Brazilian side of the park measures 170.086 ha. The adjacent Argentinian side is another World Heritage Site.

The waterfalls on both sides together span over 2700 m., and have a height of 80 m.

Iguacu is an indigenous (Tupi-Guarani) name, meaning Great Waters.

 

Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis

The Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis are the archeological remains of towns created by the Jesuit Order.

The towns existed between 1609 and 1818, and aimed to socially, culturally and religiously elevate the local Guarani Indians. They also provided protection and economic stability. Originally there were 30 missions, spread out over Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. The two Jesuit missions in Paraguay are now a separate WHS.

This designated site consists of five different missions:

  • São Miguel das Missões (Brazil)
  • San Ignacio Mini (Argentina)
  • Nuestra Señora de Santa Ana (Argentina)
  • Nuestra Señora de Loreto (Argentina)
  • Santa María la Mayor (Argentina)
Olinda

The Historic Centre of the Town of Olinda has maintained its urban fabric from the Portuguese colonial period. Among these remains are 20 Baroque churches.

The settlement of Olinda was founded in 1535 by the Portuguese. It was subsequently burned by Dutch invaders and then rebuilt in the 18th century. Its existence is strongly linked to the sugar-cane industry in this region. The townscape is dominated by rich religious and public buildings and includes lots of greenery.

Ouro Preto

Historic Town of Ouro Preto is a unique representation of baroque architecture in a homogenous cityscape.

The city's wealth has its origins in the late 17th century, in 1693 gold was discovered here. The exploration for gold was a monopoly of the Portuguese crown. They taxed 20% on the findings. A heavy system for collecting the tributes and taxes was in place. 

Small settlements of miners in search of El Dorado were joined in 1711 to create the city of Villa Rica (later renamed Ouro Preto, 'Black Gold'). The settlers were divided into two parishes and ethnic groups. Each group constructed its own church, bringing in baroque artisans.

At the height of its Golden Age, Ouro Preto had some 110.000 inhabitants (mainly slaves). The city was left to itself in 1897 when the state capital moved to Belo Horizonte.

Pampulha

Pampulha Modern Ensemble is a fine example of Brazilian modern architecture, built as a Garden City around an artificial lake.

This neighbourhood of Belo Horizonte was designed from 1940 on by architect Oscar Niemeyer and landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx.

The ensemble included a casino, a restaurant/dance hall, a yacht club, a golf club and a church. The buildings are among Niemeyer’s earliest works, and show his talent to adapt 20th century modernism to Brazilian surroundings.

Pantanal

The Pantanal Conservation Area is a freshwater wetland ecosystem that contains a huge fish variety and several globally threatened animal species.

The designated area is only a small part of the region in Western Brazil called Pantanal. It consists of Pantanal Matogrossense National Park, Dorochê Private Reserve, Acurizal Private Reserve, and Penha Private Reserve. These areas can be considered representative of the Greater Pantanal.

Wildlife here includes the jaguar, alligator, marsh deer, giant anteater, capybara, and giant otter. Between 10 and 35 million alligators are believed to live in the Pantanal as a whole. It also has 650 species of birds, including the Jabiru stork, herons, ibis, ducks, and parrots.

Pantano means swamp, but the area is in fact an alluvial plain. During the rainy season (October to March), the rivers flood their banks, inundating much of the low-lying Pantanal and creating patches of dry land where the animals cluster together.

Paraty and Ilha Grande

Paraty Culture and Biodiversity comprises 5 components along the Brazilian coast: 4 parks/nature reserves and the historical centre of the town of Paraty.

The mountainous, forested area was the scene of early encounter between Europeans and natives. Most of the landscape is covered in Atlantic forest with great biological diversity.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea, is a dramatic example how the landscape has been used and shaped. This city of great beauty reaches from the mountains to the sea.

Rio’s natural landscape started to be altered in the 17th and 18th centuries to allow sugar and coffee growing. Its parks and gardens later became protected, and as such attributed to the outdoor living culture of the city.

The designated area consists of the following parts:

  • Tijuca National Park, including Corcovado peak and its Christ the Redeemer statue
  • Botanic Garden
  • Flamengo Park
  • The mouth of the Guanabara Bay, including the Sugar Loaf
  • Copacabana Beach Front
São Francisco Square

São Francisco Square in the town of São Cristovão is an open space surrounded by a monumental architectural ensemble. The quadrilateral square measures 51x73 metres.

The most prominent monuments around the square are:

  • São Francisco Church and convent (begun in 1693)
  • Church and Santa Casa de Misericordia (18th century)
  • Provincial Palace

The structures are Spanish-colonial in appearance, as they derived from the Ordinances of King Philip II, at a time when Portugal and Spain were under the same crown. São Cristovão is a river port and a former provincial capital.

Salvador de Bahia

The Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia, frequently called the Pelourinho, is extremely rich in historical monuments dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries.

Bahia was the first colonial capital of Brazil and the city is one of the oldest in the New World (founded in 1549 by Portuguese settlers). It was also the first slave market on the continent, with slaves arriving to work on the sugar plantations.

Major buildings inside the designated area are:

  • Cathedral
  • Convents of St. Francis, St. Dominic, Carmel and St. Anthony
  • 16th century Palaces
  • Baroque Palaces
São Luis

The Historic Centre of São Luis has the largest and best preserved heritages of colonial Portuguese architecture of all Latin America.

The first Europeans to see it were the French, in 1612, who intended to make it a French colony. They made a fort named São Luis ("Saint Louis"), after Saint Louis IX of France as a compliment to King Louis XIII. It was conquered for Portugal by Jerónimo de Albuquerque in 1615, leaving little time for the French to build a city.

The core zone includes public buildings, sumptuous manor houses, marble multi-storey houses and small houses decorated with azulejos.

Serra da Capivara

Serra da Capivara National Park holds many rock shelters in which the oldest rock art of South America has been found.

This art reveals aspects of the religious belief and practices of the earliest inhabitants of this region.

The earliest traces of rock painting here dates from between 26,000 and 22,000 BC. Most of the painted works date from 10,000 to 4,000 BC, and were made by Nordeste and Agreste cultures. The sites weren't rediscovered until the 1960's.

The park lies in the north east of Brazil.

Sítio Roberto Burle Marx

The Sítio Roberto Burle Marx is a residence plus gardens on a large plantation estate in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

The most important works of the artist Robert Burle Marx are stored here. He was aligned with the Brazilian Modern Movement and mostly known for his design of modern tropical gardens. He lived at this site from 1949 on and did his botany and garden landscaping experiments here.

Valongo Wharf

Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site comprises the globally most significant remains of an arrival point of enslaved African persons in the Americas.

The wharf located at Rio de Janeiro’s Jornal do Comércio Square was built from 1811 onwards, and used until the construction of the Empress’ Wharf in 1843. About a quarter of all African American enslaved people to the Americas have arrived here. While its physical remains are modest (fragments of a pavement, a former road), its spiritual associations as a site of conscience for African Americans are strong.

Bulgaria
Boyana Church

Boyana Church is a remarkable medieval monument with especially fine wall paintings.

The architecture of the original Boyana Church dates from the late 10th and early 11th centuries, while the current building also sees additions from the mid-13th century and mid-19th century. The paintings date from 1259. In all, there are 240 depictions on the walls. Its painter is still anonymous but stands for the team that decorated the church and that was trained in the studios of the Turnove Art School.

Community Perspective: the church is easily accessible as it lies on the outskirts of Sofia, though it takes a bit of a walk when using public transport. They only let in small groups at a time with a minder/guide, but a visit doesn’t take more than a few minutes.

Madara Rider

The Madara Rider is a large rock relief that is a highlight of pagan Bulgarian art.

The relief depicts a majestic horseman 23 m above ground level in an almost vertical 100-metre-high cliff. The horseman is thrusting a spear into a lion lying at his horse's feet. A dog runs after the horseman.

The monument, dated back to 710, is usually attributed to the ancient Bulgars, a nomadic tribe of warriors which settled in northeastern Bulgaria at the end of the 7th century and after merging with the local Slavs gave origin to the modern Bulgarians.

Nessebar

The Ancient City of Nessebar at a peninsula in the Black Sea holds over 3,000 years of history, with Thracian origins and later becoming an important Greek colony and Byzantine settlement.

The Greek colonists left an acropolis, a temple of Apollo and an agora. The most important monument from the Byzantine period is the Stara Mitropolia Basilica.

Pirin National Park

Pirin National Park covers a mountaine range composed of limestone rocks with a granite nucleus, which is noted for its variety in flora and high scenic beauty.

It encompasses the larger part of the Pirin Mountains in the southwest of Bulgaria.

The huge relief diversity of the park is the reason for the variety of plant species on its territory. About 1300 species of higher plant species can be observed within the park, which constitute more than 30% of all higher plants on the territory of Bulgaria. Besides this, about 300 moss species and a large amount of algae have been determined. The park is a home to 18 local endemic species, 15 Bulgarian and many Balkan endemic and a large quantity of preserved species, such as the Edelweiss, a symbol of Pirin.

Three plant belts are differentiated within the Pirin National Park, a forest one, a subalpine one and an alpine one, which is due to the relatively high location of the entire park.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Rila Monastery

The Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria.

Rila's monastic buildings originally date from the late 10th century and were set up by the monastic community around the medieval hermit Ivan. He chose seclusion because of the moral decline during the reign of the Bulgarian Tsar Peter. He retreated to the almost inaccessible Rila Mountains.

In the 14th century, the buildings were turned into a fortress by Hrelyo Dragovol, a feudal lord. Part of the walls and the tower today still remind of that period. On January 13th 1833, a fire broke out and destroyed almost all (wooden) residential quarters. This national calamity was put right by thousands of Bulgarian craftsmen, that restored the buildings in a couple of years.

Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo

The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo comprise a group of monolithic religious buildings, hewn out of solid rock, that are noted for their beautiful and well-preserved medieval frescoes.

The caves in the region had been inhabited by monks from the 1320s to the 17th century, where they hewed cells, churches and chapels out of solid rock. At the peak of the monastery complex, the number of churches was about 40, while the other premises were around 300, most of which are not preserved today.

Its 13th- and 14th-century frescoes, preserved in 5 of the churches, are considered wonderful examples of Bulgarian medieval art. Many century-old inscriptions have also been preserved in the monastical premises.

Srebarna Nature Reserve

Srebarna Nature Reserve comprises Lake Srebarna and its surroundings and is located on the bird migration route between Europe and Africa.

Srebarna, on the west bank of the Danube River, is a wetland habitat for about 180 bird species, both breeding and migrating. Among the most interesting bird species are the Dalmatian pelican, great egret, night heron, purple heron, glossy ibis and white spoonbill.

 

 

Thracian tomb of Kazanlak

The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is a vaulted brickwork "beehive" (tholos) tomb, close to the ancient Thracian capital of Seuthopolis.

The tomb is part of a large Thracian necropolis. It comprises a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber, both decorated with murals representing a Thracian couple at a ritual funeral feast. The monument dates back to the 4th century BC.

The murals are memorable for the splendid horses and especially for the gesture of farewell, in which the seated couple grasp each other's wrists in a moment of tenderness and equality. The paintings are Bulgaria's best-preserved artistic masterpieces from the Hellenistic period.

Thracian tomb of Sveshtari

The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari is a 3rd century BC tomb that reflects the fundamental structural principles of Thracian cult buildings.

The tomb's architectural decor is considered to be unique, with polychrome half-human, half-plant caryatids and painted murals. It was rediscovered in 1982.

It differs from the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak as it is a hypogeum, not a construction with a cupola. With its origins in the culture of the Getae, it fits a Hellenistic model that was common in Macedonia, Asia Minor and Egypt.

Burkina Faso
Ancient ferrous metallurgy sites

The Ancient Iron Metallurgy Sites of Burkina Faso represent an early phase of iron production in Africa.

The five locations Douroula, Tiwêga, Yamané, Kindibo and Békuy are spread out over Burkina Faso’s territory. The latter four were massive production sites and comprise iron ore smelting furnaces, slag heaps and other traces of mining, while Douroula is the oldest dating back to the 8th century BC. The development of this technology has led to blacksmith traditions that are still alive today.

Community Perspective: Wojciech visited Tiwega in 2019, and describes the effort that was necessary to get to the site.

Ruins of Loropéni

The Ruins of Loropéni are the stone remains of a 1,000 years old fortified settlement that came to play an important role in the trans-Saharan gold trade.

This was part of a network of settlements that linked the gold mining sites with the Atlantic coast. Gold was mined here from the 14th to the 17th century, and probably started as early as the 11th century. The site, mainly consisting of ruined walls, has been out of use since the 19th century and is overgrown with trees.

Community Perspective: Massimo describes a visit in 1996 when the use of the walls was left unexplained and there was no warden or ticketed entry. Jarek approached by public transport in 2014, found them well-marked and had to pay a fee.

W-Arly-Pendjari Complex

The W-Arly-Pendjari Complex comprises a savanna landscape recognized for its biodiversity of birds, fish and plants.

These three contiguous parks are located within the Volta River basin at a transition zone between savannah and woodlands, with both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The area is a refuge for species that have mostly disappeared from the rest of West Africa, such as elephants, wild dogs, lion, leopard, cheetah and manatee.

Community Perspective: you won’t find wildlife in the innumerable quantities of the East African parks, but at least in visible herds. The facilities suffer from underinvestment and the border area with and in Burkina Faso is considered unsafe. Tamas made an adventurous approach to the part in Niger (Park ‘W’) as did Michael, while Solivagant and Chris focused on Pendjari in Benin.

Cabo Verde
Cidade Velha

Cidade Velha, Historic Centre of Ribeira Grande, was a Portuguese colonial settlement that played an important role in the maritime trade of enslaved persons and goods between Europa, Africa and America.

The enslaved were also used to further develop the local colony, which resulted in the birth of Creole culture. Surviving monuments in Cidade Velha from that period include the oldest colonial church in the world, constructed in 1495, and Pillory Square with its ornate 16th-century marble pillar.

Community Perspective: situated on Cabo Verde’s main island São Tiago and only 15kms outside of the current capital, the town is easy to reach. Reviewers found no great deal to see, the best-preserved monument being the Fort Real of Sao Filipe, and compared the atmosphere to “a sleepy African, or perhaps more specifically, Brazilian village”.

Cambodia
Angkor

Angkor is the archeological site covering the capital of the Khmer Empire and its artistic masterpieces.

The Khmer Empire encompassed much of Southeast Asia, and had a lot of political and cultural influence on the whole region until its downfall in the 14th century. Khmer art developed here in Angkor evolved from that of the Indian sub-continent and became highly influential in the region as a distinctive style.

Community Perspective: Spectacular. Breathtaking. Overwhelming. A childhood dream come true. Gorgeous architecture and preservation. “I had bought a 3-day pass, but I easily could have stayed longer cause there's so much to see”.

Preah Vihear Temple

The Preah Vihear Temple is a Hindu temple complex that is considered a masterpiece of Khmer architecture.

It is spectacularly situated atop a 525-meter cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains. The temple complex runs 800m along a north-south axis, linked by a system of pavements and staircases. Its carved stone decorations have been well-preserved due to the temple’s remote location.

Community Perspective:  the reviews reflect the site’s disputed history between Thailand and Cambodia, reporting on easy access from Thailand (via the original access road) in 2007, a visit among military patrols and teams carrying out mine clearance operations from Cambodia in 2010, needing a permit in 2012, and “just arranging a driver and suffering through a bit of a rickety road from time to time” from 2018 onward. All enjoyed the breathtaking view from the top and the intricate stone carvings.

Sambor Prei Kuk

The Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk is an archaeological site of the Pre-Angkorean period.

The site correspondents with Ishanapura, the capital city of the Chenla Empire whose buildings and watercourses influenced later Khmer architecture. 186 fire-brick Hindu temples remain, showing a mix of regional architectural influences and carrying sculptures and important temple inscriptions in the Khmer language. A particular feature is its octagonal-shaped temples, the oldest of their kind in South-East Asia.

Community Perspective: clearly complementary to Angkor, as it provides a good look at pre-Angkorian styles of art and architecture. It does have the same jungle setting with trees growing in and on top of buildings, but due to the smaller crowds (if any) Sambor Prei Kuk is a more intimate experience. Read Frederik’s review for more details on the art styles.

Cameroon
Dja Faunal Reserve

The Dja Faunal Reserve covers one of the largest and best protected rainforests in Africa.

It is a wilderness barely disturbed by man, with rich and often rare fauna. This includes over 107 mammals and more than 320 bird species. It is a habitat for the vulnerable western lowland gorilla and endangered western chimpanzee.

The reserve is almost completely surrounded by the Dja River, a contributary to the Congo River. The landscape within the enclosed area consists of a fairly flat plateau.

Dja Faunal Reserve is also recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA). The globally threatened Grey-necked Picathartes and the endemic Rachel's Malimbe and Forest Swallow are among the most notable birds found here.

Sangha Trinational

Sangha Trinational is a transboundary conservation zone of mostly forest landscape. It is centered along the Sangha river, a tributary to the Congo River.

The site is home to rare and endangered fauna species, including large ape populations such as the critically endangered Western Lowland Gorilla.

It is made up of three contiguous national parks:

  • Lobéké National Park in Cameroon
  • Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Congo
  • Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic.
Canada
Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks

The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks form a striking mountain landscape, that includes a full range of glaciation features and harbours the renowned Burgess Shale fossil site.

The seven contiguous parks are aligned along the Continental Divide, separating the drainage basins of the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. They hold glaciers, canyons, waterfalls, karst systems and thermal springs. The Burgess Shale preserves the fossils of soft-bodied marine organisms, and it is one of the earliest areas of those so far found.

Community Perspective: You need multiple days or even weeks here as the combined parks cover a large area. The majestic mountains and cold glaciers in the national parks of Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho have been well-covered in the reviews, and especially Banff and Jasper can feel crowded. Jay has described a visit to the lesser-known Mount Robson Provincial Park.  

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Dinosaur Provincial Park is renowned for its beautiful badlands and high number and quality of dinosaur fossils.

The conditions of this riparian landscape with sand and mud deposits were excellent for the preservation of dinosaurs' bones as fossils. Remains of over 40 dinosaur species have been found and more than 150 complete dinosaur skeletons, making it one of the richest dinosaur fossil locales in the world. The specimens represent every known group of Cretaceous dinosaurs.

Community Perspective: It’s a beautiful place because of the badlands, but be aware that only a small part of it is fully open to visitors and the reserved zone / the part where the dinosaur bones are, need a guided visit. Svein describes “walking between dinosaur fossil bones and teeth”, while Jay enjoyed the alternative activity of creating plaster casts of fossils at the visitor center.

Glacier parks

Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek comprises a mountain landscape shaped by geologic and glacial processes.

These four parks in the Yukon and Alaska offer combined marine, coastal, wild river and high mountain scenery with minimal extent of human modification. They hold over 200 glaciers, including some of the world’s largest and longest. Wildlife is abundant too, with a healthy population of grizzly bears.

Community Perspective: Glacier Bay is regularly visited by large cruise ships and good views are had from there. Tsunami describes an unforgettable journey on smaller boats and small airplanes.

Grand Pré

The Landscape of Grand Pré is a polder created for farmland by the Acadian community that holds high symbolic value for them.

The reclamation of the land in this tidal flooded zone was carried out in stages in the 17th and 18th centuries. The polderisation used dykes as well as a community-based management system still in use today. Grand Pré became the place of memory for the Acadian diaspora, as these descendants of the 17th-century French colonists were deported from here in 1755 by British colonial officers. A number of symbolic memorial buildings and monuments to commemorate this have been added to the landscape in the 20th century.

Community Perspective: the site has a large Visitor Center (closed November-April) that tells the Acadian history well. Frédéric describes several viewpoints from which to admire their polder landscape.

Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne National Park is renowned for its role in geological evolution and its scenic beauty.

The park has textbook examples of the process of plate tectonics. It is one of the rare places on Earth where the deep ocean crust and the rocks of the Earth's mantle have become exposed. Gros Morne also holds many rock formations, glaciers, fjords and waterfalls.

Community Perspective: Prepare to spend at least a few days here, “The park has everything, mountains, waterfalls, fjords, beaches, rugged coastline with sea stacks, heritage communities and wildlife.” Highlights include Western Brook Pond (the boat tour to the fjord), the Tablelands (where the rocks of the exposed mantle can be seen) and the Green Gardens hike (through a tuckamore forest).

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump bears witness to a communal hunting technique practiced by native people of the North American plains for nearly 6000 years.

At this site, the Indigenous people killed American Bison by driving them off the 10-metre high sandstone cliff. The carcasses were processed at a nearby camp; deep layers of animal bones can still be found buried here, as are the stone markers that were used to direct the bison towards the cliff. This custom continued into the late 19th century and still forms part of the 'traditional knowledge base' of the Plains nations.

Community Perspective: great place to visit and with a good Interpretive Centre explaining the traditions of the Blackfoot Nation (though it could do with a few more authentic items). Trails take you around the outdoor site.

Joggins Fossil Cliffs

The Joggins Fossil Cliffs hold the most complete fossil record from the "Coal Age" of Earth's history, approximately 310 million years ago.

At the 14.7km stretch of cliffs, the fossilized remains of a coastal forest are exposed, including upright trees and terrestrial fauna such as the earliest known reptile. The fossils have remained in situ, in their complete ecosystem. Joggins also figures in Darwin's "On the Origin of Species".

Community Perspective: its attractive location at the Bay of Fundy (with the world’s highest tidal range) is a bonus. You can visit the fossil beach on your own or with a guide; most fossils on display there are of plants and trees.

L'Anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site comprises the remains of the only known site of Viking settlement and the earliest European settlement in North America outside of Greenland.

It was a year-round base camp for the exploration and exploitation of resources desirable in Greenland.  The settlement – with space for 70 to 90 people - was established in the early 11th century and abandoned about a decade later. The site contains the remains of eight timber-framed turf buildings, including an iron-smelting hut, in a similar style to those in Norse Greenland and Iceland.

Community Perspective: the site is located at the very tip of Northwest Newfoundland and you may spot icebergs floating by. Despite its remote location it is well-geared to receive tourists and offer them something to see and learn beyond the unassuming earthen mounds that hold the original remains.

Miguasha National Park

Miguasha National Park protects the world's greatest palaeontological record of fossils from the Devonian Period, known as the 'Age of Fishes'.

The fish, invertebrate and plant fossils were found at a coastal rock formation. Five of the six main fossil fish groups from this period (dating from 370 million years) can be found here. A great quantity of some of the best-preserved fossil specimens of lobe-finned fish, ancestors to the tetrapods (believed to be the first four-legged air-breathing terrestrial vertebrates), were found here.

Community Perspective:  the museum with its collection of well-preserved fossils comes recommended, while there isn’t much to see ‘outside’ anymore.

Mistaken Point

Mistaken Point is a 17-kilometer-long coastal strip renowned for its fossil deposits on exposed rock surfaces.

The more than 10,000 fossil impressions date from the middle Ediacaran, 580 to 560 million years ago. They show the transition of life on earth from microbe-dominated to the ancestors of animals as we know them. These large and complex organisms lived on the deep-sea floor.

Community Perspective: Located in the far southeastern corner of Newfoundland, this is considered the most interesting of the three fossil sites in East Canada. It has a small visitor center, but the main focus is the guided hike along the coastal marshland to the rock platforms with the fossils that have been kept mostly in situ and can be clearly seen.

Nahanni National Park

Nahanni National Park covers a spectacular wild river landscape further adorned with features of ongoing geological processes.

The centerpiece of the park is the South Nahanni River. Four great canyons line this whitewater river and it also holds one of North America’s most impressive waterfalls, Virginia Falls. The area sees tectonic activity, which has resulted in spectacular granitic peaks and hot springs.

Community Perspective: this is a remote and costly area to visit – you generally fly in and then continue on the river by canoe or raft. Sid and Gary did so, but we’d like to hear from more reviewers who can add specifics.

Old Town Lunenburg

Old Town Lunenburg, founded in 1753, is the best remaining example of planned British colonial settlement in North America.

Lunenburg was developed as a model town, with a rigid grid and wooden houses. Its vernacular architecture has been well-preserved. The town grew into an important seaport, shipbuilding centre and base for the offshore Atlantic fishery.

Community Perspective: It’s a very small town and you can easily walk through it within an hour or two. Many of the homes have little signs telling the name and job of their historical owners. Don’t miss the former Academy on the outskirts of town. The shipyards and fish plants (including the fisheries museum) are also worth seeing.

Pimachiowin Aki

Pimachiowin Aki is a large forest landscape in the heart of the North American boreal shield that holds sacred meaning for the Anishinaabe First Nations.

Pimachiowin Aki (“Land that gives life”) encompasses three provincial parks: Woodland Caribou and Atikaki Provincial Parks along with Eagle-Snowshoe Conservation Reserve and the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe First Nations. The Anishinaabe continue to live in this forested area in four small settlements and use its waterways for trapping and fishing. They also hold ceremonies at specific sites. Wildlife in the parks includes Woodland Caribou, Moose, Wolf, and Wolverine.

Community Perspective: Zoë is the only one who has reported on a visit so far, reaching the outer edges of the parks and searching for the cultural aspects in Bloodvein.

Québec

The Historic District of Old Québec is the most complete fortified colonial town left in North America.

Québec (founded in 1608) is one of the oldest colonial settlements in Canada. It served as the capital of New France and that of the British colony in 1763. The Historic District covers the Upper Town (with its administrative and religious buildings) and Lower Town (the district of commerce and the navy).

Community Perspective: “Europe in North America” and almost totally French-speaking. Overall a charming place to visit, with good views. Els has listed most of the individual sights within the old city.

Red Bay Basque Whaling Station

Red Bay Basque Whaling Station comprises the archaeological remains of the largest pre-industrial whaling site in north-eastern Canada.

The station was founded in the 1530s by Basque sailors, who made an annual transatlantic voyage to the site for summer whale hunting. They processed the whales in situ and took the oil home to Europe. The remains are mostly underwater or covered up. They include traces of buildings (including ovens for melting the whale blubber), whalebone deposits and shipwrecks.

Community Perspective: even when whaling is not your thing, you’ll enjoy the beautiful surroundings of this site. Take the boat out to Saddle Island (closed during the bird nesting season). Red Bay lies far from anywhere, but it is a relatively easy add-on to a trip to Newfoundland by ferry (see Randi’s review for the ‘difficult’ approach by gravel road).

Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America.

The 19th-century canal runs for 202 km from Ottawa, Canada's capital, to Kingston on Lake Ontario. The canal's initial purpose was military (to defend the British colony of Canada against the USA), later it opened up the area for settlement and commerce. It is mostly a slackwater canal due to the use of sections of the Rideau and Cataraqui rivers, as well as several lakes. About 19 kilometres of the route is man-made.

Community Perspective: easily accessible components are the Ottawa Locks (as described by Ian) and Kingston’s Fort Henry (Rob, Frederic). Jay and Els both drove southward along the Canal, stopping at different locks and towns.

SGang Gwaay

SG̱ang Gwaay holds the remains of traditional cedar longhouses and carved poles of the Haida.

This former village on the eastern side of Anthony Island was inhabited until the late 19th century. It still has a place in the traditions of the Haida culture. It has the largest collection of Haida totem poles in their original locations, many celebrated as great works of art.

Community Perspective: this is a remote place at the far southern end of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve. Jay recently delivered a full report on the experience of visiting (“the poles are still standing … but the fine details on the poles continue to fade"), including the practicalities of getting there.

Waterton Glacier International Peace Park

Waterton Glacier International Peace Park is known for its superlative mountain scenery of glacial origin.

The contiguous Waterton Lakes NP (Canada) and Glacier NP (USA) have formed the world's first International Peace Park since 1932, although they are administered separately. Its distinctive setting spanning the Continental Divide and high elevation variance has resulted in many climates and microclimates. It also lies where the mountains meet the prairie, so flora and fauna are diverse.

Community Perspective: both Canada and the USA have parks with better scenery than Waterton Glacier, but still there are some wonderful scenic drives and hikes to be found here. Emilia did a camping trip, Kyle stayed at Many Glacier, Els hiked to Bertha Lake and Klein did the Crypt Lake Trail.

Wood Buffalo National Park

Wood Buffalo National Park comprises the largest example of a Great Plains-Boreal grassland ecosystem and it holds the world's largest herd of Wood Bison.

The huge park includes grasslands, boreal forests, a large inland delta, salt plains and gypsum karst. Next to the estimated ca. 5,000 Wood Bison that live here, it is also an important nesting site of the endangered whooping crane.

Community Perspective: it takes an effort to get there by car, some 14 hours from Edmonton and 17 hours from Jasper National Park – fortunately the road is all-paved since 2018. Fort Smith is the hub of the park, it has a visitor center and you could even fly there. Randi and Zoë provide tips for ‘things to do’ inside the park, including hiking and a tour by float plane.

Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi

Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi, with its thousands of years old rock art, is a living sacred landscape for the Blackfoot people.

This prairie area holds thousands of examples of indigenous rock art, carved into the sandstone. They date from ca. 3,000 BP until and after the Contact Period. For the Blackfoot society of the past and the present, there is also a spiritual connection to its impressive landforms such as hoodoos and canyons.

Community Perspective: located in a pretty hoodoo landscape, the trails are worth exploring and the guided rock art tours are well-executed at the main location of Áísínai’pi. The other two components, Haffner Coulee and Poverty Rock, are unreviewed so far.

Central African Republic
Manovo-Gounda St. Floris

The Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park was designated a WHS because of its superlative natural formations and because it's the habitat of threatened animal species.

The park is large enough to include the entire basins of three rivers, and includes grassy floodplains, a variety of wooded savanna types, and woodlands, as well as the wetlands associated with the rivers, and the rugged sandstone Massif des Bongo.

At least eight threatened species occur within the park: black rhinoceros, elephant, red-fronted gazelle, leopard, cheetah, hunting dog, hoebill and crocodile. Also there are large bird populations.

Sangha Trinational

Sangha Trinational is a transboundary conservation zone of mostly forest landscape. It is centered along the Sangha river, a tributary to the Congo River.

The site is home to rare and endangered fauna species, including large ape populations such as the critically endangered Western Lowland Gorilla.

It is made up of three contiguous national parks:

  • Lobéké National Park in Cameroon
  • Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Congo
  • Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic.
Chad
Ennedi Massif

The "Ennedi Massif: Natural and Cultural Landscape" is an eroded mountain massif in the Sahara desert, containing numerous rock paintings and archaeological sites.

The sandstone plateau was sculpted by water and wind erosion, leading to scenically impressive features such as formidable rock arches and pinnacles. Though lying deep in the desert, the area sees regular rain. This results in a varied flora and fauna, and notably in the surviving Nile crocodiles in the permanent pocket of water called Guelta Archei. It became a refuge also for humans, who left rock art there. Nomadic pastoralists are still visiting.

Community Perspective: a difficult but rewarding site to visit, "spectacular in so many different aspects". It takes 3.5 days of solid driving on mostly unpaved roads to get there from the capital. You have it all to yourself, as it is unlikely to encounter any other tourists than the ones you arrived with. The most recent review describes what you may expect from a 4-day stay in the area.

Lakes of Ounianga

The Lakes of Ounianga are 18 connected, permanent lakes within the arid Sahara desert.

They are being fed by a system of fossil groundwater. The lakes are divided into two groups, 40km apart. They are the remaining part of a much larger lake that existed in this basin 5,000 - 15,000 years ago. The colour variety of the lakes, the floating reed carpets and the surrounding palm trees and sandstone landforms result in a place of high aesthetic beauty.

Community Perspective: The lakes are remote, they lie another day's drive north of the Ennedi Massif, across the pure desert of the Mourdi Depression and not far from the border with Libya. They are situated within an intriguing cultural landscape dedicated to the salt trade and the produce from date palms.

Chile
Chinchorro Culture

The Settlement and Artificial Mummification of the Chinchorro Culture in the Arica and Parinacota Region represent the long-practiced mortuary techniques and associated beliefs of this Pre-Columbian civilization.

The Chinchorro were marine hunter-gatherers who lived in these coastal areas of the arid Atacama Desert from 7,400 BP to 2,840 BP. They are known for their advanced mummification practices, and the oldest known artificially mummified human bodies have been found here. The area illustrating the Chinchorro habitat also consists of settlements, cemeteries, and shell middens.

Community Perspective: This site has 3 components, and the only reviewer so far (Walter) visited them all. Colon 10 in Arica is the location where you can get the closest to the mummies. Also, he found the Atacama desert landscape of this area spectacular.

Churches of Chiloé

The Churches of Chiloé are outstanding examples of the mestizo culture that resulted from Jesuit missionary activities.

Groups of missionaries would travel around the islands of the Chiloé archipelago. In each zone, they would build a church, looked after by local laymen for the rest of the year. This tradition was started by the Jesuits in 1608 and later continued by the Franciscans. European and indigenous cultural traditions were combined to create this unique form of wooden architecture.

Community Perspective: these churches are a great excuse to visit the beautiful surroundings of Chiloé and taste its excellent seafood. Nan visited 7 of them on public transport, Allan tackled 11 by rental car. Timonator (14/16) found out that they only have regular opening hours in January and February – the rest of the year you have to look for someone with a key.

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works

The Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works represent the technical heritage and the social transformation brought about by the saltpeter industry.

Exploiting the largest deposit of saltpeter in the world, these two industrial sites were in use from 1872 until the mid-20th century to produce nitrate fertilisers for the rest of the Americas and Europe. Thousands of workers lived in company towns in this remote environment and developed a distinctive Pampinos culture.

Community Perspective: Humberstone has the best-preserved town remains, while Santa Laura is the more impressive for its industrial area but is in a bad and potentially dangerous condition. The sites lie only 2 km apart and can easily be visited by local bus from Iquique.

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, is the communication and trade network developed by the Inca Empire.

The infrastructure needed exceptional technological and engineering skills in a difficult geographical setting in rural and remote parts of the Andes. The network supported the Inca Empire’s integration and was a symbol of its strength.

Community Perspective: As a serial transnational site comprising over 720km of road and 273 archaeological sites, it is hard to determine whether you have 'seen' it. Even more so as it is unclear whether the so-called Associated sites are inscribed as well. The latter include sites that are also WHS in their own right (Cusco, Tiwanaku). The main approach chosen is checking out a few locations near Lima or Cuzco and looking for traces of infrastructure (described well in Clyde’s review). Additionally, Allan has visited locations in Chile, and Els Ingapirca in Ecuador.

Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui National Park covers a fascinating archeological landscape developed by an isolated society and characterized by the huge moai.

Between the 10th and 16th centuries, the local population, descendants of settlers from Eastern Polynesia, created great stone works such moai (colossal statues representing ancestors) and ahu (ceremonial platforms). Additional archeological sites on the island include the quarries such as Rano Raraku, rock art sites, and Orongo, a ceremonial village.  

Community Perspective: Easter Island is a dream destination for many, though expensive and “logistically awkward”. Joseph found that “there is a haunting sadness to the site of a toppled, broken moai that affected me more than the standing statues”. Solivagant gives a good overview of the main sights that can be done in a day, while Dennis shares his 3-day itinerary and Nan zooms in on the practical details. Timonator is the first to report back on the drastic changes in visiting conditions that have taken place since Covid (guided tours required).

Sewell Mining Town

Sewell Mining Town is an example of an early 20th-century company town set up by a foreign company for copper mining.

The site is located in a harsh environment on the slopes of the Andes. Founded in 1905 by the Braden Copper Company, the commercial company built all infrastructure necessary to exploit what was to become the world’s largest underground copper mine. In its heydays, 15,000 people lived here. The remains consist of industrial installations and residential and social buildings.

Community Perspective: early reviewers have put quite an effort into finding out how exactly this site that is managed by a private company can be entered. The most recent review by Timonator (2023) provides the most up-to-date information. Some reviewers describe their visits as “eerie”, with “corridors of doors that are never opened or closed and hide an emptiness behind them”.

Valparaiso

The Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaiso testifies to Valparaiso's leading position as a merchant port in the late 19th century.

Valparaiso played an important role on the Pacific Coast during the early phase of globalisation, before the opening of the Panama Canal. The geographic location on steep hills and the different nationalities of the inhabitants have led to a distinct and innovative urban landscape.

Community Perspective: some of our reviewers were more bothered than others by the fact that Valparaiso's best days clearly are behind it. But the historic elevators to travel between the lower and upper parts are a joy, and the maze of stairs and alleys in the upper town are the highlights of a visit.

China
Chengjiang Fossil Site

Chengjiang Fossil Site holds marine fossils of a high diversity. They date from the early Cambrian period, 530 million years ago.

In its kind of species, it is complementary to the Burgess Shale and is 10 million years older than that Canadian fossil site. Most of the fossils are that of soft-bodied organisms.

Although fossils from the region have been known from the early part of the twentieth century, Chengjiang was first recognized for its exquisite states of preservation with the 1984 discovery of the naraoiid Misszhouia.

China Danxia

China Danxia refers to various landscapes of a unique type of petrographic geomorphology found in China. Danxia landform are formed from red-colored sandstones and conglomerates of largely Cretaceous age.

The Danxia landform is named after Mount Danxia, one of the most famous examples of the Danxia landform.

The other inscribed areas are:

  • Mountain Langshan and Mountain Wanfoshan (Hunan Province)
  • Taining and Guanzhishan (Fujian Province)
  • Mountain Longhushan and Guifeng (Jiangxi Province)
  • Fangyan and Mountain Jianglangshan (Zhejiang Province).

 

Classical Gardens of Suzhou

The Classical Gardens of Suzhou are the most refined representations of the art of classical Chinese garden design.

They are complex landscapes imitating natural scenery with pavilions, rocks, hills and rivers. The designs were specially adapted to the small space available in private gardens.

Suzhou's landscape garden design flourished in the 16th-18th centuries, resulting in as many as 200 private gardens. The four gardens originally included in the World Heritage List were: the Humble Administrator's Garden, the Lingering Garden, the Garden of the Master of Nets and the Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty. 

In 2000, the site was extended to also include five gardens dating from different periods than the original ones (from the 11th - 19th centuries), but have been well-preserved too and show Chinese landscape gardening in their own right.

Dazu Rock Carvings

The Rock Carvings in Dazu are highly authentic, have high aesthetic qualities and show the coming together of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

They date from the 9th to 13th centuries, and are considered to be the best representatives of the latest phase of rock art in China. They clearly demonstrate the ingenuity and craftsmanship of their artists with respect to carving techniques and subject matter. In that way, they differ from the other, earlier, Chinese rock art world heritage sites Yungang, Longmen and Mogao.

The designated area consists of five separate sites of cliffside carvings: Beishan, Baodingshan, Nanshan, Shizhuanshan and Shimenshan. Baodingshan is the most prominent site of these.

Dengfeng

The Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in "The Centre of Heaven and Earth" are 8 groups of sites located at the foot of the sacred Mount Songshan.

These sites are:

  • Taishi Que Gates, Zhongue Temple
  • Shaoshi Que Gates
  • Qimu Que Gates
  • Songye Temple Pagoda
  • Architectural Complex of Shaolin Temple (Kernel Compound, Chuzu Temple, Pagoda Forest)
  • Huishan Temple
  • Songyang Academy of Classical Learning
  • Observatory
Fanjingshan

Fanjingshan is an isolated mountain landscape with a high degree of endemism.

It is a rugged terrain of primary forest. It includes endangered floral and fauna species, such as the Guizhou snub-nosed monkey. Due to Fanjingshan’s wet climatological circumstances it also shows an extraordinary richness in bryophytes (mosses).

Fujian Tulou

The Fujian Tulou are unique communal residential buildings constructed by the Hakka people from Fujian Province.

The Tulou are several stories high and are enclosed by a thick earth wall. Some are circular in form while others are rectangular or square. They were built around a central, open courtyard with only one entrance and few windows. This building style was chosen because it made the houses well defensible. Each tulou was occupied by one family clan. The largest ones provided space up to 800 people. The tulou were built between the 14th and 20th century.

Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is the longest and oldest artifical waterway system in the world.

The canal comprises 10 main sections, containing 31 groups of inscribed buildings and passing through 8 provinces. It runs along a north-south axis originating in Beijing and ending at the sea port of Ningbo. The oldest parts of the canal date back to the 5th century BC, although the various sections were finally combined during the Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD).

It is considered the world's largest civil engineering project prior to the Industrial Revolution. The Chinese government used it for the unified administration of its territory and the transport of raw materials, rice to feed the people and troops.

Great Wall

The Great Wall is a masterpiece of construction of ancient China that has also high symbolic value.

The stone and earthen fortifications in northern China were built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups. The wall stretches for 8,800km and spans 17 Chinese provinces.

As it is "virtually impossible" to guarantee the perfect preservation of the whole length of the wall, the conservation is focused on the following parts:

  • Badaling section, a 7 km popular stretch
  • Jiayuguan Pass, the starting point of the western section of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty
  • Shanhaiguan, 26km of the northern wall until it meets the sea
Hani Rice Terraces

The Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces consists of irrigated rice paddies, forested mountain tops and 82 farming villages.

This landscape has been developed over the past 1300 years by the Hani people, one of China's official ethnic minority groups.

The site comprises 3 different valleys: Bada, Duoyishu and Laohuzui. Together they form the most concentrated area of steep rice terraces in China. They produce red rice. The terraces are irrigated via a complex system of channels that transport water from the surrounding mountain tops.

Huanglong

Huanglong has been acknowledged for its karst features such as travertine pools and limestone shoals.

Calcite deposition has lead to the pools being rich in algae and minerals, which results in orange, yellow, blue and green coloured waters. The site is located in the North-West of China's Sichuan Province.

At its inscription in 1992, it was recommended that Huanglong and nearby Jiuzhaigou (also in the Min Shan mountain range) would be inscribed as one site.

Huangshan

Huang Shan (meaning Yellow Mountain) is a mountain range that has played a leading role in the cultural, literary and artistic history of China because of its scenic beauty.

It has attracted a large number of poets, painters and other artists. Its attraction lies in the peculiar shapes of the granite peaks, in the weather-shaped Huangshan Pine trees, and in views of the clouds from above. The area also has hot springs and natural pools.

The mountain range comprises 77 larger peaks. The mountains were formed in the Mesozoic, about 100 million years ago, when an ancient sea disappeared. Later, in the Quaternary, the landscape was shaped by the influence of glaciers. Because the mountain tops are often above cloud level, they offer views of the clouds from above and interesting light effects.

Hubei Shennongjia

Hubei Shennongjia is a forested mountain massif mostly known for its floral diversity.

It has been a place of significant scientific interest particularly for botanists. It lies within the Daba Mountains evergreen forests ecoregion, in Central-eastern China. The site consists of two locations, Shennongding/Badong and Laojunshan, separated by a 10km wide corridor.

Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang with their grand palatial architecture represent the Chinese civilisation at the time of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The Imperial Palace of the Ming Dynasty lies in Beijing, and is now commonly known as the Forbidden City because the general public had no access to it. When the capital of the Ming Empire was moved to Beijing in 1421, the emperors took up residence in the Imperial Palace. It was not meant to be a home for a mortal king but for the Son of Heaven. The exact, grid-like geometric pattern of the complex reflects the strongly hierarchical structural of imperial Chinese society.

The Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty in Shenyang is a smaller complex dating from the 17th century. Its architecture shows Manchurian influences.

Imperial Tombs

The Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties are examples of funerary architecture built on the principles of feng shui.

The Ming Tombs comprise two distinct burial sites: Xiaoling Tomb of the First Emperor and the tombs of 13 other emperors of the Ming Dynasty. Xiaoling Tomb lies in Nanjing, the others at the foot of Tianshou Mountain, north of Beijing.

Furthermore: the Xianling mausoleum of the Ming dynasty (near Zhongxiang), the western Qing tombs, and the eastern Qing tombs (120km east of Beijing).

The Qing Tombs are located in northeastern China. They comprise three tombs in Shengjing: Yongling Tomb, Fuling Tomb, and Zhaoling Tomb.

Jiuzhaigou Valley

Jiuzhaigou Valley is a mountainous area with series of lakes and waterfalls containing clear, mineral-rich water.

The natural beauty of the site lies in the over 100 strange-coloured lakes and terraces. They are the result of karst erosion and deposits. Some of the lakes are swamps. Others contain large quantities of grass, underground rivers or a wealth of algae.

The Valley is located in China's Northern Sichuan Province, in the Min Shan mountain range.

Kaiping Diaolou

The diaolou of Kaiping are fortified multi-story towers, built by returning Chinese immigrants from America, Canada, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

They display a fusion of Chinese and Western decorative forms. The towers were constructed in the 1920s and 1930s when there were more than 3,000 of these structures. The diaolou served as housing and as protection against forays by bandits (and later the Japanese). Three separate forms can be distinguished: communal towers, residential towers and watchtowers.

Of the approximately 1,800 diaolou still standing today, 20 of them in the following areas make up the designated site:

  • Sanmenli Village
  • Zili Village & the Fang Clan Watch Tower
  • Majianlong Village Cluster
  • Jinjiangli Village
Koguryo Kingdom

The "Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom" consists of three former capitals and 40 tombs.

These archaeological sites represent the extinct Koguryu civilization that existed from the 1st century BC until the 7th century AD in what is now Northeast China and North Korea.

The cities are the first capitals of the Koguryo Kingdom, Wunu Mountain City and Guonei City, and Wandu Mountain City. Of the thousands known Koguryo tombs, the designated area includes 14 Imperial Tombs and 26 tombs of Nobles. The latter are decorated with wall paintings, describing daily life scenes.

This WHS is closely related to Koguryu Tombs in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The tombs there belong to a later period of the Koguryu Kingdom. 

Kulangsu

Kulangsu: A historic international settlement covers an island where interchange of Chinese, South East Asian and European architectural and cultural values occurred since the opening of a commercial port at Xiamen in 1843.

Foreign missionairies, diplomats and workers lived on Kulangsu while working in the larger city Xiamen across the strait. They were instrumental in introducing modern western culture and technology to China. The historic urban settlement consists of 931 structures (residences, schools, hospitals, gardens). The fusion of cultures resulted in a new architectural style: the Amoy Deco Style, which originated on Kulangsu and this is where the best representations of it can be found such as the Hongning Hospital and the Yanping Complex.

Liangzhu Archaeological Site

The Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City show the accomplishments of the urban civilization in the Yangtze River Basin from the late 4rd and 3rd millennium BC.

The city was the centre of power and belief of the Liangzhu culture, an early regional state. The culture possessed advanced agriculture, including irrigation, paddy rice cultivation and aquaculture.

Longmen Grottoes

The Longmen Grottoes are caves with Buddhist carving, dating from the end of the 5th century to the mid 8th century. The grottoes are dotted on either side of the river Yi.

The carvings were developed when Emperor Xianwen moved the Northern Wei capital to Luoyang in 493.

Cave temples like this, which are replicas of temples on the ground, originate in India. Its most prominent examples there are the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. The concept came to China together with the spread of Buddhism via the Silk Route.

Lushan National Park

Lushan National Park is a cultural landscape known for its natural beauty. It has inspired many Chinese artists, writers, philosophers and scientists.

The Lushan world heritage site contains four kinds of cultural relics:

  • archaeological sites.
  • inscriptions.
  • historic buildings.
  • Chinese and foreign villas.

 

 

 

Macao

The Historic Monuments of Macao represent the early and long encounter between Chinese and European civilizations.

Macao was the first European enclave in Asia. Its colonial history started with the arrival of Portuguese tradesmen in 1557. Over the years they developed Macao into one of the major trade ports in Asia - as a stopover on the route to Japan or as part of the Silk Route by sea. Macao is also the longest-lasting and finest example of interchange between Chinese and Western civilizations.

The monuments that make up this WHS are divided into two zones:

  • The central area can be found along the Rua Direita, leading from the ancient Chinese harbour in the south to the old Christian city in the north. Major monuments here are the A-Ma temple, the Leal Senado Square and the Ruins of St. Paul's Church.
  • The second zone, a bit more to the northeast, is centered around Guia Hill. Here the Chapel and the Lighthouse are protected.
Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor

The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor is known for its life-size terracotta statues of warriors.

They are seen as major works in the history of Chinese sculpture and valuable for the insight they provide into the social and military history of the period. This monumental archeological site was discovered by chance in 1974 by farmers. Three pits have been uncovered so far, containing over 8000 figures of warriors and horses.

Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China and a man fond of grand projects (the Great Wall of China also was his idea), arranged for this burial site himself. The Terracotta Army that was to be buried with him was to help him rule another empire in the afterlife. 700.000 men reportedly worked on the construction of the mausoleum for 38 years. The statues were made factory-like at the construction site. After completion, the terracotta figures were placed in the pits in precise military formation according to rank and duty.

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries

The Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea - Bohai Gulf of China cover a mudflat system serving as bird foraging and resting areas.

The inscribed area with 2 components is the first part of a much broader future one.

Mogao Caves

The Mogao Caves are a system of 492 rock-cut cells and sanctuaries near Dunhuang, in the desert landscape of Gansu Province. They are known for their artistic achievement (statues and wall paintings), the cultural exchange they represent, and the Buddhist monastic history.

Because of its strategic position along the Silk Route, the caves attracted many pilgrims and a variety of cultural influences from the 4th until the 14th century.

The complex once held over 1000 caves with rock art. About 40 of them date from the Northern Wei-dynasty (385-557). More were added during the Sui-dynasty (581-618). Most of the caves were made during the Tang-dynasty (until ca. 750), when Buddhism and the Silk Route were in their prime.

Mount Emei, including Leshan Giant Buddha

Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, comprises the place where Buddhism was first established in China. It is also outstanding for its plant species diversity.

The Giant Buddha of Leshan measures 71 m high overall, which makes it the largest statue of the Buddha in the world.

Emei became a sacred Buddhist site following the sixth-century visit of Bodhisattva Puxian and his six-tusked elephant. Here Buddhism first became established on Chinese territory and from where it spread widely throughout the east. Covering Emei Shan is a sub-tropical forest with many endemic and endangered plants. They include orchids, primulas, rhododendrons, camellias, ginkgos, cycads and tree ferns. The mountain is frequently covered in a dense cloud, with associated high rainfall and humidity.

Mount Qingcheng and Dujiangyan

Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiang Irrigation System comprise the intellectual and spiritual centre of Taoism and an ancient water management system that has survived up to the present day.

As early as the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE), Mount Qingcheng was recognized as one of the eighteen sacred mountains and rivers used for sacrificial purposes. The eleven Qingcheng Taoist temples can be compared to the Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains, but the former have a simpler style using the traditional architecture of western Sichuan and are considerably older.

The origins of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System date back to 256 BC, when the provincial governor Li Bing set up an irrigation scheme to counter the devastating flooding caused by the Min River. His system makes subtle use of the local topography. The original system has been preserved, but modern building materials and technology have been utilized to enable this ancient system to conform to the requirements of the present day.

Mount Sanqingshan

The Mount Sanqingshan National Park holds an outstanding scenery of granite peaks and pillars.

The area also has numerous waterfalls, valleys, lakes and springs. The massif is covered with temperate forest, home to rare and endangered plant species.

Its visual impact is enhanced by the ocurrence of meteorological effects like bright halos on clouds and white rainbows.

Sanqingshan (San Qing Mountain) is made up of three main summits: the Yujing Mountain, Yushui Mountain and Yuhua Mountain. The park is located in Jiangxi Province, southwest of Shanghai.

Mount Taishan

Mount Tai (Chinese: Tai Shan) is a mountain of historical and cultural significance located north of the city of Tai'an, in Shandong Province. Its tallest peak is Jade Emperor Peak.

Mount Tai is one of the "Five Sacred Mountains of Taoism". It is associated with sunrise, birth, and renewal, and is often regarded the foremost of the five. The temples on its slopes have been a destination for pilgrims for 3,000 years.

 

Mount Wutai

Mount Wutai is a sacred mountain, one of the Four Sacred Mountains in Chinese Buddhism.

It takes its name from its unusual topography, consisting of five rounded peaks (North, South, East, West, Central).

Mount Wutai is home to some of the oldest existent wooden buildings in China that have survived since the era of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). This includes the main hall of Nanchan Monastery and the East Hall of Fuguang Monastery, built in 782 and 857, respectively.

Mount Wuyi

Mount Wuyi, located at Fuijan province, is the most outstanding biodiversity conservation zone of Southeast China.

It's the largest and most representative example of Chinese subtropical forests and South Chinese rainforests' biodiversity.

The designated area also contains a series of exceptional archaeological sites, including the Han City established in the 1st century BC and a number of temples and study centres associated with the birth of Neo-Confucianism in the 11th century AD.

Mountain Resort, Chengde

The Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples, Chengde, is a piece of landscape design that served as the summer resort of the Qing emperors.

By the end of the 17th century, the Qing emperors began to look around for a cooler retreat than Beijing. In Chengde they created a summer residence, exploiting mountains, woods and other existing natural features to which they added contrived landscapes to make settings for innumerable pavillions, palaces and temples.

Outside the palace walls, to the north and west, a total of 11 temples were built. Many of them were built in Tibetan style. Divided into eight groups, they became known as the Eight Outer Temples. The main gates of these buildings pointed towards the palace, symbolising the unity of China's various ethnic groups under the central rule of the Qing emperors.

Old Town of Lijiang

The Old Town of Lijiang represents a fusion of indigenous Naxi architecture and culture with external influences.

The Naxi-minority descends from Tibetan nomads. They have a matriarchal family tradition and an over 1000 years old script. This script consists of pictograms, and is kept alive by some individuals. 

Lijiang has an ingenious ancient network of waterways, that is supplied by the mountain springs. Via canals the houses in town are connected to this network. The cobbled streets, bridges and houses add to the picturesque picture of this ancient town.

Peking Man Site

The Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian is an important finding place of early Asian hominids such as one of the first specimens of Homo erectus, dubbed Peking Man.

Over 500.000 years ago, the caves in this limestone area were inhabited by early hominids. They stayed for the next 300.000 years. When this hominid race disappeared, the caves became naturally filled in, and the tools, food scraps and bones in them remained covered by deposits until modern times. The site was discovered in 1921 by the Swede John Gunnar Andersson. Intensive excavation began in 1927. The site yielded nearly 200 pieces of Peking Man fossil (representing around 40 individuals), over 10.000 stone artifacts, several layers of ash as evidence of fire use, and more than 100 specimen of fossil animal.

In the Upper Cave, discovered in 1930, the remains of 20.000 to 10.000 years old homo sapiens have been found.

Ping Yao

Ping Yao is an integral and well-preserved ancient Chinese city from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). Its urban plan and defensive line have not significantly changed since.

It is now renowned for its well-preserved ancient city wall and the imposing buildings associated with banking, for which Ping Yao was the major centre for the whole of China in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Among its monuments are:

  • Ten Thousand Buddha Hall of Zhen Guo Temple
  • Main Hall of the Confucian Temple
  • Qing Xu Daoist Temple
  • Temple of the Town God
  • County Administrative Building
Potala Palace

The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa, represents the apogee of Tibetan architecture and the combination of religious and secular authority. It has been extended to include Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka Summer Palace.

The Potala was the administrative, religious and symbolic center of Tibet's theocratic government for many centuries. It served as the winter palace of the Dalai Lama. The Potala has 13-stories and stands over 117 meters high. Within the palace, there are many outstanding wall paintings and tangkas.

The Jokhang is Tibet's most sacred Buddhist temple, located in the centre of the old town of Lhasa. The Norbulingka ('Jewelled Garden') was the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lamas since its construction in the 18th century. It had the same functions as the Potala, and thus those two are inseparably linked. It holds among others the residence of the 14th Dalai Lama before he fled to India.

Qinghai Hoh Xil

Qinghai Hoh Xil covers two protected areas on the high altitude Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau: Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve and the Soja-Qumar River sub-zone of Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve.

Temperatures average sub-zero year-round. Glacial meltwater supplies the many rivers, lakes and marshlands in these reserves. The site is also important as calving area and place of seasonal migration of large numbers of Tibetan antelope.

Quanzhou

'Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song–Yuan China' is a serial nomination of the representative monuments and sites of Quanzhou - an important port city in China in the prosperous period of the Maritime Silk Roads.

It testifies to the development of the ocean civilization and the unique ocean culture in China’s southeast coastal area in the prosperous period of the Maritime Silk Roads from the 10th century to the 14th century and contribution to the interchange of the Chinese people and foreigners on religious beliefs and their representation in the urban culture, architectural design and sculpture art.

Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries

The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, located in southwest Sichuan province, are home to more than 30% of the world's highly endangered Giant Pandas and are among the most important sites for captive breeding of these pandas.

It covers 9245 km2 with seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains. Along with the Giant Panda, the sanctuary is a refuge for other endangered species such as the red panda, the snow leopard, and the clouded leopard. Outside of the tropical rainforests, it is among the botanically richest sites of the world and is home to between 5,000 and 6,000 species of flora.

Silk Roads

Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor comprise a heritage route of some 5,000 km linking Chang'an in central China with the heartland of Central Asia.

The network facilitated extensive cultural and economic exchange, resulting in the development of towns, forts, water management systems, caravanserai, and Buddhist and other religious buildings. It functioned between the 2nd century BC and the 16th century AD.

Community Perspective: as a serial site with 35 locations spread wide across 3 countries, the main ‘problem’ is which one to choose. The easiest are in Xi’an, as well as the double-inscribed sites Longmen Grottoes and Mogao Caves. Alternative locations covered by reviewers are Yumen Pass, Burana, Talgar and Suyab - Ak Beshim, and Yar City.

Site of Xanadu

The Site of Xanadu encompasses the remains of Kublai Khan's legendary summer capital of the Yuan Dynasty.

Located on the route between the former Mongolian capital Karakorum and the Han center Dadu (Beijing), it shows a unique mix between Mongolian and Han Chinese traditions. It is located in the current Chinese autonomous region of Inner Mongolia. The city was built in 1256, and became the summer capital in 1274. The city became an important stopping place on the silk route. In 1368 it was conquered by the Ming and destroyed.

The site at the edge of the Mongolian plateau includes the former city with temples and palaces, water control works, tombs, natural features (grassland, wetland) and traditional oboo (stone cairn) shrines of the Mongolian nomads.

South China Karst

South China Karst can be considered as one of the two great karst regions of the world.

Within this 97,125 area spread out over 4 provinces, Shilin is regarded as the world’s best example of stone forests. Guilin Karst is widely acknowledged as having the world’s best expression of a tower karst landscape and has been internationally recognized as the type-site of continental tower karst. The site consists of 12 parts.

Summer Palace

The Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing, is a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design that is noted for its harmony and large scale.

It is also known as the "New Summer Palace", to distinguish it from the remains of an older one. The palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill (60 meters high) and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water. The front of the hill is rich in splendid halls and pavilions, while the back hill, in sharp contrast, is quiet with natural beauty.

The imperial gardens date from 1750. The complex suffered two major attacks during the Anglo-French allied invasion of 1860, and during the Boxer Rebellion, in an attack by the eight allied powers in 1900. The garden survived and was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902.

Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven was the place where the Emperor of the Ming and Qing dynasties would worship heaven and pray for good harvests.

Built first in 1420, and then expanded and reconstructed, the Temple of Heaven is a precious example of China's ancient architectural art and the largest architectural group for worshipping heaven in the world.

The most prominent building in the temple's complex is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. 38.2 metres in height and 24.2 metres in diameter, it is supported by immense pillars. The painted roof has 50.000 blue glazed tiles and a golden point.

Temple, Mansion and Cemetery of Confucius

The Temple and Cemetery of Confucius, and the Kong Family Mansion are three important sites in Confucianism.

They are located in Qufu, Shandong Province. Together with the Summer Palace in Beijing and the Mountain Resort of Chengde, the Temple of Confucius in Qufu is one of the three largest ancient architectural complexes in China. East of the Temple of Confucius, is the Kong Family Mansion. Kong is the family surname of Confucius and his descendants.

Confucianism has had the most enduring and profound effect over Chinese culture. As time went on, Confucius became respected as a sage, and the temples to Confucius were built as a landmark for all of China. Among them, the Temple in Qufu, the hometown of Confucius, is the most famous and the largest.

Three parallel rivers of Yunnan

The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas represent a landscape of river gorges and high mountains.

The areas are situated in Yunnan Province, south-west China. The site consists of 15 protected areas (in eight geographic clusters) in the mountainous northwest of the Province. It extends over a total area of 1.698.400 ha, encompassing the watershed areas of the Yangtse (Jinsha), Mekong (Lacang) and Salween (Nujiang) rivers.

Tusi Sites

The Tusi Sites are three examples of the Tusi system in which inheritance of official positions was granted to tribal leaders in ethnic minority regions.

The practice was used in China’s feudal period between the 13th and 20th century. Laosicheng Site, Hailongtun Site and Tang Ya Tusi Site are located in mountainous regions in southwest China. They are also testimony to the traditional cultures and cultural practices of the Tujia, Gelao and Miao Ethnic Peoples. Originally the Tentative Site included a fourth location, Rongmei Tusi Site, but it was left out of the final nomination.

The system was abolished in 1953, when the People's Republic of China established the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Region.

West Lake

The West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou is an implementation of the classical Chinese landscape ideal by improving the natural landscape with bridges, causeways, pavillions etc.

The 'improved' landscape had a profound impact on the design of gardens not only in China but also further afield.

 

 

 

 

Wudang Mountains

The Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains is renowned for its many Taoist monasteries and secular buildings which have had a profound influence on Chinese art and architecture.

The Wudang Mountains are a small mountain range in Hubei province. The site includes palaces, monasteries, nunneries and temples. Most date from the 14th to 16th centuries. It is an important destination for Taoist pilgrimages. 

Wulingyuan

Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area is famous for its approximately 3,100 tall quartzite sandstone pillars, some over 200 meters in height. They are a kind of karst formation.

Between the peaks lie ravines and gorges with streams, pools and waterfalls, and some 40 caves, as well as two large natural bridges. Remote from the outside world, the site is 85% covered with trees, and 99% covered with vegetation.

Xidi and Hongcun

The Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui - Xidi and Hongcun are two exceptionally well preserved traditional Chinese villages from the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Their townscapes are developed in harmony with the natural environment, using the geomantic principles of Feng Shui.

The Huizhou style is the predominant architecture in the villages: white walls, dark tiles, horse-head gables, stone drums or mirrors and open interior courtyards are common features. It was the style favoured by the local merchant class.

Xinjiang Tianshan

Xinjiang Tianshan is a mountain range that holds glaciers, snowcapped peaks, alpine meadows, lakes and canyons.

These mountains are in stark contrast with the surrounding six deserts, of which part of the Taklamakan Desert is within the WH area borders.

This site covers the Chinese part of the Tianshan mountains, which extend into Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Tomur is its highest peak at 7,443m.

The site has 4 components:

  • Tomur
  • Kalajun-Kuerderning
  • Bayinbuluke
  • Bogda
Yin Xu

Yin Xu is an archaeological site containing the remains of Yin, the last capital of China's Shang Dynasty (1766 BC - 1050 BC).

It represents the golden age of early Chinese culture, crafts and sciences in a time of great prosperity.

Yinxu is also famous for the discovery of 'oracle bones', inscriptions on animal bones and tortoise shells which are thought to be the beginnings of Chinese characters and writing. They bear invaluable testimony to the development of one of the world's oldest writing systems, ancient beliefs and social systems.

Yungang Grottoes

The Yungang Grottoes are excellent examples of Buddhist cave art, dating from the 5th and 6th centuries.

The site stretches about 1 kilometer from east to west, and holds 53 caves with 51,000 statues. Yungang is a relic of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) of the nomadic Toba people. They recruited 3,000 monks from along the Silk Route to turn Buddhism into their state religion.

The caves can be divided into 3 phases:

  1. Caves 16-20 (Five Caves of Tan Yao, where the Wei-rulers were depicted as living Buddhas).
  2. Caves 1, 2, 3, 5-13 (more varied and Chinese in concept).
  3. Caves 4, 14, 15, 20 and the rest (smaller caves).

During these phases, the 'foreign' Indian Buddhism turned into a Chinese folk religion.

In 494, the Wei moved their capital from Datong to Luoyang and the Yungang Grottoes slowly fell into decay. The caves used to be protected by wooden temple buildings, but most of them burnt down. Many of the artwork was stolen in the early 20th century and now resides in museums and private collections around the world.

Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art

The Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape comprises three locations with thousands of pictographs, painted on steep cliff faces along the river in a karst landscape.

The paintings were made by between the 5th century BCE to the 2nd century AD by the Luoyue people. The site is a cultural landscape and also includes hamlets and villages where people still perform rituals connected to the rock art.

The pictographs can be seen from boats and wooden platforms. They cover four distinct phases of painting, and include depictions of bronze drums, ferry boats and human figures.

Colombia
Cartagena

The Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena, comprise a port city and the remains of military constructions built by the Spanish.

Cartagena de Indias holds a strategic position at the commercial maritime routes in the Caribbean. From the 16th century on, the Spanish designed a defense plan to protect the city against the plundering of English, Dutch and French pirates. It led to one of the most extensive and complete systems of military fortifications in South America. Within the walled city, three neighbourhoods developed with fine civil, religious and residential monuments.

Community Perspective: the overall feel is much more Caribbean than South American, and one can easily spend 2 days here walking the city walls and exploring the historic center. But “it is so fully geared to tourism that sooner or later you will get fed up with it”.

Chiribiquete National Park

Chiribiquete National Park - "The Maloca of the Jaguar" is a very large and inaccessible national park in the Amazon rainforest, known for its tepuis and painted rock shelters.

The tepui or tabletop setting has led to a high level of endemism, with numbers expected to rise when more research will be done in the future. The park is home to a healthy population of jaguar and other vulnerable mammal species. It also protects flooded forests called “Purus Varze”. Sixty rock shelters with ca. 75,000 paintings are present at the foot of the tepuis. The depicted scenes are linked to a purported cult of the jaguar and their ceremonial use extends into the present day by isolated indigenous communities.

Community Perspective: tourism into the park is not allowed because of the “potential threat to the rights .. of the voluntarily isolated and uncontacted indigenous peoples” (IUCN Outlook 2020). The only way to catch a glimpse is “through flyovers by small planes on pre-arranged flight paths that are designed to be far away from known human settlements”. Zoë reports about a visit to an area near San José del Guaviare with similar (but uninscribed) rock art.

Coffee Cultural Landscape

The Coffee Culture Landscape of Colombia is a system of collectively cultivated coffee plantations in a mountainous landscape.

The area comprises 6 regions with a total of 18 villages and 24,000 small coffee farms. Together they account for around 35% of Colombian coffee production. The plantations and associated villages were founded in the 19th century and are still in use.

Community Perspective: the first reviewers tried to make sense of which areas exactly are part of the core zone, until Solivagant shed light on the matter. Els describes the particular way of coffee production that got the site inscribed, and Solivagant (in his 2nd review) highlights the coffee towns.

Los Katios National Park

Los Katíos National Park is renowned for its high biodiversity and high regional endemism.

Because of its location on the Darien isthmus, it filtered the interchange of flora and fauna between North and South America. The park comprises the mountains of the Serranía del Darién and the floodplain of the Atrato River, with lowland swamp forests such as the Ciénagas de Tumaradó. Notable fauna species found in Los Katios include the giant anteater, tapir, jaguar, spectacled caiman and American manatee. More than 450 species of birds have been recorded.

Community Perspective: The park is officially closed to the public (source: IUCN Outlook 2020), but you can view it from the Atrato River by taking a boat from Turbo to Riosucio which crosses the core zone.

Malpelo

Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary is a strictly protected marine landscape holding impressive populations of marine species, including large top predators.

This sanctuary in the Pacific Ocean consists of the small, barren Malpelo Island and the wider marine environment. It is a no-fishing zone which has allowed the underwater environment to stay in excellent condition. The rugged underwater topography includes steep walls, caves and tunnels.

Community Perspective: the only way to experience this site is via a live-aboard diving cruise. Zoë describes how it compares with the Galapagos and Cocos Island.

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, is the communication and trade network developed by the Inca Empire.

The infrastructure needed exceptional technological and engineering skills in a difficult geographical setting in rural and remote parts of the Andes. The network supported the Inca Empire’s integration and was a symbol of its strength.

Community Perspective: As a serial transnational site comprising over 720km of road and 273 archaeological sites, it is hard to determine whether you have 'seen' it. Even more so as it is unclear whether the so-called Associated sites are inscribed as well. The latter include sites that are also WHS in their own right (Cusco, Tiwanaku). The main approach chosen is checking out a few locations near Lima or Cuzco and looking for traces of infrastructure (described well in Clyde’s review). Additionally, Allan has visited locations in Chile, and Els Ingapirca in Ecuador.

San Agustín

San Agustín Archaeological Park is a pre-Columbian archaeological site containing the largest collection of megalithic sculptures on the continent.

The sculptures, carved from volcanic rock, vary from abstract forms to realistic images of gods and animals. Most monuments adorn funerary sites, except for the Fuente de Lavapatas, a religious monument carved in the stone bed of a stream. They were constructed during the Agustinian Culture, which flowered from the 1st century AD.

Community Perspective: the site consists of 3 separate locations, and you can easily spend 2 days here as there are some non-inscribed but worthwhile sites in the area as well. Iain visited in 1996, during a period when military roadblocks were common so “getting there was half the fun”.

Santa Cruz de Mompox

The Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox represents a riverport from the Spanish colonial era.

The town connected the seaport of Cartagena with the interior via the Magdalena River. It further enabled Spanish colonization and the growing trade. In the nineteenth century, Mompox lost much of its economic importance: due to the lack of modern influences, the original Spanish elements such as churches, private houses and the street plan have been preserved in their authentic state.

Community Perspective: nowadays reachable by a 6.5h bus ride from Cartagena, but Mompox has been difficult to access before the 21st century – as described well in Solivagant’s review. The historic centre doesn’t take long to explore, but all reviewers so far enjoyed it for its lethargic atmosphere and historical significance.

Tierradentro

The National Archaeological Park of Tierradentro is renowned for its pre-Columbian hypogea.

The park features elaborate hypogea dating from the 6th to 9th centuries AD, carved into the volcanic tuff. The typical hypogeum has an entry oriented towards the west, a spiral staircase and a main chamber with several lesser chambers around, each one containing a corpse. The walls are painted with geometric, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic patterns in red, black and white.

Community Perspective: Tierradentra lies in a remote part of the country and requires considerable effort to reach by public transport. On-site, four of the five locations can be easily accessed via a walking trail starting from the park entrance/museum, and guards posted at each of the tombs will open them up for visitors. Solivagant has described the merits of each of these four locations, while Jarek and Lucio also visited Aguacate, which takes another 1.5-2 hours of hiking.

Congo (Democratic Republic)
Garamba National Park

Garamba National Park aims to protect the world's last known wild population of the critically endangered northern white rhinoceros.

It comprises an area of savannah, marshland and forests in the far northeast of the DR of Congo, on the border with South Sudan. The park was established in 1938, making it one of Africa's oldest national parks.

Since inscription in 1980, the park has been declared ‘In Danger’ twice. The northern white rhino population dwindled as a result of poaching from 1,000 in 1960 to 21 at the moment of WH inscription. It suffered further from 1996 on, due to the influx of South Sudanese refugees and rebels. In 2005 there were only four remaining northern white rhinos in Garamba National Park. However, they have not been seen since 2006 and it is feared they have been killed and the species has become extinct in the wild.

Kahuzi-Biega National Park

Kahuzi-Biéga National Park encompasses a montane and a lowland area, covered by primary tropical forest that is one of the last refuges of the endangered Eastern Lowland Gorilla.

The Eastern Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) is the largest subspecies of the Gorilla and the largest living primate. Prior to the conflicts in Congo and Rwanda in the 1990s, an estimated 600 gorillas remained throughout the range. The ongoing fighting in the Congo has moved within the boundaries of the park causing looting, burning of the forest, and poaching of the animals. Consequently, the park was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 1997.

The park is located in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the western side of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. It is named after two extinct volcanoes, Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biéga.

Okapi Wildlife Reserve

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve is home to about 5,000 of the estimated 30,000 okapi surviving in the wild.

The Reserve, created in 1992, is located in the north-east of the DR of Congo.

This Wildlife Reserve is part of the Ituri rainforest. The reserve also contains other many endemic and threatened species of primates and birds. It shares the same geographical region and many features with two other WHS, Dja Faunal Reserve and Salonga National Park.

Some 4,000 people live inside the reserve, mostly Mbuti pygmies.

Salonga National Park

Salonga National Park is Africa's biggest tropical rainforest reserve. It consists of two locations: a northern and a southern sector, separated by a 40km wide settlement zone.

It is a very isolated park, located at the central basin of the Congo river and crossected by many rivers. The park can only be reached via water transport, and in parts is considered to be completely virgin and never accessed by man. It covers an area of 3,656,000 ha.

The park is also home to many endangered fauna species notably the bonobo. The bonobo or pygmy chimpanzee is only found in the wild here and in surrounding reserves. The bonobo diverges about 0.4 % from the common chimpanzee genome. It is possible that the formation of the Congo river led to the speciation of this particular chimpanzee species (they're not great swimmers). They're now an endangered species, with 29,500 - 50,000 individuals left.

Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park covers an area of 7 active volcanoes with a high diversity of plants and animals. Vulnerable or endangered species that live here include the hippopotamus, the mountain gorilla, the lowland gorilla, and the eastern chimpanzee.

Covering 7,800 km2, it was established in 1925 as Africa's first national park (then called Albert National Park), in order to protect the mountain gorillas. From the mid-1980s poaching and the Congo Civil War have seriously damaged the park’s forests and its wildlife population.

Varying in altitude from 680 m to 5,109 m, Virunga has a wide range of habitats: from savannah and marshlands to permanent glaciers and snow. It covers the western shores of Lake Edward, known for its 20,000 hippopotamuses. The Rwenzori Mountains lie on the Ugandan border and rise to alpine meadows and a glacier, while Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira are the most active African volcanoes with substantial associated lava plains.

Congo (Republic)
Sangha Trinational

Sangha Trinational is a transboundary conservation zone of mostly forest landscape. It is centered along the Sangha river, a tributary to the Congo River.

The site is home to rare and endangered fauna species, including large ape populations such as the critically endangered Western Lowland Gorilla.

It is made up of three contiguous national parks:

  • Lobéké National Park in Cameroon
  • Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Congo
  • Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic.
Costa Rica
Cocos Island

Cocos Island National Park covers a remote oceanic island primarily known for its marine ecosystem, that is globally significant for sharks.

Situated at a meeting point of major currents, marine species come here for feeding, reproduction and ‘cleaning’ (having parasites removed by specialised fish). The sharks range from the near-threatened Silky and Lemon Shark to the Hammerhead Shark; aggregations of large pelagic fish can also be seen and the area is visited by Blue Whale and Bottlenose Dolphin. The island is covered by a tropical rainforest and a cloud forest, and has three endemic bird species.

Community Perspective: it takes 36 hours of cruising on a live-aboard dive boat to reach. Zoë reports on the excellent diving, without another dive group in sight.

Guanacaste

The 'Area de Conservación Guanacaste' covers diverse landscape and forest types, including a rare vast stretch of Pacific Tropical Dry Forest.

This ecosystem ranges from 12 miles into the Pacific Ocean, with its upwelling and coral reefs, to the coastal dry tropical forest and the lowland Caribbean rainforest it interacts with. It is a habitat for threatened or rare fauna species like the False Vampire Bat, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, Jaguar, and Mangrove Hummingbird.

Community Perspective: located in northern Costa Rica not far from Liberia airport, this is a contiguous area of seven protected zones. Rincon de la Vieja National Park is the most visited of those, while Horizontes Forestry Experiment Station is easily accessible too. 

Stone Spheres of the Diquís

The Precolumbian chiefdom settlements with stone spheres of the Diquís are four archaeological sites containing mysterious ball-shaped stone objects.

The settlements date from the Chiriqui Period (800-1500 CE), during which a hierarchical society developed in southern Costa Rica. The area contains artificial mounds, paved areas and burial sites. The man-made stone spheres are rare in their perfection and large size (up to 2.57m diameter). The sites were rediscovered, and often damaged in the process, in the 1930s as the United Fruit Company was clearing the jungle for banana plantations

Community Perspective: Finca 6 is the main location of the four (it also has a small museum), located at an active banana plantation, and the only one really visited and reviewed so far.

Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves

Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves/La Amistad National Park comprises a large mountain range covered with dense forests and marks of glacial activity.

Both the high mountains, the glacial features such as cirques and lakes and the natural forests are unique to Central America. It is also a land bridge connecting animal and plant species from North and South America. This is a vast contiguous and transboundary site comprising 8 parks: Barbilla, Chirripó, Hitoy Cerere, La Amistad (Costa Rica), La Amistad (Panama), Las Tablas, Rio Macho and Tapantí-Macizo de la Muerte.

Community Perspective: It is quite hard to gain deep access to any of these parks; they are best for hiking and birding. In Costa Rica, Anthony visited La Amistad, Esteban Chirripo National Park, and Els Tapantí-Macizo de la Muerte. Jarek covered the Las Nubes section of La Amistad on the Panama side.

Croatia
Cathedral of St. James in Sibenik

The Cathedral of Saint James in Sibenik is a Gothic-Renaissance construction built entirely from stone.

It was built in three phases, by three architects, between 1431 and 1535. Its style started out as Venetian Gothic, but was turned to Renaissance by the two latter architects (Georgius Mathei Dalmaticus and Niccolá di Giovanni Fiorentino). These were also responsible for the characteristic sculptures. Slabs of stone from the island of Brac were used, even for the dome where stone wedges held the tiles in place.

The cathedral suffered damage during both World War II and the fighting in 1991. The reconstructions that have been carried out since have been true to the original model and techniques.

Dubrovnik

The Old City of Dubrovnik is a late-medieval walled city known for its Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque monuments.

It developed under the name of “Ragusa” from the 14th century on as a maritime city-state. In its heydays during the 15th and 16th centuries it was a rival of Venice. A devastating earthquake in 1667 destroyed most of its public buildings and ended the city’s prosperity.

Dubrovnik’s city walls, which were mainly during the 12th-17th centuries, are fully intact. They encircle most of the Old City, and are almost 2km long.

Euphrasian Basilica in Porec

The Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Porec is one of the best examples of early Byzantine architecture and art (mosaics).

The basilica was rebuilt in the year 553 under the Byzantine Empire and bishop Euphrasius on the site of the older basilica that had become dilapidated. For the construction, parts of the former church were used and the marble blocks were imported from the coast of the Sea of Marmara. The wall mosaics were executed by Byzantian masters and the floor mosaics by local experts. 

The complex is composed of:

  • A 6th-century octagonal baptistery - Built in the 5th century together with the pre-Euphrasian basilica, and underwent considerable alterations.
  • A 16th-century bell tower - Built in the 16th century from top of which there is a view over Porec, the surrounding countryside and the sea.
  • A colonnaded atrium - Built after the basilica, it is covered on all four sides by a portico that houses a rich collection of stone monuments.
  • An Episcopal 6th-century residence (The Bishop's Palace) - Also built in the 6th century, but very little remains of the original building.
  • A trefil-shaped memorial chapel - Built in the 17th and 19th centuries.
Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes National Park comprises 16 lakes that are known for their scenic beauty and distinctive colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue.

The Plitvice Lakes lie in a basin of karstic rock, mainly dolomite and limestone, which has given rise to their most distinctive feature. The lakes are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae and bacteria. The colours change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.

The site has been on the World Heritage List in Danger from 1992-1997, as a result of the so-called 'Plitvice Lakes Incident' and its consequences, which in March 1991 was the start of bloody Croatian War of Independence and Freedom.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Split

The Historic Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian is both an archeological and an urbanistic monument that has been in use from Roman times.

At the end of the third century AD, the Roman Emperor Diocletian (from local Illyrian origin) built his palace here. He spent the last years of his life in it, after abdicating in 305.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, his palace was divided into small houses for the local population. Diocletian's mausoleum was turned into a cathedral. Romanesque churches from the 12th and 13th centuries, medieval fortifications, Gothic palaces of the 15th century, and other palaces in Renaissance and Baroque style make up the rest of the protected area.

Stari Grad Plain

The Stari Grad Plain is an agricultural landscape of vineyards and olive trees that has been in continuous use since Greek Antiquity.

The farming land on the island of Hvar is divided into regular-sized parcels, which are called chora. Their authentic dry stone walls mark the boundaries between the individual parcels. Also, little beehive-shaped sheds (for storage of tooling) and cisterns were constructed. These methods were introduced to Hvar by Greeks from the island of Pharos, who colonized the area in the 4th century BCE.

The Greeks also founded a town, Paros (now Stari Grad). The historic part of the city of Stari Grad is part of the core world heritage area too, although the remaining evidence of the Greek period is limited here.

Stećci

The 'Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards' are 28 medieval cemeteries in south-eastern Europe.

The decoration and inscriptions on the mostly limestone monolithic tombstones represent a specific tradition of the area. They include Christian religious symbols, dancing and hunting scenes, geometric shapes and Cyrillic inscriptions.

The inscribed tombstones have been selected from the surviving 70,000 or so still standing in the region and date from the 12th to the 16th centuries. The singular ‘Stećak’ (plural: Stećci) means ‘tall, standing thing'.

Trogir

The historic city of Trogir shows a medieval townscape on classical foundations that has survived almost intact into the 21st century.

Trogir was founded by Greek colonists in the 3rd century BCE on a little island. It flourished under the Romans and expanded its power significantly under Venetian rule (13th 15th centuries).

 

 

 

 

 

Venetian Works of Defence

Venetian Works of Defence Between 16th and 17th centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar are 6 fortifications along the Adriatic Sea that date from the historic Republic of Venice.

They represent the evolution of Venetian military solutions and their innovations in architecture and methods. In the whole, they created a defensive line that guarded the Venetian commercial network.

Cuba
Alejandro de Humboldt National Park

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park covers a range of ecosystems unparalleled in the insular Caribbean.

The karst landscape is crossected by many rivers. The park has a high biodiversity, with high numbers of endemic flora, and vertebrates and invertebrates.

The park lies in the eastern Cuban provinces of Holguín and Guantánamo. It was named after the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt who visited the island in 1800 and 1801.

Camagüey

The Historic Centre of Camagüey has an unusual radius-concentric urban model.

The nucleus is the Plaza Mayor, from where numerous churches and convents can be found in equidistant positions to the four winds. Most of Camagüey’s churches are the result of the city’s prosperity in the 18th century, when so many new ones were built that it got the nickname “City of Churches”.

The city’s domestic architecture is reminiscent of Andalusia. Clay is used as the main construction product, both in buildings and in the large earthenware jars that were used for storing water. Houses are generally low, having one floor only. The streets are narrow, opened up by 7 large squares and 13 smaller ones.

Cienfuegos

The Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos is the best extant example of 19th-century urban planning principles in the Americas.

The city was founded in 1819. Its homogenic architecture and streetplan was influenced by the Spanish Enlightenment and French colonists. The latter were invited here by request of the Spanish crown, which wanted to attract white settlers after the Haitian rebellion of 1791.

The main public square Parque José Marti (former Square of Arms) contains a band shell, the Worker’s Arch and fountains, and is surrounded by monumental buildings like the Cathedral, City Hall and Theatre. The streets are of a neo-classic straight and symmetric design, with use of porches and arcades.

Cienfuegos, situated on a Bay, is one of the prime seaports of Cuba.

Desembarco del Granma National Park

Desembarco del Granma National Park has been recognized for its marine terraces and pristine sea cliffs.

Its terrestrial area has several karst features and rich endemic flora, while coral reefs can be found in the sea. The submarine terraces of Cabo Cruz and Maisí are like gigantic stepping stones.

This national park lies in south-eastern Cuba. It was named after the yacht in which Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Raúl Castro, and 79 of their supporters sailed from Mexico to Cuba in 1956 and incited the Cuban Revolution.

First Coffee Plantations

The Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the Southeast of Cuba forms a unique testimony of agricultural exploitation for coffee production.

The plantations are located in the mountain valleys of the Sierra Maestra.

The designated zone contains the remains of 171 historic coffee plantations. They were established in the 19th and early 20th century, by French colonial plantation owners who had fled Haiti after independence.

Old Havana

Old Havana and its Fortification System represents a historically important colonial city.

Havana was founded by the Spanish in 1519 in the natural harbor of the Bay of Havana. It became a stopping point for the treasure laden Spanish Galleons on the crossing between the New World and the Old World.

The designated area consists of a set of 18 fortifications along the coast and the harbour, the old city center (Habana Vieja) and 19th century extensions. The Castillo de la Real Fuerza is the the oldest extant colonial fortress in the Americas. Other important remaining castles include Castillo del Morro, La Cabaña fortress and San Salvador de la Punta Fortress.

The pattern of the early urban setting has survived in the historic centre.

San Pedro de la Roca Castle

San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba, is a 17th century fortress which is considered the best preserved and most complete example of Spanish-American military architecture.

The castle and associated batteries protected the canal that leads up to the harbour of Santiago.

The castle was designed by the Italian Giovanni Battista Antonelli in Renaissance style. It was built on a promontory (morro in Spanish) with steep cliffs. Series of stairways connect the various levels, with constructions dating from various ages.

The fortress has been damaged and rebuilt several times after earthquakes and piracy attacks.

Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios

Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios are linked because of the sugar trade, which resulted in Trinidad's prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Trinidad was founded in 1514, and became a bridgehead of the conquest of the American continent. Nowadays it is one of the best-preserved cities in the Caribbean from the time when the sugar trade was the main industry in the region. Many stone buildings from that period survive, including impressive public buildings and single-storey domestic houses with verandas and multi-coloured walls.

In the Valley de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugarmills), the San Luis, Santa Rosa and Meyer valleys were a centre for sugar production from the late 18th century until the late 19th century. A large number of slaves were employed at the sugar plantations. Sugar mills such as Manacas-Iznaga, San Isidro and Palmarito remain, as well as a few villages of craftsmen, plantation houses and slave quarters.

Viñales Valley

Viñales Valley is a living cultural landscape where traditional agriculture is practiced.

Due to its fertile soil and favourable climate, farming started here in the 17th century. It got a boost in the 1860s because of the rise in tobacco cultivation, which still is the main crop.

The valley lies in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio. This is a karstic depression, a plain surrounded by cliffs up to 400m high rising like islands from the bottom of the valley (the mogotes). The cliffs hold numerous caves such as Cueva del Indio, Cueva de San Miguel and Caverna de Santo Tomás. Inside there is dripstone and rock art. The natural flora and fauna is characterized by many local endemic species.

Cyprus
Choirokoitia

Choirokoitia is one of the most important prehistoric archeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean.

This only partially excavated site preserves the remains of a proto-urban settlement. It was founded around 7000 BC, in the Neolithic, as the result of colonization from the Near East. The settlement consisted of circular houses, with the dead buried under the floors of the houses of their living relatives.

Community Perspective: “a jumble of stones”, but the replica circular huts/houses built next to the archaeological remains and the booklet on sale at the entrance help to better understand the concept.

Painted Churches in the Troödos Region

The Painted Churches in the Troödos Region comprise ten rural Byzantine churches and monasteries that are renowned for their paintings.

Their rich interiors present an overview of Byzantine and post-Byzantine painting. The architecture of the churches is indigenous: on the inside there's the classical form of a Byzantine church, on the outside it often looks like a stable or a farm. The extra layer on the outside was constructed to be able to cope with the heavy snowfall that can occur in the Troödos Mountains.

Community Perspective: “You won't be able to visit them all if you're in a hurry and you won't enjoy your visit if you're in a rush.” Two days and a rental car are necessary at least. The review by Kbecq provides access information for all 10 churches while departing from Nicosia, and Riccardo's does so when basing yourself in Kakopetria. Tsunami’s story reminds us of what travel could be like during Covid.

Paphos

Paphos is an archeological site of a place of worship from Antiquity, with fine mosaics.

It was known for its cult of the fertility goddess of Venus and has been in use since the Neolithic. The town blossomed as one of the oldest Mycenaean settlements. The mosaics of Nea Paphos, displaying scenes from Greek mythology, date from the later Hellenistic and Byzantine periods.

Community Perspective: located near a very touristy beach resort, the mosaics are generally considered the highlight of a visit to this sprawling site that covers a significant timespan in a way that isn’t always harmonious. Squiffy’s review (updated in 2023) gives a detailed overlook of all components and the practicalities involved.

Czechia
Cesky Krumlov

The Historic Centre of Cesky Krumlov is best known for the fine architecture and art of the old town and Krumlov Castle.

Construction of the town and castle began in the late 13th century at a ford in the Vltava River, which was important in trade routes in Bohemia. The town became the seat of the Duchy of Krumlov.

Between 1938 and 1945 it was annexed by Nazi Germany as part of the so-called Sudetenland. The town's German-speaking population was expelled after liberation by the American Army during World War II and it was restored to Czechoslovakia.

Gardens and Castle at Kromeríz

The Gardens and Castle at Kromeríz are a Baroque aristocratic ensemble of residence and pleasure garden.

The Pleasure Garden is a rare and complete example of a Baroque garden. It was the creative design of Filiberto Lucchese and the execution of his design by Giovanni Pietro Tencalla. Count Karel Liechtenstein-Castelcorn acted as their patron, renovating the palace in a Baroque style in 1664.

The castle used to be the principal residence of the bishops and (since 1777) archbishops of Olomouc. It houses a splendid art collection, with works by Dutch, Flemish, and Italian masters, many of them acquired by Bishop Karel in 1673. The Kromeríz musical archive is outstanding too, as is the Library.

Great Spa Towns of Europe

The Great Spa Towns of Europe represent the development of a specialized urban landscape that combined medical aspects, physical exercise and leisure.

These eleven Spa Towns are centered on natural mineral springs, which waters were used for bathing and drinking. The towns were expanded with important examples of  ‘spa architecture’, such as the ‘kurhaus’, drinking halls, theaters and casinos. They flourished from around 1700 to the 1930s.

Community Perspective: expect to find some fine Art Nouveau buildings, do some hiking, taste the water and most of the towns have modern spa facilities as well. Reviews of all inscribed towns are available: in Austria, Baden (Tsunami), in Belgium, Spa (Els, Clyde), in the UK, Bath (a double entry), in Italy, Montecatini Terme (Marian), in France, Vichy (Tsunami), in Germany, Baden-Baden (Caspar, Hubert), Bad Kissingen (Hubert), Bad Ems (Els), and in Czechia: Karlovy Vary (Matejicek, Hubert, Nan), Mariánské Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert), and Františkovy Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert).

Holasovice

Holašovice Historic Village is a historic rural village which has preserved its typical vernacular architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries.

From the 16th century on, settlers from Bavaria and Austria arrived. They brought with them the tradition of masonry building for domestic structures.

The village was deserted after the Second World War, allowing its medieval plan and vernacular buildings in the South Bohemian Folk or Rural Baroque style to remain intact. It was restored and repopulated from 1990.

Holy Trinity Column

The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a work of art celebrating the power and glory of the Roman Catholic Church.

Its construction started in 1717. The total height is 35 meters.

The column is the work of the master stonemason Václav Render, who designed it and mostly paid for it himself. After his death in 1733 he left his fortune to the city of Olomouc. The artist Ondrej Zahner finished his work between 1745 and 1752.

The column is the most splendid example of a Baroque column construction craze all over Central Europe, which started out with Plague columns decorating many town centres in the 17th century and later turned to Trinity columns.

Kladruby nad Labem

The Landscape for Breeding and Training of Ceremonial Carriage Horses at Kladruby nad Labem is a site designed exclusively for the breeding and training of Kladruber horses, which were used in ceremonies by the Habsburg imperial court.

It is one of the most significant horse-breeding institutions in Europe and continues to function to this day. The extensive terrain consists of three farms and a landscape park.

 

Kutna Hora

Kutna Hora: Historical Town Centre with the Church of Saint Barbara and the Cathedral of our Lady at Sedlec symbolize the wealth this city derived from silver mining.

The earliest traces of silver have been found dating back to the 10th century. The silver boom started in the 13th century.

The town of Kutná Hora has several interesting late medieval buildings, built in Gothic style. They include the Italian Court (location of the Mint) and the Little Castle. The late Gothic Saint Barbara Church dates from the 1380s. Saint Barbara is the patron saint of miners.

The Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec was rebuilt by Jan Blazej Santini in the Gothicizing Baroque style (early 18th century). It lies 1.5km outside of Kutna Hora, and was part of a Cistercian monastery.

Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape

Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape is an artificial landscape that evolved during the Enlightenment and the Romantic period under the guidance of the House of Liechtenstein.

This ducal family acquired and merged three estates, and transformed them using Baroque, Classical and Neo-Gothic architectural styles. Central to the property are two country houses, Lednice and Valtice. The surrounding area is covered with pines and ponds and holds numerous bigger or smaller pavilions, often serving as hunting lodges. A framework of avenues and paths providing vistas and rides also was developed.

Community Perspective: most enjoy the landscape that was created, with Frederik praising the Lednice gardens and Hubert happily exploring the area by bicycle. The Czech national wine institute at Valtice comes recommended too. Here you can also enjoy the classical European palace interior tour (Ian was exceptionally happy to find a locked door to the ticket hall). Els hated the place, but Matejicek points out its meaning for the Czechs: “In times before 1989, this place was one of the few, where one could feel an aristocratic flair of former Habsburg Empire.”

Litomysl Castle

Litomysl Castle is a monumental Renaissance castle dating from the years 1568-1581.

It is an outstanding and immaculately preserved example of the arcade castle, a type of building first developed in Italy and modified in the Czech lands to create an evolved form of special architectural quality.

The noble family of Pernstejn's rebuilt the original Mediaeval castle into a Renaissance castle in the second half of the 16th century. Despite of later reconstructions of interiors especially at the end of the 18th century the appearance of the castle remained almost intact including the unique scoring decoration of facades and fronton.

Mining Cultural Landscape Erzgebirge

Erzgebirge / Krušnohoří Mining Region is a mining region that has been used from the Middle Ages onwards.

The 95x45 km area is located in southeastern Germany (Saxony) and northwestern Czechia. Amongst the raw materials mined over the course of centuries were ores of the metals silver, tin, zinc, cobalt, nickel, copper and lead; but anthracite and uranium were also extracted into the 20th century. 

Pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk

The Pilgrimage Church at Zelena Hora was designed by the Czech-Italian architect Jan Blazej Santini Aichl, who delivered a masterpiece out of a combination of gothic and baroque styles.

The church was the first major shrine to St. John (Jan) of Nepomuk, a local martyr who had died in 1393. Abbot Vaclav Vejmiuva of the nearby Cistercian Abbey was a great follower of St. John, and had the church constructed in close collaboration with the architect Santini.

Already from its beginnings (1721) the church was meant as a place of pilgrimage. The cloister, which encircles the chapel and is based on a ten-point-star groundplan, was completed later (in 1769).

Prague

The Historic Centre of Prague played a prominent role in medieval Central Europe. It has seen continuous urban development from the Middle Ages to the present, resulting in an architectural ensemble of outstanding quality.

The WHS area consists of the following parts:

  1. Old Town (Stare Mesto), with the Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock and Charles Bridge
  2. Lesser Town (Male Strana) on the left (west) bank of the river Vltava and below the Prague Castle
  3. New Town (Nove Mesto), including the Wenceslas Square

Additionally to the Historic Centre there is a second location 15km away: Průhonice Park.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Telc

The Historic Centre of Telc is a medieval planned town that has preserved its original layout and the castle-settlement relationship very clearly.

The quality of its architecture is high, particularly the Renaissance market place and chateau.

The triangular market place possesses great beauty and harmony as well as great cultural importance, surrounded as it is by intact and well preserved Renaissance buildings with a dazzling variety of facades.

Trebic

The Jewish Quarter and St. Procopius Basilica of Trebic bear witness to the coexistence of and interchange of values between the Jewish and Christian cultures from the Middle Ages until the Second World War.

The St. Procopius Basilica originally was constructed in the 13th century as part of a Benedictine Abbey. It is made of granite and sandstone and has both Romanesque and early Gothic features. The existence of the Abbey at this site stimulated the development of a marketplace, which attracted among others also Jewish merchants.

Trebic's Jewish Quarter is the most representative of its kind in Central Europe, It is considered the most complete, including synagogues, Jewish schools, a hospital and a factory. The quarter has a characteristic condominium structure: there were often several owners in one house and buildings were internally subdivided. Above the Jewish Quarter is the Jewish Cemetery, consisting of about 4000 tombstones. All Jewish inhabitants were deported in WWII, and nobody returned.

Tugendhat Villa

The Tugendhat Villa is a masterpiece of the Modern Movement in architecture. It was created by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

The building in Brno was built in 1930 for Fritz Tugendhat, owner of a Brno textile factory.

Exquisite materials and modern technologies were used in the construction of this house. Its main structure is made of reinforced concrete with steel frames. The exterior of the house is painted white. The back wall of the living area is made of onyx panels from the Atlas Mountains.

The original furniture was also designed by Mies van der Rohe, such as the so-called Tugendhat chair.

Côte d'Ivoire
Comoé National Park

Comoé National Park centered around the Comoé River has a high diversity of plant and bird life.

The park is one of the largest protected areas in West Africa and covers a transitional zone between the forest and the savanna, with habitats such as fluvial forests and riparian grasslands. It is home to a wide diversity of wildlife, including 500 bird species, three species of crocodiles, plus chimpanzee, African wild dog and elephant.

Community Perspective: “a site only for the very committed wild-life fan (or the WHS completist)”. Iain visited in 1995 and found neither the landscape nor the vegetation particularly attractive. Anthony had a disappointing visit in 2017: he found a shut-down ranger station and swarms of tse tse flies, and the chimps hadn’t been seen in a decade.

Grand-Bassam

The historic town of Grand-Bassam is an example of rational town planning from the colonial period.

Built in the 19th century, this seaport was the French colonial capital of Cote d'Ivoire. Europeans and Africans lived divided into separate residential quarters. It had commercial and administrative zones, in which historic buildings in a sober and functional colonial style have been preserved. The indigenous N’zima village and its vernacular architecture already existed before colonization and were later incorporated into the urban plan.

Community Perspective: Lauren visited in 2019, and found it easily accessible though without tourist infrastructure.

Mount Nimba

Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve comprises montane forests with a high number of endemic plant and animal species.

These species include multiple types of duikers, big cats, civets, and several types of viviparous toads. It also has a population of chimpanzees using stones as tools. The Nature Reserve consists of high-altitude grassland, plains savannah and primary forest including rain forest. Its diversity is supported by the occurrence of a variety of microclimates.

Community Perspective: Iain visited the Guinean part in 1995 and witnessed a landscape with “a number of tumbling sparkling rivers and waterfalls, several natural bridges and possibly the biggest bamboo I've ever seen”.

Sudanese style mosques

The Sudanese style mosques in northern Côte d’Ivoire is a group of eight mosques erected since the 17th century.

They were constructed when Islam spread southwards from North Africa and the Middle East along these trade towns. Their distinct adaption of Sudanese architecture lies in the use of mud brick masonry, with façades reinforced with buttresses and strands, pyramidal towers and cone-shaped minarets. The mosques are still in use.

Community Perspective: Thomas reports on his visit to the mosque of Kong. The other 7 mosques remain unreviewed.

Taï National Park

Taï National Park contains one of the last areas of primary tropical forest in West Africa.

The vegetation is mainly characterized by tall trees with massive trunks. A large number of epiphytes and lianas can be found. The humid forest is home to a breadth of flora and fauna: it holds about 150 endemic flora species, 250 bird species and endangered mammal species such as the pygmy hippotamus, bongo, chimpanzee, pangolin (three species) and forest elephant.

Community Perspective: this site so far has been unreviewed.

Denmark
Aasivissuit - Nipisat

Aasivissuit-Nipisat, Inuit Hunting Ground between Ice and Sea, is a cultural landscape shaped by the seasonal migration of the Inuit.

This Arctic landscape holds key locations along routes that were used from coast to inland in summer and then back again in late autumn. They are archaeological sites and settlements that are still in use. This landscape was settled about 4,200 years ago, with (Palaeo-)Inuit sustaining themselves by marine and terrestrial hunting.

Community Perspective: to put your feet in the area, it only needs participation in a trip to the glacier from Kangerlussuaq – “you drive past/through them but you don't really see anything spectacular” as Zoë sums it up. Michael explored the area on his bike and managed to find a WHS information plaque. The 7 named key locations (settlements, summer camps) so far have been unreviewed.

Christiansfeld

Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement, is a townscape that resulted from a planned idealized Protestant colony.

The town was founded in 1773 by the Moravian Church, following a strict plan with homogenous and unornamented buildings. It reflects the Church’s principles such as including buildings for the common welfare. From the German village of Herrnhut, the first Moravian missions were directed to northern Europe and Christiansfeld is the best-preserved example of such settlements.

Community Perspective: there is a heritage trail with 27 locations that you can follow around town, but it still covers two streets only. The church and the cemetery are worth a visit, as is the Christinero which lies a bit further away in the buffer zone. Caspar stayed overnight and Jay compares Christiansfeld with a visit to Moravian Bethlehem.

Ilulissat Icefjord

The Ilulissat Icefjord is the outlet of the pre-eminent glacier in the northern hemisphere, globally only surpassed by Antarctica in terms of size and calving.

The site consists of Sermeq Kujalleq, the most productive glacier draining the inland icecap on Greenland, and the iceberg-filled tidal fjord named Kangia. The glacier has been a long-time object of scientific study and has significantly added to the understanding of ice-cap glaciology, climate change and related geomorphic processes.

Community Perspective: this stunningly beautiful area can be explored on foot, by boat or by helicopter, and it takes several days to take in its many features. Be aware that this destination doesn’t come cheap. And that the spectacularly calving Eqi glacier mentioned in some of the reviews is outside of the core zone.

Jelling

Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church comprise outstanding examples of the pagan Nordic culture and its transition into Christianity.

The archeological site consists of two pagan royal burial mounds and two stones with runic inscriptions in between them. The large runic stone commemorates the unity of Denmark and the conversion to Christianity by Harald Bluetooth around the year 965. He also built the first wooden church on site, which has since been replaced by the current stone one.

Community Perspective: “one of those places whose significance is perhaps greater and more interesting than the site itself might indicate”. You can be done here in less than half an hour, but Clyde recommends re-visiting at night as the engravings are better visible then. The free on-site museum gets favourable opinions as well.

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle is a Renaissance castle built at a strategic position between the North Sea and the Baltic.

Located at a narrow stretch of water called the Sound, it allowed Denmark to control the passage into the Baltic Sea and extract a toll from the passing ships. Kronborg was a combination of a fortress and a richly decorated palace-castle. The current castle dates from 1574, but had to be almost fully reconstructed due to a fire in 1629.

Community Perspective: To most reviewers, it is “fairly typical of European palaces”. Solivagant zooms in on the castle’s Shakespearean links and Astraftis highlights its Renaissance features.

Kujataa

Kujataa Greenland: Norse and Inuit Farming at the Edge of the Ice Cap represents farming and marine hunting cultures adapted to life in the Arctic.

The cultural landscape has features such as archaeological sites, agricultural lands and sheep farms. They include elements belonging to the Norse Greenlandic culture, the first emigrants from Europe to settle here and introduce farming, and to the Thule Inuit culture.

Community Perspective: both reviewers so far described a visit to the “beefed up” former Norse settlements Bratthalid and Gardar, located not far from the international airport of Narsarsuaq.

Par force hunting landscape

The par force hunting landscape in North Zealand is an intentionally designed landscape used for hunting by the Danish kings in the 17th and 18th centuries.

‘Par force’ stands for ‘by force (of dogs)’, the noblest form of hunting where a specific animal was run down and exhausted by mounted hunters and dogs before the kill was made. This technique was developed in France and adopted widely across Europe by the royalty and nobility to display their power. The landscape consists of man-made forests and ride systems in a rigid orthogonal grid pattern.

Community Perspective: the easiest to visit component is Jægersborg Dyrehave just outside of Copenhagen, but read Ian’s review on why you shouldn’t. Clyde visited Gribskov Forest (“can only be really appreciated using drone photography”) and Store Dyrehave (like a treasure hunt), as did Els.

Roskilde Cathedral

Roskilde Cathedral is a brick Gothic cathedral that serves as the mausoleum of the Danish Royal Family.

Originally dating from 1170, it was the earliest large church in Northern Europe made out of brick. In the centuries afterward extensions such as chapels were added in the current styles of their time and in 1536 its use (and therefore its interior setting) changed from Catholic to Protestant. The Danish royals are buried here in monumental tombs.

Community Perspective: “Another cathedral”, but a quite unique one with special features such as the somewhat austere Protestant interior, the Chapel of the Magi from 1463, the elegant tombs and it being a brick building. Also in Roskilde lies the recommended Viking Museum. Astraftis did an extensive review including practical information and history.

Stevns Klint

Stevns Klint illustrates the impact of an asteroid that created the global mass extinction of species some 67 million years ago, known as the Chicxulub event.

These cliffs show high-quality exposure of the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T) boundary section: the border is visible as a reddish layer in the strata. Scientists here developed a new theory that the mass extinction that ended the Age of Dinosaurs wasn’t caused by extensive volcanism in India, but was due to the impact of a giant asteroid. The cliffs of Stevns Klint are also rich in fossils from before and after the K/T boundary layer.

Community Perspective: Only die-hard WHS collectors come here for anything else than the coastal panoramas and ice cream: it is to look at that one narrow sediment layer. The Kalklandet app is needed to help ‘see’ it. Ian and Clyde managed to find some fossils too. Claire reports that the small onsite museum now has been closed (2019) and it seems that “whoever is in charge of managing this site has lost interest in it”.

Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands, rich in biological diversity

The area is typified by extensive tidal mud flats, deeper tidal creeks and the transitional zones between the sea, the freshwater environment and the surrounding (is)lands. Its coastal wetlands are considered one of the most important areas for migratory birds in the world, with an average of 10-12 million passing through it each year. 

Community Perspective: the site comprises 7 components and different national parks (the bigger islands mostly aren’t included). Reviews are available for places in the Netherlands (John, Clyde, Chris, Els), Germany (John, Ian, Michael, Nan) and Denmark (John). The ‘proper’ way of exploring the Wadden is via a mud hike like the ones Kbecq, Assif and Nan reported on.

Dominica
Morne Trois Pitons

Morne Trois Pitons National Park covers a volcanic landscape that has one of the rare largely intact forest areas remaining in the Insular Caribbean.

The park is centered around the 1,342m high volcano Morne Trois Pitons ("mountain of three peaks"). Geomorphologic features as a result of a series of volcanic eruptions include the Valley of Desolation, a region of boiling mud ponds and small geysers; the Boiling Lake, Titou Gorge, and Emerald Pool. The forests are home to many endemic vascular plant species and endemic bird species.

Community Perspective: visitors recommend a tour of the breathtaking Titou Gorge, which requires a combination of hiking and swimming.

Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo

The Colonial City of Santo Domingo was an early colonial settlement in the New World, that strongly influenced the development of other cities in the Americas.

Santo Domingo was founded in 1498, and its monumental buildings include the Western Hemisphere's first cathedral, its first monastery, its first hospital, its first university, and its first court of law. The city is laid out in a grid pattern adapted to the geographical circumstances.

Community Perspective: The Colonial Zone is not very big, and can easily be explored on foot. The star attraction is the well-preserved Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor,  and the Parque Colón, a beautiful tree-covered plaza, also comes recommended.

Ecuador
Galapagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species and the studies by Charles Darwin that led to his theory of evolution by natural selection.

It is an archipelago made up of 13 main volcanic islands, 6 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets. The oldest island is thought to have formed between 5 and 10 million years ago, a result of tectonic activity. The youngest islands, Isabela and Fernandina, are still being formed, with the most recent volcanic eruption in 2005.

The islands are distributed around the equator, 965 kilometres (about 600 miles) west of Ecuador.

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, is the communication and trade network developed by the Inca Empire.

The infrastructure needed exceptional technological and engineering skills in a difficult geographical setting in rural and remote parts of the Andes. The network supported the Inca Empire’s integration and was a symbol of its strength.

Community Perspective: As a serial transnational site comprising over 720km of road and 273 archaeological sites, it is hard to determine whether you have 'seen' it. Even more so as it is unclear whether the so-called Associated sites are inscribed as well. The latter include sites that are also WHS in their own right (Cusco, Tiwanaku). The main approach chosen is checking out a few locations near Lima or Cuzco and looking for traces of infrastructure (described well in Clyde’s review). Additionally, Allan has visited locations in Chile, and Els Ingapirca in Ecuador.

Quito

The City of Quito has a well-preserved historic centre dating from colonial times, and its streets are still dotted with churches, convents and public buildings from that period.

The historic centre has conserved its original configuration, built to fit the topographical challenges being spread along the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano. Its religious buildings show the architecture, sculpture and painting of the so-called ‘Quito School’, a product of cultural syncretism between indigenous and European features.

Sangay National Park

Sangay National Park contains two active volcanoes (Tungurahua and Sangay) and ecosystems ranging from tropical rainforests to glaciers.

Over 400 bird species inhabit the Park, and it has been recognized as an Important Bird Area. It is also home to the endangered spectacled bear and mountain tapir (both only found in the Northern Andes). The park is located in the Morona Santiago, Chimborazo and Tungurahua provinces of Ecuador.

Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca

The Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca is an example of an inland colonial town, founded by the Spanish in 1557 on a green-field site.

The town was established to support the agricultural development of the area. It is located in the Andean highlands at about 2500m above sea level, on a strategic position between Quito and Lima.

Cuenca was laid out according to a strict grid. Notable monuments include:

  • New Cathedral
  • Old Cathedral
  • Carmelite Monastery
  • Church of Santo Domingo.
Egypt
Abu Mena

Abu Mena is the archeological site of an early Christian pilgrimage center.

The monastic complex, which is still of significance to the Coptic community, developed around the tomb of the martyr Menas of Alexandria, who died in 296 A.D. A large basilica church, an adjacent church that had probably housed the Saint's remains, a baptistery, a large dormitory for poor pilgrims, and Roman baths have been uncovered, but there are very few standing remains.

Community Perspective: there’s a New Church that attracts all the Coptic pilgrims nowadays, but the archeological site lies a few km away. Stanislaw has an overview of the practicalities. Its condition is very poor, expect to see “flooded crypts with sludge and trash inside”.

Ancient Thebes

Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis is an archaeological site that testifies to Egyptian civilization from the Middle Kingdom to the beginning of the Christian era.

Thebes was its capital and a religious center centered around the god Amun. The remains include temples, tombs, royal palaces, villages of artisans and artists, inscriptions and sculptured figures. Most notable are the two colossal temples of Karnak and Luxor on the east bank of the Nile, and the Necropolis with the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and the Temple of Hatshepsut on the west bank.

Community Perspective: now known as Luxor, this is considered “one of the world´s greatest archaeological sites” and “the Egyptian authorities could've even divided the site into several WHS”. Spending at least 2 days here is recommended. The Necropolis is the most cumbersome component to visit; Els, Zoë and GabLabCebu have shared some experiences on that.

Historic Cairo

Historic Cairo encompasses the historic centre on the eastern bank of the Nile, which includes over 600 classified monuments dating from the 7th to 20th centuries.

Cairo was the dominant political, cultural and religious center of the Islamic world from the 7th to the 14th century. Its monuments include necropolises, the Citadel, bazaars, mosques, and palaces, some considered masterpieces of Islamic architecture such as the mosque Ibn-Tulm and the mosque of Qait Bey. The historic centre also comprises Coptic Cairo and its many old churches, and the ruins of Roman fortifications.

Community Perspective: it doesn’t attract as many tourists as Egypt’s classic sites, and it feeling “incredibly crowded, dirty, smoggy” doesn’t help. You can spend one day in the Islamic section and one day in the Coptic one, as described by Jay, Frederik (who visited during Ramadan), Els (who details the Islamic monuments) and GabLabCebu.

Nubian Monuments

The Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae cover a string of ancient archaeological sites in southern Egypt.

Extending from Aswan to the Sudanese border, they were built by various pharaohs from the 2nd millennium BC onwards in their attempt to gain or retain dominance over the Nubian kingdom and its natural assets such as gold, copper and ivory. The monuments date from the New Kingdom to the Ptolemaic, Roman and early Christian periods. After an international safeguarding campaign, two of its masterpieces (the temples of Abu Simbel and the sanctuary at Philae) were moved in their entirety to a nearby location due to the creation of the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser.

Community Perspective: Abu Simbel is the crowd magnet, but Philae comes especially recommended for its delightful setting and detailed hieroglyphs and carvings. Els describes an overnight visit to Abu Simbel, while Nan gives practical info on getting around Aswan and Philae.

Pyramids (Memphis)

Memphis and its Necropolis - the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur hold the first complex monumental stone buildings in Egypt and show the development of tombs to pyramidal shape.

These archeological sites date from the Old Kingdom to the Ptolemaic period, when Memphis was the administrative capital and was associated with the belief in the god Ptah. Its masterpieces include the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only surviving wonder of the ancient world, and the Pyramid Complex of Saqqara with the step pyramid of Djoser, the oldest pyramid to be constructed.

Community Perspective: Solivagant describes a visit from 1975, when he was still able to climb the Pyramid of Giza in full sight (Jaz did so much more clandestinely in 2000). Clyde and GabLabCebu went inside, while Els provided some public transport tips for Giza.

Saint Catherine Area

The Saint Catherine Area holds the holy mountain of Mount Sinaï, home to one of the oldest continuously functioning Christian monasteries.

The remote monastery, located in a rugged landscape at the foot of the mountain, is an ancient example of ascetic monasticism. It was built in the 6th century at the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the burning bush. The mountain is sacred to three major world religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Community Perspective: Be prepared for “an hour-long visit to a small courtyard, a church, and a very historic, though unimpressive, bush“. The monastery can be hard to enter because of the observance of many religious holidays and the site can get very crowded with bus tours from the Red Sea coast. Most people also do the 3hr hike to the top of the mountain, or even longer hikes.

Wadi Al-Hitan

Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley) is the largest and most important site in the world for whale fossils.

These fossils belong to a now-extinct subspecies of whales, which show their transition from land animals to marine mammals: they still have hind legs. The fossils have been found on the surface of the now completely dry landscape of the Western Desert, which was part of the enormous Tethys Ocean 40 million years ago. They comprise many complete skeletons and have been well-preserved in high numbers.

Community Perspective: it can be hard to reach as it is off-the-beaten-track and there may be police checkpoints along the way, but all reviewers managed to without issue (see Nan’s review for public transport options). Once on site, the fossils can be visited by following a signposted trail from the orderly visitor center.

El Salvador
Joya de Ceren

The Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site is a pre-Columbian Maya farming village that has been preserved after it was destroyed by volcanic ash around 600 AD.

It provides an excellent testimony of the daily lives of ordinary people, as they left behind utensils, ceramics, furniture, and even half-eaten food in their haste to escape the eruption of the Loma Caldera volcano. The remains of the earthen architecture have also been preserved.

Community Perspective: the site is easily reached by public bus, either from Santa Ana or San Salvador. Visiting the on-site museum with original excavated items is recommended to do first. The earthen buildings are very much intact, but do not expect grand stone buildings like in other Maya sites.

Eritrea
Asmara

Asmara: A Modernist African City is an Italian-planned colonial city based on early modernist and rationalist architecture.

The urban ensemble was designed during several stages of development on an orthogonal grid plan with diagonal axes. The city was divided into quarters following the principles of racial segregation. During the short fascist period of 1935-1941 the city received its distinct public buildings, which mostly have survived intact since then and keep being part of the Eritrean identity.

Community Perspective: both reviewers so far enjoyed the overall atmosphere of Asmara, but while the freedom of movement for the foreign tourist seems to have improved since 2006, the 2020 review reports that the state of repair of the Art Deco buildings is worsening.

Estonia
Struve Geodetic Arc

The Struve Geodetic Arc is a technological ensemble that played an important role in the development of earth sciences.

This chain of survey triangulations, stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, was established to measure the exact size and shape of the earth. It was developed and used by the German-born Russian scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve in the years 1816 to 1855.

Community Perspective: with its 34 remaining stations, spanning 10 countries and over 2,800 km, this has become a real Community Cult Classic, representing the “reductio ad absurdum” of the scheme. To the uninitiated: you may expect to see a slab of concrete with a small concrete fence around it; Ian describes the cult appeal well in his review. Many are located in remote rural areas, often on hilltops. The best among them is the Tartu old observatory, which has an exhibition inside. The ones in Belarus are covered by Jarek and Zoe, the one in Moldavia by History Fangirl, Michael ‘did’ Ukraine, while Svein and Solivagant described Norway. Others in the Baltic States, Sweden and Finland have been regularly reviewed as well.

Tallinn

The Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn is a late medieval urban landscape shaped by both the Teutonic Order and the Hanseatic League.

The Teutonic Knights built a castle here in the 13th century and turned it into one of the best fortified cities in Europe with 66 towers adorning the city wall. Its history as a Hanseatic trading town can still be seen in the wealth of its private and public buildings in the Lower Town.

Community Perspective: small, but one of Europe's best preserved medieval cities and almost completely devoid of modern buildings and real tourist traps.

Ethiopia
Aksum

Aksum is an archeological site that covers the remains of an influential city of ancient Ethiopia. The ruins include stelae, tombs, castles and obelisks.

The city was the original capital of the eponymous kingdom of Axum. The kingdom had its own written language called Ge'ez, and also developed a distinctive architecture exemplified by giant obelisks, the oldest of which date from 5000-2000 BC. 

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims that the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Aksum houses the Biblical Ark of the Covenant in which lie the Tablets of Law upon which the Ten Commandments are inscribed. This same church was the site Ethiopian emperors were crowned for centuries until the reign of Fasilides, then again beginning with Yohannes IV until the end of the empire. 

Fasil Ghebbi

Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region, covers the remains of a fortress-city that was the residence of the Ethiopian emperor Fasilides and his successors in the 17th century.

The site comprises the buildings within the fortress and also 7 further monasteries and palaces around the city of Gondar. Fasil Ghebbi's building style became influential in Ethiopian architecture. 

Harar

Harar is a fortified historic town in southeastern Ethiopia. It has been a major commercial center, linking African and Islamic trade routes.

It has been recognized by Unesco as 'an inland urban settlement with a distinct architectural character and social organization, which cannot be compared to any other town in East Africa.'

It is considered "the fourth holiest city of Islam" with 82 mosques and 102 shrines. The Islamic is town characterized by a maze of narrow alleyways and forbidding facades.

Konso

Konso Cultural Landscape represents a living cultural tradition that has existed for over 400 years in a dry environment.

The Konso people migrated to these highlands, where they constructed terraces to support agricultural fields.

The area has 12 stone-walled settlements. They hold thatch-roofed public structures and domestic buildings. Within the area are also associated sacred forests and shrines. The Konso are noted for their erection of wakas: memorial statues to a dead man.

Lalibela

The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are exceptionally fine examples of a long-established Ethiopian building tradition.

After the decline of the Axumite state, a new Christian dynasty emerged in the 12th century. King Lalibela created this new Christian pilgrimage center, which became a substitute for the holy places of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It held 11 rock-hewn churches.

 

Lower Valley of the Awash

The Lower Valley of the Awash is one of the most important palaeontological sites on the African continent.

It is here that in 1974 the skeleton fragments of 'Lucy' were found, who is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago. 'Lucy' stands for several hundred pieces of bone representing about 40% of the skeleton of an individual Australopithecus afarensis.

In this valley of the Awash river in Ethiopia's Afar Depression also numerous other pre-human hominid remains have been found.

Lower Valley of the Omo

The Lower Valley of the Omo River is a prehistoric site where many hominid fossils have been found.

They are of fundamental importance in the study of human evolution.

Several hominid fossils and archaeological localities, dating to the Pliocene and Pleistocene, have been excavated by French and American teams. Fossils belonging to the genera Australopithecine and Homo have been found at several archaeological sites, as well as tools made from quartzite, the oldest of which date back to about 2.4 million years ago.

Simien National Park

Simien National Park covers a spectacular landscape of cliffs and gorges, created by erosion, which is also recognized for its high biodiversity.

The park comprises one of the principal mountain massifs of Africa. A number of peaks rise above 4000m, including Ras Dashen which is the highest point in Ethiopia.

Its Afromontane and Afroalpine ecosystems are home to three of Ethiopia's larger endemic mammals: the Walia ibex, the more common Gelada baboons, and the very rarely seen Ethiopian wolves. It is also an important bird area.

At its inscription, some 80% of the park was in use by humans for agricultural and pastoral activities.

Tiya

Tiya in southern Ethiopia is an archeological site, which is distinguished by 36 decorated standing stones or stelae.

The megaliths are marking a large, prehistoric burial complex of an ancient Ethiopian culture. They date from between the 10th and 15th centuries AD.

Fiji
Levuka

Levuka Historical Port Town is a Pacific urban landscape that represents the effects of 19th-century British colonisation based on maritime extraction and export.

This port on Ovalau Island was developed by colonisers and became the first colonial capital of Fiji. The town generally consists of single or two-storied wooden buildings, merging local traditions with colonial standards. The preserved monuments include the former Cakobau Parliament House site, the Sacred Heart Cathedral, residential and commercial buildings, churches, schools and constructions related to port activities.

Community Perspective: Getting to Levuka from Nandi, Fiji (where most international flights land) is quite an effort. The place seems abandoned but still has charm. Anthony describes what you may expect from a visit.

Finland
Fortress of Suomenlinna

The Fortress of Suomenlinna comprises military fortifications built on six islands to guard the entrance to Helsinki's harbour.

Suomenlinna was originally built in 1748 to withstand the Russians at a time when Finland was part of Sweden. It was designed by the Swedish Admiral Eherensvärd, who adapted Vauban’s theories to this specific terrain and built a fortress from local rock, fortified with a system of bastions. The Russians however managed to take over the fortress in 1808 and added their own constructions. Finally, in 1918 the Fortress became Finnish and in 1973 it ceased to have a military purpose.

Community Perspective: easily reached by a short ferry ride from Helsinki, nowadays Suomenlinna mostly means a relaxed day out for city dwellers. As people still live on the islands, it is not too open-air museum-ish.

High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago

The High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago shows outstanding examples of geological processes caused by glaciation.

Historical Ice Ages have shaped the landscape of these two components on opposite sides of the Gulf of Bothnia. The High Coast is important for research on isostasy, in which the land rises as the weight of the melting glaciers is lifted. This is a still continuing process that leads to the emergence of new islands and lakes. Kvarken features unusual moraine ridges (“De Geer moraines") that were formed when boulders and stones were pushed to the edge of the melting continental ice sheet.

Community Perspective: the site provides excellent views if you get to a higher viewpoint and enjoyable hiking. The area is good for birding as well. Finnish Kvarken has been covered by John (cruising) and Els (driving+hiking), while the Swedish High Coast was done by John (cruising), Clyde (driving+hiking) and Nan (public transport+hiking).

Old Rauma

Old Rauma is an outstanding example of traditional Nordic wooden town architecture.

The irregular town plan dates from the Middle Ages, while the commercial and residential buildings are from the 18th and 19th centuries. Rauma developed as a port city, although the coastline is now some 1.5km away due to land uplift. Landmarks at the Market Square include the medieval church and former Town Hall.

Community Perspective: Delightful town to visit, touristy but not too much. There are several homes that have been converted into museums and many lace shops.

Petäjävesi Old Church

Petäjävesi Old Church exemplifies the long tradition of wooden church architecture in Scandinavia.

It was built entirely of pine wood by a local master in 1763 and the interior holds elaborately carved elements by local craftsmen. The design was influenced by European architectural trends such as Renaissance and Gothic, which were combined with the vernacular technique of log jointing. The bell tower was added in 1821.

Community Perspective: a wonderful small work of vernacular art in a fitting natural environment. Don’t miss the interior with its wooden pulpit and somewhat eccentric carvings. It is still an active church but has regular opening hours for tourists.

Sammallahdenmäki

The Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki is an outstanding example of Scandinavia’s Bronze Age society and its funerary practices.

The site consists of 33 stone cairns in several clusters. They were made of granite boulders that were quarried locally. It dates from ca. 1500-500 B.C. Two of the most spectacular burial cairns are the quadrangular "Church Floor" and the dike-like "Long Ruin of Huilu". The cairns may relate to rituals of sun worship.

Community Perspective: “just piles of stones” to some, but they lie in a quiet and atmospheric spot and you’ll find yourself traipsing through a moss-covered forest floor. It needs a 4km walk to reach by public transport. There are also guided tours on Thursdays in the short summer season.

Struve Geodetic Arc

The Struve Geodetic Arc is a technological ensemble that played an important role in the development of earth sciences.

This chain of survey triangulations, stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, was established to measure the exact size and shape of the earth. It was developed and used by the German-born Russian scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve in the years 1816 to 1855.

Community Perspective: with its 34 remaining stations, spanning 10 countries and over 2,800 km, this has become a real Community Cult Classic, representing the “reductio ad absurdum” of the scheme. To the uninitiated: you may expect to see a slab of concrete with a small concrete fence around it; Ian describes the cult appeal well in his review. Many are located in remote rural areas, often on hilltops. The best among them is the Tartu old observatory, which has an exhibition inside. The ones in Belarus are covered by Jarek and Zoe, the one in Moldavia by History Fangirl, Michael ‘did’ Ukraine, while Svein and Solivagant described Norway. Others in the Baltic States, Sweden and Finland have been regularly reviewed as well.

Verla Groundwood and Board Mill

The Verla Groundwood and Board Mill is a well-preserved rural industrial settlement that was used for pulp, paper, and board production.

The ca. 50 buildings consist of the wood-processing mill, board-drying plant, storehouses, workers' houses and the owner's residence. The separate production area held water power plants. It has a forest setting where wood as a raw material and water as a source of energy were easily at hand. The mill was founded in 1882 and continued to operate until 1964. It produced mainly (paper)board for export to Russia, Europe and the USA.

Community Perspective: Join a tour of the interior as it explains the story of how the factory was run. Nan and Tsunami have described how to reach the site by public transport; unfortunately, the bus hours do not correspond well with the timing of the tours.

France
Albi

The Episcopal City of Albi was built around the original cathedral and episcopal group of buildings. Redbrick and tiles are the main features of most of the edifices.

The Sainte Cécile cathedral, a masterpiece of the Southern Gothic style, was built between the 13th and 15th centuries. It was a statement of the Christian faith after the upheavals of the Cathar heresy. The Palais de la Berbie, formerly the Bishops' Palace of Albi, is one of the oldest and best-preserved castles in France. This imposing fortress was completed at the end of the 13th century.

The Old Bridge (Pont Vieux) is still in use today after almost a millennium of existence. Originally built in stone (in 1035), then clad with brick, it rests on 8 arches and is 151m long. In the 14th century, it was fortified, reinforced with a drawbridge and houses were built on the piers.

Amiens Cathedral

Amiens Cathedral has played an important role in the development of gothic architecture. It dates from the 13th century.

Work was started in 1220, under Bishop Evrard de Fouilloy. The architects involved were Robert de Luzarches (until 1228), Thomas de Cormont (until 1258), and his son Renaud de Cormont (until 1288).

Arles

Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments, represent the evolution of a classical Roman settlement into an important medieval city.

Notable monuments include:

  • Roman theater
  • Arena or amphitheater
  • Alyscamps (Roman necropolis)
  • Thermae of Constantine
  • Cryptoporticus
  • Ramparts of the Roman Castrum
  • Small parts belonging to the Roman Forum, at the Muséon Arlaten
  • The Church of St. Trophime, formerly a cathedral, is a major work of Romanesque architecture, and the representation of the Last Judgment on its portal is considered one of the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture, as are the columns in the adjacent cloister.
Avignon

The Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge comprise a group of late medieval buildings linked to the Papacy.

Here the popes and antipopes lived from 1309 to 1432 during the Catholic schism. The historic centre of Avignon lies in the north of the walled city. It includes the following monuments:

  • Place du Palais
  • Palais des Papes
  • Cathedral of Notre-Dame des Doms
  • the Petit Palais
  • the Tour des Chiens
  • the Ramparts
  • Saint-Benezet Bridge
Belfries

The Belfries of Belgium and France are 56 bell-towers, built between the 11th and 20th centuries.

They are mostly found in town centers, and connected to the local town hall or church. At their time, the Belfries represented the growing importance of cities instead of the feudal system in the Middle Ages.

After several fires, stone began to be used as building material instead of wood. Mainly square, robust towers were built in this period. Later, from the 14th to the 17th century when most of the still remaining belfries were built, the towers lose their defensive character. They become narrower, and the styles are influenced by Baroque. In the 19th and 20th centuries, newly created belfries had a more symbolic value of independence and prosperity.

Bordeaux

Bordeaux, Port of the Moon, encompasses the historic centre of Bordeaux as an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble created in the Age of Enlightenment.

A bend in the river Garonne has created a natural harbour here, and because of its shape, it's called Port of the Moon.

The most prominent examples of the period of Enlightenment, created from the 1730s onwards, are:

  • Place Royale (today Place de la Bourse)
  • Allées de Tourny
  • Place Dauphine (Gambetta nowadays), Place d'Aquitaine, Place de Bourgogne and Place Tourny
  • public garden
  • Grand Theatre
  • Palais Rohan
  • Place des Quinconces
Bourges Cathedral

Bourges Cathedral is considered a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, with beautiful decoration.

Its construction began at the end of the 12th century, following the plan of the ambitious archbishop Henri de Sully who had brought "modern" ideas from Paris. He wanted to create a large and tall building, with three rows of stained-glass windows above each other so that there was a lot of light. The cathedral is also a symbol of the power of Christianity in medieval France.

Burgundy

The Climats, terroirs of Burgundy comprise 1,247 vineyard parcels and the commercial towns of Beaune and Dijon.

The vineyards are distinct from one another due to their specific natural conditions such as soil and microclimate. They cover the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune south of Dijon.

 

 

 

Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi is a 240 km long canal that in its time (late 17th century) was a great engineering achievement.

It is one of the technologically most significant canals in the world: it uses lock staircases, reservoirs, aqueducts, dams, bridges, and tunnels. The largest work on the canal is the dam of Saint-Ferréol.

The canal is located in the south of France, connecting the Garonne River at Toulouse to the Étang de Thau on the Mediterranean. Four adjoining channels are also included.

The original purpose of the Canal du Midi was to be a shortcut between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, avoiding the long sea voyage around hostile Spain, Barbary pirates, and a trip that in the 17th century required a full month of sailing.

Causses and Cévennes

The Causses and the Cévennes, Mediterranean agro-pastoral Cultural Landscape is a landscape that has evolved over three millennia.

It is located in the higher regions of the Massif Central, in an area of granite and limestone slopes and deep valleys.

Its distinct features include:

  • chestnut farming
  • low stone sheep housing
  • mulberry cultivation (for silk)
  • drove roads (used by cattle and sheep moving to and from the pastures)
  • military architecture (like the Tour du Viala-du-Pas-de-Jaux)
  • farm complexes (like those of Les Monziols)
Chaîne des Puys

Chaîne des Puys - Limagne fault tectonic arena shows a number of geological features caused by a continental break-up.

It is a ca. 40km long part of the West European Rift. The site was also important in the study of classical geological processes.

The name of the range comes from a French term, puy, that refers to a volcanic mountain with a rounded profile.

Champagne

'Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars' is a cultural landscape shaped by the production of sparkling wines since the 17th century.

The area is divided into 3 clusters:

  • Saint-Nicaise Hill in Reims
  • Avenue of Champagne in Epernay
  • hillsides of Hautvillers, Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ

 

 

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral is considered the finest example in France of the Gothic style of architecture.

The current cathedral was mostly constructed between 1193 and 1250. It is in an exceptional state of preservation. The majority of the original stained glass windows survive intact, while the architecture has seen only minor changes since the early 13th century.

The building's exterior is dominated by heavy flying buttresses. The west end holds two contrasting spires - one, a 105 metre plain pyramid dating from the 1140s, and the other a 113 metre tall early 16th century Flamboyant spire on top of an older tower. Equally notable are the three great facades, each adorned with hundreds of sculpted figures illustrating key theological themes and narratives.

Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay

The Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay is an early Cistercian monastery based on the ideal of self-sufficiency.

The Abbey of Fontenay was founded by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in 1118. Located in a small forested valley 60 kilometers northwest of Dijon, it achieved great prosperity in the 12th and 13th centuries. 

The church of the abbey was built from 1139 to 1147 in the prevalent Romanesque style, and marked by the austerity typical of Cistercian architecture. It has a cruciform plan.

Apart from the demolished refectory, the abbey retains almost all of its original buildings: church, dormitory, cloister, chapter house, caldarium or "warming room", dovecote and forge, all in Romanesque style, with later abbot's lodgings and infirmary.

Cordouan Lighthouse

The Cordouan Lighthouse is considered an architectural and engineering masterpiece.

It stands on a rocky plateau in the Gironde estuary on the French Atlantic coast, about seven kilometres from the mainland. The 68-metre-high tower has been in operation since 1611 and is the oldest lighthouse in France. It is considered a Renaissance masterpiece, the architect was Louis de Foix.

Decorated cave of Pont d'Arc

The Decorated cave of Pont d'Arc is an underground cave covered with the oldest known pictorial drawings in the world.

They date back to as early as the Aurignacian period (30,000 to 32,000 BP). Over 1,000 drawings have been found, which often are of high artistic and aesthetic quality. They display anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs. In contrast to other Paleolithic cave art, the walls of cave feature many predatory animals such as cave lions, panthers, bears, and cave hyenas. In addition to the paintings and other human evidence, fossilized remains, prints, and markings from a variety of animals, some of which are now extinct, were discovered.

The cave was closed off by a rockfall of approximately 23,000 years BP and remained sealed until its rediscovery on December 18, 1994, by a group of speleologists. The site has been closed to the public since then.

Fontainebleau

The Palace and Park of Fontainebleau has been influential for its architecture and interior decor made by Italian artists.

King Francis I, who reigned from 1515-1547, brought in painters, sculptors and architects from Italy to ornate this palace with its many frescoes and sculptures.

The chateau introduced to France the Italian Mannerist style in interior decoration and in gardens.

The castle as it is today is the work of many French monarchs, building on the structure of Francis I: from Henri IV to Louis XVI and Napoleon. At Fontainebleau Napoleon bade farewell and went into exile to Elba in 1814.

Fortifications of Vauban

The Fortifications of Vauban are twelve groups of fortified buildings that form a defensive ring around France.

They were constructed by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707), military engineer of King Louis XIV and influential far beyond the French borders. The remaining sites include both fortifications and various kinds of military buildings.

The 12 sites selected to be part of the World Heritage are:

  • Arras: citadel
  • Besançon: citadel, city walls and Fort Griffon
  • Blaye-Cussac-Fort-Médoc: citadel of Blaye, city walls, Fort Paté and Fort Médoc
  • Briançon: city walls, Redoute des Salettes, Fort des Trois-Têtes, Fort du Randouillet, ouvrage de la communication Y and the Asfeld Bridge
  • Camaret-sur-Mer: Tour dorée (lit. "Golden Tower") aka. Tour Vauban
  • Longwy: ville neuve
  • Mont-Dauphin: place forte
  • Mont-Louis: citadel and city walls
  • Neuf-Brisach: ville neuve/Breisach (Germany): gateway of the Rhine
  • Saint-Martin-de-Ré: city walls and citadel
  • Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue/Tatihou: watchtowers
  • Villefranche-de-Conflent: city walls, Fort Libéria and Cova Bastera
Fortified City of Carcassonne

The Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne is a medieval town which structure has evolved since the Late Roman period.

The site consists of 3km long fortifications, which enclose the castle, medieval town cathedral.

The fortress was thoroughly restored from 1853 by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. This restoration has been strongly criticized, as it was not overly authentic (for example in the use of slates, where local practice was traditionally of tile roofing).

 

French Austral Lands and Seas

The French Austral Lands and Seas is a group of extremely isolated volcanic islands in the sub-Antarctic region.

It covers the Crozet Archipelago, Kerguelen Islands and Amsterdam and St Paul Islands. They are known for their marine birds (especially the world’s largest colony of King Penguins) and mammals such as seals and dolphins.

Great Spa Towns of Europe

The Great Spa Towns of Europe represent the development of a specialized urban landscape that combined medical aspects, physical exercise and leisure.

These eleven Spa Towns are centered on natural mineral springs, which waters were used for bathing and drinking. The towns were expanded with important examples of  ‘spa architecture’, such as the ‘kurhaus’, drinking halls, theaters and casinos. They flourished from around 1700 to the 1930s.

Community Perspective: expect to find some fine Art Nouveau buildings, do some hiking, taste the water and most of the towns have modern spa facilities as well. Reviews of all inscribed towns are available: in Austria, Baden (Tsunami), in Belgium, Spa (Els, Clyde), in the UK, Bath (a double entry), in Italy, Montecatini Terme (Marian), in France, Vichy (Tsunami), in Germany, Baden-Baden (Caspar, Hubert), Bad Kissingen (Hubert), Bad Ems (Els), and in Czechia: Karlovy Vary (Matejicek, Hubert, Nan), Mariánské Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert), and Františkovy Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert).

Gulf of Porto

Gulf of Porto: Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata, Scandola Reserve is a natural area with dramatic geological landforms and wealthy undersea life.

It also is the habitat of the rare osprey, peregrine falcons and bearded vultures. The Gulf is situated on the western coast of Corsica, between Punta Muchillina and Punta Nera.

The sheer cliffs of the Gulf contain many grottos and are flanked by numerous stacks and almost inaccessible islets and coves. The coastline is also noted for its red cliffs, some 900 metres high, sand beaches, and headlands.

 

 

Lagoons of New Caledonia

The Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems comprise a group of six lagoons that contain coral reef ecosystems with great species diversity and a high level of endemism.

It is home to endangered dugongs and an important nesting site for the Green Sea Turtle. New Caledonia is an Endemic Bird Area with 23 species being found only in New Caledonia.

This reef system is one of the largest in the world. It covers 23,400 km2. The six designated lagoons are:

  • Grand Lagon Sud
  • Zone Côtière Ouest
  • Zone Côtière Nord-Est
  • Grand Lagon Nord
  • Atolls d’Entrecasteaux
  • Atoll d’Ouvéa et Beautemps-Beaupré
Le Havre

Le Havre, the city rebuilt by Auguste Perret, is an outstanding post-war example of urban planning and architecture.

As a result of numerous air-raids during World War Two, the port of Le Havre lost its administrative and cultural center as well as much of its housing in the center of the city. 5000 people died and more than 80,000 people were left homeless.

Reconstruction planning began in 1945 with Auguste Perret as chief architect and city planner. It lasted until 1964. Historical patterns like streets and squares were preserved, as well as the 16th-century cathedral and 19th-century law courts that survived the bombings. Modernist buildings based on reinforced concrete were added.

Loire Valley

The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes is a cultural landscape symbolic of human interaction with the river Loire. It comprises historic towns and villages, great castles and cultivated lands, mainly tracing back to the Renaissance and the Age of the Enlightenment.

The designated area covers a 200km long, thin stretch of land along the river. It includes the towns of Blois, Chinon, Orléans, Saumur and Tours.

The site is an extension to the Castle of Chambord, which was already a separate WHS since 1981. This is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture.

Lyon

Lyon has been a flourishing trading city since Roman times.

It owes that continuous prosperity to its strategic location at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. The city was known especially for the silk trade, but it also held important financial institutions and an early printing industry.

Lyon was founded as Lugdunum in 43 BC. Under Roman rule it was connected by a network of roads, and it even held the headquarters of the Imperial government. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Lyon subsequently became part of Lotharingia, Burgundy, the Holy Roman Empire and (the Kingdom of) France respectively. From the 16th century onwards the city expanded beyond its traditional quarters at the Croix-Rousse and Fourvière hills.

Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay is characterized by the rocky tidal island that holds a 11th-century Benedictine abbey and a fortified medieval village. The complex was built at a unique natural location, resulting in an unforgettable silhouette.

The tides in the Bay can vary greatly, at roughly 14 metres (46 ft) between high and low watermarks. The coastal flats have been polderised to create pastureland.

The monastery was an important place in medieval Christianity. It was dedicated to the archangel St Michael. The first monastic establishment here dates from the 8th century.

The core zone also includes the Old Windmill of Moidrey, which is located on the top of a hill adjacent to the Bay. The Mill was built in 1806 to produce flour.

Nancy

Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière, and Place d'Alliance in Nancy are 18th-century works of urban planning. The three squares and the surrounding monuments sprouted from the brain of the Polish king and duke of Lorraine, Stanislaw Leszczynsk.

The responsible architect was Emmanuel Héré. The project was carried out from 1752 to 1756. The squares are embellished with statues, fountains and a triumphal arch. Characteristic are the gilded gates and ornaments.

The squares hold a public function as well: the Opera, the Town Hall, Courts of Law, a library and a botanical garden can be accessed from here. The monuments link the medieval old town of Nancy and the new town built under Charles III in the 17th century.

Nice

Nice is a city on the Côte d'Azur, also known as the French Riviera, whose urban development over two centuries was almost entirely the product of the tourist industry.

In the 18th century Nice became a popular winter destination for English aristocrats. At the end of the 19th century, tourism expanded to all wealthy classes and finally became a mass phenomenon in the 20th century. The earliest architectural evidence of this evolution to a tourist hotspot is the Vila Nova, including the Promenade de Anglais. Then, the city expanded westwards and onto the hills to the north, where villa quarters and luxury hotels were built in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

The Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin is a mining and industrial cultural landscape along a 120km long coal seam in the far north of France.

It was created from the 18th to the 20th centuries, mostly after France lost its access to Belgian mines in 1815. It reached its peak in the 1930s, when it became one the leading coal-production regions in Europe. It then attracted 75,000 foreign workers. The last mine in the area closed in 1990.

This is a serial site consisting of 109 parts, spread out over 13 mining company complexes. Elements include pits, slag heaps, railway stations and mining villages with schools, religious and community buildings.

Orange

The Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the "Triumphal Arch" of Orange comprise two of the best remaining examples of Roman theatres and arches.

The Theatre was built between 10 and 25 A.D., as one of the first Roman public buildings in this region. It owes its fame mainly because of its imposing façade or stage wall, which is 103 meters long, 1.80 meters thick and 37 meters high.

The Triumphal Arch was a commemorative urban arch acting as the gateway to the town and celebrating its Roman founders.

Roman Orange was founded in 35 BC by veterans of the Second Gallica Roman legion as Arausio. It was the capital of a wide area of northern Provence, which was parcelled up into lots for the Roman colonists.

Paris, Banks of the Seine

Paris on the banks of the Seine stretches from Saint-Chapelle and the Notre Dame in the east to the Eiffel Tower in the west. Along this kilometers long route one can find many of the main treasures of the French capital.

The Notre Dame is one of the eldest monuments: it's construction dates from the 12th century. Nearby Saint-Chapelle has the same age. Both are on the Ile de la Cité. This little island is linked with the rest of the city via many bridges, of which the Pont Neuf is the most famous.

In the middle of the route there are the two major museums: the Louvre and the Gare d'Orsay (a former train station). This is also the part where the spacious Place de la Concorde and the Egyptian Obelisk are situated.

The Eiffel Tower is at the end of the route. Built for the 1897 world fair, it still stands strong as the number one symbol for Paris.

Pitons of Reunion

The 'Pitons, cirques and remparts' of Reunion Island are renowned for their visually striking landscape and remaining high numbers of endemic plant species.

The site consists of two adjoining volcanic massifs, with remparts (steep rock walls) and the three cirques (imposing natural amphitheaters) of Salazie, Mafate et Cilaos that evolved due to erosion and volcanism.

It overlaps the core zone of La Réunion national park, which protects the middle and upper slopes of the two peaks. The park covers more than 40% of Reunion Island. The volcanos are the dormant Piton de Neiges (3,071m) and the highly active Piton de la Fournaise (2,632m).  The Pitons are covered with subtropical rainforests and cloud forests. It is a global centre of plant diversity with a high degree of endemism within the Mascarene archipelago.

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct) is one of the oldest and most remarkable Roman hydraulic works.

The bridge is 48.77m high, has three levels and was built in ca. 20 BC (newer excavations, however, suggest the construction may have taken place between 40 and 60 AD). It crosses the river Gardon near Nimes (south of France).

The aqueduct originally carried water from a source at the Fontaine d'Eure near Ucetia (Uzès) to a delivery tank or castellum divisorum in Nemausus (Nîmes), from where it was distributed to fountains, baths and private homes around the city. Although the straight-line distance between the two is only about 20 km, the aqueduct takes a winding route measuring around 50 km to avoid the Garrigue hills above Nîmes.

Prehistoric Pile Dwellings

The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps are the remains of prehistoric stilt houses at the edges of lakes and rivers.

The site consists of 111 locations, spread out over 6 countries. They date from 5,000 to 500 BC, and represent the life of early agrarian communities in Europe.

Rising water levels since prehistory led to the abandonment of settlements which were then covered by lake and river sediments. About 30 different cultural groups were responsible for creating these pile dwellings.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Provins

Provins, Town of Medieval Fairs, is the best-preserved example of a town developed for fairs in the Champagne region.

It was home to fairs from 1120, and served as a model for later fair traditions in for example Brugge and the Hanseatic cities. The Counts of Champagne reduced tolls to encourage merchants to use their roads and also implemented a "safe-conduct" escort system for those attending the fairs to protect people and goods en route.

The area consists of the Upper Town and the Lower Town. Provins originated from the Castle, which was fortified in the 11th and 12th centuries. Remains in the Upper Town include small houses built in stone and timber-framed construction and the Tour de César with its remarkable donjon. In the Lower Town there are several churches, storage areas for use during the fairs, mills, washbasins, tanneries related to the textile handicraft and a sophisticated water management system of canals.

Pyrénées - Mont Perdu

Pyrénées - Mont Perdu is a visually dramatic mountain landscape centered around the peak of Mont Perdu.

The protected area lies at the tectonic collision point of the Iberian and west European plates, and on the border between Spain and France. The Mont Perdu mountain range is the centerpiece of the Pyrénées and has several important geological, scenic and botanical values. It features many lakes, canyons, cirques and distinctive alpine flora. The most magnificent of the fauna species found here is the Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture). 

The site also is a cultural landscape, where the centuries-old transhumant system of grazing continues within the area with frequent movement of herds across the French-Spanish border.

Reims

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Remi and Palace of Tau, Reims are renowned for their Gothic art and - as part of the coronation ceremony - are directly linked to the history of the French monarchy.

The cathedral is one of the great French cathedrals of the 13th century and one of the masterpieces of the classical Gothic style (along with the ones in Chartres and Amiens). The facade of the Reims cathedral is said to have the best sculptures.

The old archiepiscopal Palace of Tau also played an important step role in the coronation ceremony of the French monarchy (the banquet was held there). The Former Abbey of Saint-Remi has conserved the relics of Saint Remi (died 553), the Bishop of Reims who converted Clovis, King of the Franks, to Christianity. The abbey church is a magnificent example of medieval architecture.

Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France

The Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France represent several sites related to the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

They comprise churches, bridges, hospitals and other wayside constructions along the four main and a number of subsidiary pilgrimage routes to Santiago.

Major monuments included are:

  • The Romanesque church of Sainte-Foy at Conques
  • The church of Saint-Pierre at Moissac
  • The basilical church of Saint-Sernin in Toulouse
  • The collegiate church of Neuvy-Saint-Sépulchre
  • Village of Rocamadour
Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans

"From the Great Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains to the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans, the production of open-pan salt" represent the extraction and production of salt from the middle ages to the 20th century.

Salins-les-Bains and Arc-et-Senans were connected by a brine pipeline.

Arc-et-Senans is also notable as an early Enlightenment architectural project to rationalize industrial buildings and processes according to a philosophical order. The saltworks' buildings were designed by architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux. Construction began in 1775 during the reign of Louis XVI. The semicircular complex was planned to reflect a hierarchical organization of work. It was to have been enlarged with the building of an ideal city, but that project was never constructed.

Saint-Emilion

The Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion is a cultural landscape dedicated to winemaking.

The Romans planted vineyards in what was to become Saint-Émilion as early as the 2nd century AD. Saint-Émilion is one of the four principal red wine areas of Bordeaux. Most of the vine-related monuments date from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The towns in this region hold a number of historic monuments. They include:

  • the Pierrefitte menhir
  • the Monolithic Church and the Collegiate Church of Saint-Emillion
  • various wine chateaus

The area is also on the Pilgrimage Route to Santiago de Compostela, from which it derived great prosperity.

Saint-Savin sur Gartempe

The Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe is an 11th century Romanesque church noted for its well-preserved mural paintings.

These painted biblical scenes date from the late 11th, early 12th centuries, and have given the church the nickname of "Romanesque Sistine Chapel".

Below the church is the Crypt of the legendary martyr brothers St Savin and St Cyprian, also frescoed with the lives of these two saints.

 

Strasbourg

Strasbourg, Grande-île and Neustadt comprises the medieval historic centre of Strasbourg including its Cathedral and its German-built New Town.

The Grand Ile started out as the Roman camp of Argentoratum, and developed itself into the free city of Strasbourg. It was an important commercial centre in the Middle Ages. 

The gothic Cathedral was started in the late 12th century. A team coming from Chartres suggested a high gothic design. Pink sandstone from the Vosges was used for the construction. It has one 142m high filigree spire. The height of this spire was unequaled until the 19th century: it was the world's tallest building from 1647 to 1874. The design of the cathedral became very influential in Germany.

The ensemble on the island Grand Ile also consists of several old churches and a network of (post-)medieval streets. Their names reflect the guild movement, from the tonneliers to the tanners. Black and white timber-framed buildings adorn the streets. 

Taputapuātea

Taputapuātea is a sacral site and cultural landscape on Ra’iatea Island (part of the Society Islands) in French Polynesia.

It consists of several archaeological sites and marae (temples). Its main feature is the Taputapuātea marae complex, constructed from the 14th -18th centuries which is considered the central temple of Eastern Polynesia and which has a strong oral tradition connected with it. It is of continuing importance to a living culture: the sites fell into disrepair after the Europeans settled in this area, but were restored in 1968 and as recent as the 1990s.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier comprises 17 of his works across the world.

The renowned French-Swiss architect is seen as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. The series shows the dissemination of his ideas over the world during a period of 50 years, spanning seven countries on three continents. Many of the sites reflect new architectural concepts, principles, and technical features.  All were innovative and had a significant influence over wide geographical areas They also contributed to the birth of three major trends in modern architecture: Purism, Brutalism and sculptural architecture.

Community Perspective: Hubert has become our expert on this subject, having visited 14 of the 17 components. Reviews that include the interior are available of Casa Curutchet (Serianne, Nan, Michael, Timonator), Villa Savoye (Ian, Els, Ilya), Weißenhofsiedlung  (Solivagant), Sainte Marie de La Tourette in Éveux (Hubert), Firminy-Vert (Hubert), the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille (Hubert, Jakob), Maison La Roche (Hubert), Molitor (Hubert), National Museum of Western Art (Frederik), Chandigarh (Solivagant), Notre Dame du Haut Chapel (Clyde), Cité Frugès (Hubert).

Versailles

The Palace and Park of Versailles have had a large influence on the artistic form of other palaces and gardens in Europe. It is a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy and its court life of the Ancien Régime.

The Palace started out as a small royal hunting lodge. From 1661, King Louis XIV expanded into one of the largest palaces in the world, and moved his court and government to Versailles. Versailles became the unofficial capital where government affairs were conducted during the reigns of the Kings Louis XIV, XV en XVI. It was used intermittently between 1682 and 1789.

After the First World War, Versailles hosted the opening of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Germany was blamed for causing the First World War in the Treaty of Versailles which had to be signed in the same room on 28 June 1919.

Vézelay

Vézelay, Church and Hill comprise the Benedictine Vézelay Abbey and the surrounding hill town.

A monastery has existed here since the 9th century: the buildings have been rebuilt several times since. The last major refurbishement started in 1840 and was executed by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. He restored the Romanesque church to its former glory after centuries of neglect had left it to ruins.

Vézelay Abbey was a major starting point for pilgrims on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela. The church was an important place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages as it kept relics of Mary Magdalene. It also is strongly connected to the Crusades: St Bernard preached the Second Crusade there in 1146 and Richard the Lion-Hearted and Philip II Augustus met there to leave for the Third Crusade in 1190.

Vézère Valley

The Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley comprise a complex of 15 caves and other archaeological sites, which lie in an area of ​​30 by 40 kilometers along the Vézère river in the Dordogne.

The sites include the finding places of skeletons of early modern people such as the Cro-Magnon man and of their utensils. Most characteristic, however, are the caves, such as those of Lascaux, which were painted during the Upper Paleolithic (around 17,000 years ago). They consist mostly of realistic images of large animals, including aurochs, most of which are known from fossil evidence to have lived in the area at the time.

Gabon
Ivindo National Park

Ivindo National Park is a national park encompassing forests and wetland clearings.

Its old-growth forests are home to an exceptional biodiversity (birds, monkeys, other mammals) and constitute a laboratory for the study of speciation processes, particularly concerning insects and fish. They are home to the largest concentration of elephants and gorillas in Gabon. There are also spectacular waterfalls.

Lopé-Okanda

The Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lopé-Okanda has seen over 400.000 years of almost continuous human settlement.

Its setting can be characterized by the co-existence of tropical rainforest and savannah ecosystems.

The area holds evidence of ironworking and some 1,800 petroglyphs.

Gambia
Kunta Kinteh Island

Kunta Kinteh Island and Related sites represent the first African-European trade route to the inland of Africa and the beginning and the conclusion of the West African slave trade.

The Portuguese built a fort here at the mouth of the River Gambia in 1456 to control the hinterland and exploit its riches. The designated area consists of 7 separate locations: James Island, Six-Gun Battery, Fort Bullen, Ruins of San Domingo, Remains of Portuguese Chapel, CFAO Building, Maurel Frères Building.

Community Perspective: widely available as a set day trip by river cruise from Banjul. The tours capitalize on the (fictional) story of the ‘Roots’ book and mini-series. Ian found most of the related sites in ruins; “however the Manuel Ferres building contains a good small museum about the history of the transatlantic slave trade”. Squiffy remarks on the only tenuous link with the slave trade some of the buildings have, “but it is still a story that needs to be told to underline the human impact. “

Stone Circles of Senegambia

The Stone Circles of Senegambia is a prehistoric archeological site comprising four large groups of megalithic monuments and associated burial sites

Over 1,000 stone circles can be found here along the River Gambia. The standing stones were extracted from nearby laterite quarries using iron tools. Their quality suggests sophisticated stone-working traditions. Four separate locations were chosen to represent the complex: Kerbatch Central River Division (Gambia), Wassu Central River Division (Gambia), Sine Ngayène Kaolack (Senegal), and Wanar Kaolack (Senegal).

Community Perspective: Solivagant describes a visit by bush taxis to Wassau in 1984, while Ian visited Sine Ngayène some 25 years later and found it almost overgrown.

Georgia
Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands

The Colchic Wetlands and Forests comprise two warm-temperate humid ecosystems: ancient Colchic rainforests and wetlands with bogs and mire.

The seven parks consist of low-altitude wetlands, close to the Black Sea on one side, and higher-altitude ancient deciduous rainforests enclosed by mountain ranges on the other side. Their very wet conditions have led to high levels of endemism and intra-species diversity. The ancient forests are among the most important survivors of the glacial cycles of the Tertiary.

Community Perspective: not all components can be (easily) visited. Mahuhe describes a trip to Mtirala National Park from Batumi, while Stanislaw covered Kintrishi-Mtirala and Pitshora and gave some hints about the illegal entry of two others.

Gelati Monastery

Gelati Monastery is a medieval Orthodox monastery that is considered the masterpiece of the architecture of the “Golden Age” of Georgia.

The architecture is characterized by large blocks and the use of blind arches. In the monastery and its churches, great numbers of medieval mosaics, murals and manuscripts have been preserved. The complex was also one of the country’s main cultural and educational centers.

Community Perspective: the earlier reviews still mention the Bagrati Cathedral, with which Gelati shared its inscription until the former was delisted in 2017. Els did the most recent comprehensive review of a visit to the Gelati Monastery from Kutaisi.

Mtskheta

The Historical Monuments of Mtskheta are medieval religious buildings that express the introduction and diffusion of Christianity to the Caucasus region.

Here Georgians accepted Christianity in 317 and Mtskheta still remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church. The three included monuments are the Jvari Monastery: a sixth-century Georgian Orthodox monastery, Svetitstkhoveli Cathedral: the principal Georgian church and seat of the archbishop, and Samtavro Monastery: an 11th-century church and nunnery.

Community Perspective: all three are easily reached as they are just outside Tbilisi city limits, although Jvari requires an additional short taxi ride. They will give you a glimpse into the mysterious world of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Upper Svaneti

Upper Svaneti is a mountainous region known for its unique medieval defensive tower houses.

The region is inhabited by the Svan people. Their villages have retained their medieval appearance and traditional land use. They hold small Georgian Orthodox churches and various fortified buildings. The core zone is limited to the village of Chazhashi in the Ushguli community.

Community Perspective: located in a remote and dramatic landscape, the site is still only possible to reach by 4WD. Walter remembers the risk of kidnapping that deterred tourists from this region in the past. The tiny core zone raises questions, it seems to have made more sense to include all the villages and the mountains surrounding them.

Germany
Aachen Cathedral

The Aachen Cathedral with its Palatine Chapel is the oldest in Northern Europe and has high symbolic value. It dates from about 800 AD.

The Emperor Charlemagne himself had overseen the construction work, until it finally complied with his wishes. What they actually had built was a palace for him, of which now only the church remains.

During the 14th and 15th centuries new features as the choir were added to the church, in the then fashionable Gothic style. More additions followed in the following centuries, the 74 meters high tower as recent as 1884. Obviously this permanent (re)construction of the Cathedral lead to a mixture of styles.

Charlemagne died in 814, and was buried in his own Cathedral. His bones are still preserved in the Shrine of Charles.

Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch

The Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch are rare surviving monuments of the era of Charlemagne.

The abbey was founded in 764 by the Frankish Count Cancor as a proprietary church and monastery on his estate. It became a place of pilgrimage after obtaining the body of Saint Nazarius. Popes and emperors repeatedly favoured the abbey with privileges and estates ranging from the Alps to the North Sea, so that in a short time it became not only immensely rich, but also a seat of political influence.

Its chronicle, entered in the Lorscher Codex compiled in the 1170s (now in the state archive at Würzburg) is a fundamental document for early medieval German history. Another famous document from the monastic library is the Codex Aureus of Lorsch.

Bamberg

The Town of Bamberg is listed as a World Heritage Site primarily because of its authentic medieval appearance. From the 10th century onwards, its town layout and architecture has been a great influence in Central Europe.

Some of the main monuments are:

  • Cathedral (1237), with the tombs of emperor Henry II and Pope Clement II
  • Alte Hofhaltung, residence of the bishops in the 16th and 17th centuries
  • Neue Residenz, residence of the bishops after the 17th century
  • Old Town Hall (1386), built in the middle of the Regnitz River, accessible by two bridges
  • Klein-Venedig ("Little Venice"), a colony of picturesque fishermen's houses from the 19th century along one side of the river Regnitz.
  • Michaelsberg Abbey, built in the 12th century on one of Bamberg's "Seven Hills"
  • Altenburg, castle, former residence of the bishops
Bauhaus Sites

The Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau are the most prominent representations of the Bauhaus architectural school (1919-1933).

The "Staatliche Bauhaus" was founded in Weimar in 1919 by Walter Gropius. In Weimar the Art School, the Applied Art School and the Haus am Horn are inscribed. The Art Schools were designed by the Belgian master Henry van de Velde. The Haus am Horn was the first practical statement: a Bauhaus settlement of single-family houses like this was planned. Due to political pressure, the Bauhaus had to leave Weimar in 1925.

They ended up in Dessau, where the second (and more successful) phase of Bauhaus started. Prominent here were Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In Dessau, the designated sites are the Bauhaus building and the group of seven Masters Houses. Especially the Bauhaus building, made out of concrete, glass and steel, is a landmark in 20th-century architecture. The main monument in Bernau is the ADGB Trade Union School.

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

The Water features and Hercules within the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is a monumental Baroque and Romantic garden landscape.

Water descends from the Giant statue of Hercules, passing a water-wheel-powered organ, various fountains, waterfalls, basins and grottoes. The dramatic water displays were laid out by Landgrave Carl of Hesse-Kassel from 1689 on, to display his power as an absolute ruler. He derived his ideas from Italian, French and English examples of garden art. The Italian architect Giovanni Francesco Guerniero was hired for the design.

The site also includes the Neo-classical Wilhelmshöhe Palace (1785) and the Gothic Revival Löwenburg Castle (1793). The statue of Hercules is 70.5m high and is made of copper.

Berlin Modernism Housing Estates

The "Berlin Modernism Housing Estates" represent low income housing architecture from the early 20th century.

Bruno Taut, Martin Wagner and Walter Gropius were among the leading architects of these projects which exercised considerable influence on the development of housing around the world.

The six included estates are:

  • Tuschkastensiedlung Falkenberg, 1913-16, by Bruno Taut
  • Wohnstadt Carl Legien in Prenzlauer Berg, 1928-30, by Bruno Taut
  • Ringsiedlung in Siemensstadt,1929-34, by Hans Scharoun and Martin Wagner
  • Hufeisensiedlung Britz, 1925-30, by Bruno Taut
  • Siedlung Schillerpark im Wedding, 1924-30, by Bruno Taut
  • Weiße Stadt in Reinickendorf, 1929-31, by Otto Rudolf Salivsberg and Martin Wagner
Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust

The Augustusburg and Falkenlust castles in Brühl are considered masterpieces of the rococo. They were developed in the 18th century for Clemens August, the archbishop and worldly ruler of Cologne.

Construction of Augustusburg was started in 1725. First Johann Conrad Schlaun was appointed as architect, but August wanted something more modern and after 3 years hired Francois Cuvilliés. He made the castle into what it is now, with a lot of help of other artists like Balthasar Neumann who is responsible for the magnificent marble staircase.

Nearby Falkenlust was built as a hunting castle. The responsible architects here were Cuviliés and Leveilly. Also worth mentioning is the garden of Augustusburg. It was designed in Versailles-style by the Frenchman Dominique Girard.

Caves and Ice Age Art

The Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura comprise archaeological sites from the Aurignacian period where stone tools, figurative art and early musical instruments have been found.

It covers 2 locations with 3 caves each: the Ach Valley and the Lone River. The objects were carved from various materials, including mammoth ivory. Notable finding include the figurines of the ‘Venus of Hohle Fels’ and the ‘Lion Man’.

Classical Weimar

The ensemble "Classical Weimar" reflects a period in history when this East German town was the cultural heart of Europe. This was made possible by the patronage of (initially) Duchess Anna Amalia and (later) Duke Carl August.

Goethe made Weimar his home in 1775, and Herder and Schiller followed his example. The following monuments are included:

  • Goethe's House
  • Schiller's House
  • City Church, Herder House, and Old High School
  • The City Castle
  • The Dowager's Palace
  • The Duchess Anna Amalia Library
  • The Princes' Tomb and the Historic Cemetery
  • The Park on the Ilm with the Roman House, Goethe's Garden, and Garden House
  • The Belvedere Castle, Orangery, and Park
  • Tiefurt Castle and Park
  • Ettersburg Castle and Park
Cologne Cathedral

The Cologne Cathedral is the highest expression of the Gothic Cathedral architectonic form that developed over the 12th and 13th centuries in Europe.

Already in 1248, the construction of the Cathedral was started. Until 1560 the work on this Gothic Cathedral was in progress, but an accumulation of problems prevented it to be finished.

Only during the 19th century the Cathedral was finally completed, stimulated by Emperor William I. Not anymore as a pure construction to honor God, but also as a national Prussian symbol.

Corvey

The Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey comprise an early Christian monastic complex.

It has the oldest surviving example of a Westwerk, a massive, tower-like western front typical of Carolingian churches. It also shows a rare cycle of mural paintings depicting classic mythological subjects applied to a religious building.

The complex lies in a rural area and was built between between 822 and 885. Its name, Nova Corbeia, derives from the mother monastery Corbie in the North of France.

Danube Limes

Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Danube Limes (Western Segment) is a serial transnational site that comprises the remains of the Roman border along the Danube river.

  • The German part consists of 24 locations between Eining near Regensburg and Passau near the Austrian border. The eastern end of the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes is directly adjacent to the Danube Limes. The majority of the structures are preserved below ground, original remains are visible at Bad Gögging (thermal baths), Regensburg (Porta Praetoria, included in the WHS Old Town of Regensburg), and at the Roman Museum Boiotro in Passau.
  • The Austrian part consists of 47 locations between the German border close to Passau (Bavaria) and the Slovakian border near Bratislava. The majority of the structures are preserved below ground, visible remains can be found at Mautern, Traismauer, Tulln, Zeiselmauer, and Petronell-Carnutum.
  • The Limes Romanus in Slovakia comprises 6 locations, centered around the remains of the Roman military camp Gerulata in Rusovce (Bratislava) and the military fortress Kelemantia in Iza. They date from the 1st and 2nd century respectively.
Fagus Factory

The Fagus Factory, an operational shoe last factory, is an important example of early modern architecture.

The construction of the architectural complex started in 1911. It was built by the architect Walter Gropius. Light was required for work purposes: this lead to an almost entirely glazed building, via the innovative use of "curtain walls" (vast glass panels). It was a major break with the existing architectural and decorative values of the time.

The site contains 10 buildings, including a sawmill. Although constructed with different systems, all of the buildings on the site give a common image and appear as a unified whole. All buildings have a base of about 40cm of black brick and the rest is built of yellow bricks.

Frontiers of the Roman Empire

The Frontiers of the Roman Empire is a serial site that comprises parts of the Limes Romanus, a border defense or delimiting system of Ancient Rome.

The two sections of the Upper German-Raetian Limes in Germany cover a length of 550 km from the north-west of the country to the Danube in the south-east.

The Hadrian's Wall was built under the orders of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD 122. It took soldiers six years to build a wall 80 Roman miles long (117km) on the border of what is now England and Scotland. Emperor Hadrian built this wall "to separate Romans from Barbarians": it formed the most northern border of his empire. Later, there was some Roman expansion further north, resulting in the Antonine Wall.

Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is a series of landscape parks developed in the 18th century by Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau and his friend and adviser Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff.

Inspired by trips abroad (Italy, England) they were the first to introduce landscape gardening to continental Europe. They also applied the philosophical principles of the Age of Enlightenment to their landscape design: the result should not only be pretty to the eye, but also educative.

The worldheritage listed sites within the Garden Kingdom include the Kühnauer Park, the Georgium (in Dessau), the Luisium, Oranienbaum, Wörlitz Park and many small ornaments along the road.

Great Spa Towns of Europe

The Great Spa Towns of Europe represent the development of a specialized urban landscape that combined medical aspects, physical exercise and leisure.

These eleven Spa Towns are centered on natural mineral springs, which waters were used for bathing and drinking. The towns were expanded with important examples of  ‘spa architecture’, such as the ‘kurhaus’, drinking halls, theaters and casinos. They flourished from around 1700 to the 1930s.

Community Perspective: expect to find some fine Art Nouveau buildings, do some hiking, taste the water and most of the towns have modern spa facilities as well. Reviews of all inscribed towns are available: in Austria, Baden (Tsunami), in Belgium, Spa (Els, Clyde), in the UK, Bath (a double entry), in Italy, Montecatini Terme (Marian), in France, Vichy (Tsunami), in Germany, Baden-Baden (Caspar, Hubert), Bad Kissingen (Hubert), Bad Ems (Els), and in Czechia: Karlovy Vary (Matejicek, Hubert, Nan), Mariánské Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert), and Františkovy Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert).

Hedeby and Danevirke

The Archaeological Border Complex of Hedeby and the Danevirke comprises the archeological site of a medieval trading network that existed between Western and Northern Europe.

The Danevirke was a 33km long fortified wall that marked the border between the emerging Danish kingdom and the Frankish Empire. Hedeby was a market town that expanded due to the growing economic power of the Danish Vikings.

Community Perspective: the Viking Museum at Haithabu provides the most comprehensive overview, although its structures are mostly reconstructions as not much of the originals are left beyond the earthworks. Nan provides a local perspective, and Clyde describes a full visit including the Dannewerk museum.

Hildesheim Cathedral and Church

St. Mary's Cathedral and St. Michael's Church at Hildesheim are two inseparable monuments that are an exceptional testimony to the religious art of the Holy Roman Empire.

St. Mary's Cathedral was built between 1010 and 1020 in Romanesque style. It follows a symmetrical plan with two apses, which is characteristic of Ottonic Romanesque architecture in Old Saxony. The cathedral is famous for its many works of art, such as the bronze doors (1015) with reliefs from the history of Adam and of Jesus Christ, and a bronze column 15 ft. high (dating from 1020) adorned with reliefs from the life of Christ.

The Church of St. Michael also is an early-Romanesque church. It was founded in ca. 1010 by Bishop Bernward. The church has a famous painted ceiling, with 1300 pieces of wood, and was the original location of the bronze Bernward doors (now in the Cathedral).

Lower German Limes

The Lower German Limes formed the north-eastern border of the Roman province Germania Inferior along the Rhine between the North Sea coast in the Netherlands and the Rhine south of Bonn where the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes starts.

They include the traces of military fortifications, roads, settlements, an aqueduct and canals, often now buried in wetland. The long linear frontier made the Roman army adapt to the use of smaller military installations instead of big operational bases. The frontier was far from impregnable and allowed for trade and cultural exchange.

Community Perspective: Most of the structures only have been preserved underground. Original remains are visible at the Archaeological Park Xanten (“Roman Disneyland”: “It's a bit strange to reconstruct a temple as a ruin, isn't it?”), the Haus Bürgel in Monheim, the Cologne Praetorium, and in Iversheim. In the Netherlands, you can visit some remains under the Dom Square in Utrecht.

Lübeck

The Hanseatic City of Lübeck was leading among this league of merchant cities which held a monopoly over the trade of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea.

The functioning of the Hanseatic League is not only proof of early economic cooperation in Europe, but it also founded a social and cultural community that has left its mark throughout the region, particularly in the self-contained architectural world of brick Gothic. Parts of the medieval city of Lübeck were severely destroyed during the Second World War.

Included are three specific areas:

  • the Burgkloster, Koberg and sections between the Glockengiesserstrasse and the Aegidienstrasse.
  • the patrician residences between the Petrikirche and the Dom, the salt storehouses and the Holstentor.
  • the heart of the city, with the Marienkirche, the Rathaus and the Marktplatz.
Luther Memorials

The Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg bear testimony to the Protestant Reformation.

These two towns in former Eastern Germany are closely related to the lives of Martin Luther and his fellow-reformer Melanchthon. The site includes the houses in Eisleben where Luther was born in 1483 and died in 1546, his room in Wittenberg, the local church and the castle church where, on 31 October 1517, Luther posted his famous '95 Theses', which launched the Reformation and a new era in the religious and political history of the Western world.

Margravial Opera House

The Margravial Opera House Bayreuth is an 18th-century Court Opera House. It is considered a masterwork of Baroque theatre architecture.

It is the sole surviving example of a Court Opera House in the world (many others have been destroyed by fires), and its layout, design and materials have been preserved mostly unchanged. As it is located in a public urban space instead of within the walls of a private residence, the Margravial Opera House can be seen as a precursor to the later great public opera houses.

This Opera House was built between 1745 and 1750. It was commissioned by Margravine Wilhelmine. The interior was designed by the Italian architect Giuseppe Galli Bibiena. It is a loge theatre with three tiers of loges, made out of wood and painted canvas. It could hold an audience of 500. It is still in use as a theatre.

Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt

Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt represents the architectural and artistical transition from Art Noveau to Modernism.

The artist colony was founded in 1899 by Ernst Ludwig, the Grand Duke of Hesse, and existed until 1914. As patron he invited famous designers and architects to Darmstadt, including Joseph Maria Olbrich and Peter Behrens. The Mathildenhöhe complex, divided across 2 locations, includes the exhibition buildings, the wedding tower, a plane grove with sculptures and pavillons, and several master houses.

Maulbronn Monastery

Maulbronn Monastery Complex is the most complete surviving Cistercian monastic structure in Europe.

It includes an extensive water-management system of reservoirs and channels. The Cistercians laid out a network of approximately twenty natural and artificial lakes and ponds over several terraces. These were interconnected with an extensive system of trenches and canals.

This former monastery was founded in 1147. It further developed from the 12th to the 17th century. The main church was built in a transitional style from Romanesque to Gothic. It was of fundamental importance for the dissemination of Gothic architecture over much of northern and central Europe.

After the Reformation broke out, the Duke of Württemberg seized the monastery in 1504 and built his hunting lodge and stables there. Half a century later, the former abbey was given over to a Protestant seminary, which has occupied it ever since.

Messel Pit

The Messel Pit Fossil contains unique fossils from the Eocene dating back 50 million years. The Messel Pit is a disused quarry, in an ancient lake bed, in which bituminous shale was mined.

The first animal fossil remains discovered were that of a crocodile found in 1875. Subsequent excavations have led to the identification of 40 species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and insects.

The pit first became known for its wealth of fossils around 1900, but serious scientific excavation only started around the 1970s, when falling oil prices made the quarry uneconomical. Commercial oil shale mining ceased in 1971, and a cement factory built in the quarry failed the following year. The land was slotted for use as a landfill, but the plans came to nought, and the Hessian state bought the site in 1991 to secure scientific access.

Mining Cultural Landscape Erzgebirge

Erzgebirge / Krušnohoří Mining Region is a mining region that has been used from the Middle Ages onwards.

The 95x45 km area is located in southeastern Germany (Saxony) and northwestern Czechia. Amongst the raw materials mined over the course of centuries were ores of the metals silver, tin, zinc, cobalt, nickel, copper and lead; but anthracite and uranium were also extracted into the 20th century. 

Museumsinsel (Museum Island)

The Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin, was made a WHS for its modern museum design and its concept to extend the art museum to all people (by choosing a central urban setting).

The development of part of the Spreeinsel into a Museumisland started in the 1820s with the construction of the Altes Museum. In 1841, a master plan destinated this island for the arts and sciences only. During the following century, four more museums were built:

  • Neues Museum
  • Nationalgalerie
  • Bodemuseum
  • Pergamonmuseum.

The buildings fell into disrepair after being bombed during World War II. 

Muskauer Park

Muskauer Park / Park Muzakowski is a mid 19th century landscape park.

It covers 3.5 square kilometres of land in Poland and 2.1 in Germany. The park extends on both sides of the Lusatian Neisse river, which constitutes the border between the countries.

The founder of the park was Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785-1871), the author of the influential Hints on Landscape Gardening. He was the owner of Bad Muskau since 1811. After prolonged studies in England, in 1815 he founded the Park. As time went by, he established an international school of landscape management in Bad Muskau and outlined the construction of an extensive landscape park with the focus on 'improving' nature.

Naumburg Cathedral

The Naumburg Cathedral contains artistic masterpieces of a medieval sculptor and his workshop, known as ‘the Naumburg Master’.

  1. It is a 13th century romanesque former Cathedral (now a Protestant church).
  2. Its gothic west choir holds a rood screen and the famous donor portrait statues of the twelve cathedral founders, all created by the Naumburg Master.
  3. The Naumburg sculptures also have preserved their polychromy in singular condition.
  4. The Cathedral has a double choir structure where both original rood screens have survived since 1300.
Pilgrimage Church of Wies

The Pilgrimage Church of Wies is considered a masterpiece of Bavarian Rococo.

The exuberant stucco work and frescoes in lively colours were made between 1745 and 1754 by the brothers Johann Baptist und Dominikus Zimmermann.

In 1738 a miracle appeared in this Alpine valley: tears were seen on a dilapidated wooden figure of the Scourged Saviour. This miracle resulted in a pilgrimage rush to see the sculpture. In 1740 a small chapel was built to house the statue, but it was soon realized that the building would be too small for the number of pilgrims it attracted, and thus Steingaden Abbey decided to commission a separate shrine.

Potsdam

The Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin are an eclectic artistic achievement, with influences from Italy, England, France, Flanders, Paris and Dresden.

Potsdam was the residence of the Prussian kings until 1918; its majestic buildings were built mainly during the reign of Frederick II the Great (1740-1786).

After three extensions in 1991, 1992 and 1999, the site now includes Sanssouci, New Palace, Charlottenhof, New Garden, Babelsberg Park, Sacrow estate, Linstedt, Bornsted, Alexandrovka and many more small buildings and parks.

Prehistoric Pile Dwellings

The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps are the remains of prehistoric stilt houses at the edges of lakes and rivers.

The site consists of 111 locations, spread out over 6 countries. They date from 5,000 to 500 BC, and represent the life of early agrarian communities in Europe.

Rising water levels since prehistory led to the abandonment of settlements which were then covered by lake and river sediments. About 30 different cultural groups were responsible for creating these pile dwellings.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Quedlinburg

Quedlinburg is a town with medieval origins that has a large number of high-quality timber-framed buildings. In 919, it became the first capital of the Saxonian-Ottonian dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire

The WHS encompasses the whole town, and consists of several separate areas:

  • the historic town within the city walls (an ‘old’ and ‘new’ town, originating from the 10th and 12th centuries respectively, and adorned with many fine buildings during an economic boom in the 16th and 17th centuries).
  • the Westendorf district around the Burgberg (Castle Hill) with the collegiate church of St. Servatius (holding the graves of the first German Royal couple) and the buildings of the Imperial foundation.
  • St. Wipert’s church with its crypt (dating from ca. 1000).
  • the Münzenberg: the traditionally poor part of the town, with 60 small timber-framed buildings.
Rammelsberg and Goslar

The Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System constitute of one of the largest mining and metallurgical complexes for non-ferrous metals in Europe.

The Rammelsberg mining complex was in continuous use for at least 1000 years, before it closed its doors in 1988 due to exhaustion. The uniqueness of this site lies in its long history of mining and metal production. A variety of metals were discovered here over the ages, including copper, zinc, lead, silver and gold.

The nearby town of Goslar owns its level of development to the mining industry. It achieved great prosperity in the late Middle Ages thanks to the revenues from mining, metal production and trade. Goslar also played an important role in the Hanseatic League. In and around Rammelsberg and Goslar a great number of monuments give testimony to this period in history, such as mine-owners houses, underground tunnels, and transportation tracks , office buildings and churches.

Regensburg

The Old town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof has an almost intact medieval city center with many romanesque and gothic buildings.

Regensburg was an important trading centre along the Danube. It was also home of the assemblies of the Holy Roman Empire in the High Middle Ages. Its roots lie in the Roman town of Castra Regina.

Reichenau

The 'Monastic Island of Reichenau' developed around an influential Benedictine Abbey from the year 724. It lies in Lake Constance in southern Germany.

The Abbey of Reichenau housed a school, and a scriptorium and artists' workshop, that has a claim to having been the largest and artistically most influential center for producing lavishly illuminated manuscripts in Europe during the late 10th and early 11th centuries, when this area belonged to the Holy Roman Empire.

The Abbey reached its apex under Abbot Berno of Reichenau (1008-1048). During his time, important scholars, such as Hermannus Contractus, lived and worked in Reichenau.

ShUM Sites

The ShUM cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz refers to the cluster of three Jewish communities in the 11th century: Shpira (Sh), Warmaisa (W=U), and Magenza (M).

The three cities were centres of Jewish scholarship and of great importance for Ashkenazi Judaism. The specific customs and legal principles that developed there are still effective for Orthodox Judaism today. The cemetery in Worms and the ritual baths in Speyer and Worms have largely been preserved in their original form. The other components are the remains of the synagogue in Speyer and the cemetery in Mainz and the synagogue in Worms, which was reconstructed after World War II.

Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District

The Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus are two commercial quarters with offices and warehouses close to the port of Hamburg.

They date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The iconic Chilehaus is a ten-story office building. It is an exceptional example of the 1920s Modernist architecture (Brick Expressionism style).

Speyer Cathedral

Speyer Cathedral is one of the most important Romanesque monuments from the time of the Holy Roman Empire.

The cathedral was inaugurated in 1061. Emperor Koenraad II wanted to honor a city of his choice with the biggest church of its time. This way Speyer was given the prestige of a real Royal Residence.

In 1689 the cathedral was almost totally destructed. Until today renovations are underway to save the building and reconstruct the interior in the original Romanesque style. Its architecture is a combination of eastern and western influences. The total length of the building is 134 meters, the highest point is 72 meters. The Crypt is still the original and harbors the graves of no less than 8 medieval German emperors and kings. 

Stralsund and Wismar

Stralsund and Wismar are two historic coastal cities in north-eastern Germany, that owe WHS status because of their role in the Hanseatic League (13th to 15th centuries) and their Swedish heritage (17th and 18th centuries).

Both towns are rich in gothic religious architecture, sharing six major 'Gothic Brick' churches between them. They also feature unaltered medieval ground plans, and city centres that survived World War II almost unscathed.

This site is considered so closely related and complementary to the Hanseatic City of Lübeck WHS, that ICOMOS recommended turning them into a serial nomination.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier comprises 17 of his works across the world.

The renowned French-Swiss architect is seen as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. The series shows the dissemination of his ideas over the world during a period of 50 years, spanning seven countries on three continents. Many of the sites reflect new architectural concepts, principles, and technical features.  All were innovative and had a significant influence over wide geographical areas They also contributed to the birth of three major trends in modern architecture: Purism, Brutalism and sculptural architecture.

Community Perspective: Hubert has become our expert on this subject, having visited 14 of the 17 components. Reviews that include the interior are available of Casa Curutchet (Serianne, Nan, Michael, Timonator), Villa Savoye (Ian, Els, Ilya), Weißenhofsiedlung  (Solivagant), Sainte Marie de La Tourette in Éveux (Hubert), Firminy-Vert (Hubert), the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille (Hubert, Jakob), Maison La Roche (Hubert), Molitor (Hubert), National Museum of Western Art (Frederik), Chandigarh (Solivagant), Notre Dame du Haut Chapel (Clyde), Cité Frugès (Hubert).

Town Hall and Roland, Bremen

The Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen represent the civic autonomy and market freedom during the Holy Roman Empire.

Both Town Hall and Roland are prominently placed on the marketplace of the Hanzestadt Bremen. Bremen today still is an autonomous federal land, situated in north-western Germany.

The Old Town Hall was built in 1409 and renovated in the 17th century. It was especially designed to act as a Town Hall, and used this way over the ages.

The Roland statue is 5,55 meter high and dates from 1404. It stands in front of the Town Hall, but faces sidewards to the church. Roland statues can be found in a number of German towns, they represent market rights and freedom.

Trier

The Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier are the testimonies of a Roman colony and its recognition of Christianity.

Julius Caesar conquered this territory in 57 BC and the 500-year-long Roman history of Trier began. The city became a crossroads and a commercial link between major towns in France and along the Rhine.

Trier has a classic rectangular layout, with the Forum (including the most important buildings) in the center. There were also several Roman Baths in town. The oldest preserved building is the Amphitheatre, dating from 100 AD.

During the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337), Trier became an even more splendid city. He built the Dome/Cathedral, the Imperial Baths, the Basilica and several more Christian places of worship (as this was the empire's new religion).

Upper Middle Rhine Valley

The Upper Middle Rhine Valley is a cultural landscape that has been formed by the transport of means and ideas for over 2,000 years.

The Middle Rhine Valley stretches for 65km between Koblenz and Mainz, in central Germany. This area is full of medieval castles, historic towns and vineyards. The rocky Rhine Valley was already a major traffic route in Roman times. During the Middle Ages, many castles were built. Its owners levied tolls on the roads and the river, in return for protection against robbers.

Navigating the Rhine itself was also dangerous: there are many currents. Especially the Binger Loch was an obstacle. For a long time, it took the power of 40 horses to tow a ship across this treacherous point. The Loreley is the most narrow and deepest point along the way. It's also famous for its echo, which features in many legends like the one about the siren Loreley who lures sailors with her voice.

Völklingen Ironworks

The Völklingen Ironworks represent a modern ironmaking plant from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The 'Völklinger Hütte' was founded in 1873 by Julius Buch. Under the direction of the Röchling family (from 1881 on) it developed into one of the most important iron and steel works in Europe.

During its heydays, 17.000 people worked here. They manned the furnaces, stoves, coke ovens, and sintering machines. The entire process of pig iron production was executed in this 6 ha. large spot.

The iron works were closed in 1986.

Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands, rich in biological diversity

The area is typified by extensive tidal mud flats, deeper tidal creeks and the transitional zones between the sea, the freshwater environment and the surrounding (is)lands. Its coastal wetlands are considered one of the most important areas for migratory birds in the world, with an average of 10-12 million passing through it each year. 

Community Perspective: the site comprises 7 components and different national parks (the bigger islands mostly aren’t included). Reviews are available for places in the Netherlands (John, Clyde, Chris, Els), Germany (John, Ian, Michael, Nan) and Denmark (John). The ‘proper’ way of exploring the Wadden is via a mud hike like the ones Kbecq, Assif and Nan reported on.

Wartburg Castle

Wartburg Castle is seen as an "outstanding monument of the feudal period in central Europe".

The origins of Wartburg Castle date back to 1067. In that year a watching tower was constructed here by Ludwig der Springer.

Its current imposing shape started to develop with the construction of the Palas (the main body) in 1155. The Landgraves of Thuringia owned and expanded the castle from that time until the 15th century. The castle's history has been coloured with theological and artistic highlights rather than for military reasons. During 1521 and 1522 for example, Martin Luther lived here in exile. He made good use of his time by translating the New Testament into German.

Water Management System of Augsburg

The Water Management System of Augsburg has produced various technological innovations in the areas of waterways and drinking water supply.

The system consists of 22 different components, varying from hydroelectric power stations to fountains. It has its origins in the Middle Ages, when canals were built to bring water to the mills, tanneries, textile producers and goldsmiths. From 1545 there was a strict separation between drinking water and water for industry use.

Würzburg Residence

The Würzburg Residence with the Court Gardens and Residence Square represents a highlight in 18th-century Baroque palace architecture.

In 1720, the building of this baroque palace started at the request of Bishop Johann. It is made of yellow sandstone, which provides a golden glow. The palace has 300 rooms, spread over 3 wings.

The ceiling over the broad staircase is decorated with frescoes made by the Venetian master Tiepolo. The paintings date from 1753, and portray the god Apollo and the four continents. At the end of World War II, the Residence was partly wrecked by bombs. However, the ceilings (and paintings) did survive.

In the western wing lies the Hofkirche, an elegant red-golden church. The altar is decorated also with paintings of Tiepolo.

Zollverein

The Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen represents the development of traditional heavy industries in Europe, and the innovative architecture that was used.

Mining here started in the middle of the 19th century in the village of Katernberg. Because of its closeness to the major railway to Cologne, the site had the potential to grow.

And it did grow indeed. This culminated in the construction of shaft no. 12 in 1930, with its outer landmarks often named the Eiffel Tower of the Ruhr Area. The architects were Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer, for whom both functionality and aesthetic qualities counted.

Ghana
Asante Traditional Buildings

The Asante Traditional Buildings are the only surviving examples of traditional Asante architecture.

They are shrines/fetish houses decorated with symbolic bas-reliefs. The buildings traditionally have steep thatched roofs on top of a timber framework filled up with clay. Each building consists of four rooms around a quadrangular courtyard. Some of the enlisted buildings still have priests, some don't.

Community Perspective: it has taken a lot of research to find out which buildings are part of this WHS as it lacks an official map; the opinion at the moment is that there are 10 of them, but not all coordinates and names are known. Els and Solivagant both visited Besease shrine, the easiest to reach from Kumasi. Jarek additionally covered Aduko Jachie and Kentikrono in his review.

Forts and Castles Gold Coast

"Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions" comprises the remains of trading posts along the Gold Coast from the colonial period, which shaped the world’s history for centuries.

These Western-style fortifications and outposts (mostly Portuguese, Dutch and British) were constructed to support the trade in gold and later slaves. The most notable is Elmina Castle, one of the oldest European buildings outside Europe, built in 1482.

Community Perspective: Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle are the most visited components and are in good condition. Chris managed to take in 11 castles on a road trip, and Richard dwells upon the fate of the slaves held captive here.

Greece
Acropolis

The Acropolis, Athens holds a group of monuments that have been influential from Antiquity to Neo-Classicism.

'Acropolis' means Upper City, although it hasn't been a city where people live since the 6th century BC. The monuments are situated on a 60 meter high rock that dominates Athens. Since the 5th century the Acropolis has city walls, turning it into a strong fortification.

On top of the rock, some of the best monuments of Classical Greece can be found: the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion (421-406). They all date from the 5th century BC.

Archaeological Site of Aigai

The Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina) became famous in 1977, when the tomb of Alexander the Great's father, King Philip of Macedon, was discovered there. This proved undoubtedly that Vergina was ancient Macedonia's first capital, Aegae.

Aegae was inhabited from the early Iron Age (1000-700 BC) onwards. It was the capital of the Macedonian state until King Archelaus transferred his seat to Pella. However, also then it remained customary for Macedonia's kings to be buried in the original capital.

Aegae flourished chiefly in the second half of the 4th century B.C. To this period belong the Palace, Theatre and the Tombs. In 168 B.C. the city was seized by the Romans and burnt down.

Archaeological Site of Delphi

The Archaeological Site of Delphi comprises the remains of a sanctuary that was the "navel of the world" and had a huge impact on the ancient world.

Delphi reached its height in the 4th century BC, when large numbers of pilgrims came to ask advice of its oracle. The oracle, an old priestess, was believed to be Apollo's mouthpiece. She answered the visitor's questions (via a priest), inhaling the fumes of a chasm. In return, the pilgrims brought lots of votive gifts to the temple. Also city-states like Athens and Thebes contributed with treasuries and statues, thanking Apollo for supporting them in wars.

Delphi's fame dwindled in 191 BC, when it was taken by the Romans. It was totally closed down in the 4th century AD by Theodosius, who wanted to get rid of the pagan sanctuaries.

Archaeological site of Philippi

The Archaeological Site of Philippi comprises the ruins of a Macedon city, that saw its heyday in Roman and Early Christian times.

Philippi was founded in 356 BCE by King Phillip II (and named after himself), on a strategic location on the east-west route through his empire which was later reconstructed by the Romans as the Via Egnatia.

The city later became a center of Christian faith and place of pilgrimage, because according to the New Testament it had been visited by the Apostle Paul around 49 or 50 A.D. The first church in Philippi was established in the year 343.

Corfu

The Old Town of Corfu is noted for its defence system dating from the Venetian period. It also has preserved its remarkable British Neoclassical housing of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Venetians built two fortresses to withstand the Ottomans, in 1555 and 1588 respectively. The British demolished most of them in the 19th century, during the period when Corfu was a British protectorate (1815-1864).

Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios

The Monasteries of Daphni, Hossios Luckas and Nea Moni of Chios are masterpieces of the 'second golden age of Byzantine art'.

The three monasteries date from the 11th and 12th century. They have the same typology and aesthetic features, with marble and mosaic decorations.

They are geographically distant from each other: the monastery of Daphni is located in Attica, near Athens, the Hossios Luckas is located in Phocida near Delphi, and the Nea Moni of Chios is on the Aegean island of Chios.

Delos

Delos is a small island and archaelogical site that is part of the Cyclades island group.

It has been made a WHS because of:

  • its role in early archaeology,
  • its part in Aegean history,
  • its important role as cosmopolitan Mediterranean port from the 4th to the 1st century BC,
  • it being the mythological birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.
Epidaurus

The Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus is renowned for its influential healing cult and Hellenic architecture, especially its theatre.

To the ancient Greeks Asklepios was the God of Medicine. A son of Apollo, he was given the healing gift after his mother died at his birth.

From the 4th century BC, Epidauros became widely known as a sanctuary to Asclepius. There were temples and hospitals here, and people from as far as Rome to seek help. Treatments included licks from snakes. Also, every four years the Festival of Asclepieia took place at Epidaurus. Dramas were staged and athletic competitions were held. Today's best-preserved building - the theatre - links to this.

Island of Patmos

The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint John "the Theologian" and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos represent a traditional Greek Orthodox pilgrimage centre.

The designated area consists of 3 parts:

  • Chorá: the town centre, including mostly 17th century small churches and residential houses
  • Monastery of Hagios Ioannis Theologos: a castle-like structure that dominates the island (constructed in 1088)
  • Cave of the Apocalypse: a holy place, venerated by both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as the cave where St. John the Apostle had visions.
Meteora

'Meteora' comprises a group of 7 monasteries, built on high rock pillars.

They were founded in the 14th and 15th centuries as an expression of life in solitude. They also offered protection in times of political instability. In the heydays there were 24 monasteries, now there are only 7 left of which 4 are still inhabited by monks or nuns.

The iconic sandstone rock pillars were created about 60 million years ago by the effects of rivers and earthquakes.

Mount Athos

Mount Athos is a holy mountain that has been the spiritual centre of the orthodox world since 1054, and combines natural beauty with architectural creation.

It lies on a peninsula of about 50x10km in the Aegean Sea. The area, which is forbidden to women and children, includes 20 monasteries. They have been influential on religious architecture and iconographic painting. The Monastery of Great Lavra is the first monastery built and the most prominent. Its library has one of the richest collections of Greek manuscripts in the world.

Mount Athos is also home to 12 "sketes", communities of Christian hermits.

Mycenae and Tiryns

Mycenae and Tiryns were the two greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilisation.

Between 1600 and 1200 BC, its kingdom was the most powerful in Greece. Homer, in his Iliad and Odyssey, spoke of it as "rich in gold". Mycenae consisted of a fortified citadel and surrounding settlement. Its walls were 13 meters high, and 7 meters thick. The walls of the city of Tiryns are even more immense: in parts they are 20 meters thick.

The Myceneans prospered through their trade with eastern mediterranean neighbours like the Hittites and Egyptians. Around 1200 this all came to an end, and the palaces were destroyed.

Mystras

The Archaeological Site of Mystras is a relict townscape from the 13th century.

After having conquered Constantinople in 1204, the Crusaders divided Greece among themselves. Small states were created. One of those was Mystras, established by Guillaume de Villehardouin. It started as a castle, but the inhabitants of nearby Sparta fled to this safe place and developed it into a city. At the end of the 14th century, Mystras was the centre of the Peloponnesus and flourished as never before. It also became an intellectual centre, where artists and writers found a refuge.

In 1460, Mystras fell into Turkish hands. It lost its grand status but remained a commercial centre where at one stage 42.000 people lived. The city finally came to its end after a fire in 1825.

Olympia

The Archaeological Site of Olympia holds several masterpieces from the Ancient Greek world and was the site of the original Olympic Games.

Already in the 10th century BC, Olympia became a center of worship to Zeus. It flourished until AD 426, the year in which the emperor Theodosius II closed all the ancient sanctuaries.

Olympia now is mainly remembered for the games that were held here every 4 years. They existed even in prehistoric times, but got their Pan-Hellenic character in 776 BC. Victors won a crown with a branch of the olive tree that stood near the temple of Zeus.

Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos

Pythagoreion and the Heraion of Samos are the remains of two impressive classical architectural structures.

Pythagoreion was an ancient fortified port with Greek and Roman monuments. It holds the Tunnel of Eupalinos, of 1,036 m length and built in the 6th century BC. The tunnel is the second known tunnel in history which was excavated from both ends, and the first with a methodical approach in doing so.

The Heraion of Samos was a sanctuary originating from the 8th century BCE. A temple stood opposite the cult altar of the goddess Hera. It was the first of the gigantic Ionic temples. It stood for only about a decade before it was destroyed, probably by an earthquake. After that, an even larger one was built approximately 40 m to the West. This temple has the largest known floor plan of any Greek temple.

Rhodes

The Medieval City of Rhodes, built by the Christian military order Knights Hospitalers, is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe.

The city center is located within a 4km long wall. It has numerous fine Frankish (Gothic) and Ottoman buildings. Notable monuments include:

  • Collachium (high town), built by the Knights Hospitalers
  • Grand Masters' Palace
  • St. John's cathedral
  • St. Mary's church
  • several Byzantine churches turned into mosques after 1523
  • city ramparts
Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae

The Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae was an Ancient Greek temple known for its architecture. It is located in a rural location and was dedicated to the god of healing.

The temple was built from 420 to 400 BC. Its architect probably was Iktinos. It is a Doric temple, with dimensions of 14.48 x 38.24 m. Part of it is modelled after the temple of Apollo at Delphi.

The originality of this monument lies in its internal design. A 31 meter long frieze encircled the inside on all four sides. This masterpiece has been transported to the British Museum in London. The temple also boasts the oldest Corinthian capital that has so far been found.

 

Thessalonika

The Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika are a group of religious monuments known for their mosaics and distinct architectural typology.

Thessaloniki is Greece's second largest city, situated in the northeast, in Macedonia prefecture. During its heydays, in the Byzantine period, it was also the empire's second city (to Constantinople, in that case).

Thessaloniki derives its name from the first daughter of King Philip of Macedon. She married Kassandros, Alexander the Great's general who succeeded him on the throne. He gave her name to the city he founded around 316 B.C.

Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala is a Spanish-colonial urban landscape filled with baroque architecture.

Antigua was the capital of the Spanish colonial government in Central America. The catholic church played an important role in daily life, which resulted in numerous churches, monasteries and examples of religious imagery. The 16th-century basic grid town plan has been preserved. The baroque building style was adapted to better withstand earthquakes.

Community Perspective: Unequalled among the colonial towns in Central America, beautifully preserved, and in its tourist approach geared towards a boutiquey international lifestyle. Els gives an overview of the main sights.

Quirigua

The Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua comprise an ancient Maya site renowned for its outstanding carved stone stelae.

The monuments centered around the Great Plaza are remarkable for their complexity and the artistic skill shown in the sculptures. Their hieroglyphic texts and sculpted calendars are an essential source for the study of Mayan history and culture. Quirigua in the 8th century was an administrative center and monuments were erected marking the end of five-year periods.

Community Perspective: a small site, but the stelae and sculptures are in exquisite condition. The surroundings with numerous birds and working banana plantations are pleasant as well.

Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park comprises the remains of a major center of the Maya civilization, located within a forest that is rich in animal and plant diversity.

Tikal was one of the most important political, economic and military centres of the Ancient Maya, who reigned over large parts of the region during its heydays between 200 and 900. The site shows different stages of their evolution, resulting in monumental structures such as pyramids, temples, ball courts, stone stelae, water reservoirs and a network of causeways (sacbe). Animals include jaguar, puma, tapir, howler monkeys, anteaters, crocodiles, and more than 300 bird species.

Community Perspective: "You get it all at Tikal": the main ruins are spectacular and its rainforest environment is still intact. Allow at least 2 days. It is also directly accessible by public transport.

Guinea
Mount Nimba

Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve comprises montane forests with a high number of endemic plant and animal species.

These species include multiple types of duikers, big cats, civets, and several types of viviparous toads. It also has a population of chimpanzees using stones as tools. The Nature Reserve consists of high-altitude grassland, plains savannah and primary forest including rain forest. Its diversity is supported by the occurrence of a variety of microclimates.

Community Perspective: Iain visited the Guinean part in 1995 and witnessed a landscape with “a number of tumbling sparkling rivers and waterfalls, several natural bridges and possibly the biggest bamboo I've ever seen”.

Haiti
National History Park

National History Park - Citadel, Sans-Souci, Ramiers comprises an immense fortress and a palace that symbolize Haïti’s independence and the end of slavery.

The massive stone structure was built by up to 20,000 workers between 1805 and 1820 as part of a system of fortifications designed to keep the newly-independent nation of Haiti safe from French incursions. The Sans-Souci Palace, which stands at the foot of the road to the Citadel, was the residence of King Henri Christophe, a key leader during the Haitian slave rebellion.

Community Perspective: reviewers recall adventures from the past while describing a visit to this site, though even after Haïti became less and less safe, it still could be fairly easily visited from the Dominican Republic (though not so much when hiring a private driver). They also refer to Henri Christophe becoming syphilis-mad and a tyrant: these sites have a more evil history than the “universal symbols of liberty” of the official description suggests.

Holy See
Rome

The Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura comprise major monuments of Roman antiquity and papal history.

The city of Rome exists since the 4th or 5th century BC. Remains from the period of the Classical Roman Empire include: the Forum Romanum (the former political center) still holds a central position in town, the Colosseum and a triumphal arch. Also, the Therms of Caracalla: a large public bathhouse where also restaurants, libraries and other forms of leisure activities could be performed. Except for the walls, now there are only some mosaics and wall paintings left.

In 1990, the inscription was extended with properties of the Holy See which are located in the historic centre of Rome. Among them the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura.

Vatican City

Vatican City is an important site in the history of Christianity that is also known for its Renaissance and Baroque artistic creations.

The most famous monument within this small city-state is the San Pietro Basilica. Until 1989 this was the biggest cathedral in Christianity. The current structure dates from the early 16th century, although there have been churches on this site since 326 AD.

The Sistine Chapel is the other focal point. Dating from the late 15th century, this papal conference room is decorated with a series of paintings by a.o. Michelangelo. Between 1535 and 1541 he added his masterpiece: The Last Judgement.

Honduras
Copán

The Maya Site of Copán is renowned for the number and artistic quality of its remaining stelae, sculptures, and altars from the Classic Maya Period.

Copán was a political, civil, and religious centre for the southeast of the Maya area. The main complex consists of the Acropolis and five plazas, with ball courts, temples, and altar complexes. The highlight is the inscription on the Hieroglyphic Stairway, the longest known Maya hieroglyphic text which describes the most important rulers in the dynastic history of the site.

Community Perspective: though not as huge as Tikal, the site is worth a couple of hours. Unfortunately, two or three of the most beautiful stelae and sacrificial altars are represented by reproductions, the originals having been moved to the nearby museum. It is easily accessible both from the Guatemala border or by staying overnight in the town of Copan Ruinas. They have a system of separate fees for all the components, which makes it one of the more expensive Mayan WHS to see. Also, be aware of days when it is closed for maintenance, Frederic even had to resort to a clandestine tour on one of those.

Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve

The Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve encompasses both mountainous and lowland tropical rainforest, as well as savannahs and coastal plains, full of diverse wildlife and plants.

The river basin holds spectacular lagoons, namely Laguna Brus and Laguna Ibans, many rivers and waterfalls. Endangered mammals like the critically endangered Mexican Spider Monkey, the Giant Anteater, Ocelot and Jaguar can be found in this Reserve, as well as an impressive 411 documented species of birds.

Community Perspective: the few reviewers that have visited it praise the amazing wildlife and the indigenous culture. The truly adventurous have reported on a full descent of the river from the headwaters to the coast.

Hungary
Aggtelek and Slovak Karst

The Caves of the Aggtelek and Slovak Karst is a transboundary karst cave system, noted for its high concentration of caves and their great variety of cave types.

There are 712 caves in total. Features include the world's highest stalagmite and an ice-filled abyss. The site also covers Gombasecká Cave-Silicka Jadnica Ice Cave System and Dobšinská Ice Cave.

Budapest

Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue, holds a number of influential constructions from the Middle Ages to the late 19th century.

The Budapest World Heritage Site consists of three parts:

  1. Buda Castle Quarter - holds the city's medieval sites, with Buda Castle. Also, there are the remains of the original Roman town Aquincum.
  2. Banks of the Danube - includes the Parliament (1884-1904) and the suspension bridge (1849).
  3. Andrássy Avenue - includes the Opera, Millennium Park and the Underground Railway.
Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs

The Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs (Sopianae) comprises 16 funerary monuments with a distinctive architecture and impressive murals depicting Christian themes.

The earliest monuments date from the second half of the 4th century, when Pécs (then named Sopianae) was an important city in the Roman province of Pannonia.

Among the inscribed monuments are burial chambers, chapels and a mausoleum. Typical for the site is the two-storey building, with an above ground chapel and a subterranean burial chamber. Only some of these include mural paintings.

Fertö/Neusiedlersee

Fertö/Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape is the result of the symbiotic process of human interaction with second largest steppe lake in Central Europe.

Traces of human settlement around Lake Neusiedl go back to the neolithic period. The area became densely populated from the 7th century BC onward, initially by people of the Hallstatt culture and remained so throughout Roman times.

The designated area comprises of the settlements of Podersdorf, Illmitz and Apetion, parts of Rust and Fertörákos, the Palace of Nagycenk and Fertöd Palace.

Most of the lake is surrounded by reeds which serve as a habitat for wildlife (making the lake an important resting place for migratory birds) and are harvested in winter as soon as the ice is solid enough.

Hollókö

The Old Village of Hollókö and its surroundings is a living example of rural life before the agricultural revolution of the 20th century.

The village developed mainly during the 17th and 18th centuries. Hollókö is an Palóc ethnographic village, an ethnic minority group in north-east Hungary.

Hortobágy

Hortobágy National Park - the Puszta is the biggest grassland that remained in Central Europe.

Hortobágy is similar to a steppe, a grassy plain with cattle, sheep, oxen, horses, tended by herdsmen, and it provides habitat for various different species (342 bird species have been registered to appear).

The landscape features the following manmade structures:

  • Early Bronze Age burial mounds (kurgans)
  • low mounds (tells) that mark the sites of ancient settlements
  • bridges, among which the Nine Arch Bridge (the longest stone bridge in Hungary)
  • csárdas (18th and 19th century provincial inns for travellers)
Pannonhalma

The Millenary Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma and its Natural Environment was the first Hungarian Christian monastery and has been influential in the spread of Christianity over Central Europe.

It was founded in 996 when Hungary was primarily a pagan culture. It's an example of an early Christian monastery that still is in use. The hill where the monastery was constructed was called Sacred Mount of Pannonia, after the Roman name for this area.

In the 1590s the monks left the monastery due to a siege by the Turks. Monastic life resumed in the first half of the 17th century. About 50 Benedictine monks still live in this monastery. They chiefly work in the on-site boarding school.

Tokaji Wine Region

The Tokaji Wine Region Historic Cultural Landscape consists of 28 named villages and 7,000 hectares of classified vineyards.

It is the origin of Tokaji aszú wine, the world's oldest botrytized wine.

This agricultural landscape represents a distinct viticultural tradition that has existed for at least a thousand years.

Iceland
Surtsey

Surtsey is a recently born volcanic island, that provides a unique scientific record of the process of colonisation of land by plants, animals and marine organisms.

It was formed in a volcanic eruption in the sea which reached the surface on 14 November 1963. The eruption may have started a few days earlier and lasted until 5 June 1967. Since then it has been a protected natural area (free from any human interference) and a pristine natural laboratory.

Community Perspective: A visit – always limited to the surrounding waters as the island is a no-go zone - will be expensive due to the isolated location and lack of demand from the general public. It can be done as part of a longer cruise (as described by Solivagant) or with a privately chartered boat from Heimaey in the Westman Islands (as first discovered by Michael, an approach that has been proven successful several times after). A sightseeing flight sometimes also is a possible alternative. You will see a relatively low island with cinder cones, loosely-arranged lava rocks and some vegetation. In the surrounding waters, you may see seals or even a pod of orcas.

Thingvellir

Thingvellir National Park is a Norse/Germanic archaeological site containing the remains of the place where the Alþing met in the Middle Ages.

Once a year, residents from all over Iceland gathered here in the open air for two weeks to make judicial and administrative decisions. The site continues to have an iconic status for the national Icelandic identity. It is located in an impressive natural volcanic setting, and on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that separates the North American and Eurasian continents.

Community Perspective: although being one of the most geologically fascinating sites globally, it was only inscribed on cultural criteria. The relationship between the natural and cultural aspects of the site stays somewhat intangible. The site is easy to reach as it is part of the Golden Circle, but “don't do one of the tour bus trips from Reykjavik. Renting a car and allowing yourself a full day here is worth it”.

Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajökull National Park - Dynamic Nature of Fire and Ice is a natural landscape with a wide variety of tectonic, volcanic and glaciovolcanic features.

The Vatnajökull ice cap is the second-largest in Europe and a major glacial research location on climate change. It is situated on large and active tectonic rift systems, and in an area rich in volcanic features. These aspects all uniquely interplay.

Community Perspective: this is a huge park and most of it is pure wilderness. The most accessible areas from the Ring Road include Jokulsarlon ice lake and Skaftafell (here ice tongues from the glacier can be seen from very close). More adventurous options include expensive snowmobile tours from Jöklasel, a 2-3 hour detour to Jökulsargljufur National Park, and a 4x4 drive to the Laki area.

India
Agra Fort

Agra Fort is a 16th century Mughal red sandstone fortress.

The great Mughals Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb lived here, and the country was governed from here. It has massive red walls, with an outline of 2.5 kilometers. Within the walls, palaces, mosques and reception rooms can be found.

The most beautiful parts were added in the 17th century, by Shah Jahan. A lot of its white marble was used for the inside of Agra Fort too.

Ahmadabad

The Historic City of Ahmadabad is a walled city dating from the 15th century, especially known for its fusion of Hindu, Jain and Islamic elements.

The specific style can be seen in the city's religious buildings and domestic wooden architecture. Further notable are its clusters of gated streets (pol), which belong to families of a particular group, linked by caste, profession, or religion. The city is surrounded by a wall that dates from 1759.

Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves are rock-cut cave monuments dating from the second century BCE, containing paintings and sculpture considered to be masterpieces of both "Buddhist religious art" and "universal pictorial art".

The complex of Ajanta consists of several viharas (monastic halls of residence) and chaitya-grihas (stupa monument halls) cut into the mountain scarp in two phases.

Champaner-Pavagadh

The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park holds a largely unexcavated city which has been built in the late 15th / early 16th century as the capital of Gujarat.

It is an early Islamic, pre-Mughal city and its architecture shows the transition between the Hindu and Muslim traditions.

The designated area includes over 100 monuments, including fortifications, water installations and different standing structures. At the top of the hill is the temple of Kalikameta. There are also five mosques that are in excellent state. Some of them are forerunners of the Mughal architecture, being a mix of Hindu traditions and craftsmanship with Moslem ideology. The most significant of them is the Jama Masjid, also built by Sultan Begada.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) is a 19th-century railway station in Mumbai, that is known for its architectural mix of Victorian Gothic Revival and traditional Indian features.

It is a symbol of the blossom period of Mumbai as a commercial city in the late 19th century. The station was opened in 1887, on the Silver Jubilee of Empress Victoria. Its architect was Frederick William Stevens, who implemented advanced structural and technical solutions. He designed it in the Gothic Revival style, which has many similarities to traditional Indian palace architecture, such as the use of turrets, colouring and ground plan. 

The station was originally named "Victoria Terminus". In 1996, in response to demands by the Shiv Sena and in keeping with the policy of renaming locations with Indian names, the station was renamed by the state government after Chhatrapati Shivaji, a famed 17th century Maratha king.

Chola Temples

The Great Living Chola Temples are three granite temples dedicated to Shiva, that show the progressive development of Chola architecture and art.

The three included temples are:

  • Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur: the earliest and most representative monument. Built 1003-1010, during the reign of king Rajaraja, the founder of the Chola Empire which stretched out over South India and the neighbouring islands.
  • And the temples of Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram, built by his successors and following the main characteristics of the one in Thanjavur

Their layout is different from other South Indian temples, as the Vimana (sanctuary) is the highest point of the complex, not the Gopuram (gates). The tall Vimanas with many tiers as the core feature of the temples and the elaborate sculpted decoration represents the divinities and mythological figures related to the Tamil beliefs. In all three temples, traditional religious rituals continue to be performed by the general public.

Churches and Convents of Goa

The Churches and Convents of Goa are a group of Catholic religious buildings that have been influential for spreading both the faith and their Portuguese style of art and architecture around Asia.

They are located in Old Goa, which from 1565 was the capital of the Portuguese Indies. It was abandoned as such in 1760 because of a malaria outbreak. The main buildings that are included, are:

  • St. Catherine's Chapel
  • Church and Convent of Francis of Assisi
  • Sé Cathedral
  • Basilica of Bom Jesus
  • Church of Saint Cajetan including the seminary
  • Church of Our Lady of the Rosary
  • St. Augustine Tower

The Basilica of Bom Jesus holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, a missionary across Asia (India, Japan, China) who died in 1552. He is regarded as the patron saint of Goa. Once every decade on December 3, the body is taken down for veneration and for public viewing.

Dholavira: A Harappan City

Dholavira is an archaeological site that contains ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization/Harappan city.

The fortified city flourished between 3000 and 1800 BCE. It had an efficient water conservation system. Unlike Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, the city was constructed to a pre-existing geometrical plan consisting of three divisions – the citadel, the middle town, and the lower town.

Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves are two groups of caves that contain Hindu and Buddhist rock art architecture.

The reliefs and sculptures in the caves has been dated to between the 5th or 6th and 8th centuries. The Hindu caves are dedicated to the god Shiva. These were regular Hindu places of worship, and during the festival of Shiva still continue to be so.

The caves are hewn from solid basalt rock. All caves were painted in the past, but only traces remain.

The caves are located on the Elephanta Island in the Mumbai harbour. The Portuguese named the island "Elephanta Island" in honour of a huge rock-cut black stone statue of an elephant that was then installed on a mound on the island. That elephant now sits in the Jijamata Udyaan zoo in Mumbai.

Ellora Caves

The Ellora Caves are an archeological site that represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture.

The 35 "caves" - actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills - comprised of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave temples and monasteries, were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The 12 Buddhist (caves 1-12), 17 Hindu (caves 13-29) and 5 Jain caves (caves 30-34), built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri is a Moghul architectural ensemble that has been influential on the evolution of town planning.

Between 1570 and 1586 Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Moghul-empire. The Moghuls experienced their hey-day, and their leader Akbar wanted to construct a dreamcity where he and his large harem could live a glorious life.

However, because of unknown reasons (lack of water? a large war somewhere else in the empire?) Akbar and his followers left the city suddenly.

What is remaining now is a very well preserved ghost town, that gives insight in the architectural style from its period in history. The city has a mosque, several palaces, a caravanserai and broad streets and squares. The buildings are made of red sandstone.

Great Himalayan National Park

The Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area is an undisturbed habitat in the ecologically distinct Western Himalayas.

It holds diverse flora with greatest concentration of medicinal plants known for all of the Himalayas. It is the habitat of 4 globally threatened mammals such as Snow Leopard and Himalayan Brown Bear, and 3 globally threatened birds including the Western Tragopan pheasant.

The park lies in the Himalayan mountains in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The site covers Great Himalayan National Park plus the Tirthan and Sainj Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Hampi

The Group of Monuments at Hampi represent the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara empire. This was a South Indian empire, dating from 1336 to 1646.

The buildings in the city are mostly built in the original native traditions of southern India, associated with the Hindu religion. Some of them show a certain amount of Islamic influence due the interaction with Islamic kingdoms.

Hill Forts of Rajasthan

The Hill Forts of Rajasthan are 6 military fortifications built in the Rajput cultural tradition.

The included forts are:

  • Chittorgarh Fort
  • Kumbhalgarh Fort
  • Ranthambore Fort
  • Gagron Fort
  • Amber Fort
  • Jaisalmer Fort
Humayun's Tomb

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi is a landmark in the development of Mughal architecture.

It was built in 1570 for Humayun the second Mughal Emperor of India. The architect was Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, under the direction of Humayun's widow. He used mainly red sandstone, with white and black marble inlays.

The tomb and the complex around it now contains about 150 graves of ruling family members.

Around the tomb is an accomplished Charbagh garden, with pools joined by channels. It was modelled after Persian and Central Asian gardens, and was the first introduction of the Garden Tomb concept in the Indian subcontinent.

Jaipur City, Rajasthan

Jaipur City, Rajasthan, is a planned city combining ancient Hindu, Mughal and contemporary Western ideas.

The city of Jaipur was founded in 1727 by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amer. Under the architectural guidance of Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, Jaipur was designed based on Hindu (Vedic) architectural principles. It also uses a (Western) grid plan.

Jantar Mantar

The Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Maharaja (King) Jai Singh II at his then-new capital of Jaipur between 1727 and 1734.

It is modeled after the one that he had built for him at the Mughal capital of Delhi. He had constructed a total of five such facilities at different locations, including the ones in Delhi and Jaipur.

The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best-preserved of these. It has been inscribed on the World Heritage List as "an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period".

Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park is the world's primary protection area of the Indian rhino.

The park is located in Assam, Northeast India. The natural surroundings consist of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, crisscrossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water.

Two-thirds of the world's Great One-horned Rhinoceroses live in the park, and Kaziranga has the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world. The park also has large breeding populations of elephants, water buffalo and swamp deer. Located on the edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the park combines high-species diversity and visibility.

Keoladeo National Park

Keoladeo National Park is famous for its (water)birds. 375 species can be found here, among them the rare Siberian crane.

The park is an important wintering place for birds from colder countries in the North, like Siberia and China.

During colonial times, the area was used as a duck hunting ground. Since 1981 it is a national park.

Keoladeo Park is situated in the town of Bharatpur, 55 kilometers from Agra. It is best visited during the monsoon, when the park comes alive and the birds start courting and nesting.

Khajuraho Group of Monuments

The Khajuraho Group of Monuments date from around 1000 AD, when the Chandella Dynasty ruled this area. Originally there were 85 temples, of which only 22 still exist. There are both Brahman and Jain temples at the site.

The temples are beautifully decorated on the outside: bands of sculptures surround the walls. These depict life in the time of the Chandellas. Some of the sculptures are remarkable because of their erotic displayings.

Khangchendzonga National Park

Khangchendzonga National Park is a mixed site known for its glacial mountains and sacred cultural landscape. This Himalayan site includes the 8586m high peak of Khangchendzonga, the 3rd highest in the world.

The landscape features glaciers and glacial lakes, and is the habitat of species such as the snow leopard, red panda and Asian black bear.

For the local Sikkimese population, the area has important sacred significance. Both shamanic and Tibetan Buddhist traditions are kept alive in this cultural landscape.

Mahabalipuram

The Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram consists of temples and reliefs from the 7th century Pallava-dynasty, known for their sculptures carved out of rock.

Mahabalipuram was a seaport of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas, before they lost power to the Cholas.

The sculptures were hewn out of local granite. They fall into 4 different categories by mode of execution:

  1. rock-cut caves
  2. monolithic temples or rathas, hewn out of a large boulder
  3. bas-reliefs in the open air
  4. structural temples

The bas-relief “Descent of the Ganges” (also known as Arjuna’s Penance) is considered to be a unique artistic achievement. The sculptures of Mahabalipuram have influenced those in Cambodia, Annam and Java.

Mahabodhi Temple Complex

The Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya is one of the four holy sites of Buddhism. It is the location where Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, attained enlightenment.

The current temple dates from the 5th and 6th centuries. Being one of the few surviving examples of early brick architecture in India, it has yielded significant influence in the development of architecture in brick.

The site is located in the city of Bodh Gaya, Bihar. It consists of the main temple, six sacred places within an enclosed area and the Lotus Pond, just outside the enclosure to the south.

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Himalayan foothills and known for its tiger and elephant populations. The park is densly forested. The Manas river a major tributary of the Brahmaputra.

The fauna of the park includes Tigers, Elephants, Rhinoceros, Wild Buffaloes, Leopards, Clouded Leopards Black Panthers, Gaurs, Swamp Deer, Capped Langurs, Golden Langurs, Assamese Macaques, Slow Loris, Hoolock Gibbons, Smooth Indian Otters, Sloth Bears, Barking Deer, Hog Deer, Sambar and Chital. It is also well known for its rare and endangered wildlife which is not found anywhere else in the world like the Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur and Pygmy Hog.

In 1992, UNESCO declared it as a world heritage site in danger due to heavy poaching and terrorist activities.

Mountain Railways of India

The Mountain Railways of India are three fully operational railway tracks that are fine examples of 19th century technology and the changes they brought with them.

These railways built during the British colonial period stimulated population movements between the plains and the mountains. The site includes the following 3 railway systems:

  • Darjeeling Himalayan Railway: the first of the railways to become a WHS; it is a 86 km long narrow gauge railway from Siliguri to Darjeeling in West Bengal, built 1879-1881. It uses zigzags, with traction reversal and spirals.
  • Nilgiri Mountain Railway: a rack railway of 46 km long between Mettupalayam and Ooty in Tamil Nadu; it includes original stations, rolling stock and steam locs.
  • Kalka-Shimla Railway: a narrow gauge railway from Kalka to Shimla in North-West India. It uses very heavy and complex engineering, including multi-arch viaducts, tunnels, retaining walls and a very large number of curves, in order to overcome the mountain conditions.
Nalanda

The Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda, Bihar comprises the ruins of a Buddhist monastic and educational center.

The main stupa was built by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC and contains the relics of Sariputta, one of two chief male disciples of Gautama Buddha. The remains consist of an earlier cluster of stupa-centered buildings and a later linear system on a north-south axis.

Apart from religious buildings, the site contained 11 ‘viharas’ (used for study and housing). Nalanda was one of the most important places of learning in its day and is often characterised among India's early universities. It attracted scholars and students from near and far with some travelling all the way from Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia. The site was abandoned in the 13th century.

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks cover a high-altitude mountain valley renowned for its diverse alpine flora. The two parks are located in the Himalayas.

Nanda Devi National Park is dominated by India's second highest mountain, the Nanda Devi. It is largely unspoilt and free from human settlement. It has been closed to foreign visitors until 1974. Threatened mammals in the area include the snow leopard and Himalayan musk deer.

The Valley of Flowers National Park lies at a distance of 23km from Nanda Devi. It is also uninhabited. It is home to tahr, snow leopard, musk deer, red fox, common langur, bharal, serow, Himalayan black bear and a huge variety of butterflies. Its diverse flora is known for its medicinal plants.

Pattadakal

The Group of Monuments at Pattadakal are temples and architectural models that show both Dravidian (South Indian) and Indo-Aryan (North-Indian) styles of architecture, and a unique blend of these two.

They were commissioned by the Chalukya Dynasty who ruled part of South India. The constructions mainly date from the 7th and 8th centuries. They include 9 Shiva Temples and 1 Jain Temple. Part of the site is still in use as an active centre of worship, mainly at the sacred bull Nandi that is made of black granite and fully intact.

Pattadakal was the ceremonial capital of the Chalukyas, who also ruled from nearby Aihole and Badami. The epogee of their art can be seen in Pattadakal, with the Virupaksha temple as the masterpiece. Pattadakal seems to have functioned as a kind of Art School, where forms of architecture and sculpture were tried out at models before applying them at the main temples.

Qutb Minar

Qutb Minar and its monuments is a group of religious and funerary buildings that display the architectural and artistic achievements of early Islamic India. They are located in South Delhi.

The complex includes:

  • Quwwatu'l-Islam mosque, the earliest extant mosque in northern India.
  • Qutb Minar, a red sandstone tower, 72.5 m high. Its construction was started around 1202 by Qutbu'd-Din Aibak, the first Muslim Sultan of Delhi. It has five storeys, and is the highest stone tower in India.
  • Iron Pillar, built during the Gupta Empire in the 4th century AD. It is made of such pure iron that it has never rusted, a standing testimony to the metallurgical skill of ancient Indians.
  • Tomb of Iltutmish
  • Alai Darwaza (southern entrance)
  • Alai Minar, the base of a second, unfinished minaret
Rani-ki-Vav

Rani-ki-Vav (The Queen's Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat is the most developed and ornate example of this type of Indian architecture.

Stepwells are wells or ponds in which the water may be reached by descending a set of steps. These were sites for collecting water and socialising, but also simultaneously hold great spiritual significance.

Rani-ki-Vav was built in the 11th century as a memorial by the widow of Bhimdev I, ruler of the Solanki dynasty. The vav was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati river and silted over until the late 1980s when it was excavated by the Archeological Survey of India. The steps begin at ground level, leading down through the cool air through several pillared pavilions to reach the deep well below. There are more than 800 elaborate sculptures in seven galleries. Many of these are in devotion to Vishnu.

Red Fort

The Red Fort Complex is considered the final flourishing of Mughal architecture, combining Islamic, Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions.

It was built in the mid-17th century and became a symbol of the power of Mughal emperor Shahjahan. He moved his capital from Agra in a move designed to bring prestige to his reign and to provide ample opportunity to apply his ambitious building schemes and interests.

After 1857 the site was used as the headquarters of the British Indian Army. They introduced new colonial-style buildings and functions over the earlier Mughal structures. It was also the place where Indian independence was first celebrated and is still celebrated today.

The Complex consists of the Red Fort, with its walls, gates, palaces, baths, mosques and British period buildings, and Salimgarh Fort (an older fort, connected to the Red Fort by a bridge).

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka

The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are a repository of rock paintings within natural rock shelters with archaeological evidence of habitation and lithic industry, from the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods through the Chalcolithic to the Mediaeval period.

The shelters exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India, its rock paintings are among the world's oldest. The inscribed area consists of 5 clusters (5 hills) of in total ca. 400 shelters. The paintings, largely in white and red, show the varied animal life which shared the forest environment with the prehistoric people, and of the various facets - economic and social - of the peoples' lives. Later more elaborate paintings such as large processions of men on horses and elephants, battle scenes depicting spears, bows, arrows, shields and swords were added.

Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple

The Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple at Palampet is a temple complex that shows the characteristics of the temple architecture of the Kakatiyan kingdom.

The temples, including the main Shiva temple, stand out for its carving technique and sculptures. Construction of the temple was started in 1213. It lies in harmony with its natural setting, including a a Kakatiya-built water reservoir and an agricultural village.

Sanchi

The Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, especially the sculptured decorative work on the four gateways of Stupa no. 1, comprise an unrivalled masterpiece of Early Buddhist Art.

The site has ruins of about 50 monuments, among them are 3 large stupas, temples, a monastery and monolithic pillars. Sanchi was a major Buddhist sanctuary from the 3rd century BC til the 1st century AD.

Stupa no. 1, or the 'Great Stupa' is the principal monument. It has porticoes with stone railings and is over 16m high. It is particularly famous for the extraordinarily rich decorative work on the four monumental gateways or torana that provide access. There are two other stupas on-site, both dating to the 2nd century BC. All stupas are crowned by a chhatra, a parasol-like structure symbolising high rank, which was intended to honour and shelter the relics.

The Buddhist monuments at Sanchi were rediscovered in 1818, after having been overgrown for over 600 years.

Sun Temple, Konarak

The Sun Temple, Konarak is a 13th-century temple complex in the form of a huge chariot.

The temple is also known as the Black Pagoda. It was built in Orissa red sandstone (Khandolite) and black granite by King Narasimhadeva I (AD 1236-1264) of the Ganga dynasty.

The temple takes the form of the chariot of Surya (Arka), the sun god, and is heavily decorated with stone carving. The entire complex was designed in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels.

Sundarbans National Park

The Sundarbans delta is the largest mangrove forest in the world. It lies at the mouth of the Ganges and is spread across areas of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India, forming the seaward fringe of the delta.

The Sundarbans is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests, and presents an excellent example of ongoing ecological processes. The area is known for its wide range of fauna. The most famous among these are the maneating Royal Bengal Tigers, but numerous species of birds, spotted deer, crocodiles and snakes also inhabit it. It is estimated that there are now 500 Bengal tigers and about 30,000 spotted deer in the area.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal dates from the 17th century, as a tomb for the favourite wife of Moghul-emperor Shah Jahan.

She died at the birth of her 14th child in 1630. In grief, Shah Jahan decided to construct for her a monument to show his eternal love. It took 22 years to complete. The name Taj Mahal is derived from her nickname Mumtaz Mahal: pearl or crown of the palace.

According to legend, Shah Jahan planned to erect a black version as a tomb for himself on the other side of the river. A bridge should connect the two monuments.

The Taj is situated in the city of Agra, on the banks of the Yamuna river. It is enclosed in a garden amidst fountains and ornamental trees. The walled complex further includes two mosques and an imposing gateway.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier comprises 17 of his works across the world.

The renowned French-Swiss architect is seen as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. The series shows the dissemination of his ideas over the world during a period of 50 years, spanning seven countries on three continents. Many of the sites reflect new architectural concepts, principles, and technical features.  All were innovative and had a significant influence over wide geographical areas They also contributed to the birth of three major trends in modern architecture: Purism, Brutalism and sculptural architecture.

Community Perspective: Hubert has become our expert on this subject, having visited 14 of the 17 components. Reviews that include the interior are available of Casa Curutchet (Serianne, Nan, Michael, Timonator), Villa Savoye (Ian, Els, Ilya), Weißenhofsiedlung  (Solivagant), Sainte Marie de La Tourette in Éveux (Hubert), Firminy-Vert (Hubert), the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille (Hubert, Jakob), Maison La Roche (Hubert), Molitor (Hubert), National Museum of Western Art (Frederik), Chandigarh (Solivagant), Notre Dame du Haut Chapel (Clyde), Cité Frugès (Hubert).

Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai

The Victorian Gothic & Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai represent the modernization of Mumbai into a cosmopolitan city by the late 19th century.

The nominated area includes 94 historic buildings and the open green space of the Oval Maidan. They were created during the two major urban expansions of the city, adding Victorian Gothic public buildings in the late 19th century and Art Deco commercial/private ones in the 1930s. The Oval Maidan is at the centre of these. The area also has some interesting Indo-Saracenic and Classical Revival architecture.

Western Ghats

The Western Ghats are a 1,600km long mountain chain. They are believed to have been formed during the break-up of the super continent of Gondwana some 150 million years ago, as the faulted edge of the Deccan Plateau.

Its rainforests, rivers and grasslands contain a high plant and animal diversity, including rare and endemic species such as Asian Elephant, Gaur and Tiger.

This is a serial nomination of 7 different areas that include 39 components in total. Examples of these components are Periyar Tiger Reserve, Silent Valley National Park and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.

Indonesia
Bali Subak system

The Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy comprises five sets of rice terraces and associated water temples.

The Subak System refers to the thousand year old self-governing associations of farmers who share the use of irrigation water for their rice fields. Water from volcanic lakes is diverted through rivers and channels to end up in the rice terraces.

The included areas are:

  • Supreme Water Temple of Pura Ulun Danu Batur
  • Lake Batur
  • Subak Landscape of the Pakerisan Watershed
  • Subak Landscape of Catur Angga Batukaru
  • The Royal Water temple of Pura Taman Ayun
Borobudur

The Borobudur Temple Compounds is a ninth-century Buddhist temple complex. It was built on several levels around a natural hill.

Borobudur is built as a single large stupa, and when viewed from above takes the form of a giant tantric Buddhist mandala, simultaneously representing the Buddhist cosmology and the nature of the mind. It has nine platforms, of which the lower six are square and the upper three are circular. The upper platform features seventy-two small stupas surrounding one large central stupa. Each stupa is bell-shaped and pierced by numerous decorative openings. Statues of the Buddha sit inside the pierced enclosures.

The site was rediscovered in the 19th century and restored in the early 20th. Two smaller Buddhist temples, Pawan and Mendut, are part of the designated area too.

Komodo National Park

The Komodo National Park was founded in order to protect the resident giant lizards, the "Komodo dragons". Open grass-woodland savannah covers some 70% of the park.

The last surviving population of the world's largest lizard, which is estimated at around 5,700 individuals, is distributed across the islands of Komodo (2,900), Rinca (900), Gili Motong (fewer than 100) and in certain coastal regions of western and northern Flores.

The park includes the three larger islands Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller ones. The national park was founded in 1980. Later it was dedicated to protecting other species than the dragon as well, including marine species. The islands of the national park are of volcanic origin.

Lorentz National Park

Lorentz National Park is an outstanding example of the biodiversity of New Guinea, and one of the most ecologically diverse national parks in the world.

It is the only nature reserve in the Asia-Pacific region to contain a full altitudial array of ecosystems spanning from marine areas, mangrove, tidal and freshwater swamp forest, lowland and montane rainforest, alpine areas, and equatorial glaciers. At 4884 meters, Puncak Jaya (formerly Carstensz Pyramid) is the tallest mountain between the Himalayas and the Andes.

The endangered Dingiso tree kangaroo is found here, as well as two threatened species of crocodiles: estuarine crocodile and New Guinea crocodile

Furthermore, 411 bird species are recorded (including 20 endemic).

Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto

The Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto is a late 19th century industrial system built by the Netherlands colonial government. 

The mines were worked by local labourers (including forced labourers), the town of Sawahlunto grew to 7,000 inhabitants. The site comprises 12 locations, including mines, coal fields, tunnels, a Mining School and railway system.

 

Prambanan

Prambanan Temple Compounds is the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia and one of the largest Hindu temples in south-east Asia.

It is characterised by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the 47m high central building inside a large complex of individual temples. The temple complex dates from the 10th century, and is dedicated to Shiva.

Next to the main complex (called Loro Joggrang), the Buddhist Candi Sewu and the temples of Lumbumg, Burah and Asu also are part of this WHS.

Sangiran Early Man Site

The Sangiran Early Man Site is one of the key sites for the study of human evolution.

A second occurence of "Java Man" was discovered here: first discovered in 1891 at Trinil by Dutchman Dubois, more skulls were found by an archeological party organized by German G.H.R. von Königswald at Sangiran (near Solo).

"Java Man" at the time was one of the first known human ancestors. He is now been reclassified as part of the species Homo erectus.

About 60 more fossils have since been found here, making it the most fruitful of the early hominid sites that have been named a WHS. The skull and bone pieces have been discovered by both archeologists and locals in quite a large area. This whole area (56 square km) has been designated a WHS.

Tropical Rainforest Sumatra

The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra is a mountainous landscape of exceptional beauty, which forests hold many endangered species including the endemic Sumatran orang-utan.

The site comprises three Indonesian national parks on the island of Sumatra. They are:

  • Gunung Leuser National Park
  • Kerinci Seblat National Park
  • Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park
Ujung Kulon National Park

Ujung Kulon National Park contains the largest remaining lowland rainforest in Java and is also one of only two homes of the critically endangered Javan Rhinoceros. 

The area is covered with lowland rainforest, swamps, mangroves and grasslands. The peninsula has coral islands and coral reefs.

The National Park includes the volcanic island group of Krakatoa and other islands including Panaitan, Handeuleum and Peucang on the Sunda Strait. Krakatoa suffered a major eruption in 1883, when the combined effects of pyroclastic flows, volcanic ashes, and tsunamis had disastrous results in the region. 

Iran
Armenian Monastic Ensembles

The Armenian Monastic Ensembles in Iran cover three Armenian Christian religious buildings, that bear testimony to the spread of Armenian culture in this part of the world.  

The site consists of the Saint Thaddeus Monastery, the Monastery of St Stepanos and the Dzordzor chapel. They originate from between the 7th and 14th centuries but have been rebuilt many times due to nature and human inflicted disasters. 

The monastery of St. Thaddeus is the second religious centre for the Armenian church, after the cathedral of Echmiatsin. It is the supposed place of the tomb of St. Thaddeus, one of the twelve Apostles. This makes it an important place for yearly pilgrimage.

Bam Cultural Landscape

Bam and its Cultural Landscape is an outstanding example of a medieval Central Asian trading settlement in a desert environment.

The survival of the town is the result of an elaborate underground water mangement system (the qanâts). They are still in use today, together with their supporting social system.

The site consists of a fortified mud-brick citadel (Arg-e Bam) with part of the old town within its walls, and the surrounding countryside including other settlements and medieval structures such as mausolea.

Bam was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake on December 26, 2003. The quake had a magnitude of 6.6 on the Richter scale.

Bisotun

Bisotun is an archaeological site located along a historical trade route, containing remains dating from pre-historic times through the history of ancient Persia.

It bears unique testimony to the Persian empire and the interchange of influences in art and writing in the region. Its primary monument is the Bisotun Inscription, made in 521 BC by Darius I the Great when he conquered the Persian throne. The inscription is written in 3 languages: Elamite, Babylonian and Old Persian. It is to cuneiform script what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs: the document most crucial in the decipherment of a previously lost script. 

Golestan Palace

The Golestan Palace is a 19th century royal residence in Teheran, built by the Qajar dynasty. It combines traditional Persian architecture with western influences.

The buildings were once enclosed within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran's 16th century Historic Arg (citadel). The palace was rebuilt to its current form in 1865 by Haji Abol-hasan Mimar Navai.

The site comprises 8 palace complexes around a garden. Notable features include:

  • Marble Throne (Takht-e marmar)
  • Hoze Khaneh, a summer chamber with cooling system
  • Talar-e Aineh (Hall of Mirrors)
  • Shams-ol-Emareh (Edifice of the Sun)
  • Several museums
Gonbad-e Qâbus

Gonbad-e Qābus is a monumental tomb tower, the earliest and tallest in this part of Asia. It was built in 1006 as a tomb for emir Qābus ibn Voshmgir, but no traces of remains have been found inside the tower.

The 53 metres high tower was constructed using unglazed fired bricks. Its form is cylindrical, with a conical roof and standing on a stellar plan. It became the prototype for the construction of tomb towers in the history of Islamic Architecture.

The tower is the only part that remains of the historic town of Jorjan. It stands on a domed hill in a park in the center of the current city Gonbad-e Qābus.

Hawraman/Uramanat

The Cultural Landscape of Hawraman/Uramanat comprises agricultural villages and their lands in two valleys in the Zagros mountains.

The semi-nomadic inhabitants perform steep-slope agriculture with the use of traditional dry-stone terracing and water management practices. Hawraman/Uramanat is located in the mountainous Kurdistan Province of Iran.

Hyrcanian Forests

The Hyrcanian Forests comprise an 850km long massif covered in ancient natural broad-leaved forests.

They date back 25 - 50 million years when such forests covered most parts of the Northern Temperate region. The site has 15 components, mostly located on higher elevations. They show high floristic biodiversity (3,200 vascular plants), and are home to forest birds and the iconic Persian Leopard.

Lut Desert

The Lut Desert in the southeast of Iran contains spectacular landforms shaped by wind erosion.

There is a mix of high sand dunes and yardangs, mushroom rock-like features where the soft material has eroded from an originally flat surface and removed by the wind and the harder material remains.

This salt desert also is known as the hottest place on earth: temperatures of over 70 degrees Celsius have been measured. The landscape is ‘hyper-arid’, seeing very little rain because it lies in a basin surrounded by mountains.

Masjed-e Jâme'

Masjed-e Jâme' of Isfahan represents a condensed history of Iranian Architecture. It displays architectural styles of different periods in the country's Islamic architecture.

The mosque was built in the four-iwan architectural style, placing four gates face to face. It later became a prototype for mosque and dome design.

Located in the historic centre of Isfahan, it is the oldest Friday mosque in Iran. It was developed from the 9th century onwards.

Maymand

The Cultural Landscape of Maymand covers a dry desert valley in Central Iran, which is home to semi-nomadic people. They practice a three phase transhumance system.

In winter, they live in troglodytic houses carved out of soft stone rocks. The designated area contains houses, animal shelters, water collection points, agro-pastoral systems and rock-art.

Meidan Emam, Esfahan

Meidan Emam, Esfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world. The square is surrounded by important historical buildings from the Safavid era.

The Shah Mosque is situated on the south side of this square. On the west side you can find Ali Qapu Palace. Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque is situated on the eastern side of this square and the northern side opens into the Isfahan Grand Bazaar.

Pasargadae

Pasargadae covers the archaeological remains of the first capital of the Persian Empire, dating from the 6th century BC.

Its most important monument is the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire who went on to conquer much of the ancient Near East, Southwest Asia, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Pasargadae’s gardens provide the earliest known example of the Persian chahar bagh, or fourfold garden design. The complex further consists of the remains of a fortress, palaces (‘the royal ensemble’) and a 14m high stone tower. 

Persepolis

Persepolis was the ancient ceremonial capital of the second Iranian dynasty, the Achaemenid Empire.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest remains of Persepolis date from around 518 BC. It was Darius the Great who built the monumental terrace, stairways, and the great palaces in this royal city. They are decorated with sculpted friezes and columns.

 

 

Persian Garden

"The Persian Garden" comprises nine gardens from different epochs and climates. They derive from the Chahar Bagh model: the division of a site into 4 sectors, opening out into the 4 cardinal directions.

The tradition and style in the garden design of Persian gardens has influenced the design of gardens from Andalusia to India and beyond. The design is dominated by geometry and the use of water as a central element. This dates back to the 6th Century BC.

Safi al-Din Ensemble in Ardabil

The Sheikh Safi al-Din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil is a Sufi spiritual retreat dating from between the early 16th century and late 18th century.

It is the burial site of Safi al-Din Ardabili (b. 1252/3), the eponymous founder of the Safawiyya order of Sufism. The complex is a fine example of medieval Iranian architecture.

The shrine was an important site of pilgrimage throughout the Safavid period (1501-1722) and underwent numerous improvements and embellishments to become one of the most beautiful of all Safavid monuments.

The site includes a library, a mosque, a school, a mausoleum, a cistern, a hospital, kitchens, a bakery and some offices.

Sassanid Archaeological Landscape

The Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars region covers monumental buildings, inscriptions, and other relevant relics of the three main cities of the Sassanid Empire.

Eight archaeological sites in Firuzabad, Bishapur, and Sarvestan have been inscribed. They stand out for their rock carvings and sculptures. The empire also is known for its contribution to the distribution and establishment of Zoroastrianism, and the site includes major Zoroastrian monumental architecture such as the Takht-e Neshin fire temple.

Shahr-i Sokhta

Shahr-i Sokhta ("Burnt City") is an archaeological site of a Bronze Age urban settlement.

It is associated with the Jiroft culture, an "independent Bronze Age civilization with its own architecture and language", intermediate between Elam to the west and the Indus Valley Civilization to the east. Covering an area of 151 hectares, Shahr-i Sokhta was one of the world's largest cities at the dawn of the urban era. In the western part of the site is a vast graveyard. It contains between 25,000 to 40,000 ancient graves.

The settlement appeared around 3200 BC. The city had four stages of civilization and was burnt down three times before being abandoned in 2100 BC. The site was discovered and investigated by Aurel Stein in the early 1900s.

Shushtar

Shushtar, Historical Hydraulic System, is an island city from the Sassanian era with a complex irrigation system.

The river was channelled to form a moat around the city, while bridges and main gates into Shushtar were built to the east, west, and south. Several rivers nearby are conducive to the extension of agriculture; the cultivation of sugar cane, the main crop, dates back to 226 CE. A system of subterranean channels called Ghanats, which connected the river to the private reservoirs of houses and buildings, supplied water for domestic use and irrigation, as well as to store and supply water during times of war when the main gates were closed. Traces of these ghanats can still be found in the crypts of some houses. This complex system of irrigation degenerated during the 19th century.

Soltaniyeh

Soltaniyeh was the capital of the Ilkhanate, an empire of Mongolian origin that ruled over Persia in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The city’s main remaining feature is the ‘Dome of Soltaniyeh’, which houses the mausoleum of the Ilkhanid khan Öljeitü. This building is considered a key monument in the history of Islamic architecture: it is the oldest double-shell dome in the world. The octagonal building is crowned with a 50m-tall dome covered in turquoise blue glazed bricks and surrounded by eight slender minarets.

The WHS comprises 13 other locations besides the Dome. They include other mausolea and tombs, and also the remains of the former city and surrounding pasture.

Susa

Susa was an ancient city and capital of the Elamite and Achaemenid empires. It is one of the oldest-known settlements of the region, dating from as early as 4395 BCE.

Susa's importance lies in its contribution to the development of the early state, and urbanization. The archeological site is located in the lower Zagros Mountains. It comprises two components: Susa archaeological complex and the area of Ardeshir's Palace.

Tabriz Bazaar

The Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex is one of the oldest and largest bazaars of the Middle East.

Tabriz has been a place of cultural exchange since antiquity and its historic bazaar complex was one of the most important commercial centres on the Silk Road.

The most prosperous time of Tabriz and its complex Bazaar was in the 13th century when town became the capital city of Safavid kingdom. The city lost its status as capital in the 16th century, but its Bazaar has remained important as a commercial and economic center.

Takht-e Soleyman

Takht-e Soleyman is the holiest shrine of Zoroastrianism and the most important relic of the former Sassanid Empire.

The archaeological site dates from the 6th century. It was partially rebuilt during the Ilkhanid period (13th-14th century): they added new constructions and reused the site as a palace.

The site officially comprises one location, but there are 6 sublocations such Takht-e Soleyman with its firetemple and Anahita temple, the small hill Zendan-e Suleiman (‘Solomon’s prison’), a mountain to the east that served as quarry for the construction of the site, the archaeological mound Tepe Majid and Belqeis Mountain with a citadel.

Tchogha Zanbil

Tchogha Zanbil comprises the ruins of the holy city of the Kingdom of Elam, centered on a great ziggurat and surrounded by three huge concentric walls.

Founded around 1250 BC, the city remained unfinished after it was invaded by Ashurbanipal in 640 BC. Its ziggurat is considered to be the best-preserved example in the world. It is one of the few extant ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia. 

The complex is protected by three concentric walls, which form three main areas of the "town." The inner area is wholly taken up with the great ziggurat dedicated to the main god. The middle area holds eleven temples for lesser gods. In the outer area are royal palaces, a funerary palace containing five subterranean royal tombs, and a necropolis containing non-elite tombs.

The Persian Qanat

The Persian Qanat is an ancient underground water management system used for irrigation in a desert climate. 

The system was communally managed. With the use of water clocks, a just and exact distribution among the shareholding farmers was ensured. It enabled settlements and agriculture.

This serial site covers 11 still functioning qanats in central and eastern Iran.

 

 

 

Trans-Iranian Railway

The Trans-Iranian Railway is a 1,394 km long work of transportation infrastructure that crosses 8 provinces from North to South.

It was completed in 1938. Its two segments connect the ports of Bandar-e Torkaman on the Caspian Sea and Bandar-e Imam Khomeini on the Persian Gulf via Teheran. Many bridges and tunnels had to be constructed to overcome hills and gorges. It was a prestige modernization project by the newly established Pahlavi state of Iran.

Yazd

The Historic City of Yazd is a traditional earthen city where life has been adapted to its desert location, most notable via the water system of the qanats.

Yazd is a city with a long history dating back to the Achaemenid era and was located along the Silk and Spice Roads. It prospered from trade. The earthen constructions include both residential and public buildings.

 

Iraq
Ahwar of Southern Iraq

The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: refuge of biodiversity and the relict landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities covers the marshy delta that was home to the early Sumerian civilization.

This mixed site consists of 7 locations: three archaeological sites (Ur, Uruk and Tell Eridu) and four wetland marsh areas. The latter are the Huwaizah Marshes, Central Marshes, East Hammar and West Hammar Marshes - important for bird migration and fish species.

The area lies in the joint delta of the Tigris and Euphrates River, the river providing arable fields via the use of irrigation. Due to draining of large portions of the marshes, the marshes were diminshed to 10% of their original size by 2003.

Ashur

Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) are the remains of the first capital of the Assyrian empire from the 14th to 9th centuries BC. The Assyrian Empire took its name from the city of Ashur.

Ashur contained a large number of important religious buildings, and a handful of palaces. Documents from the 7th century BCE tell us about 34 temples and 3 palaces. Only few of these have been excavated.

The city was the centre for worship of the god Ashur and the goddess Ishtar/Inanna. Exploration of the site of Assur began in 1898 by German archaeologists.

Babylon

Babylon is the archaeological site of what once was one of the largest and oldest settlements in Mesopotamia.  

It comprises the – largely unexcavated - remains of the ancient Neo-Babylonian city, its city walls and temples. Particularly during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (604–561 BC)  the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including the Etemenanki ziggurat, and the construction of the Ishtar Gate took place.

Erbil Citadel

The Erbil Citadel is a fortified settlement on top of a 20-30 meter high 'tell'.

It has a long settlement history, dating back to at least the Chalcolithic period and gaining prominence as Arbela during the Assyrian period.

The citadel is uninhabited since 2006 and undergoing reconstructions. Most of the remaining structures date from the 19th and 20th centuries. The oldest surviving building is the hammam (1775). The perimeter wall of the citadel is not a continuous fortification wall, but consists of the façades of approximately 100 houses that have been built against each other.

Hatra

Hatra is a ruined city that can be considered as the symbol of Parthian power which for a long time threatened that of Rome.

As centre of the empire, it flourished during the 1st and 2nd centuries BC. It was a fortified city of circular design.

Hatra is located in the Al-Jazirah region of present-day northern Iraq, 180 miles (290 km) northwest of Baghdad.

 

 

Samarra

Samarra Archaeological City is the site of a powerful Islamic capital city which ruled over the provinces of the Abbasid empire extending from Tunisia to Central Asia for a century.

It testifies to the architectural and artistic innovations that developed there and spread to the other regions of the Islamic world.

Among its architectural monuments are the 9th-century Great Mosque and its Spiral Minaret, and the Caliphal Palace.

Ireland
Brú na Bóinne

Brú na Bóinne - Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne comprises the largest collection of remains from the Neolithic era in Europe.

The site was an important ritual centre until the Late Middle Ages. The dozens of megalithic monuments had funerary and ritual use. It is especially valued for its passage graves adorned with petroglyphs, with Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth as the best examples.

Community Perspective: The main site of Newgrange is often included in day tours from Dublin, and can become busy. Knowth is a good (some say: even better) alternative, while the interior of the graves in Dowth cannot be visited. The other graves can only be entered with a guide.

Sceilg Mhichíl

Sceilg Mhichíl (Skellig Michael) is an early Christian monastic complex deliberately constructed on a difficult-to-access, steep rocky island.

It was created in the tradition of medieval island monastic sites known for their asceticism. The island held living spaces, buildings for worship and plots for food production. The buildings were constructed using dry stone masonry and have survived mostly intact. They include the Monastery (including an oratory and St. Michael's Church) and the Hermitage.

Community Perspective: nowadays it still is hard to reach when the seas are rough, but it is a popular site to visit for the general public (and Star Wars fans). The more expensive and longer landing tours will allow you to set foot on the island. A climb from the base of the island via a dry-stone stairway then awaits you, culminating in the area with the beehive huts and the monastery. When you read the reviews chronologically, the oldest first, you will notice a fair bit of modernization, including the introduction of online booking, the closing of dangerous trails, and the first appearance of a toilet on the island!

Israel
Bahá’i Holy Places

The Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee represent the Bahá’i faith and their pilgrimage tradition.

The Bahá'í Faith is a religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in nineteenth-century Persia. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories.

The designated site consists of 26 different monuments in the northern Israeli cities Acre and Haifa.

Biblical Tells

The Biblical Tells and Ancient Water Systems -- Megiddo, Hazor and Beer Sheba are representative of tells that contain substantial remains of cities with biblical connections.

The three tells also present some of the best examples in the Levant of elaborate Iron Age, underground water collecting systems, created to serve dense urban communities. Their traces of construction over the millennia reflect the existence of centralized authority, prosperous agricultural activity and the control of important trade routes.

Caves of Maresha and Bet Guvrin

The Caves of Maresha and Bet Guvrin are man-made subterranean complexes up to 2,000 years old. These archaeological sites are situated below the ancient twin towns of Maresha and Bet Guvrin in Lower Judea.

In a layer of soft chalk some 475 cave complexes have been carved out during different periods. The area was in use from the Iron Age to Persian, Judaic, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine antiquity. Some forty burial sites were dug into the ground at the foot of the hills close to Maresha, including three main necropolises.

The region is close to the ancient route linking Mesopotamia to Egypt. Agricultural practice is also very old, the caves were for example in use for the pressing and storage of olive oil and for raising pigeons.

Incense Route of the Negev

The Incense Route and Desert Cities of the Negev reflects the hugely profitable trade in frankincense and myrrh.

The designated area consists of 4 locations:

  • Incense & Spice Route (between Ovdat and Moa)
  • Haluza
  • Mamshit
  • Shivta