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World Heritage Site

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20 Most Recent Community Reviews

Rjukan / Notodden Juha Sjoeblom

Rjukan / Notodden by Juha Sjoeblom

Site visited April 2017. Rjukan – Notodden industrial heritage site is located in the beautiful Norwegian landscape. Sometimes I found the landscapes more interesting than the industrial values. This site needs a bit of background research to really understand it.

There are plenty of industrial sites around Nordic countries. Some of them have been inscribed already: Falun, Engelsberg, Røros and Verla. The first question I had, what makes just this site worth of World Heritage status? What qualities it has that the other uninscribed Nordic industrial sites don’t have?

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Medieval Monuments in Kosovo History Fangirl

Medieval Monuments in Kosovo by History Fangirl

I visited the Medieval Monuments in Kosovo last week while staying in Pristina. I only had enough time to see Gracanica Monastery, but I very much enjoyed my time there.

The monastery is a lot like other medieval Orthodox Churches on the UNESCO list, but I thought the frescoes inside the church were especially vibrant.

I did not have a hard time getting there. I read online that the easiest way from Pristina to Grananica was to get a taxi arranged by your hostel or hotel. It cost me 15 euros for a taxi there and bring me back to the city.

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Venetian Works of Defence Ralf Regele

Venetian Works of Defence by Ralf Regele

I visited the two north italian sites in 2014. Luckily, they are close together and can be combined easily.

Bergamo is a very beautiful city by itself. The old city sits on top of a hill, with the city walls all around, lots of medieval towers in the middle and the alps in the background. The defense ring is quite prominent, with an impressive entrance ramp. Still, most visitors will spent more time in the streets of the old city with its various churches, towers, shops and restaurants. I have no clue if the defense works here are significant from the military point of view, but they at least provide a splendid sight, both from the outside and as a viewing platform. I can highly recommend a visit to Bergamo as a whole, ticking off the WHS is just the icing on the cake.

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Sangay National Park Jay T

Sangay National Park by Jay T

The road through Sangay National Park is a fait accompli, providing a quicker route to the Ecuadorian city of Macas, east of the Andes. I can't speak to the ecological impact of the road on the park, but it did provide an easy way to access the Atillo Lakes region of the park, where I spent a couple of hours hiking in the Andes last month. The weather was not the most promising, with low, grey clouds obscuring the volcanic peak of Sangay; rain held off, however, and at times the sun did its best to disperse some of the cloud cover. My driver arranged for a local guide, Dora, to lead a hike through a high mountain valley to the first of the Atillo lakes. The region serves as a watershed for the western Andes, and the hills were marshy and covered with grasses and wildflowers; I was very glad my tour company provided rubber boots for the hike.

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Durham Castle and Cathedral Joel Baldwin

Durham Castle and Cathedral by Joel Baldwin

My wife and I visited Durham Castle & Cathedral in June 2017. I actually found this site to be quite a disappointment. The cathedral is impressive, but I didn't think it was more impressive or interesting than York Minster which isn't on the UNESCO list.

Likewise with the castle, most of it is actually comparatively recent in construction - the beautiful keep is actually from the 18th century, and the buildings around the main square are mid-1600s. Only one small Norman chapel survives from the earliest days of the castle.

Also very disappointed to find that neither the castle nor cathedral allowed photography or filming inside, which makes producing a video review a very difficult task! Prior requests to the management for a permit went unanswered.

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Drottningholm Kyle Magnuson

Drottningholm by Kyle Magnuson

Drottingholm is a very easy and (weather permitting) enjoyable half-day trip from Stockholm. After visiting several palaces and castles during my time in Denmark and Sweden, the main interior (however nice) was not my main draw. So after about 45 minutes within the palace, I was ready to explore. I was most interested in the gardens and Chinese Palace.

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Longobards in Italy Tsunami

Longobards in Italy by Tsunami

After visiting San Salvatore-Santa Giulia in Bresia in 2012, I never paid any more attention to Longobards in Italy.

In July 2017 I went to Spoleto to see two productions at the Spoleto Festival, perhaps the most important annual performing arts festival in Italy, and stayed there overnight.

I was pretty impressed with the town of Spoleto itself, complete with a Roman amphitheater, a cathedral, a fortress and even an aqueduct behind the fortress that "almost" looks like Pont du Gard.

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Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution Michael Novins

Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution by Michael Novins

In June 2017 I visited Nagasaki, where I stayed at Hotel Monterey Nagasaki, which is located a very short walk from the departure point for the Gunkanjima Concierge Company ( I joined one of their tours to visit Hashima Island, commonly called Gunkanjima (or Battleship Island), an abandoned island lying 15 kilometers from Nagasaki. Its nickname comes from the resemblance of its profile to a Japanese battleship. The island was known for its seabed coal deposits, which were mined, sometimes by forced labor during World War II, from 1887 until 1974, when the mine was closed, leaving the island abandoned. The island was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2015 as one of the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution, and has only been open to tourists since 2009.

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Ceremonial Centres of the Early Micronesian States: Nan Madol and Lelu (T) Michael Novins

Ceremonial Centres of the Early Micronesian States: Nan Madol and Lelu (T) by Michael Novins

In June 2017, I spent five days visiting Kosrae, one of four states in the Federated States of Micronesia. With my visits to Yap in December 2008 and Pohnpei and Chuuk in December 2015, I have now spent at least a couple of days in each of the four states and each of them has at least one site that either has been, or should be, inscribed on the list of World Heritage Sites. Kosrae might be the most underrated of all of them. While it might lack a world-renowned site like the stone money in Yap, Nan Madol in Pohnpei and the wreck diving in Chuuk Lagoon, there is plenty to do in Kosrae and there is at least one site that should be much better recognized, especially by UNESCO.

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Jeju Michael Novins

Jeju by Michael Novins

In June 2017 I spent a couple of days visiting Jeju, where I stayed at Hotel RegentMarine, which is located in Jeju City on the waterfront between Black Pork Street and Raw Fish Street (those are the actual names in translation). On my first day, I visited Jeju City, where I had lunch on Black Pork Street at Restaurant Dombedon, probably the world's only Michelin-starred pork barbecue restaurant. For dinner, I ate on Raw Fish Street, where my abalone was likely harvested by a Haenyeo, free-diving women who can descend for up to three minutes and reach depths of nearly 65 feet. For my second day, I arranged for a car and driver (Kimi9461 (at) and visited the Manjanggul lava tube and Seongsan Ilchulbong tuff cone, components of the Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes UNESCO WHS.

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Grand Canal Michael Novins

Grand Canal by Michael Novins

In June 2017 I made a day trip by train from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to Suzhou Railway Station and then took Suzhou Rail Transit to Binhe Lu Station since it was the nearest station to the Suzhou Fengqiao Scenery Spot, one of the more scenic and easily-reachable parts of the Grand Canal of China UNESCO World Heritage SIte. From the Suzhou Fengqiao Scenery Spot, it was a 30-minute walk along a canal to the Lingering Garden, one of the Classical Gardens of Suzhou. But the best site was the plate of xiaolongxia (spicy crayfish), only available during the summer season and perhaps the most flavorful dish I've ever eaten.

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Kronborg Castle Kyle Magnuson

Kronborg Castle by Kyle Magnuson

I tried my best to really enjoy this castle, I achieved middling success. After already visiting Frederiksborg and Rosenborg, my efforts to visit even more castles were not filled with much excitement. Nevertheless, I started the day walking to Copenhagen Central station and getting on the train to Hillerød. After the exquisite Fredericksborg, we took the train to Helsingør.

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Kulangsu Khuft

Kulangsu by Khuft

I visited Gulangyu (Kulangsu) in 2010, during a weekend trip to Xiamen (and the Fujian tulou), flying in from Hong Kong, where I was staying for a few months. In a sense, Gulangyu delivers what Hong Kong or Shanghai only promise: the fusion of West and East in a late 19th century / early 20th century international settlement established to trade with China. Gulangyu is surprisingly big and quite well-preserved (though when I visited in 2010, a few of the mansions were in the process of being "spruced up"). Its architecture has a distinctive Western flair to it, but Chinese elements also appear here and there (and it includes at least one fully-fledged Chinese garden). A few parts, such as the giant statue of Koxinga, are of a younger age, and it's a bit strange that they have been inscribed too.

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Belfries Nan

Belfries by nan

I fondly remember a comment made by Ian in his review of Telc: In a country that has plenty of pretty town squares this one has to take the prize for the prettiest.. Those words rang very true at the time as I stood on the Telc town square and accompanied me along my travels in Czechia.

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Roskilde Cathedral Kyle Magnuson

Roskilde Cathedral by Kyle Magnuson

Roskilde, as a former capital is well-worth the excursion from Copenhagen. The dizzying cathedral is a towering structure that should be admired by a full 360 degree exploration of the surrounding grounds. I photographed every corner of the interior, and viewed the cathedral from several different vantage points. During my visit the Summer weather was excellent, so it made the visit that much more pleasant.

The amount of royal tombs/caskets located inside the cathedral itself is surprising. Certain areas within the cathedral are quite different because of the internment of a particular monarch. More prominent personas and the century they died all create a varied interior that is quite different from the monotonous interior of many other cathedrals.

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Ekamra Kshetra - The Temple City, Bhubaneswar (T) Shyamanuja Das

Ekamra Kshetra - Bhubaneswar is unique in the sense that its monuments are not restricted to one large temple complex. Rather, the temples and caves are spread over a large part of the city and there are people living all around. Yet, the monuments are beautifully preserved. Unlike many other temples and pilgrimage sites, Bhubaneswar is extremely clean. What is more, even in the modern central city, the heritage of the state is clearly visible

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Paris, Banks of the Seine Jay T

Paris, Banks of the Seine by Jay T

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Paris, Banks of the Seine World Heritage Site, one of the most famous and visited sites in the world, is that 16 French World Heritage Sites were inscribed in previous years before it was finally added to the list in 1991. Paris is easily one of the most picturesque cities I have ever seen, with amazing views from the heights of Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and Montmartre (of which the last is not part of the inscribed site), as well as at street level, with grand boulevards and squares. Even the underground sewer system (so thoroughly described by Hugo in Les Misérables) and catacombs are tourist attractions, though I believe the official site boundary stops at surface level. Of the inscribed properties in this site, I particularly appreciated Sainte-Chapelle, with its beautiful stained glass which glows in morning light, and the Musée d'Orsay, with its impressionist and post-impressionist art displayed throughout a former train station.

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Tarnowskie Góry Lead-Silver Mine Nan

Tarnowskie Góry Lead-Silver Mine by nan

After a stop over in Wroclaw at a friend's I was stuck with the question, what to visit on my trip towards Cracow. Seeing Tarnowskie was on the way and scheduled for the WHC 2017 I figured, I may as well go and see it.

Frankly, what I got to see didn't really impress me at the time. I didn't even bother to write up a review, feeling this would be in vain. Yeah, yet another mine! The only unique feature I found was the boat ride they have on a canal deep in the mine which makes for a pleasant excursion. The picture is rather dark, but that's what it looks like. Still, pleasant does not indicate OUV.

Getting There

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Bulwarked Fortifications of the "Raia" (Border) (T) Wojciech Fedoruk

Bulwarked Fortifications of the "Raia" (Border)  (T) by Wojciech Fedoruk

This site contains four fortified places on the Spanish-Portuguese border. Most of them were built in XVIth century or after. Out of four location of this proposal, one is already on the main list (Elvas), so if the whole proposal is inscribed in this shape, for most it would be an easy tick. We managed to visit another one – stronghold of Almeida and it was one of our biggest surprises in this marvellous country.

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Saltaire Joel Baldwin

Saltaire by Joel Baldwin

My wife and I visited Saltaire in June 2017, and given the frankly mixed experiences people seem to have at Industrial Revolution sites (and the disappointment we'd had at some sites particularly in the UK), Saltaire was surprisingly good.

The mill itself is underwhelming (mostly inaccessible, and the available parts are given over to shops, cafes, galleries etc). There is a small display in one area of the mill talking about Saltaire and why it was important.

But what I found fascinating was doing background research before our visit, so that I was already familiar with the ideas and concepts that were realised here in this small town, and how those ideas resonated around the world.

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