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Iran World Heritage

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Author Solivagant
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#1 | Posted: 20 Feb 2016 10:30 | Edited by: Solivagant 
At least a couple of us are currently making plans to visit Iran (and, at the same time, making ourselves "personae non grata to the good old US of A!!), so it seems worth starting a new subject for this country which has become very active with inscriptions and in creating a long T List in recent years.

As part of my planning I have come across a series of short videos (c 5 minutes each) by "PressTV" ("A 24-hour English language news organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting") covering most of Iran's Inscribed and T List sites. Whilst some of these sites are well-known, many others are probably little more than names to most people so I list below the Sites (Inscribed and "T List") and provide a link where I have found a "short" after trawling through YouTube. All the commentaries are in "English" (or should I say "American"!!) and, whilst they are not wonderful examples of the documentary art, they do each provide an indication of what the site looks like and some explanation of the main things to look for! Of course there are many other videos available on YouTube, but I have limited myself to the "PressTV" series shorts rather than linking to longer programs or "amateur" video!

INSCRIBED SITES
Tabriz Bazaar - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-yp_F9fwBw
Golestan Palace - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV4N5qZP4l4 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDMBfcRu_QI
Ardabil - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlKWlp86Kss
Armenian Monastic Esnembles (St Taddeus) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzigJfnrlU0&list=PLuOjSJJfqv6jSPwIW45ZOK0wuzskkeQeL
Soltaniyeh - None found
Takht-e Soleyman - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wJZbcpe3i8
Bisotun - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IQbaVKWhxI (With other sites around Kermanshah)
Chogha Zanbil - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk_RRjudgmo
Susa - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnKDwPYN2no
Shushtar - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sNpN9EEQIA and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC6ER4CsISA
Bam Erg - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuQqCaaZVz4
Isfahan (Meidan and Jame Mosque) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcavM1jJGgE
Persian Garden -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig9GSGyJAxM (Shahzadeh - Kerman), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUzw3rDH9pM (Eram –Shiraz), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1W3iF1Htq68 (Fin Garden –Kashan 1), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcKQGCbPxXM (Fin Garden – Kashan 2)
Persepolis/Pasargardae etc - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW2ZkDlCDIc
Maymand - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY7RphHiUUU
Gonbad-e Qavoos - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gDegC6xnCM
Sharh-I Sokhtar - None found

TENTATIVE LIST
Abyaneh - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI-w4FwdyOI
Alamout - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1jg9DnBA0M
Kerman Historical-Cultural Structure - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq2xuFJTsX4
Lut Desert (Shahdad) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfeQ-j2grvk
Kaboud Mosque Tabriz - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQYa_5-kwng
Masouleh - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQbjvycof80
Sassanian Cities in Fars (Bishapur) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vk9AK8nvJo8
Qanats of Iran - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieBVMOPRYJ0 (Yazd)
Historical Structure of Yazd - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3fX-eFal5M
Cultural-Natural Landscape of Ramsar - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c64VmDkpJeE

Author winterkjm
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#2 | Posted: 20 Feb 2016 14:08 | Edited by: winterkjm 
Based on the video, I expect Lut Desert and the Qanats of Iran will both be inscribed.

The Lut Desert is impressive for its fascinating geology and exceptional natural beauty, but little else. Virtually no wildlife or vegetation. Maybe I am biased, but the Colorado, Mojave, and Sonoran Deserts of the US are so full of life that its hard not to appreciate the incredible desert landscapes nearby. Nevertheless, I certainly would love a Winter visit to Lut, to see some of the yardangs, sand dunes, and beautiful desolation of this vast desert.

Author Solivagant
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#3 | Posted: 21 Feb 2016 03:26 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Regarding this year's nomination of the "Qanats of Iran" - there is 1 aspect which I currently don't understand and (if we get there!!) will be trying to discover more about!! The Iranian T List entry is specifically and solely for "The Qanats of Gonabad" (and has been on that list since 2007) but, of the 11 qanats chosen for nomination, only 1 is situated in Gonabad (plus another c70kms away at Ferdows in NE Iran). The others are located further south around Yazd (2), Kerman (1), Bam (2) and Esfahan province (3). As far as I can make out the 2 in Bam are also already inscribed as part of the "Cultural Landscape of Bam"! (Bam, by the way, is over 900kms from Gonabad, Isfahan over 800 and Yazd/Kerman over 600, so these are no "minor" changes" to the choice of qanats!)

It will be interesting to see what ICOMOS might have to say about this expansion of the nomination. So far I haven't been able to discover any difference in the "type" of Qanat in the different areas although I have found references to the fact that those around Gonabad are particularly long and deep. When Oman got its Aflaj inscribed it managed to identify different technologies in use according to the geology and distance in order to help justify the serial approach in its case. Another potential aspect is "age". Apparently many of the thousands of qanats operational in Iran today are "relatively" recent and dating of others can be difficult.

Iran could of course have wanted (like many nominations from other countries) to spread its nomination around within the country for purposes of tourism and pride - but it would surely still need to convince ICOMOS that a serial nomination of that nature/size was justified. But Yazd certainly seems to have positioned itself as the capital of "Qanat tourism" with its Water Museum, as in the above video, and would seem to have a strong claim for inclusion (though it is also on Iran's T List in its own right as an historic town)!

I may be being "over suspicious", but I also wonder if the dilution of Gonabad's T List entry has anything to do with the fact that Gonabad is an historic centre of Sufism in Iran and the attitude of the Shia theocracy who have ruled in Iran since the revolution which created the "Islamic Republic", towards Sufi orders has been "mixed". The inscribed "Sufi" site of Ardabil might well be the home of the Sufi Safavids who "converted" Iran to Shiism in the 16th C but that doesn't mean that the government is totally relaxed about all manifestations of Sufism - many of which they appear to regard as "unorthodox" and unacceptable. See this article dated 2009 about government sponsored attacks on Sufi shrines -including those in Gonabad - http://www.payvand.com/news/10/mar/1055.html . The place of Sufism in modern Iran is another aspect I will be trying to follow up on.

This article about Qanats as, originally, an Iranian invention which diffused across the M East and N Africa in a number of different forms and titles might be of interest - http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/qanats/ .It will also be interesting to see how much, if any, Iran makes of any "claim to primacy" in the development of Qanat technology in its Nomination. The issue of comparability with the existing Omani Aflaj inscription is going to have to be addressed by both Iran and ICOMOS! Of course -if Europe can have multiple Gothic cathedrals, Monasteries etc etc it should be perfectly possible for Iran, Oman and other countries to inscribe multiple underground water courses! In fact, Iran appears to be rivalling the Netherlands as a "Master of Water Management" in its WHS inscriptions (albeit from a different perspective of course) as it already has Shushtar and the Persian Gardens which include that aspect as a significant feature.

Author Parsons
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#4 | Posted: 6 Apr 2016 11:59 
I am currently a couple days into 4 weeks as an independent traveller in Iran, with very optimistic plans to visit every WHS apart from Gonbad e Kabus and Shahr e Sokhta as well as various tentative sites, so I would be very interested in anything else unusual or noteworthy your research has unearthed.

Author Solivagant
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#5 | Posted: 6 Apr 2016 12:18 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Parsons:
I am currently a couple days into 4 weeks as an independent traveller in Iran, with very optimistic plans to visit every WHS apart from Gonbad e Kabus and Shahr e Sokhta as well as various tentative sites,

We might even "cross paths" then as we hope to be there for 25 days as from 12 April!!
Your plans are certainly optimistic if you are using public transport - ours are similar to yours plus Gonbad but we have arranged a car with driver and, using Google maps, the total journey is going to be over 7500kms. There is a lot to fit in and the sites are not always at good "stop off" points for public transport
I am afraid I can't really think of anything else to mention at the moment (before we have even got there!!) under the subject of "unusual" or "noteworthy" for the WHS and T List sites. Indeed we would be interested in YOUR experiences and tips!! Please let us have some reports/reviews!!

Author clyde
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#6 | Posted: 6 Apr 2016 14:49 
I'll be very eager to read your in-depth reviews upon your return. Mostly to see if it's feasible to take in all the WHS and promising tWHS Iran has to offer in just over 3 weeks. The car + driver option would be great to tailor the trip according to one's wishlist. Have a great trip :) in the meantime, thanks for the great links :)

Author Solivagant
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#7 | Posted: 6 Apr 2016 16:08 | Edited by: Solivagant 
clyde:
I'll be very eager to read your in-depth reviews upon your return.

Thanks Clyde - I wasn't sure if anyone ever read them!! Yes the entire journey is planned to our requirements - with advice from the local company. It really needs 2 people to make the cost of car + driver "practicable" of course
By the way - did you get my e-mail to you sent via Els around 1 month ago??

Author Parsons
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#8 | Posted: 9 Apr 2016 11:09 
Though I haven't organised a set itinerary, my plans involve quite a lot of day-hire of taxis and such from cities. Hopefully this will actually be practical and (semi) affordable... Meymand may well be the first casualty of impracticality.

Unfortunately, as evidenced by my Golestan Palace review, I have not found Internet capable of uploading images, so I might have to wait until I'm back in Australia to post any more. I guess either way we'll be racing to post reviews, so as to not just be repeating each other!

Author elsslots
Admin
#9 | Posted: 9 Apr 2016 11:51 | Edited by: elsslots 
Parsons:
I guess either way we'll be racing to post reviews, so as to not just be repeating each other!

Don't worry about it. I like reading them all. Various people will always have different experiences, and most of the Iranian WHS don't have many existing reviews yet.

Not so good to hear about the upload speed - I was planning to continue updating the site and preferrably also the blog (including pics).
My trip will start with a couple of days in Azerbaijan (both WHS). I'll be in Iran between April 29 and May 8, tackling 6 WHS from the northwest til Tehran.

Author elsslots
Admin
#10 | Posted: 9 Apr 2016 12:58 | Edited by: elsslots 
Michael Novins just sent me a link to this 'Iran Encompassed' tour, covering 18 out of 19 WHS in 27 days:

http://www.outofboundstours.com/tourinfo/iran-encompassed?crumb=October%202016

(Solivagant is aiming for the same in 25 days!)

Organizer & Tour leader will be the guy who wrote Chasing 193 - Ryan Trapp

Author Solivagant
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#11 | Posted: 9 Apr 2016 13:11 | Edited by: Solivagant 
elsslots:
Michael Novins just sent me a link to this 'Iran Encompassed' tour, covering 18 out of 19 WHS in 27 days:

You had better get Mr Novins to do a re-count!!!
His map and route description shows that he is missing out 2 of Iran's 19 WHS - Shahr-i Sokhta AND Gonbad-e Qabus.
Therefore he can only be visiting 17 of the 19.
Also of course, by the time they are going in Nov 2016 Iran may well have 2 extra WHS - Lut Desert and Qanats.

Author elsslots
Admin
#12 | Posted: 10 Apr 2016 12:33 | Edited by: elsslots 
Solivagant:
His map and route description

To be clear: Michael isn't the tour organizer, he 'only' provided the link.

Parsons:
post reviews

I enjoyed your two additions of today! Wonder what happened to the name change of Meidan Emam indeed, I see no official confirmation in the documents on the Unesco website.

P.S.: I switched the photo option to "off" at both reviews, because when there are no photos uploaded (as was the case) it shows a broken image link; if you manage to upload photos after all you'll have to switch the option back 'on' in the review.

Author Solivagant
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#13 | Posted: 10 Apr 2016 13:42 | Edited by: Solivagant 
elsslots:
To be clear: Michael isn't the tour organizer, he 'only' provided the link.

Sorry - a misunderstanding. As the link hadn't been posted directly by the provider I thought it must have been sent to you to "publicise" it!!
Mr Trapp doesn't come "cheap" - over $250 pd plus international flights. I never have understood why anyone would want to pay for "celebrity" leaders/guides - I presume there will still be a "local leader".

Author Solivagant
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#14 | Posted: 10 Apr 2016 14:07 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Regarding the undocumented renaming of the nominated and inscribed "'Meidan-e Shah" to " Meidan Emam " as pointed out by Alexander Parsons in his review
a. This is very similar to what happened with the inscription of "Leningrad" in 1990 which also happened "across" a revolutionary period - by 1993 UNESCO was happily describing the site as "St Petersburg" without any documented official name change!!!
b. Alexander says "I guess the new Islamic Republic valued the prestige of the nomination enough to still accept it, though evidently with a name change, as the 1988 report makes no mention of the deposed shah." I have been unable to Google exactly when and why the name change took place after the Islamic Revolution. There was no "revolutionary" reason for the new Islamic regime to erase all mention of Shah Abbas I (The Great) from history - without him Iran would not be Shiite!! And his name survives elsewhere in Iran - e.g in Bandar Abbas. I guess in the ferment of those revolutionary times every local revolutionary committee was competing with each other to appear more "revolutionary" than anyone else -the same thing has happened in so many other revolutions!! And Imam Khomeini did get his own "Persian Gulf" port when Bandar Shahpur was named after him.

Author clyde
Registered
#15 | Posted: 11 Apr 2016 05:22 
Solivagant:
Oh dear - I am afraid I only voted for 8 US sites including Glacier Parks (Yos/Yel/Red/S of L/G Can/Haw V/M Ver/Glac) And, across many years and visits, I have visited 47 of the 50 US states so there is certainly no "antipathy" involved - apart from being rather p....ed off that, once having visited Iran, I will never again be allowed in on Visa Waiver - which, in effect, means "never again EVER"!!!

to Solivagant: does this apply only to UK nationals or is it a nicety offered by the US to each and all? (PS: I replied to your kind email yesterday)

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