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Recent Community Reviews

1032 of 1073 WHS have been reviewed by our community.

Works of Antoni Gaudí Ilya Burlak, USA 20.11.17

Works of Antoni Gaudí

I have made multiple visits to the five accessible Gaudí properties in Barcelona over the course of the last 15 years. They are all worth visiting. My personal ranking order is Sagrada Familia, Parque Güell, Casa Mila, Casa Batlló, Palacio Güell.

Only the Nativity façade and the crypt of Sagrada Familia are part of the WH designation, being the only components of the church largely completed during Gaudí's lifetime. You can actually admire the façade from the sidewalk of Carrer de la Marina. But the church is so unique and incomparable both in its exterior and its interior that no visit to Barcelona can be considered complete without stepping inside for an extended look.

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Lake Titicaca (T) Nan, Germany 16.11.17

Lake Titicaca (T)

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable body of water at 3800m. For the natives in pre-Columbian times this was where the gods created the world. Several islands and pre-Columbian sites can be found in and around the lake. The islands have kept some of the original lifestyle and most of the islands are terraced.

I visited on a day trip from Puno. This is part of the standard tourist itinerary in Peru and the boat's passengers came from all over the world. The boat ride was relatively long and the views I got weren't that great. I like trees and there aren't many covering the shores.


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Sacred Titicaca Lake (T) Nan, Germany 16.11.17

Sacred Titicaca Lake (T)

Whatever was missing for me on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca was readily there on the Bolivian side. I had boarded a bus from Puno to La Paz with a short tourist stop to visit Isla del Sol. We took a boat ride along the coast line and then landed below an Inka ruin.

Due to the limited time window I only hiked along the Southern tip of the island. You reach the main village Yumani after 20min or so on a rather steep and original stone path. With more time, I would have ventured further North where more prominent ruins are found.


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Canal du Midi Ilya Burlak, USA 16.11.17

Canal du Midi

One could argue that you can do Canal du Midi justice only by renting a boat to navigate a portion of it. On the other hand, the canal itself is uniformly the same narrow strip of water at any point of its stretch, only the surrounding scenery may vary. Finding myself in Toulouse and having only a couple of hours to spare in August of 2017, I figured I'd stop at a few random points along the canal and call it a reasonable visit.

The first stop was in the center of Toulouse, between Boulevard des Minimes and Boulevard Matabiau. The canal there looks like any stream in an urban setting, nothing too exceptional.

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Komodo National Park Svein Heltberg, Norway 16.11.17

Komodo National Park

In October 2017 we had a two week round trip in Java and Bali and it peaked with a two day mini cruise in the Komodo National Park – really the only way to see the park.

A flight took us from Denpasar, Bali, to Labuan Bajo, Flores, and a taxi took us down to the harbour. Our “small” vessel was a 50 or 60 foot wooden boat with two double cabins (for the four of us) and a crew of four. There were one day cruises available with a speedboat to Komodo, but the two day “slow cruise” is recommended.

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Blog: WHC 2018: Chaîne des Puys

After two Referrals in 2014 and 2016 respectively, France will try once again to get the Tectono-volcanic ensemble of the Chaîne des Puys and Limagne Fault enlisted – probably already next year. It’s a natural site that covers a string of 80 dormant volcanoes and a parallel geological structure to the west that shows inverted relief.

Cloud cover over the Puy de Dôme

When I prepared for this trip, I opted to visit the Gour de Tazenat – an almost perfectly round crater lake or “mare”. But when my rental car plans fell through, I had to find a way into the core zone of the Chaîne des Puys by public transport. Fortunately its main landmark, the Puy de Dôme, lies just 15km west of the city of Clermont-Ferrand and I was able to catch a shuttle bus between Clermont-Ferrand and the Dôme Railway Station on the last day of the season.

The Puy de Dôme itself nowadays can only be accessed via the Panoramique des Dômes, a panoramic rack railway that covers the final km’s to the top. A return trip costs 12.30 EUR (in low season), though you can save a bit by riding up and walking down which supposedly takes some 50 minutes. At 10 a.m. I unfortunately found the Puy covered in the clouds. A temperature of -1 degrees Celsius was displayed at the departure station. Apparently it’s best to sit to the left in the train (for the better views), but it didn’t matter much this day as nothing was visible anyway.

Ruins of Mercury temple at the top

So what did I encounter at the top of the Puy de Dome? It was freezing cold indeed, the grass covered with hoarfrost. A strong wind was blowing as well, making any form of hiking a struggle. The clouds were so low that I could not see where to go from the upper train station. I just went uphill a bit more until I arrived at the ruins of the Temple of Mercury. This Roman temple was discovered when the scientific station at the top was constructed. They’re now trying to rebuild it – it is fairly large and it’s interesting to know that the Romans came to the top of this hill as well. The best thing on this day however was the adjoining exhibition room: clean, dry and warm.

Beforehand I wondered whether 1 hour and 10 minutes at the top would be enough (as that was all I had to be back in time at Clermond-Ferrand Airport). Well, I even had time for a 30 minute break at the convenient cafeteria next to the upper station. Around it there are many panorama viewpoints, but on a cloudy day there’s just nothing to enjoy.

A few more dormant volcanoes

So will it be third time lucky for the Chaine de Puys? Rarely have I read such negative reviews of a site by IUCN as these, and I guess they will continue to try preventing inscription. The Advisory Body’s opposition is based on two pillars: the high degree of human intervention and the comparatively low interest of the volcanic features on a global scale. The human intervention takes many forms, such as the antenna on top of the Puy de Dôme: “this entirely unnatural feature dominates the landscape and significantly and permanently detracts from its natural aesthetics”. Also active quarrying within the area must be stopped.

Regarding its volcanic features, “IUCN considers that the Convention should aim to list the sites that have the most significant scale and extent of natural values. Identification of the most significant sites in absolute terms, and not their "scale models", is the appropriate basis for defining Outstanding Universal Value.”

Published 18 November 2017

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