April 2008 - #16

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April 2008 sees the number of yet-to-be-reviewed sites drop down to below 100, presents new Tentative Lists for Nepal, China & Iran, introduces ‘Connections’ and features a trip report by Paul Tanner on how he recently managed to visit 17 WHS within 17 days. Enjoy the stories below.

 

Site reviews

No fewer than 13 previously uncovered WHS have been reviewed over the past 2 months. This means there are ‘only’ 96 to go now to complete all 851. Well, until the Committee will announce the newly inscribed WHS in July and set us back a couple again!

 

The new reviews concern:

·         Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara (Tanzania)

·         Pasargadae (Iran)

·         Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa Dolmen (Republic of Korea)

·         Genoa (Italy)

·         Ischigualasto/ Talampaya Natural Parks (Argentina)

·         University Complex (Mexico)

·         Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila (Mexico) (2x)

·         Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca (Ecuador)

·         Mount Taishan (China)

·         Xochicalco (Mexico)

·         Sundarbans National Park (India)

·         Lake Malawi (Malawi)

·         Kaiping Diaolou (China)

 

New Tentative Lists

The United Arab Emirates came up with their very first Tentative List in the past  months. It holds only one prospective WHS: The garden city of Al-Ain. The Maldives submitted their first list too, containing Male' Hukuru Miskiy/enclosing cemetery and Minaret.

 

Updated Tentative lists were announced by Nepal, China, Iran and Uzbekistan.

 

Nepal has finally acknowledged a longstanding favourite of mine: the Janaki Temple in Janakpur (photo). It’s an enormous fairytale palace which looks very out of place in this rather poor and remote city. The present structure dates from the early 20th century. It is related to the cult of the Goddess Sita.

 

China has come up with 8 new sites, among those Sites for Liquor Making in China (obviously making the best of the alcoholic trend in WHS in recent years).

 

Tentative sites submitted after the 1st of February 2008 will become eligible for world heritage listing not earlier than 2010.

 

Connections

The Rock Drawings of Alta and Wrangel Island share a connection: they are both located north of the Arctic Circle. And they’re WHS of course. With inspirational help from Ian Cade and Paul Tanner I deducted numerous of these Connections between current WHS. They may be significant or trivial, but they should add some extra knowledge or insight about WHS for the users of the website.  A proper Connection should not be self-evident and link at least 3 WHS.

 

The complete overview, already identifying about 100 of them, can be found via the Connections startpage. Here you can also submit your own ideas about connected WHS.

 

Some examples of ways WHS are connected:

·         Named after individual people

·         Blown up

·         Hospitals

 

17 Mexican World Heritage Sites in 17 days?!

By Paul Tanner

 

OK, I know that many people hate travelling like this and I don’t claim any particular merit for “fast travelling” but we each have to make our own trade-offs between seeing a “lot of a little” and a “little of a lot”! We tend towards the latter and the following daily summary of our Mar 2008 trip shows how you can fit 17 UNESCO sites (plus 9 from the Tentative List) in just over 2 weeks. Central Mexico is quite a “hot spot” for WHS so fellow enthusiasts can relatively easily increase their “Visited-site count” as well as gain a good appreciation of Mexico’s history, culture and scenery – and have a great time!  

Tekstvak: Four tips on ‘fast travel’
1. Rent a car - impossible without
2. Plan before hand so you are ready for all eventualities and opportunities
3. Have a VERY good sense of direction. 
4. Be "active" dawn til dusk (and more)

We rented a car from/to Mexico City airport – this route could have taken at least 4 weeks by public transport and, for 2 people, the rent-a-car cost is not that much greater. Gas is cheap and we didn’t make much use of the expensive autopistas. The police caused no hassle and indeed were friendly whenever we asked directions. The main problem with Mexican roads is the infamous “Topes” (speed bumps) – often unannounced, and so high that, if taken above walking pace, they will scrape the car underside and/or throw you into the air! Also unsigned 1 way streets – keep a close eye on fellow drivers and the direction of parked cars!

 

Maintaining this momentum means minimizing time spent on travel logistics – you can’t “waste” it finding hotels or getting lost! I recommend the “Michelin Mexico”. A bit “academic” perhaps, compared with LP or Rough guides (which we also had), but I found its “environs maps” very useful for those last few kms towards town centres (Mexican signposting isn’t good!). We used 3/4* hotels and could have gone down-market but, with prices between US$45/$80 per room, it was hardly worth it. Most, even in the city centres, had free car parks. We never used a guide book recommendation as 1 way streets made getting to a specific, possibly unsuitable, hotel not worth it. Just try not to have to walk too far to the town centres! We pre-booked the arrival and last 2 nights via the Web and adjusted our outline daily plan in the light of events. I wouldn’t want to pre-book any more – you need flexibility for the unforeseen and the serendipitous! Hotels were never full in the 2 weeks before Santa Semana. Approximate costs inside Mexico for 2 people, were 16 nights hotel (often with breakfast) - US$1000, the car - $900 (including $300 for optional CDW excess waiver), gasoline - $200, road tolls - $100, entrances/guides/books - $100 and food etc - $500 = c $1400 pp for 17 days.  

 

Use the links on the daily timetable (which also has “*” ratings) at the end of this story to see either my detailed reviews or UNESCO T list descriptions. The route took in 9 “Historic Town Centres” or similar; so we became quite knowledgeable about Iberian “colonial” architecture! Mexico has perhaps gone overboard on such sites, and I will no doubt be criticised for “faint praise” in reviewing some which I feel probably shouldn’t be WHS! Guanajuato was undoubtedly the “star”. There were also 2 sites of multiple “Missions” and, since the colonial towns also contain many churches, we also become “expert” on Baroque ornamentation!  There were 4, mostly significant, pre-Hispanic sites (1 shared with a colonial town), 2 worthwhile modern buildings and 1 slightly disappointing cultural landscape to complete the 17.

 

We also took in 9 Tentative List sites – with some, in my view, superior to some inscribed ones. We went in early March partly to see the Monarch Butterfly forest – a world class “unique” natural sight and one of the trip’s highlights. And we didn’t limit ourselves solely to UNESCO-related sites – they are often not the “best of the best”.  Patzcuaro for instance, yet another “colonial” town, is a gem which is on neither the Inscribed nor the T list! To counterbalance the religious architecture there is plenty of opportunity to pick up on Mexican “revolutionary” murals within the UNESCO and T List sites and also elsewhere – eg O’Gorman’s “History of Michoacan” in Patzcuaro’s library and Orozco’s magnificent  murals in Guadalajara’s Government Palace.

 

 The route is perhaps a bit lacking in “Natural” sites. However, as well as the Monarch Butterflies, I got my first sight of Popocatepetl in 3 visits, saw some wonderful archetypal Cactus landscapes near Jalpan and Oaxaca and some lush “jungle” type habitats on the mountains facing the Gulf. Add to all this some time (yes we did have some!!) spent just soaking up the Mexican atmosphere and eating/drinking. But I wouldn’t claim this to be schedule for those wanting relaxation – it was aggressively targeted at seeing ALL Central Mexico’s WHS. The 4220kms included some dawn starts and long hard drives until dusk (we usually avoided driving at night on Mexican country roads). Some things got missed out (and, if you have never seen Mexico City before you will need more time than we gave it) – but we picked up the vast majority of Michelin’s 2/3* sights within the area covered. I can’t think of anywhere we had to leave with things we wanted to see left unseen – but of course we don’t know what we (or the guide books!) don’t know!                 

 

           

CENTRAL MEXICO - UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE ROUTE + TIMETABLE BY CAR

Day

From

To

Notes. Ratings ( "-"  = Miss, "*" = Ok, "**" = Good, "***" = Don't miss). Visit times

Kms

WHS

T List

Links for Inscribed and T List sites

1

Europe

Mex city

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mex City

Toluca

To be on W of city to miss traffic next day

81

 

 

 

2

Toluca

Morelia

Via Monarch Butterfly forests (***). 3 hrs to climb + see them

292

 

1

http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1955/

3

Morelia

Patzcuaro

Morelia (*) most of am (and prev evening)

 

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/morelia.html

 

 

 

Patzcuaro (***) all pm - wonderful town but not a WHS or T list

58

 

 

 

4

Patzcuaro

Guadalajara

Early start via Autopista to Hosp Cabanas (**) 1hr in am and Gov palace (**) 1 hr

 

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/hospiciocabanas.html

 

Guadalajara

Tequila ret'n

To Agave Landscape (*) return in pm

417

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/tequila.html

5

Guadalajara

Zacatecas

via Quemada (-). Quite fast road

 

 

1

http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1588/

 

 

 

Zacatecas (*) in pm

334

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/zacatecas.html

6

Zacatecas

Guanajuato

Fast road via San Luis Potosi (-) - 2hrs

 

 

1

http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5163/

 

 

 

Guanajuato (***) all pm (and some of next am)

418

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/guanajuato.html

7

Guanajuato

Querataro

In pm via Atontonilco (**) - 1hr and San Miguel de Allende (*) - 1hr

183

 

1

http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5076/

8

Querataro

Jalpan

Queretaro (*) most of am

 

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/queretaro.html

 

 

 

via Bernal (*) - 1hr. Then slow/high m'ntn road

201

 

1

http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5074/

9

Jalpan

Huejutla

via Serra Gorda Missions (*) - takes most of am to see 3

 

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/sierragorda.html

 

 

 

visit Xilitla - 2 hrs (*). Then slow drive which we cut short in dark at Huejutla

286

 

 

 

10

Huejitla

Tlacotalpan

Very early start to catch up then via El Tajin (**) am - 3hrs. Hard pm drive to Tlacotalpan (**)

535

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/eltajin.html

11

Tlacotalpan

Oaxaca

Tlacotalpan (**) all am. Hard drive pm. See Oaxaca (**) in evening

330

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/tlacotalpan.html

12

Oaxaca

Puebla

Oaxaca (**)/Monte Alban (**) in am. Easy fast Autopista drive pm

360

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/oaxacamontealban.html

13

Puebla

Amecameca

Puebla (**) early am (and prev evening)

 

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/puebla.html

 

 

 

via La Constanza factory (-) - ruined T List - only for WHS afficionados!

 

 

1

http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1961/

 

 

 

via Cholula (*), Acatepec (**), Tonatzintla (**) + Huejotzingo (-)

157

 

 

 

14

Amecameca

Cuernavaca

via Popocatapetl Missions (*) - will take am + more to see 8

 

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/popocatepetl.html

 

 

 

via Xochicalco (**) - 2 hours. Leave at 6pm and arrive Cuernavaca in dark

240

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/xochicalco.html

15

Cuernavaca

Mex City

Early start then via Mex University (*) - 1hr

 

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/unam.html

 

Mex City

T'huacan ret

Round Periferico to Tepotzotlan(-) - 30 min (probably not achievable on a work day)

 

 

1

http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1540/

 

 

 

Teotihuacan (***) in pm - 2-3 hrs

290

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/teotihuacan.html

16

In Mex City

 

Rivera/Kahlo House (**) - 1hr

 

 

1

http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1599/

 

 

 

Chapultepec Park + Anthrop Museum (***) - at least 2hrs (but deserves more)

 

 

1

http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1273/

 

 

 

Historic Centre (***) in pm and evening (Not really enough for a 1st visit!)

20

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/mexicocity.html

17

Mex city

 

Casa Barragan (***) in am - 2hrs.  Return to Historic Centre

18

1

 

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/luisbarraganhouse.html

 

 

Europe

Overnight Flight dept evening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTALS

4220

17

9

 

 

 

That’s it for this edition,

Els
webmaster www.worldheritagesite.org
for questions or ideas, contact me