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20 most recent Community Reviews


Fishpond Network in the Trebon Basin (T)

Stanislaw Warwas Poland - 27-03-2017

Visited March 2017.

I can admit that I see a big potential in this site. The fishponds around Třeboň are ones of the oldest in Europe, and some of them are really huge and still in use. The first fishpond was created in 14th century but the big transformation of the area started one century later when Peter IV of Rožmberk invited German fishermen. In the city itself and around there are lots of boards with information about this area (also in English and German). You can rent a bicycle and spent a day cycling around the ponds. The tourist information center distributes some useful maps and can arrange a guided tour of the chateau.

Třeboň is just a half an hour by bus from České Budějovice; in the morning you can visit WHS Holašovice, come back to České Budějovice and then take another bus and spend an afternoon in Třeboň. Český Krumlov is another WHS very close to fishponds but there’s not direct public transportation between both sites – you have to change again in CB.


Paramaribo

sjoerd nienhuys The Netherlands - 27-03-2017

We found the old timber colonial buildings a very interesting architecture. Several buildings have been beautifully restored, but some buildings are in process of strong deterioration, such as some government buildings (e.g. the Ministry of Housing!!!, the police HQ). Some good guide books are available in local bookshops, but also guided tours are available. Unfortunately reinforced concrete and cement block buildings are being developed. There are signs that the technology of climatologically suitable timber constructions are being revived, using better construction methods, thermal insulation and soft-timber conservation methods. Pity.


Kew Gardens

Jay T USA - 26-03-2017

I should apologize to Kew Gardens that I ever associated it with The Avengers movie (not that one -- the other one you've tried to forget); apparently filming was done at nearby Syon House. Now that I have disassociated the fine Kew greenhouses and grounds with any ridiculous plots to control the world's weather, I can look back at my visit to the gardens with newly-appreciated gravitas. And, in all seriousness, I fully enjoyed my visit to the gardens in the spring of 2009. The gardens claim to have the largest and most diverse botanical collection in the world, and these are on fine display throughout the grounds. I arrived in April, just in time to see great swaths of bluebells showcased throughout the woods. Cherry blossoms and other flowering trees were also in bloom. Within the greenhouses were orchids, water lilies, and a range of plants from alpine to desert climates. I particularly appreciated the engineering of the vast Palm House, with its wide array of palm trees on display. I enjoy wandering around gardens in my travels, and Kew Gardens is among the best I have visited.

Logistics: Kew Gardens, west of central London, is easily accessible by the Underground via the Kew Gardens station on the District Line. There is also bus and train access, as well as a car park for drivers.


Sites of fossilized dinosaurs throughout the Southern seacoast (T)

Solivagant UK - 26-03-2017

Our arrival at the Hwangsan-myeon Dinosaur Footprint site near Haenam didn’t exactly promise a great experience – Giant bright green fibreglass dinosaurs marched across the distant lawns surrounded by fibreglass volcanoes. Elsewhere were small blue dinosaurs sitting kangaroo style with happy smiles on their faces and wearing little jackets. This place was clearly being presented as a family theme park.

We had driven early from our Hanok guesthouse in Mokpo and were the first tourists of the day as we entered soon after 9 am. And we didn’t see any others during the visit. The site was however, full of teams of ladies manicuring the lawns by hand-weeding and teams of men trimming the “cloud forest” conifers with scissors. (We do not understand the economics of the Korean labour market!). But, despite the place’s obvious “Commercial” aspects, we were given our free “over 64 entry” without question.

We ignored the enormous museum up on the hill and set off along a lakeside (once an arm of the sea but now dammed) boardwalk to look for “footprints”. This followed an exposed horizontal sedimentary rock surface which was inclined from left to right under the boardwalk. To the right was a c 5m cliff of un-eroded layers which once covered the now exposed surface upon which the “Dinosaur” tracks were, we hoped, to be found!

We quickly found some rather small marks, which the Korean/Englsh signs stated were made by anthropods and crawling creatures plus some web footed “birds”. Small they may have been, but they were definitely “visible”! This was very “hopeful” - our previous attempts around the world to see such footprints had never been particularly successful – the last one at Spain’s, now removed, T List site of “Dinosaur Ichnite sites” yielded just one footprint after a long climb to and from the beach (though Mrs Solivagant still isn’t convinced that it wasn’t just a random mark on the rock!).

We passed a sign explaining the “Outstanding Universal Values of the Haenam Dinosaur Tracksite”. A lot of work had obviously gone into trying to build a good case. I list a few of the arguments

a. The first co-occurrence of dinosaur, pterosaur and web footed bird prints on the same rock surface

b. The largest in the World for number of pterosaur footprints and the longest trackway of one (7.3m)

c. The oldest web footed bird tracks in the World (85 mya)

But, rather ominously, the history of the site ended in 2002 with what was called “Its Tentative list nomination for the World Heritage List by UNESCO”. Of the subsequent failure of the 2009 nomination there was, unsurprisingly, no mention!

The boardwalk entered a large covered, glass fronted building about 60 m long and our presence switched on lights and started video presentations. Here there were some indendations on the exposed rock surface described as “Carnivore (Meat eating) dinosaur footprint”. Its carnivorous provenance wasn’t exactly evident but it sounded exciting!

A bit further along was another hall. This contained the Pterosaur trackway mentioned in the OUV argument above. A model pterosaur had been placed on an area of “foot prints” and demonstrated how they had been made both by the creature’s legs but also by its wing “elbows” i.e it “walked” on all fours. The importance of this “proof” was emphasised by the signs

The final building was the “Large Dinosaur Hall”. This contained a very impressive series of deep prints, so well preserved that they still contained the shapes made by the creature’s toes impressed in the “mud” (Photo). A notice board claimed that these were “probably unique in the World”.

We walked back through the Museum to pick up some literature. It was a “generalised” Dinosaur museum not specifically related to the footprints we had just seen but contained large numbers of fibreglass skeletons presented in dramatic fashion. It was obviously aimed at kids – but none the worse for that. Despite the pleas of the receptionist that we should go see one particular fossil which had been brought from Montana USA we gave it a miss – we still had 3 more Korean TWHS to see that day!

All in all we were quite impressed with what we had seen regarding the footprints. However, In 2009, when this site was nominated together with 4 others in Korea, IUCN were most definitely NOT and recommended non-inscription. The arguments for this are in this document on PDF page numbers 12-19 http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2009/whc09-33com-inf8B2e.pdf . IUCN seemed absolutely determined NOT to support the nomination - it clearly didn’t particularly like the idea of sites based solely on footprints (and 2 others from Spain/Portugal and Bolivia were also in the pipeline) when sites with fossils were already on the List (Though the Korean Boseong quarry site is different in that it has egg remains), didn’t agree with Korea’s comparative analysis and concluded that the sites didn’t meet “World” significance (only “Asian”). The receptionist we spoke to seemed to accept that the site wouldn’t ever be inscribed. Whatever – we enjoyed our visit and regard it as one of the highlights of our trip – despite those happy little blue dinosaurs!


Sheki, the Khan's Palace (T)

Juha Sjoeblom Finland - 25-03-2017

Site visited October 2014. While the majority of tourists in Azerbaijan may not go outside the area of Baku, Sheki is an excellent reason to go there. It is a good place to see the other side of this country as opposite of Baku: traditional architecture and small town feeling in a beautiful setting on foothills of Caucasus Mountains. And the icing on the cake is the exquisite Khan’s Palace. That was also in my mind when I headed to Sheki.

At nine in the evening I hopped on a Sheki bound night train at the Baku railway station. The trip would last 10 hours. I had a bed in a four bed sleeper cabin. In the cabin were also a local father with a child and a granny. They were very friendly and in the beginning of the trip we had a cup of tea and biscuits together. They could speak only few words of English but still we could communicate with each other. At seven in the next morning the train left me alone in the darkness at Sheki railway station which is 15 kilometres away from the city. I waited at the station almost an hour for a taxi to show up.

From the centre of the city I walked along the main thoroughfare of the old city towards the Khan’s Palace. The city was just waking up. It was very quiet and you could see hardly anyone on the streets. Finally I reached the Khan's Palace which is surrounded by crumbling walls of Sheki Fortress. This 18th century palace is many times referred as 'little gem' and that is really true. The building is small, beautiful and nicely restored. It has abundant and detailed decoration both outside and inside.

It is possible to visit inside the palace only with guided tour which takes some 20 minutes. Photography is not allowed inside and you have to put plastic covers on your shoes for not to damage the wooden floors. While the exterior of the palace is nice with coloured geometric patterns, the interior is simply stunning. The centrepiece of this two-storied building is the big glass mosaic window which is assembled from pieces of wood and coloured Venetian glass. Each of the six rooms have their own style of decoration. The miniature paintings with exceptionally bright colours are especially admirable: pomegranate trees, birds and flowers. Maybe the most interesting single motive is the painting of ancient battle scene. Otherwise there are lots of floral and geometric ornamentations. I think ’perfect’ and ’complete’ are the right words to describe this beautiful little building. You can compare it to some of the finest palaces in Iran but in a smaller scale and in this strange rural setting.

Old city of Sheki is also included in the nomination. While I found it quite nice I don't know how authentic and consistent it is. Some buildings have been recently restored and some of them seemed a bit overrestored. Basically all the important buildings are located along one street which heads towards the Khan's Palace. There are some nice traditional houses, brick mosques, bath houses and two caravanserais, one of which is nowadays a nice hotel and restaurant.

Highly recommended side trip from Sheki is the village of Kish with its Albanian church. Taxi from central Sheki to Kish takes about 20 minutes. Kish is very nice traditional village with narrow winding alleys and stone houses. While I found the village itself quite interesting, the Albanian church of Kish is the usual reason to go there. While it looked a bit like Armenian church it is said to be Caucasian Albanian.

In Azerbaijan there are not many places that you can call lovely or idyllic. There is grandiose and luxurious Baku, ugly and smelly oilfields, some dull and dusty plains. To my experience Sheki is the nearest thing to idyllic in Azerbaijan. For me the trip to Sheki gave another perspective to this country. Is this nomination enough for inscription? For Khan's Palace for sure, but is it enough. For the old city, I'm not that sure. At least I hope that Sheki with Khan’s Palace could make it because it is maybe the best option among Azerbaijan's current tentative list.


The Historical Structure of Yazd (T)

Solivagant UK - 24-03-2017

With this T List site up for consideration at the 2017 WHC in a few months time it seems worth having a review of it available here (especially as those who have already committed themselves to a guess on this site have voted it an “Inscribe”!).

I have tried to remember why I didn’t review it immediately after our visit in May 2016. It was certainly not because it wasn’t an interesting and worthwhile place - we gave it a full day and 2 nights in our very crowded schedule and don’t regret that at all. I have just reread the entry on UNESCO and I think that it might have been part of the reason. The entire description is limited to this one sentence - “The historical structure of Yazd is a collection of public-religious architecture in a very large scope comprising of different Islamic architectural elements of different periods in a harmonious combination with climatic conditions.” Not very specific or anything to home in on! Presumably the rather unusual title “Historical structure of….” is equivalent to the more common “Historic centre (or “city” or “town”) of…..”. I say this because Yazd’s “Structure” is not its most notable aspect with the term implying a plan of some sort. In fact Yazd is of note more for its lack of structure – LP says of it “With its winding lanes, forest of badgirs, mudbrick old town…..Yazd is one of the highlights of any trip to Iran”.

But LP also says “it doesn’t have the big ticket sights of Isfahan and Shiraz” and that is true – I have just referred to my copy of “Islam - Art and Architecture” (Pub Konemann) and Yazd only gets a mention once in the form of its Friday Mosque. Originally built in 1325 it “has one of the finest examples of the classic Iranian monumental portal surmounted by paired minarets. The fine decoration in coloured tile and the tall and slender proportions make this portal a masterpiece…….This mosque also has the best tile decoration from the Ilkhanid period in Iran”. Wiki describes it as “one of the outstanding 14C buildings of Iran”. Perhaps we are just not knowledgeable enough about Islamic architecture or we just saw too many mosques! It was “interesting” but didn’t particularly stick in our memories.

Other sites we saw included

a. The Towers of Silence. These are locations once used by Zoroastrians for “excarnation” (ie leaving bodies exposed for birds/animals to scavenge). But these are situated at the very outskirts of even modern expanded Yazd so it isn’t clear if they would be included within the “Historical Structure of…”.Surprisingly this use continued until the 1970s when it was made illegal in Iran – Zoroastrians themselves were split on whether to cease this ancient practice. Even if they were not to be included in any WHS, they are of course “essential” to see – A guide is of use to explain how the now only faintly marked areas inside the towers were used in the procedure/rituals

b. The Zoroastrian Fire Temple – this building was only constructed in 1934 with money from the Indian Parsi community, although the “eternal flame” which can be seen behind glass is claimed to have a direct succession from Iran’s pre Islamic times. But this location too is situated well outside “historic Yazd” and, as the description on UNESCO specifically refers to “Different Islamic architectural elements”, one must presume that neither this not the previous site would be included!

c. Amir Chakhmaq Complex (photo) – It includes a mosque, several tombs and a bazaar and also a “Hosseinieh” (Maymand also has one – albeit much smaller!) A specifically Shia building for commemorations connected with the martyrdom of Imam Hossein at Karbala. Outside you will see a very large “Nakhl” or wooden palm used in the Ashura rituals.

d. The Dolat Abad Garden – but this is already inscribed as one of the Persian Gardens

e. The Water Museum – well worth visiting in order to learn more about the Persian Qanat – indeed one of the inscribed Qanats, the Zarch, flows beneath it! It has an additional interest in that it is housed in a restored traditional Persian mansion – there are better which can be visited in places like Kashan but this one does give you the chance to descend below the structure and see the way in which the Qanat itself was integrated into everyday life in Yazdi houses.

f. The “Badgirs” or wind towers. These are scattered around the old centre and you can go into one of them when visiting the Dalat Abad garden and see/experience how they create a draft of air. There are also various restaurants and souvenir stores around the city which attract people by offering the chance to climb to their roofs and see the “forest” of badgirs around them. Certainly worth doing.

g. A Zurkhaneh – a structure specifically designed and built for the Iranian traditional system of ritual gymnastic movements based on martial arts but also taking on board spiritual and religious aspects. The building provides a sunken octagonal pit and an area for musicians as the exercises are carried out to musical accompaniment. The Nomination file for the Tabriz bazaar lists a zurkhaneh among the buildings included but Yazd is the normal place (there are at least 2 such buildings in the old city) for tourists to see the “sport” which is on UNESCO’s intangible list as “Pahlevani and Zoorkhaneh Rituals”

All this would seem to add up to a reasonable case for inscription – a desert city developed across the centuries to handle the climatic conditions both below and above ground and containing some significant if not “world class” buildings. It will, however, be interesting to see whether the Zoroastrian sites are included in the nomination!


Citadel of the Ho Dynasty

bernard Joseph Esposo Guerrero The Philippines - 23-03-2017

Indeed, this place is off the beaten path and the only way that I could make renting a private car worth it was by combining a visit here with a visit to Trang An - Hoa Lu - Van Long; thus, a 2D/1N arranged trip made ticking off two WH sites possible. Contrary to the other reviews that show only disappointment, I was in no doubt impressed by the relics of the Ho citadel. While it's true that it's really just walls and gates, one has to go the level of architecture and construction engineering to appreciate its unique values. The stones used, for example, are definitely of bigger sizes than from other ancient buildings in SE Asia. The way they were fit together also demonstrated high masonry skills as the stone blocks almost have no gaps between them. It is unfair, in my opinion, to impose high expectations on the site as beauty and "grandness" are not really its strengths. But, the little details I observed, as well as its history, fairly justify its inscription. The rural environment in and around the citadel are also a big plus for the experience. Would I recommend it to fellow WHS hunters? Yes.

PS. There is also a conservation centre beside the southern gate where one can see more info about works done on site and findings.


Monuments, Sites and Cultural Landscape of Chiang Mai, Capital of Lanna (T)

Ralf Regele Germany - 23-03-2017

Chiang Mai is a major tourist hub in northern thailand, especially for the backpacking crowd. Luckily, it is also very beautiful, with lots and lots of temples and ruins scattered around the town. I spent the whole day just walking from temple to temple in the core of the old city, but skipped the more out-of-town elements. The temple architecture seems to be more varied and playful than the more majestic ones in Bangkok, which was fine for me. Most temples are active places of worship and not just tourist ruins, so the place feels quite lively. With its sheer beauty and high concentration of interesting buildings, Chiang Mai seems to be a worthy candidate for a WHS, although I am not sure if each and every component of the voluminous proposal is necessary.

Visited in January 2014

Importance 4/5 Beauty 5/5 Uniqueness 4/5 Environment 3/5 Experience 5/5


Frontiers of the Roman Empire

Allan Berry Scotland - 23-03-2017

Of all the WHS on the list, I’ve been to Hadrian’s Wall the most. Growing up, it was the closest, and as such, I’ve visited most of the best preserved sections: Birdoswald, Walltown, Halsteads, Vindolanda, Chesters. How best to officially ‘mark off’ such a familiar site?

We chose to walk a 10 mile section of the wall, from the Walltown Quarry section all the way to Halsteads fort, on a blustery but clear December afternoon, which really added to the atmosphere. This section represents the wall at its best preserved and most dramatic, and truly gives an impression of what the Roman soldiers posted along the wall must have felt, being on the fringes of the empire. The walk along the top of the ridge was very pleasant, though can be a little taxing in places. Halsteads is personally my favourite of the surviving fort remains, though if you’re not a member of English Heritage, it will cost you to get in. I would wholeheartedly recommend it. The AD 122 bus is very helpful for getting about, and let us get back to our parked car with little issue.

Earlier that year, we also visited the Antonine Wall in Scotland. Stretching from the Clyde to the Forth, the Antonine Wall is the northerly sibling to the more famous Hadrian’s Wall. Occupied for far less time, the Romans constructed a more temporary structure, and as such, much of it was constructed out of dirt rather than stone. Compounding the problem, the central belt of Scotland is far more populated than Cumbria and Northumberland, and thus any stonework that did exist was mostly repurposed into building material. The two best preserved sections, Bar Hill and Rough Castle, are easily visited by car from either Glasgow or Edinburgh. They were perhaps a little more difficult to appreciate as remains, but none the less they both made for a very pleasant and enjoyable day trip.


Gadara (Modern Um Qeis or Qays) (T)

Wojciech Fedoruk Poland - 22-03-2017

Umm Qays is located on the top of the mountain with a view of many historical regions – Jordan Valley and West Bank, See of Galilee, Golan Heights and Syria. In a good weather even Mount Hermon and Nazareth is visible from here. Its unique location made it a pilgrimage place for Palestinians that had to escape to Jordan after Six-Day War – from here they could look at most of their lost homeland. As Umm Qays is very close to the border with Syria, even tourists have to pass through military checkpoint (one of few where they really examine foreign passports).

Umm Qays is a ruined town of ancient Gadara, one of greek cities in Palestine that formed a union called Dekapolis. The area is quite large and although some of the remnants are quite well preserved, overall the site seems to be a bit chaotic. It is even easy to lose orientation there. Some of the buildings were restored and now serve as utility rooms and museum (unfortunately closed on Friday when I visited the site). Overall the site is nice but comparing to another T-listed site of Jerash its chances to be inscribed seem to be much lower.


Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve (T)

Sinuhe Reyrub Mexico - 21-03-2017

This will be an "easy" place to know if you're planning travel to Mexico and visit several World Heritage sites: site is halfway between Mexico City and Oaxaca. Now, not everything is as simple as you think.

If you’re travelling from Mexico City to Oaxaca, passing through the city of Tehuacan, a classic route is take Highway-135 D (Cuacnopala-Oaxaca) until arriving Oaxaca; you will surely see beautiful landscapes and a small portion of the reserve, but you will not cross the heart. So, starting today, recommend take the difficult local Highway-980 (Tehuacan-Coxcatlan-Teotitlan-Cuicatlan-Oaxaca). Of course, the difference in hours from the city of Tehuacan to Oaxaca, on this local road, is 3 or 4 hours more; so once you're going back to Mexico City, you could take the "fast route".

As a Mexican I can tell this is probably one of the most beautiful and interesting biosphere reserves around the country, and probably after Montes Azules and Zoque Jungle, the place that struck me most in the country, (well, I don't know Calakmul yet), anyway, can be very confusing if you don't bring an adequate travel plan. The place doesn't shine because of its infrastructure, promotion or knowledge throughout the country, which I believe has allowed it to be kept in a genuine and authentic way.

There are no defined routes in its nearly 500,000 ha, and there are too many places to see. I will focus on those I have visited, and are within the core area considered to be a World Heritage Site (145,000 ha.).

Last time I went (as part of my travel plan with 2 friends from Taiwan, for 2 weeks in Mexico), we first drive the road from Tehuacan to Zapotitlan. Just a couple of kilometers before reaching this village you will find the Botanical Garden "Helia Bravo Hollis", a communal botanical area that brings together a collection of almost all plants in the reserve through open fields. The place is mesmerizing, and boasts more than 50 species of large cacti. The main protagonists are the columnar cactaceae, some of which date back more than 1000 years and reach 20 meters and more. What particularly surprised me is the density (1800 ind / ha), just a look to the mountains and realize that, even if is a desert, in the strict sense could be called forest . The tours are very educational and cheap, but I don't know if are also in english. What is a fact is you will get a great effort from the locals to teach you everything about herbage, cactus and thousands of medicinal uses of plants (this is the best place to learn about something that should be intangible heritage of Mexico, its traditional medicine) (and sometimes they get 90 tourists a week, so the deal is very personalized).

From this garden we depart back to Tehuacan, to take the local Highway-980 towards Santa María Tecomavaca. The path itself is a real gem. Special attention to the landscapes and the view of "salterns" in the sides of the road. Although I suppose there are no periodic tours within the salterns, are very visible from the road. From the outside they look like authentic pre-hispanic sites (and indeed they are). These small local salt flats continue in function until today. The largest concentration of this landscape is probably in Zapotitlan; these salt-flats are composed by a small white salt desert, caves and wells, which have extracted salt from the subsoil for fifteen centuries (this salt is highly valued nationally as gourmet salt). After seeing these landscapes, I am clear the inclusion of the place as a CL. I will pause to mention that along this road is the town of Coxcatlan, where is the "Purrón dam", the first dam created by the man in Americas (what explains why in these sites of Oaxaca could be tame maize) (anyway, we overlook it, but now I read is one of the 3 core zones).

Why travel to Tecomavaca? Well, near to this town is the "Sabino Canyon", a deep canyon where lives the second largest population of guacayamas in the world (in this case Ara militaris). There is some signs to get into the canyon, but the best way to visit it, is ask to any person of the village for the canyon. All are trained to send you with local guides (maybe you have to walk one or two streets, and the guide, who also is father or farmer will stop doing their activities to show you the canyon) (in this part of the country people live in a kind of communal economy). They are kind and safe people. All.

Sabino Canyon is a beautiful site. To get there, we walked over an hour from the village, through beautiful trails of cactus and shrubs. Maybe the best time to see macaws around the world is in the evening, when they return to their caves, and can be seen more clearly. I have no words to describe this incredible place. You can ask about the village cabins, as we did, and camp one night. The services are basic but not bad, and there is no luxury, but it's part of a true experience, in an authentic primal cultural landscape. We decided with proper care, made a campfire to talk at night. The sounds of nocturnal mammals are common.

Next day we went to the city of Oaxaca, to continue our trip but maybe you can stay 3 or 4 days knowing this biosphere-reserve.

I have gone to Tehuacan-Cuicatlan more times, is very large, and it's important that you review your needs. I have not been able to go to San Juan Raya yet, a village on the northwest side where people have developed a paleontological ecotourism program. A friend says anywhere you stop in town, you are walking on shells, mollusks and snails from the Cretaceous. Formerly a sea, now the marine gastropod fossils have been left in the open due to the lack of rain. San Juan Raya, despite being a town of 2000 people, has been the scene of many mexican films. So could be "the definitive town of the rural mexican popular imaginary" (look on Youtube for the movie "La Ley de Herodes").

This TWHS is not a commercial tourist place, like all those already now in Mexico. But as soon you're there, you can see why it's one of the most important biodiversity hotspots around the country. All activities are developed by small communities, genuinely concerned about preserving the area. Maybe the best example that I know of sustainable management and use of resources in an organized way. Certainly, a great contender this year, a true definition of mixed heritage.


Khor Dubai (T)

Clyde Malta - 20-03-2017

I visited this tentative WHS in January 2015. Khor Dubai or Dubai Creek is a natural seawater inlet of the Arabian Gulf located in the heart of Dubai.

It is 14 km long and varies from 100 to 500 m wide and ends at the Ras Al-Khor wildlife sanctuary (photo). The creek divides the city into two parts, namely Bur Dubai and Deira, and has played a major role in the economic development of the region throughout history.

The Ras Al-Khor wildlife sanctuary is home to hundreds of pink flamingoes and many other bird species. It lies at the interface between the Arabian Gulf and the Al Awir desert and is a Ramsar coastal wetland

of global importance and a Birdlife Important Bird Area. The peaceful panoramic view from the hides with the Dubai Skyscraper skyline in the distance is worth seeing.

The historical importance of the Dubai creek is hard to grasp the closer you get to the noisy urban hotspot of Dubai apart from the wooden boats (dhows) which nowadays are powered by diesel engines and their berthing spots. Abras are smaller wooden boats powered by oar. Today these are equipped with diesel engines too and are still used to ferry passengers back and forth between Deira, Shindagha and Bur Dubai as well as for sightseeing harbour cruises with stops at the Gold Souk and the Dubai Heritage Village.

Needless to say, I very much enjoyed the Ras Al Khor wildlife sanctuary which was a welcome peaceful place away from the bustling city of Dubai.

I failed to appreciate any OUV but I'd gladly revist should I ever visit the UAE in the near future.


Genbaku Dome

Gary Arndt USA - 19-03-2017

I visited this site in 2007.

This is one of the more somber world heritage sites you can visit, along with Auschwitz.

In addition to the park, I would also suggest visiting the museum which tells the history of the dropping of the atomic bomb and its aftermath in the city of Hiroshima.

While in Hiroshima, it is easy to visit the nearby Itsukushima Shrine.

Read more about the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) on my website.


Göreme NP

Jay T USA - 19-03-2017

Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia are a geologic wonderland, steeped in the history of the early Christian church. I visited Göreme National Park and the Derinkuyu underground city in the fall of 2007 as part of a two day tour of Cappadocia, in central Turkey. The town of Göreme, with its many cave hotels built into rock formations, is an excellent introduction to the region. All around the town are photogenic hoodoos, also called fairy chimneys. In the days of the early church, Christians found the soft rock of these wind-carved formations could be easily chipped away to create homes and churches. Today, some of their art can still be found inside the rock sanctuaries, though the faces of many of the saints have been scratched away. When the Arab-Byzantine wars began in the 8th century, the early Christian church in Cappadocia prepared to go underground, creating subterranean complexes such as the city of Derinkuyu, which was outfitted with stables, storage rooms, living spaces, and chapels. This was quite an amazing site to see. I hope that despite how long it has been since the last review, Göreme is still getting many visitors; it truly is a memorable landscape.

Logistics: Göreme and its national park may be reached by bus from most major cities in Turkey; the nearby city of Kayseri, east of Göreme, may also be reached by plane or train. Although there is much to see within walking distance of Göreme, private transportation makes it easier to access sites further outside the park.


Peking Man Site

nan Germany - 19-03-2017

I did the Beijing Hotspot sites in a 3.5 days site hopping bonanza. Most sites are well connected and quite touristy. The only site that takes you off the beaten path is the Peking Man Site, a bit at least. While still within the greater Beijing metropolitan area it feels like a world apart from modern Beijing.

As is the case with most prehistoric sites, there isn’t all that much to see. The early humans of the area lived in caves close to a river. You can peek into the caves and hike around the hill. But that’s more or less it. On top there is a museum nearby showing some of the findings.

To me the thrill of the visit came from venturing out into the country side and understanding how far back human activity in the Beijing area goes.

Logistics

At the time of my visit the metro to Suzhuang was still under construction. You would still need to take a bus from the metro station anyhow, so I would simply take the bus from Beijing. As stated by previous reviewers you can go with the 917 or 836. I think the 836 is the express bus with very few stops, so I would take that one.

While technically correct that you can get on the bus near the Temple of the Heavenly Gate, I think it’s way simpler to hop on at one of the metro stations along the western bound highway out of town (Liuiliqiao East, Guang'anmen Inner). The data on google maps seems correct.

The bus will not take you into town, but drop you off at the town entry. Seeing the site is on the other side of the town you have a bit of walking to do. Alternatively there a local buses running along the main street that you can board.

Notes

  • You can see the famous Marco Polo bridge from the highway.


Rock Carvings in Tanum

nan Germany - 19-03-2017

Having seen multiple rock art sites by now I am always stuck how similar early human art is. You find the same forms and patterns. On the other hand I am wondering why they couldn’t do any better. Most kids nowadays have a broader artistic range using more shapes than the adult creators of rock art back then. It goes to show how far mankind has come.

In the case of Tanum, it’s worthwhile pointing out that this is relatively recent rock art dating from 1000 BCE to 500 BCE, a time period where other European civilizations were starting to rise. Still, it’s a fascinating look back.

The sites are dispersed in the country side. I managed to see three: Vitlykckehälllen, Aspeberget and Litsleby. While small, Litsleby felt the most precious to me. The picture is from Aspeberget.

Regarding the use of paint to highlight the rock art I think it helps. I remember staring at stones in Valcamonica trying to spot something. But the choice of red as color felt too invasive. In Litsleby one site is painted in white and this works way better for me. Finally, they didn’t actually paint the icons in Falun red, did they?

Getting There

Tanum is connected by train to Gothenburg and it is also a stop for busses connecting Gothenburg and Oslo. Both options will drop you off outside town. The busses will drop you off at the highway. There is a shopping center. The train station is further out than the shopping center, but there seem to be local busses being timed with the train’s rare arrival and departure.

Personally, I would opt for the busses. They are faster, more frequent and offer wifi. Both options start at Gothenburg main station. Schedules are available in google maps, but you may have to move the destination to either the train station or the shopping center, as google maps is not that smart. For the busses, buy your tickets online in advance.

Getting Around

If you make it to Tanum, you are stuck with walking. The museum is outside of town and the individual sites dispersed across the country side. In total I walked 15km that day.

Be advised that you may have to walk on the side of the road as side walks are rather rare in the Swedish country side. However, there are paths to the shopping mall and the train station.

While you are there

I have been to the area before. A school friend of mine has a vacation home in the area and we went there twice. The coast around Fjällbacka and Hamburgsund is just very nice and I would encourage you to spend a few days here looking at the islands dotting the sea.


Grimeton Radio Station

nan Germany - 19-03-2017

While the Swedish list is lacking in terms of world class sites, they definitively have a few odd and peculiar sites well worth exploring, Grimeton being one of those.

During the first world war communication lines had been cut showing the need for cable less communication. Long wave radio transmission was a first try at this. Radio Corporation of America set up a network centered in Long Island, New York, to connect the world. Sweden joined the effort as during the war families were unable to communicate with their relatives who had migrated to the US.

Grimeton connected to the RCA network in 1924 and it was also the last site to do so. By 1927 long wave radio transmission was already deprecated and eventually replaced with short wave transmissions. As such, most of the sites were torn down. If other sites had remained the obvious choice would have been to inscribe the whole network.

The site in Grimeton remained in use for longer as long wave transmissions can contact submarines which short wave transmissions fail to do. The Swedish navy used Grimeton as a backup site and kept the site operational till the 80s. By then this was a historic landmark. Nowadays the still fully operational site is put into use three times a year, one being Christmas.

Getting There

The next larger town is Varberg and it’s well connected by train to both Copenhagen and Gothenburg. However, from Varberg it’s still quite a distance to the station in Grimeton. Knowing the scarce public transport options in Scandinavia on weekends I was a bit worried how to get there.

Google maps shows very infrequent busses (at least in winter) to the station. Those aren’t really all that helpful schedule wise. However, you can go to nearby Gödestad more or less every hour (bus 651 from the train station) and from there it’s a 40min walk through the Swedish country side to get to the radio station. You even pass a 5th century AD burial site and the huge antennas on the horizon will guide your way. Check google maps for schedules. And be mindful as there are no sidewalks.

Getting In

In general the field with the antennas can be visited all year. If you want to enter the main building you need to arrive when the site is officially opened. During the winter months this is only the case one Saturday each month. Check the website; I got lucky.

English tours are run at 13:00h which works well with catching the bus back from Gödestad at 14:40. The tour is helpful to actually appreciate the site. If you arrive on a day where the site is closed, you still can take peeks through the windows I would guess.

The larger site is still in active use, but for different frequencies. Our guide said seeing they already had antennas built in Grimeton getting more permits for new antennas was easier than elsewhere. As such only one of the original antennas is accessible and the rest are fenced off.

Notes

Ticket prices have gone up considerably since Els’ visit. I think I paid 130 SEK or so. The guide was pointing out that very little to no financial support was provided by the Swedish government for the country’s world heritage sites which may help explain the little progress on their list. In the case of Grimeton the funding is done via a trust fund whose main income is renting out the antennas on the site.

While you are there

I found Varberg rather pleasant and ended up staying an hour longer than anticipated. The castle and the coast line make for great pictures. If the sun is shining, that is. Be mindful of the strong winds, though.


Yakushima

Gary Arndt USA - 17-03-2017

I visited Yakushima in 2007.

Yakushima is my favorite world heritage site in Japan, hands down.

When I visited, I was the only non-Japanese person I saw on the island. Being located south of Kagoshima, the southernmost city on Japan's four main islands, it isn't on the radar for most tourists visiting Japan.

Yakushima was the inspiration for the animated film Princess Mononoke.

A cedar forest located in the clouds on top of the island, the mood can be very eerie and surreal.

Read more about Yakushima on my website.


Gusuku of Ryukyu

Gary Arndt USA - 17-03-2017

I visited in 2007.

Okinawa has traditionally been culturally and linguistically separate from Japan. It wasn't until the late 19th-century that Okinawa became part of the Japanese Empire.

That history is reflected in the structures of this world heritage site. The nine sites which are included in this property all harken back to before it was absorbed into Japan.

I've often said that the Ryukyu Islands are Japan's Hawaii. A chain of islands annexed in the 19th-century with their own culture, and now people go there for warm weather vacations.

Read more about the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu on my website.


Les grandes villes d'eaux d'Europe (T)

Clyde Malta - 17-03-2017

I visited this tentative WHS in March 2017. When I used to live in Belgium, I always visited Spa for automotive reasons rather then for its historic value.

If you visit or live in any of the Benelux countries (especially Belgium), you'll most probably drink Spa bottled water as it is one of the most popular brands. The word spa, meaning natural water source believed to possess special health-giving properties seems to have originated from this village. However, I had never visited Spa to appreciate its historical significance and its link to water.

This time round, I decided to give it a try, as I reckon it would surely be included in any form of WH inscription linked to water. The town is very small and most of the sites are close to the main square with the first casino in the world. The spires of the church dedicated to St Remacle can easily be seen from the main square.

It seems that a lot of money has been invested to favour Spa's inscription on the WH list. There are information boards and signs everywhere now and everything is in tip top condition except maybe for the Bains building.

The tourist office is housed in what I considered as the highlight of my visit - the Pouhon Pierre le Grand which is both a nature site and a monument housing the main natural spring of the town. The word 'pouhon' does not derive from the Walloon 'pouhi' meaning to draw water but rather from the Latin 'potionen' that includes the words potion and poison. Thinking of the sulphur smelling water of the natural spring as poison was not so far-fetched even though several guests have visited Spa throughout history to enjoy its healing properties.

For a token entrance fee of 1 euro you'll be able to visit the building interior and see the natural spring named after the most famous guest to visit town, the Tsar Peter the Great. 92 famous guests are depicted on the Livre d'Or, a 9 metre long painting by Antoine Fontaine. The iron ceiling and columns of the building reminded me a lot of Kew Gardens. Moreover, other water-related items are on display, most important of which are the wooden trinkets or jolites of Spa. I was extra lucky during my visit as the tourist office had just inaugurated a 'permanent' exhibition of Joan Mirò paintings which will be on display till 2020. All in all, I spent a great afternoon exploring the different fountains, springs and buildings related to the importance of water in Spa but without the visit to Pouhon Pierre le Grand. Another site not to be missed is the wonderful Art Nouveau Maison Charlier.

I think that this transnational tentative site has a great chance of being inscribed and it would help to revive some interest in what were very popular sites around 20-30 years ago but are now taken for granted. Apart from Spa, I already visited Bath, Karlovy Vary, Baden Baden and Bad Homburg.


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