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20 most recent Community Reviews


Salzburg

Kbecq Belgium - 21-01-2017

We visited Salzburg at the end of December, hoping for snow. While this was not the case, Salzburg was still an enjoyable and beautiful city with a cosy Christmas atmosphere.

Next to the most visited sights (Hohensalzburg fortress, Mozart's Geburtshaus, ...), Salzburg is also full of magnificent churches. We particularly liked the St. Peter, the Kollegienkirche and of course the Dom. In case you buy a ticket for the Dom Quartier (Salzburg's cathedral museum complex - highly recommended), you will be guided through the Dom at organ level which provides a spectacular view on the Dom's inside and ceiling.

In case you go to St. Peter, also make sure to visit the cemetery and catacombs. 'Cemetery enthousiasts' could also visit the one at the Sebastianskirche with a large number of graves and tombs full of details.

Hohensalzburg fortress probably has the best city sights, but those from the Museum der Moderne and a bit further on the Mönchsberg, as well as from the Kapuzinerkloster are also very nice.

Salzburg is of course also known for the Salzburger Festspiele. In principle every day at 14h guided tours through the different festspielhäuser take place. Especially the Felsenreitschule with part of the stage carved out of the rock is worth the tour.

Finally, make sure to have a look at the Mirabell's palace's baroque staircase and marmorsaal. Although the palace currently houses the city council and is therefore not open to the public, you can take a peek into the marmorsaal without problems.


Pilgrimage Church of Wies

William Hans Molin III USA - 18-01-2017

Have visited this Exquisite Church in a heavenly setting twice. Both visits came on tours coming from Rome and Northern Italy.

How refreshing, delightful and awesome compared to the dark and heaviness of the Italian Churches.

NOT TO BE MISSED if you can get there.

A great pastoral setting. Play the Beethoven Pastoral on the way to realize this fully.


Elvas

Klaus Freisinger Austria - 15-01-2017

Today, the border between Spain and Portugal is hardly visible, but in centuries past, it was heavily fortified and fought over. There is a fair number of fortified border towns in both countries (some of them also striving for WH status), but the best one is certainly Elvas, guarding the approaches to Lisbon on the main road from Madrid and Badajoz. Fought over various times throughout the centuries (with the Spanish and Portuguese sometimes on the same side, as in the Napoleonic Wars), Elvas is a great example of military architecture. The town is surrounded by massive walls and has several huge forts outside. I spent quite some time in the biggest one, Santa Luzia, which also features a military museum. This fort and the castle of Elvas, dating from Arab times, both offer great views over the surorunding area and give an impression of the strategic location and importance of the town, which also features several interesting non-military attractions, especially the Amoreira Aqueduct and the beautifully decorated Dominican Church. Elvas is definitely worth a day of exploration, and is conveniently located between Mérida and Évora.


Maulbronn Monastery

Christer Sundberg Sweden - 14-01-2017

The Cistercian Monastery Maulbronn was founded in 1147, and is considered the most complete and best-preserved medieval monastic complex north of the Alps. Surrounded by fortified walls, the main buildings were constructed between the 12th and 16th centuries. Follow the World Heritage Traveller in: Maulbronn.


Mining Cultural Landscape Erzgebirge/Krušnohoøí (T)

Walter Switzerland - 13-01-2017

Erzgebirge / Krušnohoří Mining Cultural Landscape was originally planned for nomination in 2016. I decided to visit this TL site ahead of its official inscription, in april 2016. This nomination was withdrawn a few weeks later, due to the ICOMOS evaluation, pointing, as I understood, a lack of coherence between the individual components.

It is true that this project is difficult to apprehend. On the German side, there is 8 areas, with 39 elements and more than 110 sites (some sites including up to 11 significant objects). The Czech side consists of 4 cultural lanscapes, one lime work and the Red Tower of Death.

The nomination dossier avaiblable on the WHC site does not show clear maps of the different elements, sites or significant objects, and I spent considerable amount of time researching the internet to correctly locate all objects. I found this site in German (http://www.jenskuglerverlag.de/studien-dokumentationen) which lists some studies with maps of some of the elements.

I must say that I do agree with ICOMOS with the lack of coherence, at least on the German part. It is a patchwork of monuments (some very vaguely) related to the mining history of the area. To note :

- head office of companies working in mining (or in watch making, or cutlery and tableware).

- administrative building of mining companies, far away from the mines.

- professional schools, I imagine in which engineers were trained for mining.

- churches and cathedral where miners could attend service.

- castle or historic centers of towns with mining history.

- a hunting lodge

- a hospital for workers.

- a monastery with no evident link to mining industry.

The Czech part is more coherent, with 6 elements centered around villages built for mining and their immediate environment.

Anyway, apart from those consideration, visiting the area is fun. You need a car to go around all the elements, because they are scattered around a quite large area. Going by public transport would be time consuming, and not always rewarding. It is impossible to know beforehand what to expect, never sure to even locate some sites (even with good maps), or being able to visit (at one location, I was rudely yield at by a woman arguing it was a private propriety, as I was only taking a picture from the public road).

Some sites are anti-climaxic, with a very small elements (like the mouth of an adit or a ditch).

Town centers are easier to visit (Marienberg, Annaberg, Schnneberg), but are not the nicest town centers in Germany.

Altogether, I would recommend seing a few part in the German part (to be able to tick the sites) and concentrate on the Czech component. Besides, five of the six Czech elements are within a 30 minutes drive from Karlovy Kary, another TL element with good hotels infrastructure.

The 4 czech cultural landscape componants are centered around villages, with mining elements and landscape shaped by mining industry. There are all situated in the hills, and there is very nice view on the valleys below.

The Lime Works in Hàj, near Loucna poc Klnovcem is difficult to find. Check Google map beforehand. No signpost whatsoever. This difficulty makes visiint the site even more enjoyable. It is an abandonned lime works, quite well preseved in the middle of a forest.

The Red Tower of Death is a simple brick tower, in the middle of an industrial park near Jachimov. It is an important national cultural momument in the Czech Republic, because it is linked to uranium extraction after WWII, and it symbolises suffering from political prisoners in forced-labour camps of that period.

It can be seen from the road. There is no signs or indication. The industrial park is not open to public. I went to its reception, and the security guards nicely allowed me to sign in, enter and check out the tower from close. The guard only spoke a few words of english, so it was a bit difficult to understand, but he was very nice, explaining to be careful about trucks. The enclosed picture hows the Red Tower.


Western Caucasus

Iain Jackson Scotland UK - 13-01-2017

UNESCO describes this site as "...one of two large mountain areas in Europe that has not experienced significant human impact." And I can vouch for that. This human found it very difficult to have any impact on it.

In 2011, with wife Freda and son Euan, I based myself in Sochi for a few days as we tried to find a way into this vast area from the southern side. We went north by bus to the end of the line at Krasnaya Polyana and from there took a cable car up the mountain. From here we could see (within the WHS) beautiful green mountainsides topped by grey rocky crags but we could not get amongst them. Whether even this is possible now I do not know as the area will have been transformed by the works undertaken for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

For 9 of the last 10 years the site has been the subject of reports to the WHC because of threats to its OUV. These threats usually arise from the activities of some branch of government for example, road building or tourist development, or are, at least, officially connived at, for example, logging and grazing of livestock. The WHC has threatened to threaten the relevant authorities with placing the site on the Register of WHS in Danger and the relationship with UNESCO remains difficult.

In June 2016, alone, I approached the area from the north in a hire car picked up when I arrived at Krasnodar airport. I stayed the night in Dakhovskaya and next day early drove to Guzeripl where there is an entrance to the park and a small Visitor Centre. Here, in the forest I came to a fork in the track and chose what seemed to be the road less travelled. This led for several hours, during which time I saw almost no-one, through beautiful green trees in dappled sunshine till I judged I must turn back if I was to have time to investigate the other branch of the track. This soon led, alongside a swiftly flowing stream, to a small, not very interesting, museum and a kind of dolmen erected over some large rocks.

On the basis of this little excursion I would not say I have gained any substantial knowledge of the site. I found almost no useful literature at the site and signing was poor. However I am disinclined to spend any more of my declining years trying to penetrate it and with a clear conscience I stake my claim to be one of the first of Els' people to visit this site


Tet el Bad (Stone Coffin) (T)

Els Slots The Netherlands - 13-01-2017

Palau’s Stone Coffin or Tet el Bad is one of the strangest entries on any Tentative List. It may be the smallest object in size: it measures 233cm by 66cm, at a height of 40cm. And it is a moveable structure, not only in theory but also in real life as it has been moved for research to a museum in Koror in the 1930s. It has stayed there until the 1980s, when it was transported back to its place of origin on northern Babeldaob. Despite its flaws, I am going to write a full 500 word blog post / review about it!

The coffin lies on Palau’s main island, Babeldaob. When I was young I was active with geofiction, and Babeldaob could have been a creation of mine (its name sounds like fiction already). Somehow the countries I created were always islands, often located in the Pacific. Always round or oval-shaped, with points of interest scattered around evenly across the surface. For sure I would have designed a flag for it, another one of my childhood interests.

Finding this stone coffin required some determination. I had rented a car from my hotel in Koror (on a different island, but connected to Babeldaob via a bridge), and drove all the way north to the ‘state’ of Ngarchelong. Possibly due to its long connection with the USA, Palau calls its communes ‘states’ – each often having not more than a few hundred inhabitants. There is only one main road into Ngarchelong, so that part is easy. To get to the coffin, you have to drive on to the hamlet of Ollei. This lies further north (but along the same road) as the Badrulchau Stone Monoliths and the ruins of a Japanese lighthouse. I had to ask for directions at both sites, as the Stone Coffin is not signposted.

The fifth or so building after the turn-off to the Japanese ruins is the village house of Ollei, and that’s where the coffin lies behind (still without any sign). When you face the building, there is a patch of grass to the right and from there you’ll see a path going uphill. This is the trail that you need to take: the coffin lies some 20 metres to the left and is in the process of being overgrown by weeds and plants.

Surprisingly little can be found about the history of this stone coffin. It originates from Medong in Ngarchelong, which may or may not be a different place from Ollei where it is located now (one source has it that Medong is a terrace system on Ollei). Traditionally on Palau, people were buried on specific burial platforms on modified ridges or earthworks. The coffin’s current location can be seen as a kind of stone platform too. Its age is unknown, but it probably was carved after the Palauans had contact with Europeans and Japanese and adopted (forced or willingly) their burying practices. The stone coffin effectively mimicks a European-style coffin.

The coffin resembles a sarcophagus, it is hollow inside and has a lid with two knobs on each side that can be taken off. It is made out of basalt. Apparently the coffin contained the remains of two individuals which were brought to Japan for study in the early 1900s, but much of the information has been lost. The individuals might have been a female and a child another source says. The Palauans were expert carvers, using the abundant soft stone on their islands. The nearby Badrulchau Stone Monoliths are another example of this: their date of origin is also unknown, and it is uncertain whether the monoliths and the stone coffin are related in any way.


Beemster Polder

echwel NL - 13-01-2017

“When will we be there?”, asked my wife when we were driving in the middle of the WHS Beemster. A question, I quess, which kind of sums up the outstanding universal value of the site; if you don’t know about it you will have a hard time seeing and appreciating it.

Because the Beemster just looks like any other “polder”, a green flat meadow, I couldn’t really blame her. However, when it was created in the 17th century the Dutch made an effort to create the most ideal landscape ever made. It was the time of the Renaissance and old ideals about order, symmetry and harmony were pumped in the new land as to give it a feeling of harmony and proportion. Everything what you see nowadays is actually the result of quite some thinking.

The new land was diveded into squares of app. 900 meters and by doing so they created a chessboardpattern in the landscape. At the edges of the squares either a road or a ditch was built so products from the land could be transported easily. The trees along the road are there so they could protect the traveller against the weatherconditions and to emphasize the straight lines in the landscape. The farms on the new land had a square core and a pyramid roof etc and etc. It was all about mathematics in the polder. After the work was finished people as far away as Florence (the Renaissance city par excellance) came to see what was made from scratch.

When I explained this to my wife she couldn’t stop laughing. To her it still was the green flat meadow as just a few minutes before. All I could say was that she probably was so familiar with the surroundings that she wasn’t able to see the genius it contained. Best things in life are also the most simple I said but she could not be convinced.


Aranjuez

Klaus Freisinger Austria - 12-01-2017

My expectations for Aranjuez were not too high - another royal palace close to a big capital -, but it's very easy to reach by commuter rail from Madrid, and the palace was actually quite interesting and well-presented (especially the Porcelain Room). I then went for a walk through the surorunding parks along the Tejo River, which feature many different fountains. It was an enjoyable half-day excursion, but as mentioned in other reviews, the site does not add a lot of new value to the WH list, as evidenced by the fact that Spain had to use the trick/work-around with the cultural landscape to get this site inscribed.


Alcala de Henares

Klaus Freisinger Austria - 10-01-2017

Alcalá is just a short train ride from Madrid and makes a very interesting half-day trip from the capital. Even though I visited on a Monday afternoon, which meant that many sights such as the cathedral and the Cervantes House were closed, I enjoyed my walk through a city oozing with history. Most tourists come to see the Cervantes-related sights, but the town's biggest claim to fame is the university (which offers guided tours also on Mondays). The Universidad Complutense was founded in the 13th century and was one of the most important ones in the Christian world during the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. When it moved to Madrid in the 19th century, the city became a bit of a backwater (a modern university was founded in the 1970s) and a commuter town. The historic university buildings are still well-preserved and make for an interesting visit. Guided tours seem to be offered only in Spanish, so I didn't catch every detail, but it was still a pleasant visit. From the outside, I also saw the neo-Moorish Laredo Palace and the former Palace of the Archbishops of Toledo, where Columbus planned his first voyage and where both Emperor Ferdinand I and Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England, were born.


Luis Barragán House and Studio

Caspar Dechmann Switzerland - 09-01-2017

I visited this house during my one day in Mexico City flying home from Yucatán. The required reservation over the website did not work, therefore I just went there and was lucky to get a spot in a tour if though in Spanish.

The house is interesting: very clear but still full of asymmetries and surprises. Very modern but full of crosses as architectural elements and in old paintings. Very bright and open, but still protected from the outside world by high walls. It has many brightly painted walls and the predominant color is pink. It came to my mind I f Barragán was gay. A short glance in his biography seems rather to support this. Though the house is a museum you cannot enter all the rooms and it seems Barragán gave it in his will to his last architect partner. Perhaps it is him who still lives there.

The price for the visit is high with 300 Pesos. Our guide was ok but not great. He was not too happy to answer questions and looked from time to time into his chat messages...

While an interesting visit I am not sure if it is unique enough to justify the inscription and based on my internet search I am not even sure if it is his best work. The Cuadra San Cristobal in Mexico City seems a strong competition

Neighbouring to the museum in Nr. 20 is another house by Barragán that you can enter from 10-13.30h for 200 Pesos if somebody is there to open the door. You can see a big garden and glance quite easily into the rooms designed by Barragán. But the garden is not well cared for. There are non of the strong colours of his own house or they have disappeared over time. While it is certainly a treat for great fans coming from the Museum it may be a disappointment for the average WHS-hunter.


Campeche

Caspar Dechmann Switzerland - 09-01-2017

The walls of Campeche are nice but not complete and Not all original. I cannot imagine that there were not several similar or even more impressive even in the new world. For European standards they are modest. I either don't know enough to say if the colourful houses of the old city are unique and if there OUV is justified. However, to wander through the streets is a delight. Many houses are nicely renovated and the streets are full of shops, bars, restaurants and galleries. When you enter you see that the rooms are often beautifully and simply renovated. High ceilings with parallel how you can still find it in the buildings of Barragán and other modern architects. In some places the rooms extend in long sequences far into the building, sometimes combined with courtyards and fountains.

I got there after a day excursion to Uxmal, enjoyed my evening there and would have liked to stay for two days to explore the city with leisure. There are two original forts that I missed with interesting museums and at least one more worthwhile museum in town. Less then an hour away is the great precolumbian site of Edzna.


Cuenca

Klaus Freisinger Austria - 09-01-2017

Cuenca makes a good stopover between the Mediterranean coast and Madrid, and the location of the Old Town is quite spectacular. Apart from that, though, I have to say that I didn't enjoy the place very much (ok, it was very cold and rainy, as opposed to heat and sunshine just a couple of hours before on the coast). It was just very grey and dreary, and the "casas colgadas" didn't strike me as particularly noteworthy either. The cathedral was quite nice, but also just one of many in Spain. The best thing about Cuenca was my stay in the parador on the other side of the gorge. It is a 16th-century Dominican convent with very nice rooms and a great breakfast (my first stay in a parador), and to reach the Old Town, you have to cross the narrow bridge that can be seen in many pictures of Cuenca. From the top of the Old Town, by the castle ruins, there are great views of the parador and the gorge.


Vienna

Jay T USA - 08-01-2017

When traveling by train in central Europe, it's hard not to transit through Vienna, and the city is well worth a visit for the architecture and culture. This is the season for balls in Vienna, but when I visited the city with my siblings in the fall of 2003, we were off-season. Nevertheless, the tour of the baroque Hofburg Palace downtown was fascinating, and I enjoyed the opulent rooms and the variety of art and artifacts on display. Anchoring Stephansplatz, the gothic Stephansdom cathedral with its elaborate tiled roof and soaring bell tower was one of the most memorable sites in the city, and the interior was almost as beautiful. Also memorable was the baroque Karlkirche, with its elegant dome. Vienna is a city of music, with a long list of composers who at one time were employed there. Accordingly, we made pilgrimages to renowed performance halls which we had heard about, including the Muzikverein, the Konzerthaus, and the Staatsoper. Although the weather was a bit rainy when we visited, Vienna exceeded our expectations, and I would love to go back some day.

Logistics: The Historic Centre of Vienna has excellent public transportation, with a well-developed network of buses, trams, and U-bahn and S-bahn rail lines.


Masjed-e Jâme'

Juha Sjoeblom Finland - 08-01-2017

Site visited January 2016. The great city of Isfahan is full of marvellous sights. Imam Square and the famous bridges are usually in the center of attention. Congregational mosque Masjed-e Jāmé is often overlooked maybe because of its remote location. This architectural masterpiece was the latest addition to Isfahan’s World Heritage Sites.

One of the great things about this site is its location surrounded by the vast Grand Bazaar of Isfahan. It is 1,5 kilometres walk from Imam Square and finding your way in the labyrinthine alleys of bazaar to the mosque is part of the fun. Although the size of the mosque is enormous you can hardly notice it when you walk next to it in the bazaar. You just pop in from a modest gate and suddenly you are in the center of this historical complex.

Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan is one of the oldest and biggest mosques in Iran. It has been constantly constructed, reconstructed and renovated so there are many historical layers. It is the first mosque that was built in four-iwan courtyard style and it became prototype of this architectural style in the Islamic world. There are two great domes opposite each other. Behind the large stalactites of south iwan is the robust brick dome of Nezam Al-Molk which is one of the biggest domes of its time. Behind the north iwan is Taj Al-Molk Dome which is a masterpiece of Persian architecture. Its geometrically perfect and balanced structure is very impressive. The four iwans are surrounded by large prayer halls with numerous pillars. In the west iwan is the beautiful Room of Sultan Uljetu which is richly decorated.

The atmosphere in the mosque was calm and silent which was a relief after hustle and bustle of bazaar. You could hear only the sound of flocks of pigeons which were flying around the courtyard and the minarets. There were only few other visitors. It was very enjoyable to slowly wander around the rooms and explore all the great details they have to offer. And there are lots of them.

Iran is full of beautiful historical buildings and especially mosques. In some places you may even think that there are too many of them to really appreciate them all. It makes you think what makes just this complex worth of inscription. While it might not be as flashy and shiny as some other famous mosques in Iran, the historical and architectural values of Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan are unquestionable. Besides, it is also a calm and quiet haven amid the busy and noisy bazaar and as such it is a great place to visit.


Ring of cenotes of Chicxulub Crater, Yucatan (T)

Jorge Daniel Magaña García Mexico - 07-01-2017

Cenotes are sanctuaries, and the site qualifies to be a mixed one. Complementary sites could be included in the buffer zones, too. It's unfortunate though that other sites in several Tentative Lists have been removed, so it is understandable that the peresquites change. Increasing the list of delisted sites should be considered, and maybe even the option of broader transnational parameters. Of course, UNESCO has to allow for a broader debate, true to its Specialized agency status, but that shouldn't impede the inclusion of more adequate membership and even agents that remain truthful to their conditioned situation as citizens or ex profeso nature.


Fagus Factory

Kbecq Belgium - 07-01-2017

We arrived at the Fagus factory on a Saturday with the intention to participate in one of the guided tours which take place on Saturdays and Sundays. However, because there was an event scheduled on Sunday there was no tour on Saturday (since they were already setting up things for the event the next day).

Therefore, we had to take a tour with an audio/video guide. But we were lucky: the workers preparing the event didn't mind that we walked around in the factory so we got to see the same as during a guided tour (and maybe even more?).

Next to the audio guide tour, we also bought the 3-in-1 ticket (UNESCO visitor centre, Fagus-Gropius-exhibition and Gallery). The visitor centre does not add much to the info you get from the audio guide, but you can play with a media wall with information about all WHS (surprisingly addictive!).

The Fagus-Gropius-exhibition in the former warehouse provides five floors of background info about Fagus, shoes in general and even wood in general. While very well done and certainly interesting, we got the impression that there is too much space to fill - the upper floors become very high level. The Gallery is located in the former warehouse basements and is an art exhibition (can be skipped in our opinion).

Since we took the 'full package' (audio tour plus 3-in-1 ticket), we have spent about 2.5 hours at the Fagus factory, ending our visit in the Fagus-Gropius Café in the factory's former power plant. We would certainly recommend the audio guide (or guided tour if available) while the exhibition is nice if you have somewhat more time.


Yapease Quarry Sites (T)

Els Slots The Netherlands - 06-01-2017

Palau’s best chance of a second WHS is the serial transnational nomination of the Yapese Disk Money Regional Sites / Yapese Quarry Sites. This collection of 4 locations in two countries has already been brought forward in 2010, but ended up with a Deferral advice from ICOMOS and a subsequent withdrawal of the nomination by the Federated States of Micronesia (representing Yap) and Palau. They will try again in (possibly) 2018.

Orrak Island with overgrown causeway

Palau played an important role in the origin and practice of the use of stone disk money on Yap. Although the island state lies almost 500km away, with its fine limestone it provided the source for producing the large disks that were used on Yap as stone money. In 1883 it was reported by judicial commissioner G.R. Le Hunte that he found around 100 Yapese at Palau cutting stones and preparing them for transport.

The two locations on Palau included in the original nomination are called ‘Uet el Doab ma Uet el Beluu’ and ‘Chelechol ra Orrak’. After the discussion we recently had on the Forum and some further research, I’m quite sure that both are located on the island of Orrak (the former in the interior, the latter near the beach). I found the original ICOMOS evaluation of 2010, which sheds further light on the boundaries of this nomination. The locations on Orrak Island are both quarry sites.

Approach to Airai

Orrak is a tiny island, which was connected to Airai Village in Babeldaob “by a prehistoric causeway constructed of coral rubble now covered in mangrove vegetation”. From the harbour of Airai this causeway is still visible, although it’s also easy to see that it is broken down by water in one or two places.

The Yapese did not just go and take the stone disks from Palau: they had arrangements with the traditional owners of the lands for the quarrying rights, and brought gifts from the chiefs of Yap to the chiefs of Palau. In the case of Orrak Island, this meant the chiefs of the village of Arrai. In its evaluation, ICOMOS argues that there is at least an intangible relationship between the quarry sites on Orrak and the village of Airai. Therefore the village itself could be part of the revised nomination or at least the buffer zone.

On my first day driving around Babeldoab, I checked out Airai too. It has probably the finest example of a traditional bai (men’s meeting house) of Palau.

Airai Bai

Unfortunately I did not have the time to arrange a visit to Orrak Island while on Palau, although I was tempted to speak to one of the fishermen present at Airai to take me across. Which locations finally will end up in the new nomination is not clear: ICOMOS requested a further justification of the selection of these two sites on Orrak Island, as there are at least nine other documented quarry sites on Palau (including the already inscribed Omis Cave (part of Rock Islands WHS) and the one tourists get sent to, Metuker ra Bisech).


New Lanark

Allan Berry Scotland - 06-01-2017

We visited New Lanark on drizzly day in April. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily the best sort of conditions to visit a very grey Scottish mill town, but never mind.

The best view of New Lanark is also normally your first.

As you come down the hill from the car park, you are presented with a nice little panoramic view of the entire site. Consisting of four mill buildings, several terraced housing units and a scattering of extra buildings such as a school, engine house and a church, the site is nestles tightly along a bend in the River Clyde, surrounded on all sides by wooded hills. It feels quite intimate, and has peculiarly picturesque quality to it.

The visitor centre does a good job in explaining the background of the site. However, the presentation is very modern, and doesn’t feel very in keeping with the setting. Most egregious is the weird tram-like gondolas that take through the story of one of the historical residents. I guess it’s meant for children, but I’m not sure whether they would find it engaging or not. Other slightly dubious choices include a large glass and steel bridge connecting two of the mill buildings, and an out of place (though none the less pleasant) roof garden.

The rest of the site is fine. We completed the tour, looked around the fairly standard gift shop, and spent a pleasant few hours doing some of the riverside walks (not technically part of the heritage site, but really helpful to understanding why New Lanark is built where it is). The site feels poorly presented in places, such as the Village School and Village Shop, which are more nostalgic than informative. On the other hand, I found the house of founder Robert Owen, one of the smallest buildings, to be one of the most interesting. It tells the story of his life, and his progressive views (for the time), and how they shaped our view of utopian socialism.

Overall, this site was fine. I feel, especially compared to Saltire or the Derwent Valley Mills, it’s one of the stronger industrial heritage sites in the UK, helped in no small part by its setting. It’s a perfectly fine day trip from Glasgow or Edinburgh if you’re visiting.


Longobards in Italy

Tom Livesey United Kingdom - 03-01-2017

Of the seven sites I have so far been to three: two in Umbria (visited April 2015), and one in Friuli-Venezia Guilia (July 2015).

The Clitunno Tempietto wasn’t easy to find, but I had been prepared for that and we soon located it. For a while we were the only people there, which was nice. I love it when I go to a World Heritage Site and there is nobody else around. You can see the Roman-style architecture of this temple – it looks nothing like a church, yet it was built for Christian worship in the Dark Ages.

Remnants from this period of history are not generally well-preserved; it is underrepresented on the UNESCO list, so you can really pick up something novel from visiting the Longobard sites.

The basilica of San Salvatore is just a short drive away, in the Umbrian town of Spoleto. It is a much larger building, and totally empty inside. I liked the basilica’s Byzantine depiction of Christ the Teacher.

The Gastaldaga area and the Episcopal complex in northeast Italy is in the charming town of Cividale del Friuli. We arrived there after seeing Škocjan Caves and Idrija mercury mine in Slovenia. The carved figures in the temple were inspired by the Porch of the Caryatids in the Erechtheion on Athens’ Acropolis.


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