1096 of 1121 WHS have been reviewed by our community.

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WHS #735: Kladruby nad Labem

I’ve never liked horses. I’ve never had the common young girls crush on those stereotypically ‘noble’ animals. As an adult, on a group tour to Turkmenistan, I remember an obligatory stop at a breeding farm of Akhal-Teke horses which bored me within minutes. So the appearance of the horse farm of Kladruby nad Labem on the World Heritage List last year did not give me great joy. But well, you gotta go to every single one WHS and the subject in this case at least is quite original in the WH context.

I did look forward to the day trip as a whole though, starting the small expedition by public transport to the Czech countryside fresh of the plane. Having learned from previous reviewers, I visited on a Friday to make the best of the railway connections. On weekdays there are 2 trains per hour between Prague Central and Recany nad Labem, the closest station to Kladruby.

It was a gorgeous sunny day, which proved to be a blessing for the final 3km roadside walk. There are white-blue-white markers painted on trees to show the way, but it is easy anyway: just go straight ahead from the station. The first 1.5km of the walk is extremely boring, only when you cross the Elbe river (Labe in Czech) the landscape becomes more interesting. There are pastures bordered with white fences in which the horses run their laps every now and then - but I saw only few of them outside.

When I arrived at the ticket office and asked for a tour of the stables, they turned out to be sold out for the rest of the day! They only had tickets left for the tour of the castle at 3 o'clock - that meant waiting an hour for an undoubtedly boring tour. The gods of European castles and palaces may have had their revenge on me for my disparaging comments….

I bought the ticket anyway (90 Czech crowns / EUR 3.40) to get a taste of the atmosphere of the farm. At least I got a nice looking entrance ticket with a close up of a horse head in return. Access to the general areas is free and the WHS covers a large cultural landscape so it is not hard to get your ‘tick’, but the more interesting parts of this WHS are only unlocked by guides.

So I hung around for an hour - luckily there were benches in the shade available, as well as an ice cream cart. A side entrance to the stables was open and I could peek in there to see some of the horses. The Kladruby horses are sturdy animals: they are either pure black or white (light gray). About 250 are kept and trained here. They were especially bred to pull carriages, in contrast to the more famous Lipica where the Habsburgers bred their riding horses.

I can be short about my tour of the castle. About 20 fellow visitors showed up: all Czechs and the tour was also in Czech only. I received an explanation booklet in English. The (small) castle, more similar to a hunting lodge, has been heavily restored in recent years and looks newish. The only room of interest I found the one where copies of the studbooks of the Kladruby horses are displayed.

Els - 9 August 2020

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Les ruines d'Ouara (T)

Watkinstravel Canada - 28-Jul-20

My visit to Ouara is more of a story about the journey and not much the destination itself. In Jan 2012, a friend and I convinced the relevant authorities (through some very loose associations with NGO's in the country) that we should be given permits to travel to Abeche, ostensibly to research some future work there.

I don't remember now how we heard about Ouara but it was along the lines of vague rumours of ruins somewhere nearby. Asking around town we were given all sorts of directions and replies until we found an old bedouin mototaxi driver that claimed to have been there once years ago. He recruited another driver nearby to assist as well and in one of the most foolish travel decisions of our lives, at 1pm in 30+C and without any additional preparations we jumped on and headed out of town thinking it would be a quick trip. I can only say with confidence the site is somewhere ~40km north of town somewhere nestled behind a small mountain well off the main dirt road heading north from Abeche

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Lake Naivasha (T)

Patrik Steijvers Netherlands - 28-Jul-20

I spent a week in Naivasha in February 2019 and used it as a base to visit the lake, Mount Longonot and Hell's Gate national parks. The lake itself is a bit away from the town but one can walk there through dry areas of land that I assume will flood during the rainy season.

The south side has big horticulture farms, an industry that needs a lot of water and workers. The end of the day sees innumerable busses shuttling workers from the farms to the town. The reverse probably happens in the morning at dawn but I was not present to witness that. 

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Old Wastewater Treatment Plant in Prague-Bubeneč (T)

Matejicek Czechia - 24-Jul-20

Old Wastewater Treatment Plant in Prague-Bubeneč (T)

This was another surprise, just after the nomination of Czech beech forests, that very new addition to the Czech T-list is the old wastewater treatment plant in the northern outer part of Prague city center - in Bubeneč, very close to Vltava river. Well, it is not such surprising as the water management-related sites are now in the focus of the UNESCO experts and state parties. Nevertheless, my secret guess to a new addition to TWHS would be another site in Prague related to water - a monumental building of the water treatment plant in the southern edge of the Prague center - in Podolí, also close to Vltava river (visit highly recommended as well)

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Struve Geodetic Arc

Michael Ayers USA - 24-Jul-20

Struve Geodetic Arc

Visit in July 2020

The Pandemic of 2020 completely demolished any hopes I had of ever attempting to visit any of the European Pile Dwellings locations, and it did its best to similarly affect that other collection of unobtrusive artifacts in obscure, out-of-the-way locations, the Struve Geodetic Arc. However, in the latter case I refused to be defeated. I originally had planned to see one or two of the locations in Lithuania, as many others have already done, but since that became problematic I needed to find another alternative. As luck would have it, the cluster of triangulation points in central-western Ukraine were not far from where I expected to be in late July, so I salvaged the opportunity to claim my Struve site visit by heading in that direction

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Stoclet House

Jay T USA - 22-Jul-20

Stoclet House

I'm rather torn on Stoclet House in Brussels, Belgium. As far as visiting experience goes, I would give it a .5 for its lack of accessibility. But should World Heritage Sites be judged solely by accessibility? Another World Heritage Site in Brussels, the Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta only has the interior of one of its four sites regularly available to visitors, while natural sites, such as Surtsey or the Rio Abiseo National Park, also prohibit tourism. There are even World Heritage Sites that prohibit access based on gender, such as Mount Athos and Okinoshima Island. Some sites that limit tourism compensate with museums or replicas, such as the case of the Decorated Cave of Pont d'Arc

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