1098 of 1121 WHS have been reviewed by our community.


Ancient Lavrion (T)

Nan Germany - 08-Sep-20

Ancient Lavrion (T)

If you like me have ever wondered what made Athens stand out among its contemporary rival Greek city states, Ancient Lavrion may provide the answer. In the hills of the Attika peninsula, roughly 50km South of Athens was a huge mining area where several ores could be mined: copper, lead and most importantly silver. The silver wealth supported the Athenians in resisting the Persian invasions. It also enabled the Athenians to mint their own coins, the Athenian Tetrhadrachmon.

The mines predate classical Greece by millenia. It seems there were mining operations already in neolithic times (3000 BCE). However, after the Peloponnesian War the mines were closed as the infrastructure had been destroyed.

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Gdansk - Town of Memory and Freedom (T)

Clyde Malta - 07-Sep-20

Gdansk - Town of Memory and Freedom (T)

I visited Gdansk in August 2020 after a detour to Gdynia which turned out to be a wise choice as the only huge traffic jams I encountered in Poland during the COVID-19 crisis were the several lanes from Torun or Warsaw towards Gdansk and the Baltic Sea. Having driven quite early to Gdynia avoiding the main roads, I luckily skipped all the traffic and on the way back to Gdansk, the traffic flow was fine. If you travel by car, there's ample paid parking spaces next to the Gdansk shipyard area or next to the European Solidarity Centre and you can pay using a credit card if you're short of zloty coins.

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Rjukan / Notodden

Nan Germany - 21-Aug-20

Rjukan / Notodden

While humans have put manure of fields for millenia, it was never fully understood why that actually worked. It was in the 19th century that a German chemist, Justus von Liebig, showed the benefits of plant nutrients; he is referred to as the "father of the fertilizer industry". The initial fertilizer used in the 19th century was guano which had to be imported from South America and which had limited availability. So, plenty of researchers were looking for a way to produce fertilizers instead of mining them.

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Modernist Centre of Gdynia — the example of building an integrated community (T)

Clyde Malta - 07-Sep-20

Modernist Centre of Gdynia — the example of building an integrated community (T)

I visited this tentative WHS in August 2020 as a slight detour from the Gdansk tentative WHS and Malbork Castle WHS. If the former two manage to get inscribed Gdansk would become a WHS hotspot.

The Modernist Centre of Gdynia is apparently trying to seek inscription on similar grounds as the Chaux-de-Fonds/Le Locle WHS in Switzerland or the Le Havre WHS in France, i.e. a uniform urban complex developed in the 1920s till present days as a result of a unique and dynamic process of city construction. Gdynia combines features of traditional urban composition (an orthogonal street grid inscribed into the fanned landscape) with buildings that incorporate progressive housing solutions (ensuring access of light and air). The port city's design was based on the idea of opening the city to the Baltic Sea with the Southern Pier serving as a promenade and with general access to open port spaces (a marina, a passenger and short sea shipping harbour)

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Central Sikhote-Alin

Martina Ruckova Slovakia - 07-Sep-20

Central Sikhote-Alin

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So when Ivan and I got stuck in Russia for a progressively longer and longer time, we started not only revisiting old Russian WHSs, but thought about visiting the new ones too. Not many left, but we did what we could and Ivan planned a week-long trip along regions of Russian Far East.

Having been to Kamchatka and Lena Pillars already, it was Sikhote-Alin Natural reserve that remain to be visited. Your hub will be Vladivostok. From there, there are three ways of getting in and out of Terney, a gateway to the park. One is comfortable, another two are weatherproof. September is said to be the best weatherwise, so we chose the comfortable one - with a small De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft on a daily line between Vladivostok and Terney, operated by Aurora Airlines, a subsidiary of Aeroflot. Prices are subsidized by the government and a plane ticket (2600 rubles) is actually cheaper than 14-hour bus ride (3000 rubles). The bus to and from Vladivostok departs twice a day: in the morning and in the evening

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Blog TWHS Visits

Icelandic Turf House Tradition

Iceland isn’t a country to visit for its rich cultural heritage. It has Thingvellir as a cultural WHS, but that’s a cultural landscape with mostly intangible features. The capital Reykjavik has some modernist constructions of interest (the Hallgrímskirkja, several art museums and sculptures), but the rest of the country was quite poor and isolated until the beginning of the 20th century. A reminder of those times lies in the Turf House Tradition, a series of 14 locations on the Tentative List.

Most of those 14 properties lie close to the Ring Road. During my first attempt I was confronted with a closed gate at Keldur after driving 4 km on an unpaved road, so I decided to be more picky with the others as not all are welcoming tourists.

The first satisfying one lies 15 kilometers east of Skaftafell: the turf church Hofskirkja. It is the village church of the hamlet of Hof. This turf-roofed church, which is still in use, was built at the end of the 19th century. It is set in the middle of a contemporary cemetery, which is perhaps even more interesting than the church itself. Each grave lies beneath a small grassy mound.

My other visits are from the north of Iceland. The peat church Víðimýrarkirkja for example: its black-and-red exterior is the most beautiful of the series. It is accessible for most of the day, the caretaker seems to live next to it and he opened the church when he saw me and another couple arriving. There is an entrance fee of 1000 crowns (6 EUR), for which you also get a brochure in English. It's small and cramped inside: there are a few benches and an altar; the only decoration consists of the wooden carvings.

It was already getting late and I doubted whether to visit the turf farm Glaumbaer about 8 kilometers away. Fortunately I did, as I found it the most illuminating one on how the turf farms functioned. This site is also open to visitors and there were dozens of them present when I was there. A fee of 1,700 crowns (10 EUR) is charged. It is a large farm, consisting of 13 linked "houses" (rooms). They were made of a combination of turf, stones in a herringbone pattern and wood. Some of the houses date from the 18th century, the rest from the 19th.

If you'd want to spend time / money on only one interior, choose this one: it has one long corridor to which all rooms / houses are connected. It is very dark inside and it stays warm even in the winter. Each room had a specific function (storage space, kitchen etc) and the sleeping area could accommodate 22 people in 11 beds shared by 2 persons each.

This TWHS has a 100% thumbs up score from the 7 visitors so far and I’d wholeheartedly support that. The turf ‘houses’ are very fine pieces of vernacular architecture, which is a gap on the List. The site description on the UNESCO website is very elaborate, so the Icelanders must be preparing something….

Els - 13 September 2020

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