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World Heritage Site

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Recent Community Reviews

1053 of 1092 WHS have been reviewed by our community.

Ahwar of Southern Iraq Thomas Buechler Switzerland - 06-Dec-18 -

Ahwar of Southern Iraq

Ur was once an important Sumerian city state near the mouth of the Euphrates river, at the coast with marshy surroundings and regular floods and adverse weather impacts like erosions.Ur was already occupied as early as 6500 BC during the Urbaid period, but had its peak during the Sumerian period about 3000 BC. Buildings were made out of mudbricks and mud plaster. The main temple, Ziggurat of Ur, was built during king Ur-Nammu reign about 2040 BC. His codes of law (Hammurabi) is the oldest existing deciphered law writing in the world, the original at the Louvre museum, but replicas in many places including the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. On the basalt stele are 282 laws including the famous “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” rules. Ur is also mentioned four times in the Old Testament and in the Book of Genesis as the birthplace of Abraham 2000 BC.The site was first excavated 1853 by the British Museum and the British Vice Consul in Basra who also uncovered the Ziggurat (main temple dedicated to the Moon god Nanna)It was later on reconstructed, including its monumental staircase. However, the third level has collapsed, and its present height is 17 meters from the original of 26. Ur is surrounded by 2 ramparts constructed during Sumerian and Babylonian times. The closest city with infrastructure is Nasariyah, it has decent hotels and restaurants and at present no security problems. We have also visited Uruk where we could talk to German archaeologists at work to stabilize the temples, under the management of the DAI, the German Archaelogical Institute and Margarete van Ess who played a vital role in the conservation of archaeological sites of Babylon, especially Uruk und Ur.

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Royal Palace at Caserta Clyde Malta - 04-Dec-18 -

Royal Palace at Caserta

I visited this WHS in October 2018 and made good use of the underground parking. Its location is quite in the middle of nowhere and perhaps together with its enormous size, this helps to keep the number of visitors down. Then again, apart from its size, it definitely isn't one of Italy's best WHS and certainly not one of the best palaces on the WH list.

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Sambor Prei Kuk Nan Germany - 04-Dec-18 -

Sambor Prei Kuk

Ignoring Els’ rule to "always do Angkor last on any trip involving Angkor" I opted for one last WHS visit on my way to the airport in Phnom Penh: Sambor Prei Kuk. The site is conveniently located close to the main road between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. So this was simple stop over, splitting a long bus ride into two more manageable legs.

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Cilento and Vallo di Diano Clyde Malta - 04-Dec-18 -

Cilento and Vallo di Diano

I visited this WHS in November 2018 staying overnight in Paestum. The long opening hours even in Autumn mean that you can time your visit in a way that it gets dark by the time you exit the archaeological site of Paestum and the three main temples are lit up (top left and bottom right photos). You can also revisit on the same day if you stay overnight and if you love buffalo mozzarella cheese and mozzarella in general you'll have a feast when in the area.

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Sarazm Alexander Barabanov Russia - 04-Dec-18 -

Sarazm

Visited this site in September 2018 as part of weekend trip to Tajikistan. It took approximately 3 hours to cover 250 km through picturesque Zaravshan river valley (nomination for 2020 as part of Silk Roads: Zarafshan Corridor) to the site. Sarazm was already inhabited over 5,000 years ago (and this lasted for 1,500 years) and is one of the most ancient cultural place on the earth. It doesn’t look much remarkably: there are five covered archeological digs with clay structures. I was trying to identify the place with round structure looking very similar to small Roman theatre located in Excavation V (this view is featured in a number of old photos as the postcard of the site), but currently there is nothing left resembling this structure, probably it was covered with clay for preservation purpose somehow. The site was discovered only in 1976. Tiny on-site museum has some basic finds and photos of presidential visits to the site. Going back to Dushanbe I also visited ancient Penjinkent ruins, where many Sogdian frescos were found (and moved to Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage). As per the guide, more frescos were identified on-site by the recent dig-outs; they have been conserved and will be unearthed during next season.     

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Blog: WHS #689: Cave of Pont d'Arc

After the extensive review of the Cave of Pont D’Arc by Solivagant 2 months ago, I was afraid that there would be nothing left for me to write about! But I was happy to finally tick it off, as I had a painful 'near miss' last year. This time I first drove to the Cirque d’Estre where the real cave is located. At least I made it into the buffer zone (looking at the map, I suspect that the core zone starts behind the vineyards at the ridge?). Signs were all over the place to warn about wild boar hunters so I did not proceed beyond having a quick look at the Cirque and the Pont d’Arc opposite. I’ll continue this review with my experience of visiting the replica cave in late November.

Various options at the Caverne de Pont d'Arc

I bought the ticket online about a month before, but there were still tickets left on the day. I was on the first tour of Sunday morning, at 11 am. They warn you to be there at least half an hour before – that’s because the tours do not start at the visitor entrance but at the ‘Caverne’ across the park. Not until 10.15 other cars started to appear at the parking lot and the entrance remained closed until 10.30. There were 15 other people on my tour, all French. The tour was conducted in French only and the guide skipped handing out the audio guides because of the small group size (a nice gentleman who had overheard at the ticket counter that I am Dutch enquired whether that would be OK for me, but it was).

It was a foggy morning and pretty chilly outside. Fortunately they do heat the ‘cave’ a bit – it is kept at 16 degrees Celsius (the original is colder at 13 degrees if I understood well). When you have seen the Werner Herzog movie about the original cave, you’ll notice right away that the replica has been made much more accessible. You do not have to crawl through narrow passages: a wide, flat path circles the cave rock formations with rock art.

Reproduction of drawing of moving cave lions

In the beginning I only noticed its 'fake' aspects - the walls are made of concrete & the rocks of plastic - but gradually the appreciation for the rock drawings started to dominate. Those drawings have been precisely recreated, using the same materials. That is apparently also the reason that you cannot even take photos in this replica cave.

We stopped at about 10 clusters of drawings, with the guide explaining them extensively. She often asked us what animal we thought we recognized. At a large scene she even let us sit on the floor for 20 minutes to tell in detail about the way in which the artists depicted movement. The designers of the replica cave have also done a lot with light effects, such as mimicking the light of flares (the only lighting that prehistoric people had). The total tour lasted 75 minutes, a quarter of an hour longer than in the high season when the groups quickly succeed each other.

After the tour I had some coffee at the cafeteria (there’s a restaurant also). Then I made my way to the ‘Aurignacian Gallery’, which effectively is the site museum. It should not be missed: it is actually advisable to view this museum before you visit the cave itself. It starts with a short video in a cinema room where you are temporarily 'locked up'. After the video, the doors open and you can go and see the exhibition.

The museum shows lifelike interpretations of the animals depicted on the drawings. The cave bear and the cave lion for example, but also mammoths and giant deer. It also shows the many different techniques with which the drawings were made. Apparently there are so many Dutch tourists in this region that all information in the museum besides French, English and German is also written in Dutch!

A representation of a cave lion in the museum

In all, I spent some 3.5 hours at the replica cave and at the view point near Pont d’Arc. They are located in a very nice area of the Ardeche and the drive up there I found already worthwhile. I found the replica well done (much better than I remember from Altamira for example), but it still remains unsatisfactory that you cannot see the real thing.

Published 8 December 2018

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