1096 of 1121 WHS have been reviewed by our community.
Archaeological Site of Delphi
Jay T USA - 01-Jul-20
Perched on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, northwest of Athens, the Archaeological Site of Delphi is one of the highlights of a trip to Greece. I visited Delphi on a personal day tour from Athens in November 2019, an off-season excursion that allowed my friend and I to wander through the site with few other visitors beyond a French class meandering up the mount.
Delphi is a showcase of Greecian history. The site I was most pleased to see was the Temple of Apollo, home to Pythia, the famed Oracle of Delphi. The foundation and a smattering of columns from one side of the temple remain halfway up the slope, although the abundance of fresh air makes it unlikely that any vapors from the subterranean chasm will lead to prophecies today. In a similar vein, the Sibyl rock, upon which another oracle expounded, remains a little further down the hill. Just next door is the incredible reconstructed Treasury of Athens, a gift from the city-state to thank Apollo for their victory over the Persians in the Battle of Marathon. Further up the hill is a theater with a spectacular view over the valley of Phocis, and a path to the sacred Castalian springRead On
The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier
Clyde Malta - 29-Jun-20
After visiting the Le Corbusier inscribed locations in Japan in 2009 and in Belgium in 2016 without entering, and not being much of a modern architecture enthusiast myself, I failed to appreciate any particular OUV and hence gave a low rating on the basis that other WHS like Bauhaus were much better.
Four years later, in June 2020, I kept my promise and I decided to visit one of Le Corbusier's most iconic designs, the Notre Dame du Haut Chapel just outside Ronchamp, France, and I was [...]Read On
Matejicek Czechia - 01-Jul-20
I know that Prague is a victim of aggressive tourist industry, but it has affected the inscribed parts pretty unevenly, and Prague is still one of the most beautiful and valuable historical towns in Europe!
Above all, the historical core of Prague is a unique assembly of two castles (Vyšehrad and Prague Castle) and four originally independent medieval towns (Old Town, New Town, Lesser Town and Hradčany) including quite large former Jewish ghetto within the Old Town, all picturesquely sitting on the bent of Vltava river. Furthermore, this WHS has two separate components, and besides the city center, the Průhonice castle with huge park has been also included.Read On
Dilmun Burial Mounds
Frederik Dawson Netherlands - 01-Jul-20
I visited Dilmun Burial Mounds before UNESCO recognized its status. This World Heritage site was part of my private half day tour around Bahrain. Actually It was not a part of the original tour program, but after had a fruitful discussion on ancient Dilmun civilization with my historical buff guide during our walking tour to see Pearling Heritages in Muharraq, my guild wanted to show me the Dilmun royal mounds, so after negotiated with a driver, we squeezed Dilmun Mounds in the plan. We went to city of Aali, after made a brief stop to see few remains water springs of Bahrain, it hard to believe that Bahrain was once full with water springs and very green island and was considered a heaven on earth, I found myself to be standing on the top of the Royal Mound No.1.Read On
Great Spas of Europe (Czechia) (T)
Hubert Austria - 01-Jul-20
The story of this transnational nomination began in 2008 when "The Spa of Luhačovice" was deferred by the WHC. The ABE evaluation was clear: no OUV for Luhačovice alone, but ICOMOS recommended a thematic study on European spa towns. Initially, a total of 16 spa towns from seven countries were included in the tentative list. In 2016, the number was reduced to eleven. Interestingly, Luhačovice did not make it to the final nomination.The nomination website Great Spas of Europe provides photos and brief summaries of each spa, and links to their official websites. The nomination focuses on the development of European spa tradition between the 18th and early 20th centuries with its heyday in the 19th centuryRead On
Blog WHS Visits
WHS #733: Mafra
Mafra Palace, Convent and Royal Hunting Park became my first ‘new’ WHS post-Covid! I had planned to go and pick up the 2 recently inscribed Portuguese WHS in April already, but had to cancel at the time. After things started opening up again within the EU, this trip quickly got back to the top of my list as Portugal was welcoming tourists with open arms. I wouldn’t normally visit Portugal in mid-summer (it was 36 degrees Celsius!), but the good feeling of being able to travel again overcame any disadvantages.
Mafra hasn’t received the best of reviews, “another run of the mill Baroque palace/monastery” sums it up I guess. All previous reviewers ‘only’ visited the Palace, so I planned to focus on the Tapada: the hunting park. I just did a photo stop at the palace, which seems way too big for its surroundings. There’s a convenient large, free parking next to it and I also enjoyed a 1.60 EUR fish soup for lunch at a bakery in the street across.
The Mafra WHS comprises only 1 location (it’s a large area), but still the entrance to the Tapada lies 7 km away from the Palace. I drove there in my rental car, via narrow and winding roads. It is signposted well, also with UNESCO signs. At the entrance I found out that, as an anti-Covid measure, visits to the park have to be pre-booked via their website. Fortunately I could do that via my phone and was able to secure a spot for the next time slot. They only let 10 people in every 30 minutes, but there were far less visitors than that on the Friday afternoon when I was there.
The Tapada de Mafra is an enclosed area that was created to bring self-sufficiency to Mafra, not only by hunting. It had water reserves, farming livestock, orchards, vegetable gardens and woodland for timber and firewood. It is now mostly a recreational area: there are four signposted walking trails, a mountain bike route and a falconry show. The helpful information centre at the entrance also has toilets and (in normal times) a cafetaria, of which now only the vending machines were accessible.
I choose the Blue walking trail, the shortest at 4.5km. It only goes to the central area of the park, while the other routes also reach the fringes and are a better bet to see animals (I hesitate to call it wildlife). Nevertheless I encountered a number of deer along my route, they seemed to have succumbed to the heat and were just resting in the shade. It’s a pleasant walk, with interesting tree formations to look at. It loops around the center where there is a rather modest royal hunting pavillion and stables for the horses of the guests. You’ll also pass a lime kiln and a row of hunting shelters: small bunkers from where they used to shoot the game.
While visiting WHS one unwillingly becomes some kind of a hunting expert. The list contains no less than 15 hunting lodges. The Tapada de Mafra is more similar to the Store Dyrehave component of the Danish Par force hunting landscape than to more opulent country houses such as the Palazzina di Stupinigi in Turin or Falkenlust in Brühl. Unfortunately its contemporary use as a recreational area does make it feel more like a theme park than a historically accurate preserved cultural landscape.
Els - 12 July 2020