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World Heritage Site

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Recent Community Reviews

1036 of 1073 WHS have been reviewed by our community.

Monastery of Batalha Hubert, 17-Jun-18

Monastery of Batalha

I arrived in Batalha around lunchtime on a Sunday in May 2018. Coming from the rather sleepy town of Alcobaça, the quite lively Batalha was a pleasant surprise. The service was just over and the squares around the monastery were crowded with churchgoers, locals and tourists. I decided to wait a bit until the crowds had dispersed and took a snack in one of the nearby restaurants.

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Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae Solivagant, 16-Jun-18

Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae

A few points about Bassae following our visit in Oct 2017.

a. Its Architectural significance

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Petra Michael Turtle, 16-Jun-18

Petra

It probably goes without saying that Petra is an incredible site - one of the best in the world. I had high expectations before arriving and my visit exceeded them!

I spent about 10 hours at the site over just one day. I arrived with a tour group at about 6am and we toured around the main sights together until about 11am. Then I had another five hours on my own.

My first recommendation would be to get there early. It was magical arriving really early in the morning before other tourists arrived. Having the walk through the canyon without the crowds and then seeing the treasury (and being able to take photos) with nobody in front of me was incredible. I won't forget it soon!

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Sangiran Early Man Site Alexander Parsons, 16-Jun-18

Sangiran Early Man Site

Possibly because I was primed for an underwhelming experience for my first 'early hominid' fossil site WHS, I actually quite enjoyed my daytrip from Yogyakarta to Sangiran. The museum exhibits were pretty decent, but without a background in geology or the other scientific fields involved, a lot of the summations of facts and figures and dates didn't really stick. While English versions of the exhibits were clearly abridged summaries of the Indonesian language versions, they were generally present and basically useful.

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Historic Cairo Frederik Dawson, 16-Jun-18

Historic Cairo

When my boss told me that I have to go to Cairo for short business trip during the Ramadan, while I felt really happy to visit Egypt, I had load of questions and concerns, not only from my assignments, but I had no idea what is do and don’t during the Islam fasting month, do I have to eat breakfast before sunrise? Or can I drink water in the meeting room, etc. etc. and as a World Heritage Traveler, do I have time to visit Historic Cairo and the Pyramids! I really interested to visit old Cairo, because this city is a treasure trove of Islam architectures. With a bit of luck, I managed to have half day city tour to visit Old Cairo in the afternoon. Bad news was most of attraction will be closed early around 3 PM because of Ramadan, so instead of focus on single monument complex like the Citadel, I decided to visit the historic Al Moez Ldin Allah Al Fatimi Street or shortly Al-Muizz which according to Wikipedia this street have the greatest concentration of medieval architectural treasures in the Islamic world.

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Blog: WHS #662: Mtskheta

The Historical Monuments of Mtskheta are all about the Georgian Orthodox Church, celebrating the introduction of Christianity in Georgia in the year 317. Three medieval religious buildings in the ancient capital of Mtskheta were selected to represent different phases in Georgian ecclesiastical architecture: the Jvari Monastery, the Svetitstkhoveli Cathedral and the Samtavro Monastery.

Svetitstkhoveli Cathedral

Mtskheta is an easy half day trip from the capital Tbilisi by marshrutka. Once you have arrived within the town limits of Mtskheta, you have to pay attention where to exit the bus - the trick is to stay on until you are right in front of the big cathedral, ignoring all the loops it does first around town and across the river. I spent about 3 hours in Mtskheta, including a ride back and forth by taxi to the Jvari monastery on a hill outside the city.

The Svetitstkhoveli cathedral towers high above everything in the city. One enters through a large gate, with two bull heads on both sides: these are pagan fertility symbols. The courtyard is very spacious, with a neat lawn that is forbidden to walk on. The outer walls of the cathedral display some interesting reliefs, made out of red stone that stands out against the grey of the rest. In general though, I found the reliefs here in Georgia to be quite simple. It may be a result of local taste or a sign of lack of wealth that decoration is so limited.

In comparison to the other churches that I have seen so far in Georgia, the cathedral looks more like an 'ordinary' church. The high elongated nave, which you see in many European churches as well, makes the interior less dark. A very large painted image of Christ looks down on the congregation from above the altar. There is a beautiful iconostasis. Believers light candles in front of the many icons.

The Cross in Jvari Monastery

The Samtavro Monastery lies a 10-minute walk away from the cathedral (stop for lunch at the lovely ladies of Café Guga, which lies en route!). Samtavro is an active nunnery, and I encountered black-dressed nuns sweeping and selling candles. You can also obtain bottles of holy water here. Of the three inscribed monuments in Mtskheta, this is the most religious in character. Important figures from the history of the Georgian Orthodox church are buried here.

Jvari monastery balances very nicely on a cliff far above the city. As with all attractions where I have been during my first two days in Georgia, it is very busy here and the parking lot is full with vans and taxis. This monastery dates back to the 6th century, making it the oldest of the three monuments of Mtskheta. It has 4 apses (semicircular niches) which makes it a tetraconch. It is the prototype of many Georgian churches. Inside there is one open space, with a large wooden cross in the middle. 'Jvari' means Monastery of the Cross: already in the 4th century a large wooden cross was placed on top of the hill as a symbol of the victory of Christianity on the pagans. It is precisely on that spot that this church was built.

Mysterious relief on the exterior of Jvari

I found 2 of the 3 monuments certainly worth a visit: the cathedral because of its size and wall paintings and the Jvari monastery because of its somewhat mystique atmosphere. They give you a glimpse into the world of the Georgian Orthodox Church, which traditions and religious views for an outsider like me are hard to grasp.

Published 20 June 2018

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