1129 of 1154 WHS have been reviewed by our community.
Anatolian Seljuks Madrasahs (T)
Clyde Malta - 02-Oct-21
I visited 8 out of the 11 components that make up this tWHS in Spring 2021 (except the 3 components in Sivas) and most were really enjoyable places and stopovers. Together with the Seljuk Caravanserais tWHS, we really felt we covered a great deal of smaller places en route between East and West Turkey which we would have passed by unaware otherwise. So even if they never make it on the list, I'm still very glad we made the extra effort to visit almost all sites, and whenever I revisit Turkey to cover more tWHS, I'll surely try to visit Sivas too.Read On
James Bowyer United Kingdom - 04-Oct-21
Sighișoara is a small Medieval fortified city, home to an array of churches, townhouses, and defensive works. The Clock Tower is the iconic structure of the city, guarding the main entrance to the citadel. There are a further eight towers that guard the walls of the citadel, each named after the guild of Saxon craftsmen that paid for its construction: Butchers, Bootmakers, Furriers, Ironsmiths, Ropemakers, Tailors, Tanners, and Tinsmiths. Biserica din Deal, the Church on the Hill, is the largest of the churches and its hilltop location offers a great view over the rest of the city with its Medieval core and surrounding suburbs along the banks of the River Târnava MareRead On
Seljuk Caravanserais on the route from Denizli to Dogubeyazit (T)
Clyde Malta - 02-Oct-21
I visited all 10 locations of this tWHS in Spring 2021. Apart from the Mamahatun Caravanserai, just outside Erzurum in East Turkey, the rest are mainly in a rather convenient straight line between Nevsehir (Goreme NP WHS) and Konya (double tWHS + Catalhoyuk WHS), plus another two on the way to Pamukkale WHS. If you're travelling by car this serial nomination is really great for enjoyable stopovers on the way, if not a pleasant overnight stay in one of the caravanserais, since most have been or are being converted into heritage hotels.Read On
Villages with Fortified Churches
James Bowyer United Kingdom - 04-Oct-21
Both this site and the city of Sighișoara owe much of their existence to King Géza II of Hungary who, in the 12th Century, invited Saxon settlers to migrate to the southern edge of his realm to solidify his territorial claims in what is now Transylvania. The churches of these villages were fortified in the wake of the Mongol invasions in 1241-42 and repeated Ottoman Turkish incursions from 1395 until as late as the 18th Century. Seven of these villages with fortified churches built by the Saxons are inscribed on the WHS list (Biertan, Câlnic, Dârjiu, Prejmer-Tartlau, Saschiz-Keisd, Valea Viilor, and Viscri) but there are around 150 villages with fortified churches in various states of repair in the regionRead On
Clyde Malta - 29-Sep-21
I visited this WHS in Spring 2021. It is quite remote being around 17-18 hours by car from Istanbul but it certainly didn't disappoint. Possibly since I haven't visited Armenia or Georgia yet, I was able to appreciate this Armenian city in ruins a bit more since all the architectural details and what's left of the few paintings was pretty new to me.
Using Kars as your base still leaves a good 45 minute road trip to get to and from the ruins of Ani. Before starting your visit, keep in mind that toilets and water/food facilities are only available near the entrance gate, and the vast plains and gorges can be quite windy and chilly or extremely dry and hot depending on when you're visiting. The farthest point we hiked to was a good 1.5-2 hrs walk away from the entrance gate. At least when we visited, the entrance gate is never completely closed after sunset and closing hours to avoid locking any visitors in the "open-air museum"Read On
Tips for travelling to Kyrgyzstan
In September 2021 I spent 2 weeks in Kyrgyzstan. I used public transport to travel around for 10 days and hired a car+driver for the remaining 5 to bring me to the more remote places. I found a country with relaxed and hospitable inhabitants. Especially the north still feels very Russian-Communist, maybe even more so than many cities in Russia nowadays. Find below my Top Tips for Travelling to Kyrgyzstan as a World Heritage Traveller.
1. Treat it on its own merits
When you look online for trip reports about Kyrgyzstan, you’ll quickly notice that most people give it only a day or 5 during a more comprehensive Central Asia trip. They rarely venture beyond the capital Bishkek and the Issyk-Kul lake. Even at this website, we are guilty of that – at the Forum, Kyrgyzstan has to share its country topic with Kazakhstan, as if the two were one entity. But a lot of Kyrgyzstan’s beauty starts when you take the road southwards from Bishkek, via the Camel Pass, encounter the herds of horses/cows/sheep, see the yurts at the green meadows of the Suusamyr valley, and end up near the mountains of Western Tienshan and the walnut forests of Arslanbob. The icing on the cake then is Osh, which I found the country’s most interesting and pleasant city. An additional week in the country would allow for an eastern loop back north, including Tash Rabat, Naryn, and maybe even Saimaly-Tash.
2. Appreciate its humble approach to WHS and TWHS
Kyrgyzstan currently has 3 WHS which summarize its contribution to the world excellently (Silk Road, mountains, wild fruits and nuts, Islamic pilgrimage). The 2 TWHS are also just about right: the Silk Road can be extended to include at least Tash Rabat and Uzgen. And the petroglyphs can cover the ancient beliefs and ideas of the (semi-nomadic) people that have lived here: there are some worth a look at Cholpon-Ata, but the best are in Saimaly-Tash (“the Stonehenge of Central Asia”). Noone within our community has visited or reviewed this site yet – according to the Bradt guide, it is only possible to reach in early August-early September (you have to cross a glacier!) and with an all-day trek on foot or on horseback.
3. Enjoy the Homestays
Tourism is Kyrgyzstan’s main bet for a more prosperous future. They have nurtured a system called Community Based Tourism (CBT) already since 2000. Families who have a room on offer can join a local or regional CBT organization, and tourists can go there to rent one. This small-scale approach fits the country well – it will never be attractive enough for the masses, but it is interesting for a more adventurous (and mainly European) audience. Around Issyk-Kul, boutique-style homestays are flourishing, which are bookable via international booking websites and offer luxuries such as wifi and ensuite bathrooms.
4. You got to love its quirkiness
In each of the larger towns and cities, a military souvenir from Soviet times is left at a strategic location such as a roundabout or a town square. It can be a tank or a jet fighter. Tokmok even has two of the latter welcoming visitors.
5. Oh, and it's inexpensive too
Kyrgyzstan is among the world’s poorest countries. It lacks natural resources (except for water, which can become a blessing in the future), is isolated due to its mountainous setting and it has its fair share of Central Asian corruption as well. People earn very little from official jobs and stay alive on subsistence farming. This low cost of living translates into low prices for day-to-day necessities such as food, public transport, and entrance fees for travelers as well. Except for accommodation, on average I spent less than 15 EUR a day.
Els - 17 October 2021