Recent Community Reviews
1035 of 1073 WHS have been reviewed by our community.
This serial tentative site is made of 7 buildings spread along Calabria peninsula. We visited 6 of them during our tour in Southern Italy in April 2017, from North (we had visited Matera before) to South. They dated back from times when Byzance was ruling this territory and are said to represent influence of Eastern monks in the area. Most of them were following Saint Basil rules, hence the name of “Basilian Byzantine” monuments.
David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage (T) Walter, 15-Mar-18
Several monasteries spread over a 30 km stretch of semi-desertic breath-taking landscape. The most famous, and easy to reach, monastery is Davitis Lavra, and the nearby cliff rock-cut chambers of Ubadno.
San Marino and Mount Titano Frederik Dawson, 15-Mar-18
Despite warning on the “Beast from the East” in the news, after a lucky day in Urbino, I decided to take a gamble to visit nearby another World Heritage Site, the small Republic of San Marino. After I left Urbino, it was snowing heavily for the whole evening, fortunately I reached my hotel in San Marino safe and sound after 4 hours for short distance in such severe weather. I only hoped that the snow will stop tomorrow morning. It was snowing for whole night and still continued for the next day. I waited and waited until snow seem to be OK to walk outside. The whole country was under the snow and seem to be shut down as nobody on the streets and all the shops were closed, only government office still opened.
Early Chicago Skyscrapers (T) Kyle Magnuson, 15-Mar-18
All nine sites of this serial nomination can be covered in a 30 minute walk, in fact several of these iconic early skyscrapers are adjacent to each other. I visited each without too much difficulty, however there are different levels of satisfaction. For example, some structures have little value remaining within as the interior has either been changed, significantly altered, or completed gutted. For visitors, there are 2 wonders included in this nomination that perhaps justify inscription together, regardless of the other sites.
Urbino Frederik Dawson, 14-Mar-18
On the first week of March, the “Beast from the East” almost made me to cut Urbino from my plan after I heard that there was a weeklong heavy snow to this city causing many roads to be closed and some municipalities near Urbino declared emergency situation. After successfully secured rental car with winter tires, a hard to find in Italy and found out that clear sky would happened for only one day, I drove to Urbino directly from Rome in early morning. When I reached Urbino, the weather forecast was accurate, it was cold only -6 degree Celsius but with clear sky. The whole city was under the thick snow; however, the city was really lively by the locals who came out to use this one-day chance to clear snow from their home and moved their cars to underground parking which the city just announced to waive all parking fee, a good news for me.
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Teylers is an 18th century museum complex and former scientific institution in the centre of Haarlem. It has been on the Dutch Tentative List since 2011, and even already was brought up for nomination in 2013. However, ICOMOS advised a ‘Rejection’ and the nomination was subsequently withdrawn by The Netherlands before the WHC session. The nomination failed to convince of the building’s scientific purpose (next to being ‘just’ a museum) and only small part of the complex was seen as exceptional. The Dutch still have hopes for a future renomination though, especially after several extensive renovation projects will be finished.
I had visited Teylers before in 2010, but was very disappointed at the time because of its small size and presence of crowds of inexperienced museum visitors. Now, in 2018, they have finished one of their major projects: the Lorentz Lab. This shows the office and laboratory of physicist Hendrik Lorentz, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1902 and “leading spirit” in an international network of early theoretical physicists that also included Albert Einstein.
On a rainy Sunday in March I paid the quite hefty 13.5 EUR entrance fee plus 1 EUR extra for a tour of the recently opened Lorentz Laboratory. I was one of the first to enter the building and directly walked all the way to the end, to the Oval Room. This was the only part that ICOMOS deemed of exceptional value, although its value also is as much about the (moveable) exhibits as about the design of the room. It is here that scientific experiments were shown to the public. Visitors could look down upon that from a balcony (now unfortunately closed).
The room is full of cabinets stuffed with scientific instruments. What they are is written on small accompanying notes in Dutch and English, but how they were used remains a mystery to the visitor. This is a handicap of the whole museum: there is so little space in the 3 original rooms and the entrance hall that there is no room for interpretation.
They’ve tried to solve this issue with the Lorentz laboratory. Access is only possible by a guided tour, a few times a day with a maximum capacity of 20 people. The tour is conducted by 2 actors, who tell about the life of Lorentz and reenact some experiments. It’s totally in Dutch and mostly relies on the spoken word, so it’s not worth it for foreign visitors I believe. The most spectacular ‘experiment’ takes place at the end of the 50 minute tour: a copy of the large electrostatic generator (the original from 1784 is in the museum upstairs) is put to work to generate electrical sparks.
With this exhibition, Teylers is adding the promotion of scientific knowledge to the general public again to its agenda. I doubt however that this will be enough to convince the WHC of a future inscription. To me they seem to strive just a little too hard for gaining WH status, while the visitor numbers are high already at the moment (127,000 in 2017) and there is little space for growth in the 18th century complex.
Published 17 March 2018Leave a comment
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