1137 of 1157 WHS have been reviewed by our community.
Cour royale de Tiébélé (T)
Watkinstravel Canada - 23-May-23
I visited Tiebele in April 2023 on my final day in Burkina Faso. Being not far off the main highway to Ghana, it was still safely accessible and was done as a day trip from Ouagadougou (~4 hours each way) before my flight out that night. The drive out there in a private car was pleasant enough but I was surprised to find that Tiebele was bigger than I thought and looked like a growing village typical of the region. The Cour Royale de Tiebele is just a tiny traditional compound tucked away within the larger settlement. I had erroneously assumed it would be more isolated.Read On
Nan Germany - 05-May-23
Mértola is a charming town in the Alentejo region of Portugal, with a rich and varied history dating back to the Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs. Its strategic location on the River Guadiana gave it a maritime past. It continued to be a port until the 18th century, and the submerged wharf from that period can still be seen today.
The town lies at the foot of a medieval castle, and there are several archaeological sites in the town, including one at the southern end and [...]Read On
Bali Subak system
Frédéric M Canada - 21-May-23
Despite its popularity and fame, the island of Bali is far from being the most pleasant to visit in Indonesia. Indeed, it is overpopulated and lacks any attempt at urban planning or land management. This results in constant traffic jams. Moreover, public transport is scarce and does not allow to reach the touristic places. And everything costs four times more than in the rest of the country. However, the island has a very well-connected airport and a world heritage site, which makes it a must visit.Read On
Agglomération Aného Glidji (T)
Christravelblog Netherlands - 10-May-23
Aného-glidji was added to the tentative UNESCO list of Togo back in 2021 so, why not make a visit. Even if it wasn’t added it’s a nice day trip from Lomé along the coast towards Benin. The area is most famous for the remains of German colonial time as they had their capital there until it moved to Lomé. The buildings do need a lot of renovations, but it was interesting to see this European colonial architecture there. After checking out most of the structures I picked up a local guide to visit a Voodoo sanctuary. I did a Voodoo ceremony which as interesting to experience. This was all unplanned as you cannot just go to these sanctuaries as a foreigner. I was lucky with a local. The sacred forest however was off limits and I could only see the entrance.Read On
Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum (T)
Nan Germany - 03-May-23
As a day trip from Bukhara, I decided to tackle a few silk road sites in the proximity. We started the day at the Minaret in Vobkent and were then to go to Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum. According to our website, the mausoleum is close to Vobkent. My Uzbek driver meanwhile seemed to take a detour getting there. When he missed the last turn left that would have made sense, I called the tour agency to clarify what was up.
He kept insisting that Chasma-Ayub was a natural last stop in Bukhara, while I kept stating we just passed it. Eventually, he agreed to drive according to google maps, taking me to Khayrabatcha, a village in the country side. He was quite amazed where we ended up, but I think we found the right locationRead On
Blog WHS website
The 10,000th Review
Today or tomorrow, the 10.000th review of a (T)WHS will be submitted to this website. I am not exactly sure when the first one was (we didn’t log the dates at that time), but looking back in the Waybackmachine it must have been late 2001. It was this one about Dorset and the East Devon Coast by Norman Day. On 13 November 2003, I had the first e-mail exchange with Solivagant about his first review – of Gough Island. That was review number 194. So it all took off slowly!
The 10,000 reviews have been submitted by 1758 different community members and are divided among 1137 WHS and 1104 TWHS. 6,879 reviews include a photo.
The first reviews were mostly comment-style posts, without photos. These limitations were also set by the technical set-up of the website at the time.
We had a ‘Rohtas and Idanre’ phase when local youth were tapping away at Pakistani and Nigerian internet cafes. You can still see some of their efforts in the 18 reviews of Idanre Hill and 15 of Rohtas Fort (and that is after cleaning up). And there was a short-lived Blogger phase around 2017 which resulted in a lot of Don’ts, the main one being no commercial links allowed!
Nowadays, reviews are almost exclusively written by subscribed community members, not the occasional visitors. They usually have a length of 300-500 words, use white space for easier reading and are accompanied by a picture.
Photos were added more and more and bigger sizes got allowed. Someone cleverly thought of using the 4-in-1 photo solution, which makes the best of the allowed photo sizes and is now very common. The oldest I could find was a double photo before 2006 by Solivagant of Abomey, a triple photo by Kyle in 2010 of Mammoth Cave, and the quadruple by Solivagant again in 2013 of the Kasbah of Algiers.
The latest development was the inclusion of the first ChatGPT-aided review by Nan.
The reviews are free-format and I think it is good to have as little restraints as possible. Nevertheless, a few distinguishable ‘styles’ have developed:
The most common type is the Overview: explain a bit about the background of the site and then describe the parts that you visited from a personal perspective. This is especially well-executed regarding European WHS by Hubert and Clyde.
The (mis)Adventure story
The yearly Tsunami Award highlights these stories of adventure, named after community member Tsunami who is the king of the misadventure story. Past winners include Nan on Hiking in Laponia (2019), Zos M. on Sanqingshan (2020), Nan and Tsunami on Rosia Montana (2021), and Philipp on Nemrut Dag (2022).
Some reviewers have developed their own templates in which they supply the reviews. This may include private scoring systems and a 'getting there on public transport'-section.
The Literary effort
Most of the reviewers aren't native English speakers, so grammatical errors or odd choices of words will always be there. And that's fine. On the other side of the spectrum are those who have grown up in an English-speaking country ánd have a way with words: read the reviews by Squiffy for example for a more poetic approach.
The PhD (thanks to Jacob for naming this style) is a long review that covers all (OUV, nomination history, visitor experience) and is based on meticulous research. It substantiates its findings with links to sources. It’s almost exclusively the domain of Solivagant, although Frederic made an admirable effort lately too by posting over 2,000 words and including the scientific names of the wildlife. Some of these reviews are so all-encompassing that it is hard to add anything substantial even 10-15 years later.
I’d like to see more of those! Zoe does good rants. I especially like her Andaman Sea review, in which she manages to offend both the Russians and the Thai. We probably all remember as well when she dismissed a country’s whole Tentative List with the best starting line so far.
Of course, the reviews will continue to be the backbone of this website. If you’d like to write one, think of (T)WHS:
- that have not been reviewed yet, or not in recent years (check the listings for WHS and TWHS)
- where significant new developments have taken place (eg. a new site museum has opened)
- that have a location that has not been described before
- that cover a topic that you are passionate about
Or just when you have an interesting story to tell.
Reviews are very rarely rejected, although they may not be published on the homepage if you add one to a very common WHS or don’t offer much beyond ‘I have been there and I liked it’. Do read the reviews the site already has – do you really have anything to add? Remember that you write for an audience of like-minded people and not on your personal social media.
Also, look at the photos shown with the other reviews and try not to repeat them – can you add one from a different perspective?
Do you have any suggestions regarding the future of the reviews? Which styles or which reviewers do you enjoy the most?
Els - 28 May 2023
Clyde 3 June 2023
I agree with Squiffy on Solivagant's reviews. I enjoy the whole variety of reviews from the community and I can almost always find something useful when reading reviews of places I intend to visit even if a particular review seems to have covered everything.
Happy to have contributed to such a milestone 😁
Squiffy 29 May 2023
Thanks for the nice comments. I cannot remember why I decided to start my first review with an introductory 'experiential' paragraph, but I feel honour-bound to continue with it, though I do now feel it is rather self-indulgent. I'm aware that it is a sign of native-English-speaker's privilege - floral language is of limited use if it does not assist others of the community.
I'd just like to say that I enjoy all the different styles immensely and they all add to knowledge, whether on the history and importance of a given site, the practicalities of visiting, or the political chicanery that led to its nomination. The nerd in me particularly enjoys the "Where exactly are the boundaries of the Coffee Cultural Landscape?" type review. Whenever I see a new review by Solivagant I think to myself "Right, I need a sit down and a drink to enjoy this properly...!"
Els Slots 29 May 2023
P.S.: review #10,000 indeed was submitted yesterday and it was done by Clyde on The Industrial Heritage of Barbados
Kyle Magnuson 28 May 2023
Thanks for highlighting the evolution of user reviews since the early days. I've recently went back and updated some old reviews that were "thin" compared to contemporary reviews.
I can't remember who first did the "double review", maybe Ian? Either way, I've thought this was an interesting approach to elaborate on a lesser visited/known world heritage site, especially if your second visit added a significantly different experience or component of the WHS. I've only done this for El Pinacate.
Nowadays, it's not uncommon to even write a pre-review for tentative nominations that why know are queued up. Still waiting for Busan!
Regarding Zoe's reviews, I thoroughly enjoy reading them, but I know I could never be so brutally honest! I have never given less than a 2-star rating for a WHS. Also thanks to people on this forum, Zoe especially I think I can avoid the most egregious examples of aspiring world heritage sites.
Frédéric M 28 May 2023
Congrats Els on reaching 10k reviews! And thank you for comparing my review to Solivagant's work. I'm not sure it's deserved, but it's very flattering.
Jay T 28 May 2023
Congratulations on 10,000! I like the variety of the reviews, with a smattering of adventures (or debacles) and full out dissertations mixed in with the general overviews. I’m glad you mentioned Squiffy as an example of literary reviews, since I always enjoy his writings. Like Nan mentioned, it was the excellent reviews of everyone from Iain and Ian to Kyle, Solivagant (before the handle change) and Nan himself that really drew me in to participate on this site; this is a great community of likeminded travelers. I also look forward each Sunday to Els’ blogposts, particularly when they stir discussion.
As an aside, I actually don’t mind seeing some of the sites that are more commonly reviewed show up on the front page every so often with new reviews, because it reminds me of why those sites were added, and it gives me a chance to go back and read more about the sites.
Thanks to everyone who reviews!
Zoe 28 May 2023
* Ranting... Tried to do so less. But if that's invited... Plenty of mediocre sites to go.
>I think it's more venting frustration in the case of Dom Rep and also at lack of management, following guidelines, horrible UNESCO meeting decisions rather than the site itself. The Russian/Thai thing was a personal experience that's not a common thing. I love everyone :)
Nan 28 May 2023
Some things coming to my mind...
* Early - Paul, Iain, Ian, Jorge and ... obviously Els .) This got me started as it was so different from the other travel sites you could consult.
* First Meetups in Rotterdam and Vilnius. People got faces. It got to be more of a community. Reviews also become a bit more interconnected with references to people met.
* I think Flavio belongs in the PHD category for his super detailed Italian tentative site reviews.
* Would be curious, what everyone's first review was. I think we didn't record the dates properly initially, so we would need to use the DB ID...
* I don't think all year in reviews are properly indexed. I think I should / did get one for being stranded in China without money on a mountain and hitch hiking across the Argentinian / Uruguayan border for Fray Bentos or Los Alerces National Park. Just saying...
* Ranting... Tried to do so less. But if that's invited... Plenty of mediocre sites to go.
* Generative AI... Will to some more tinkering. ChatGPT was a great help, but it's nearly impossible to rant.
Nan 28 May 2023
Major milestone :) Congrats!
Generative AI and rants are hard to square, but will give alto douro a try.