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Recent Community Reviews

1050 of 1092 WHS have been reviewed by our community.

Ancient Kyoto Shannon O'Donnell USA - 16-Sep-18 -

Ancient Kyoto

No single description or image can encapsulate the sheer beauty of Kyoto's ancient temples. On the one hand, it's a large and fast-paced modern city and that surprised me. I was taken aback when walking through shiny metal buildings and city blocks to find my guesthouse. But once you realize that Kyoto is a modern city with an ancient history preserved within several districts of the city, it's easier to find the fascinating areas and the deep history. 

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The Turf House Tradition (T) Ralf Regele Germany - 14-Sep-18

The Turf House Tradition (T)

Turf houses were actually the primary (and almost solely) form of housing in iceland from the viking ages till the 19th century. Trees and timber were in very short supply in iceland. Turf houses have only a light wood framework, the roof and many walls are made out of turf blocks. Turf houses have the advantage of a good isolation, but are difficult to maintain and could only be built to a certain size - which is why even bigger turf buildings are an aggregation of relatively small huts. Turf houses only last for roughly a century, which means that all of the islandic turf houses are no older than the 19th century. Many of the buildings are mentioned in older sources, but were rebuilt again and again throughout the ages. It is not really known if the existing turf houses look like the ones in medieval times, but no fundamental difference is assumed.
So what is it like to visit these houses ? Quite a nice experience, I must say, and a nice change to all the overbearing landscape in iceland. Of the roughly a dozen buildings in the proposal, I visited four locations, all of which where quite easily reachable by car from the ring road. In fact, there were so close to the road that it is surprising that they are not featured more prominently in travel guides for iceland. Some notes on the individual houses:

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Lenggong Valley Roger Ourset France - 16-Sep-18 -

Lenggong Valley

As a recent visitor throughout the Malaysian mainland, I wished to visit the WHS of the Lenggong Valley!

This site is not really difficult to find but it seems that most of the guide books ignore this place or allocate to it few lines with fewer details! More surprisingly most people around seem to even not know the existence of a WHS nearby & its interest! One must say that the site of the Museum is not accurate, especially for the date of completion of lengthy renovation works!

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Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis Nan Germany - 12-Sep-18 -

Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis

Tucked away in a North Eastern corner of Argentina are three Jesuit missions. The Jesuits were granted the rights to operate independantly from the local government by the Spanish crown. Their goal was to spread Christianity to the locals. But they also protected the natives from the frequent incursions of slavers and brought some progress to the area.

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Vatnajökull National Park (T) Ralf Regele Germany - 11-Sep-18

Vatnajökull National Park (T)

The Vatnajökull National Park area is a bit unusual, as it includes the Jökulsargljufur National Park, which has no borders to the rest of the park, creating a second location for the site. Having just visited this exclave, I can highly recommend it. It features some of the most spectacular scenery in a country overflowing with great landscapes. The glacier-fed river Jökulsa a Fjöllum (which orginates a long way down south in the main park area) is cutting through a landscape formed by raw volcanic rock. It creates a large canyon and tumbles down a series of waterfalls, including the mighty Dettifoss waterfall. It's a gripping display of raw elementary powers, with hardly any plant life or greenery in sight. Getting there is not too tough if you have a car, although the east side road is a bit rough (though probably a bit more rewarding). No 4x4 is needed, at least in summer. However, getting there as a day trip from Reykyavik is definitely out of the question. Most people do it as part of an Iceland round trip on the ring road 1, where the 2-3 hour detour is certainly worth it. Visiting in early autumn, there was no lack of tourists, but the large scale landscape could cope with it pretty well. Further north lies the Asbyrgi canyon, which is more fertile but less spectacular, but still highly enjoyable.
For the Skaftafell section in the south, I had good luck with the Jökulsarlon glacier lagoon, as there were lots of colorful icebergs floating right next to the car park, with a boat ride not really needed. There were lots of clouds and fog in the higher glacier regions, though, so the whole travel experience here relies a good bit on luck.
All in all, the Vatnajökull National Park is so large and so full of marvelous landscapes that a WHS designation seems quite deserved. Iceland has so far no natural WHS that covers its amazing landscape, so it's about time.
Visited in September 2018.
Importance 3/5 Beauty 5/5 Uniqueness 5/5 Environment 4/5 Experience 5/5

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Blog: WHS #676: Churches of Ivanovo

After an overnight stay in the pleasant border town of Ruse, located at the Danube and connected to Romania by a bridge, the WH Travellers community went into the countryside via inland roads. We entered the Roussensky Lom national park, which is on Bulgaria's Tentative List. The official description of it has only 2 sentences: it is a "unique combination of natural beauty and cultural elements" and it is home to endangered birds of prey such as falcon, vulture and buzzard. Maybe they should work on that OUV statement a bit more…

The entrance

What is special is that there is already a WHS in the park: the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo. That is our main goal of this morning. The Rock Churches comprise a complex of former monasteries, churches, cells and chapels, carved out of the rock by monks during the 13th and 14th centuries. The interior walls are covered with murals, which are regarded as special examples of medieval Christian art from this region.

To visit you pass through a forest via a gradually sloping path. Along the way there are beautiful views over the nature reserve and I found it wonderful to walk here in the glorious weather.

The only accessible rock church can already be recognized from a distance by its wooden extension. This seems to protect visitors from falling out of the cave chapel from a great altitude. The church itself has been roughly cut out of the rocks, perhaps it’s a widening of a natural cave. The monks used to climb in via a rope ladder along the 38-meter-high, steep cliff. Nowadays at the end of the walking path there is a narrow opening in the rock through which you can step inside.

A Last Supper

The ticket seller / guide at the door wanted to write down our nationalities - "for visitor statistics". We start to enumerate enthusiastically: Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Scotland ... He quickly gave up and just wrote 'international group'. He did give us 1 Lev per person group discount though.

We all just fitted in the interior of the rock church - that's how small it is. That in addition to a woman who sits there all day to sell souvenirs such as fridge magnets. The guide gave us a short explanation of the murals and said that the other rock churches in the area are too unsafe/unstable to let visitors in. The quality of the murals is also less good: the ones in the main church were extensively restored between 1983 and 2002. The ceilings and part of the walls are painted with biblical scenes. Especially the ceilings must have been heavy work. They are low but very uneven.

Holy man

In all it's pretty nice, but as with many of the other Bulgarian sites one wonders: it's so small and how special is it anyway (artistically or otherwise)? It was placed on the List in 1979 at the same time as 3 other small Bulgarian WHS. This already in the second year after UNESCO started the World Heritage List. So Bulgaria was very early and the rules about OUV and management were not as strict as they are now.

Published 15 September 2018

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