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World Heritage Site

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Recent Community Reviews

1050 of 1092 WHS have been reviewed by our community.

Hubei Shennongjia Zoe Sheng China - 13-Nov-18 -

Hubei Shennongjia

Some places just take a lot of effort if one wants to visit individually and I feared this would be the same. I hate tours in China and they tend to spend more time on shopping stops than sights, but there is a tour from Enshi that takes you to this and other places worth seeing, if only I had done all this before. The tours hardly touch the area at Shengnongjia so actually don't do this! You can either come in by bus from Yichang East (the airport shuttle's first stop), 3 and a half hours max with mostly G standard roads, or you can fly in from Shanghai/Wuhan to Hongping airport which is another hour from the scenery areas. The bus stops at a town called Muyu and has several rides a day. In the busy time you can also find minivans going back to Yichang. The official bus terminal even hands out these cards of the drivers if you want an alternative transport. You don't actually need to stay in Muyu but it's a good hub. If you spend more time at the other areas you can stay at a hotel over there which saves some time coming back to Muyu at the day but obviously you would have to arrange transportation or have your own car.

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Struve Geodetic Arc Zoe Sheng China - 16-Nov-18 -

Struve Geodetic Arc

I had finally made it. After always ignoring this WHS due to the distances involved in getting to any or the lack of interest to actually go out of the way to see a monument I would drive along the road in Belarus to see a Cyrillic UNESCO World Heritage sign on the side: Leskovichi Ivanovo. I had obviously added this to my list of places to visit knowing it was so easy to attach to the itinerary. There is even a bus stop here in the middle of nowhere!! You don't have to go far to see the marker, 5 meters off the road. Behind the Struve monument is an old device used for measuring plus a sign post to explain the arc, it's importance and history in English as well. Overall I was satisfied and spent a good 15 minutes reading, taking pictures and doing a quick Wikipedia read plus the sun was out in early April.

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Grimeton Radio Station Alexander Barabanov Russia - 15-Nov-18 -

Grimeton Radio Station

Visited Grimeton radio station with an English guided tour in August 2018 (I booked in advance through the official website for 120 SEK). It is rather small, but contains all the original equipment (produced by General Electric in the USA) in excellent condition plus some other related exhibits. Today radio station is occasionally used by amateur radio enthusiasts. The station is striking example of the pace of technology development. The wall mural shows 9 radio stations from Hawaii, USA (central radio was on Long Island), Poland, Wales and Sweden but only Grimeton station survived in its entirety. (Another murals probably with some irony compares the site with Giza pyramids, Great Wall and other big elephant site!). Totally agree with previous reviews that the site is unique, pleasant and interesting.   

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Mesa Verde Jay T USA - 14-Nov-18 -

Mesa Verde

While hiking the Inca Trail last month, I was wondering how different North American cultural heritage might look if the Inca Empire had extended further north. We may never know what North American Incan architecture would look like, but North America does have incredible Puebloan architecture from the 12th century on display at Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. Mesa Verde was one of the first two US World Heritage Sites, and part of the first group of World Heritage Sites inscribed in 1978. The exquisite Cliff Palace is rightly famed, and looks incredible from the viewing platforms; unfortunately when I visited in May 2016, palace tours had not yet started for the season. Instead, I signed up for a tour of Balcony House, built high up on the side of a cliff. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, and was impressed at the craftmanship of the rooms and kivas, which look out over a valley. After the tour, I drove around the park's loop trails and stopped by the museum at the visitor center before continuing to nearby Wetherill Mesa, where I visited Step House and hiked some of the Long House trail. Mesa Verde deserves at least one full day for a visit, if not more, and is one of the best cultural sites the US has to offer.

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Worship wooden architecture (17th -18th centuries) in Polesye (T) Zoe Sheng China - 16-Nov-18

Worship wooden architecture (17th -18th centuries) in Polesye (T)

Arriving at Zditovo you don't see any of the "Street light posts, benches, and refuse bins were designed and manufactured following the ensemble concept of the avenue." Is there another Zditovo or did they hide this place? Okay maybe I just missed that but I was certainly at the St. Nikita Church unless they built two churches in 1502. Quick good check ensures me the striking blue church is the right one. It looks in good condition but I don't see the design uniqueness either. Naturally the church was closed for visitors so I just took a walk around. Definitely not seeking out the other churches on the proposed list: St. Paraskeva Church in Zbirogi, the St. Michael Church in Chersk, the St. Michael Church in Stepanki, and the St. Paraskeva Church in the village of Divin.

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Blog: WHS #688: Wadi al-Hitan

Wadi Al-Hitan (the Whale Valley) is “the most significant site in the world to demonstrate the evolution of whales”. The valley lies 190km south of Cairo in Egypt’s Al Fayoum area, to which the Dutch foreign travel advice still applies the label “necessary travel only”. Well – it was necessary for me! There is no reason to avoid this region nowadays. Large tour groups are assigned escorts according to the Lonely Planet – and indeed we met a tourist convoy of 4x4’s accompanied by armed police. I was with a local driver (who seemed to know everybody) and we were just waved on at the only checkpoint near Lake Qarun.

Cast of the hind limbs of the whales

In the early morning I was picked up at my Cairo hotel with a 4WD jeep. Due to the busy traffic, getting out of (and into) Cairo is quite time-consuming. Once outside the city limits we hardly saw anyone anymore. The road has been completely paved up to the last 32km, but occasionally some sand hills have blown over the road and a 4WD (or just high clearance) is helpful. The final stretch is on a reinforced sand road. My driver found it more fun to drive off-road though. Some 3 hours after our departure we arrived at the Wadi.

This is one of the most modern and best organized attractions in Egypt. There is a demarcated parking space, a café, clean toilets and a brand new museum. All these outbuildings are made in an adobe style so that they fit exactly within the landscape. Entrance costs 40 Egyptian pounds (2 EUR). Only since 1983 has research been done on a large scale and has the importance of these fossils been discovered. In 2005 it became a WHS and since then it has been made accessible to visitors. This has been done with Italian technical and financial support, via a twinning agreement between Wadi Al-Rayan (the national park in which the whale fossils lie) and Italy’s Gran Sasso National Park.

We started our tour at the Fossil and Climate Change museum, only open since 2016. It is small but does its job of explaining the importance of the site well. The largest whale species found on site is the now extinct Basilosaurus isis, which still had small hind legs but they were not strong enough to stand on anymore. In the museum they do have a full skeleton of this species. You can also see fossilized plants and shells. There is even a fossil of a watermelon!

Full whale skeleton

You can only enter the fossil area on foot, via a hiking trail of about 2km length. Fortunately, it was a bit windy the day that I visited - walking through the sand in the burning sun otherwise would be quite a test. I noticed a guide from a Spanish group pointing the start of the trail out to them and immediately returning to the shelter of the café himself. My guide went along, but had little added value on this trip.

From the main trail there are numbered signs pointing to side paths where you can see a fossil or something else of interest. Although there is also a complete skeleton, mainly spines from the whale fossils can be seen. The fossils lie in the open air - we wondered what happens to them when there is a sandstorm or when it rains (if it ever rains here). Probably they are somehow fastened to the soil at the bottom.

When this area was under water and the whales lived here, this valley was a coastal area with mangroves. You can see these plants as well fossilized in the landscape.

Further down the valley, the number of whale fossils decreases but the landscape becomes more and more beautiful. There are strangely eroded hills, like giant mushrooms. We walked almost the entire path, except for the last hill with a mysterious sign 'Exit' - you really have to return the same way though as you came.

Eroded landscape

From Cairo this is a full day trip: I left at 7:30 and was back at the hotel at 6 o'clock. The visit to the valley itself took about 2 hours. The landscape is beautiful and the story behind the whale fossil findings I found intriguing. This side trip is also a nice change from busy Cairo and the many monuments from Egyptian antiquity. On both ways we passed Lake Qarun, part of the TWHS that is up for a separate nomination in 2020. Especially from the western side this huge lake suddenly appears as an oasis in the desert.

Published 17 November 2018

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