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World Heritage Site

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Recent Community Reviews

1036 of 1073 WHS have been reviewed by our community.

Vatnajökull National Park (T) Argo, 19-May-18

Vatnajökull National Park (T)

Having read that Iceland would propose this site for 2019, I crossed check the detailed map of the nomination file (that can be downloaded from the National Park website) with my notes and pictures from our June 2008 trip to Iceland.

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Vicenza Jay T, 16-May-18


Palladio's influence on American colonial architecture can be seen in historic homes and structures throughout the East Coast of the United States, including Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and the University of Virginia. For that reason, I made certain to include the City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto in my travel plans when I visited Italy last fall. Vicenza is a pleasant city not far from Venice and Padova, and it is packed with examples of Palladian architecture, including the Palazzo Chiericati, the Basilica Palladiana, and the Teatro Olimpico. While the loggia of the Basilica Palladiana was wonderful to see, it was somewhat obscured by tents for a chocolate fair on the day I visited; the Palazzo Chiericati was much more accessible and just as impressive. Nearby, the intricate stage of the Teatro Olimpico was worth the wait to visit.

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Selimiye Mosque Nan, 12-May-18

Selimiye Mosque

After a few days in Turkey the ennui that I generally reserve to Baroque churches had settled in for Ottoman mosques. "You seen one, you have seen them all." I figured. So, you may understand why I really questioned the 6.5h one way trip from Istanbul upon arrival in Edirne.

But the site really won me over as soon as it entered my view and even more so when I stepped into it. The murals and the proportions are stunning. To me it felt as if all of Ottomon architecture was coming together in this great mosque by Sinan.

While You Are There

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The Aniene valley and Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli (T) Ralf Regele, 12-May-18

The Aniene valley and Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli (T)

The "Villa" Gregoriana is actually not a villa, not even a building. Despite the naming and marketing, it is mainly the name for a hiking trail going through the valley of the river Aniene near the small town of Tivoli, which is better known for two other WHS sites, the more approriate named Villa Adriana and Villa D'Este. Although sometimes described as a park, the valley looks like a natural forest. There are some ancient remains, but they are so insignificant that they are barely worth mentioning. The river Aniene tumbles down the valley through various waterfalls, although most of the water is now redirected to avoid catastrophal floodings. The main claim to fame, however, is the connection with 18th century romanticism. The rugged stone formations, the waterfalls and the village high above it, complete with roman ruins, do indeed create a spectacular scenario.

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Bursa and Cumalikizik Nan, 12-May-18

Bursa and Cumalikizik

As a daytrip from Istanbul I made my way to Bursa. Bursa embedded in a lush green valley is a nice distraction from the tourist filled streets of Istanbul. It is also a more concise and homogeneous site as it focuses exclusively on the Osmanic heritage. Most notable to me where the Green Mosque and associated Mausoleum and the Khans (trading posts) found in the city center.

I would concur with Paul that Bursa is a worthwhile addition to the list and that the ICOMOS deferral due to paperwork issues seems unwarranted. All the while admitting that the site most certainly does not meet five criteria for inscription.

While You Are There

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Blog: WHS #660: Torun

The medieval city of Torun is a small, well-preserved trading town along the Vistula river. I really enjoyed my stay there, and have been thinking since what the attraction was. A major reason is that – despite its considerable size of 200,000 inhabitants – it lies too far off the beaten track for the weekend getaway and stag party crowd (which Gdansk and so many other cities in Central and Eastern Europe have to endure). It still is more a destination for Polish school trips than for foreign tourists.

St. George Guild House

Although it lies only 168km south of Gdansk, it takes significant time to get to Torun by public transport from there. The fastest trains take 2.5 hours, including a change half way. These are not too frequent however, plus it is wise to pre-book them as seats are reserved and do sell out. On the return trip I got stranded at Torun’s railway station because of a delay of 53(!) minutes, which also caused missing my connection. In the end it took me 5 hours to get back to Gdansk. So going only for a day trip from Gdansk is possible but it is a gamble.

Fortunately I stayed for the night. The WHS zone comprises 3 parts: the Old Town, the New Town, and the ruins of the Teutonic Castle. On my first evening I walked around the Old Town at ease. It does not have a real ‘medieval’ atmosphere, 80% of the buildings seem to date from the late 19th or 20th century. But the buildings of medieval origin that remain are all true masterpieces of the so-called 'brick gothic'. Red bricks alternate with stones of a different colour or plaster. And that’s a very pretty sight in the evening or morning light.

St. Mary's church

The next morning I further explored the city. First I went to the ruins of the Teutonic Order Castle. The Knights tried to conquer and convert the pagan Prussia from this strategic point. Torun at the time (13th century) was situated in the buffer zone between Poland and Prussia - if you look at the map now it's pretty deep in Poland, roughly in the middle of the country. The famous fort turned out to be a lot smaller than I had thought. There are only a few foundations left after the citizens expelled the Order in 1454 and burned down the fort.

West of the fort lies the 'New' Town. This is almost as old as the Old Town, it dates back to the 13th century as well and was built when more buildings were needed for artisans and industry. Both former towns have now grown together. Here in the New Town lies the most beautiful church, at least seen from the outside: the St. James Church. This too is made entirely of bricks. Restoration works are currently going on, so I could not get in. The same issue applied to the Copernicus House.

Row of houses in a side street

A final bit of trivia: I had Torun connected to the European Route of Brick Gothic. But when I checked the organization’s website in preparation for this trip, Torun was not (or not anymore) there as a member. This also applied to Riga and Vilnius. Only German and a few Danish and Polish cities are included now. Sometime after 2012, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia seem to have left this network.

Published 19 May 2018

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