1098 of 1121 WHS have been reviewed by our community.


Isole Eolie

Nan Germany - 29-Oct-20

Isole Eolie

Following in the footsteps of the previous reviewers, I visited Vulcano as a day trip from Milazzo. It's the southernmost island and fastest to reach from Sicily by virtue of being closest to the coast. Luckily, it's also very representative example for the islands. It has a large, somewhat active volcano that is well within reach for persons with normal fitness levels. From the top of the volcano you get great views of the island itself as well as the whole island chain. Timewise, it's well within the time window awarded by the return ferry.

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Troy

Frédéric M Canada - 07-Nov-20

Troy

I visited Troy in July 2018. Despite the fame, legend and mythical side of the site, I remember it as a rather banal archaeological site. I was taking part in an organised trip through Turkey and we made a stop in Troy on the road between Selçuk (Ephesus) and Çanakkale (we were travelling with private transport for this part of the journey). The guide who followed us during the whole trip also acted as a guide for the visit of the archaeological site.

Troy is surrounded by an aura of mystery and legend. It is an extremely ancient site of settlement of human civilizations. However, today, it is difficult to separate facts and legends. For example, we do not know how much of Homer's stories are true and how much are fiction. I admit that this aspect makes the site a little less interesting for me

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Sites of Saytagrah, India's non-violent freedom movement (T)

Bernard Joseph Esposo Guerrero The Philippines - 08-Nov-20

Sites of Saytagrah, India

I visited two sites included in this serial nomination back in 2019, the Sabarmati ashram (Gujarat) and the Asiatic Society of Mumbai Town Hall (Maharashtra). The sites are interesting, but they apparently face the same dilemma as the Luther sites in Germany: what is celebrated in these sites are not what were built per se, but more of what had happened in them. Is it a bad thing? Not necessarily. If we look past the unassuming structures, we realize that what transpired in these places are truly worth celebrating and the ideas that were cultivated here are indeed to be emulated. Heritage, after all, goes beyond built-structures; a "heritage" ought to have a spirit, a meaning, and these places certainly possess those

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L'ensemble rupestre de Basarabi (T)

Nan Germany - 28-Oct-20

L

Being the other part of the advance German/Swiss tentative site scouting team, I think I need to weigh in on Philipp's review.

There are tentative sites ready for inscription with English signs posted everywhere, a visitor center opened, a tourist shuttle bus operating regularly from the next major train station and the Unesco sign already displayed at the highway exit.

And there are tentative sites that feel like a draft of a brainstorming session scribbled on the back of a cigarette pack by the interns of the regional cultural office after a drunken night out in Constanta. The proposed site falls into the latter category.

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Vat Phou

Randi Thomsen Norway - 07-Nov-20

Vat Phou

Visit Januar 2020

Yet another Angkor Site, but has it’s own charm. Nice setting in the slopes of the holy mountain.

From the ticket office, there is an electric bus to the site. We got there in the morning, not many tourists and not too hot. The middle section was nice to explore. The main temple requires a few stairs to climb. The main temple has some very nice reliefs. We also went looking for the elephant stone, crocodile stone and the holy spring.

The small museum is also worth a visit though not outstanding.

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Blog TWHS Visits

Unreviewed TWHS: Hirkan Forests

During the past week Azerbaijan has replaced its TWHS “Hyrcanian State Reserve”, dating from 1998, with “Hirkan Forests”. This revision follows the change in the national park structure that happened in 2004 and a further enlargement of the protected area in 2008. Though it may seem like a minor administrative adjustment, a change like this usually indicates an upcoming official nomination of the site. In this case it would be an extension to the Iranian Hyrcanian Forests WHS from 2019. The new Azeri TWHS is known for its ancient, deciduous mixed broad-leaved forests - in normal language that means: trees that shed their flat, usually veined, leaves. It comprises 3 locations.

A similar, but smaller site was nominated for inclusion in the WH List already in 2006 as “Hirkan Forests of Azerbaijan”. It was Deferred at the time with the option to renominate it as part of a transnational serial property with other Hirkanian forest areas in Iran.

When I re-read that IUCN evaluation now, I see no strong argument to either include or reject it. The forests are said to be of equal importance to sites known for vascular plant diversity already on the List, such as the Great Smoky Mountains. The Azeri site’s size is small, but there might be OUV if linked to Hirkanian forest sites in Iran. (I do not really understand this point as all components of a serial site should show OUV individually, so this alone should not have been a reason for Deferral). The removal of illegal settlements from the area however may have been a precondition.

I “visited” one of the 3 locations of the revamped TWHS on my way from Azerbaijan to Iran in 2016. I was well aware that I would quickly pass it by bus and sat ready with my camera in front of the windows. This explains the blurriness of photo 1 and 2 accompanying this post. To me it was a forest like any other, but I decided that I earned my future ‘tick’ when I noticed a park entrance gate marked Hirkan Milli Parki (photo 2). The road to Ardabil (in Iran) straddles the border and the Hirkan National Park. I am unsure about the proposed site’s exact borders, but will count it anyway as it is unlikely that I will ever visit Azerbaijan or this region again.

According to its new TWHS description, the area includes “living fossils” among its tree species such as the Persian Ironwood, Caucasian Wingnut and Caucasian Elm. The text even includes a cliffhanger: "...further endemic, rare, and threatened species ... will be detailed in the nomination dosser". 

These Azeri forests are not contiguous with Lisar, currently the most western part of the 15 locations of the Iranian Hyrcan Forests WHS. And to add to the confusing storyline - last week Iran has launched a new TWHS to add 2 more locations which are in a wholly different area. All together, this serial transnational Hyrcanian Forests (T)WHS seems to imitate the pointless extension upon extension of the Ancient Beech Forests of Europe. If you have allowed one location in, locations of similar value (and there are many in these cases) will get into the List also. Even the Colchis Wetlands and Forests of Georgia (up for the WHC of 2020/2021) is related. All these "survived the ice age periods as extremely rare “Tertiary relict forests”".

Els - 22 November 2020

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