Blog Connections

Epic Subtitles

The connection Epic Subtitles collects WHS where the main title of the site is accompanied by a grandiose / epic / flowery subtitle. These additional, descriptive titles must be beyond simple statements of what or where the WHS are. They also exclude standard phrases like "Historic centre of ", "Cultural Landscape". Adding these kind of subtitles to nominations seems to have really taken off in the 2010s. There is a bit of a fishy smell around the WHS that use them, like they’re trying to make things look better than they really are.

Looking at the list of 22 connected sites, the subtitles come in 3 kinds: (A) they bring focus, (B) they make a claim or (C) they blatantly overdo it.

The ones bringing focus

A common form is to add a subtitle that hints on the OUV of the site, especially where it isn’t immediately clear that there is one: “Le Havre - the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret”, or: “Provins Town of Medieval Fairs” for example. Q: What’s so special about Le Havre, it seems like a nondescript large city with few historic buildings? A: The City was Rebuilt after WWII by design of Auguste Perret.

Kujataa. Norse and Inuit Farming at the Edge of the Ice Cap” even needed a double explanation. It combines “Kujataa” (what is it?, where is it?, never heard of) with “Norse and Inuit Farming” (oh, it’s in the far north and they can even farm there) and “at the Edge of the Ice Cap” (which sounds like a terrific effort to make something edible grow there).

The claims

Lumbini (“Birthplace of the Lord Buddha”) probably started the trend of adding Epic Subtitles in 1997. Bethlehem (“Birthplace of Jesus”) of course followed. You’d expect a “Mecca, Birthplace of Muhammad” also, but that city seems to be too holy to the Islamic scholars of Saudi Arabia to be put forward. Instead, we have to make do with “Historic Jeddah - the Gate to Makkah”.

The grandiose

The best epic subtitles are the grandiose, the boastful. The fairly modest  "Samarkand – Crossroads of Culture" was changed upon inscription from Uzbekistan’s own proposal “Samarkand – The place of crossing and synthesis of world cultures”.

Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines - Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir” also is a classic. Noone knew about Battir before, so first it has been added that it is actually “Southern Jerusalem” and second it apparently is representative for a whole nation that thrives on olives and vines.  

The best one I think is “Chiribiquete National Park - Maloca (“home”) of the Jaguar” – although it’s not the only home of the jaguar of course and the beast surely isn’t responsible for the rock art of this WHS.

TWHS with Epic Subtitles

It doesn’t end here of course. The accumulated Tentative Lists have more of them. The same Danish script writers that invented “Kujataa. Norse and Inuit Farming at the Edge of the Ice Cap” came up with “The Maritime Heritage of Dragør Old Town and Harbour - A ‘skipper-town’ from the era of the great tall ships in the 18th and 19th centuries”. There is the bold 2021 candidate “Nice or The invention of Tourism”. And who wouldn’t want to visit “Milne Bay Seascape (Pacific Jewels of Marine Biodiversity)”?

Els - 7 March 2021

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Jay T 7 March 2021

Well at least Chiribiquete was modest enough to not put forward the name it has been given by locals: “Great Home of the Animals”!