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WHS Plaques and Certificates

Over the years, many reviewers have pointed out the location of the WHS Plaque or a framed Certificate of Inscription in describing their visits. Finding them is almost a niche within a niche hobby! There is even a Flickr group dedicated to the subject (it got a bit sidetracked but the earlier entries do have some good examples) and a stock photo collection. Personally I am not so obsessed by this – I notice them in passing but usually am more interested in finding the OUV or an angle that has not been reviewed on this website yet. I even had a hard time finding photos of the things for this blog post.

But due to the general interest I’d like to poll how we can incorporate these markers in the website.

The Story behind the Plaques and Certificates

A few years ago already, Solivagant has explained the background story on these markers in depth in this forum topic. The bottom line is:

  • There are no “official” plaques that are handed out to new WHS, a site should place one (“whenever possible”) after having been inscribed.

  • “It should be so placed that it can easily be seen by visitors, without disfiguring the property”

  • “the World Heritage Emblem should appear on the plaque”

  • “the text should mention the property's Outstanding Universal Value”

  • The Certificate of Inscription (aka “Framed Paper Version”) has no official status in the Operational Guidelines, but seems to be sent out on the occasion of inscription or of official inauguration by a dignitary. Possibly also in multiple copies when there are serial locations.

What kind of markers have we spotted?

182 WHS reviews currently contain the word “plaque” (including 57 written by Clyde!), and 172 of them refer to the kind we mean here. Most of the time the appearance of the plaque is not further described, but we have at least:

The Certificates of Inscription come in fewer appearances, most of the time it is the A4-sized paper in a simple frame. There is however a mixed form with the plaque: a bronze plaque with the inscription certificate engraved in it. Examples can be found in front of the Hoja Nasruddin statue in Bukhara and at Bahla Fort (see 3rd photo). 

There are also many haphazard signs, as the one below from Abu Simbel, that do show the official logo but have no reference to the OUV of the WHS.

Where are they found?

The guideline “It should be so placed that it can easily be seen by visitors, without disfiguring the property” seems to be followed well. The certificate-style marker is usually found in museums / visitor centers / gift shops (even outside the core zone). In the Charles Darwin Research Station for Galapagos for example.

The metal plaques often are at the entrances of sites, near the ticket offices. Or on the floor in front of the actual monuments if they are in city centers.

The Rhaetian Railway has a red square one at every train station.

If we are going to dedicate a fixed corner of this website to WHS Plaques and Certificates, how should we organize this? Should we:

a.    Create a connection where we log for each WHS: what kind of marker it is – where it is located. Adding a photo here would be hard, only a link would be possible.

b.    Add a text in the info section to the right of each WH page, again with what kind of marker it is – where it is located. Small photos could be added. Against it could be argued that the info section is for more formal information and this stays trivial and is based on submissions of individuals.

c.    Start our own Flickr group?

Or do you have another suggestion?

Els - 9 May 2021

Leave a comment


Pat 25 August 2021

Also easier to deal with doubles. I am happy to sift through them at this point, but if the group really grows, that becomes a real hassle.

Pat 25 August 2021

Happy to help in any way I can. It is certainly easier to look for when there is a 1 to 1 link.

Els Slots 25 August 2021

Thanks, Pat. Looks a lot better indeed. Let's think about a way of cooperation. The completionists in us would like to have a 1 on 1 link between a WHS and its plaques I guess.

Pat 25 August 2021

Now that I have cleaned up the Flickr group, I will be posting several more plaques to it! Please feel free to add any that are not represented there already!

Pat 25 August 2021

I am the creator of the Flick Group UNESCO World Heritage Plaques referenced above. I would love for that to grow, or alternativity attached to this site in some way. I have been to about 200 World Heritage sites, but stopped posting my plaques to this group once it become distorted from what it was designed for. I am also looking for a handful that I couldn't find when I was travelling (as I am sure is the case for others). One location would be great!

Clyde 15 May 2021

I have hundreds of Unesco plaques, markers, boards, signs on my Flickr account

Astraftis 12 May 2021

Hey, I am emerging from the hiding I have disappeared in until now to say that I'd like a lot to see this information on the respective WH pages. I think it deserves to stay there, at least i na sidebar, it has some symbolic importance, too. And maybe it could also have a link to a Flickr album.

Esteban Cervantes Jiménez 11 May 2021

A Flickr album is the simplest option, for me.

Nan 9 May 2021

I would rather see this as a general issue: Where to put general information. Right now, it's often hidden in the reviews and I would say we should rather manage this type of information as a wiki.

Essentially site info would go to a separate tab/page. We can even make it so, that it is available offline at the same time.

For site info (apart from what we have so far) I would see the following sections.

1) Getting To
Directions. Bus/Train/Plane. Car if special. General Access Points and hubs.

2) Getting In
Ticket process, reservations etc.
Athos -> 20 Tickets for non orthodox male christians. Female visitors can only do a boat trip.
And core zone discussion (e.g. Manu).

3) What to do
Sian Kaan: Boat trip (Reserve at Native tourist office). Bird watching..

4) Where to stay
Either travel hub / city with hotels or special places directly tied to the WHS

5) Points of Interest incl. Unesco plaque
Note: I have been in favor in the past of having location maps with POIs for each site, e.g. Tour Eiffel in Paris.

Michael Novins 9 May 2021

It would be great if we could find a home for a plaque on each WHS’ page. I have hundreds.

Kyle Magnuson 9 May 2021

Flickr Album to share a variety of examples from around the world.