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Visited Sites Ralf Regele

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Recent Reviews Ralf Regele


The Turf House Tradition (T) 18-Sep-18

The Turf House Tradition (T) by Ralf Regele

Turf houses were actually the primary (and almost solely) form of housing in iceland from the viking ages till the 19th century. Trees and timber were in very short supply in iceland. Turf houses have only a light wood framework, the roof and many walls are made out of turf blocks. Turf houses have the advantage of a good isolation, but are difficult to maintain and could only be built to a certain size - which is why even bigger turf buildings are an aggregation of relatively small huts. Turf houses only last for roughly a century, which means that all of the islandic turf houses are no older than the 19th century. Many of the buildings are mentioned in older sources, but were rebuilt again and again throughout the ages. It is not really known if the existing turf houses look like the ones in medieval times, but no fundamental difference is assumed.
So what is it like to visit these houses ? Quite a nice experience, I must say, and a nice change to all the overbearing landscape in iceland. Of the roughly a dozen buildings in the proposal, I visited four locations, all of which where quite easily reachable by car from the ring road. In fact, there were so close to the road that it is surprising that they are not featured more prominently in travel guides for iceland. Some notes on the individual houses:

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Vatnajökull National Park (T) 15-Sep-18

Vatnajökull National Park (T) by Ralf Regele

The Vatnajökull National Park area is a bit unusual, as it includes the Jökulsargljufur National Park, which has no borders to the rest of the park, creating a second location for the site. Having just visited this exclave, I can highly recommend it. It features some of the most spectacular scenery in a country overflowing with great landscapes. The glacier-fed river Jökulsa a Fjöllum (which orginates a long way down south in the main park area) is cutting through a landscape formed by raw volcanic rock. It creates a large canyon and tumbles down a series of waterfalls, including the mighty Dettifoss waterfall. It's a gripping display of raw elementary powers, with hardly any plant life or greenery in sight. Getting there is not too tough if you have a car, although the east side road is a bit rough (though probably a bit more rewarding). No 4x4 is needed, at least in summer. However, getting there as a day trip from Reykyavik is definitely out of the question. Most people do it as part of an Iceland round trip on the ring road 1, where the 2-3 hour detour is certainly worth it. Visiting in early autumn, there was no lack of tourists, but the large scale landscape could cope with it pretty well. Further north lies the Asbyrgi canyon, which is more fertile but less spectacular, but still highly enjoyable.
For the Skaftafell section in the south, I had good luck with the Jökulsarlon glacier lagoon, as there were lots of colorful icebergs floating right next to the car park, with a boat ride not really needed. There were lots of clouds and fog in the higher glacier regions, though, so the whole travel experience here relies a good bit on luck.
All in all, the Vatnajökull National Park is so large and so full of marvelous landscapes that a WHS designation seems quite deserved. Iceland has so far no natural WHS that covers its amazing landscape, so it's about time.
Visited in September 2018.
Importance 3/5 Beauty 5/5 Uniqueness 5/5 Environment 4/5 Experience 5/5

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Mývatn and Laxá (T) 12-Sep-18

Mývatn and Laxá (T) by Ralf Regele

The Myvatn lake in northern iceland is aptly named "midge lake", as it is home to clouds of annoying flies, at least in summer. The flies can be a real damper on your travel experience here, to the point where putting a flynet around your head turns from a ridiculous tourist folly into a totally reasonable and diserable act. The area is a major tourist destination, with multiple sightseeing stations around the lake. A typical trip around the lake could include:

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The Aniene valley and Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli (T) 15-May-18

The Aniene valley and Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli (T) by Ralf Regele

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. It takes around 90minutes to cross from one side of the valley to the other, and only a few more to get back to your start position. The nice walk will lead you to various vistas, waterfalls and grottos. All points of interest have fancy names, but not all detours really lead to something astonishing. The grotto of the sirens (or is it mermaids?) and of neptune are really worth it, the other sideways can be skipped if you want to conserve your energy. And that leads to the main problem with the site: It's just not in the same league as the other two WHS sites in town. Most people will go to Tivoli as a day trip from Rome, and if you try to cram all three "villas" into one day (I did), you will need a lot of stamina and will probably not be able to reproduce the dreamy enthusiasm of 18th century poets. What remains is a very nice, but strenuous hike with a bit of marketing cheese thrown in (like a hefty entrance fee).
I do not really think that the Villa Gregoriana is important or unique enough to be a WHS, and the small town of Tivoli does not really need a third one. However, if you do have a bit of time and energy left, it is certainly a beautiful trail with a dash of nature, culture and 19th century engineering thrown in.
Visited May 2018.
Importance 2/5 Beauty 3/5 Uniqueness 3/5 Environment 4/5 Experience 3/5

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Archaeological Site of Nikopolis (T) 13-Aug-17

Archaeological Site of Nikopolis (T) by Ralf Regele

Nikopolis is the ruin of a roman city north of Preveza, on the western coast of Greece. Surprisingly for such a little known site, the ruins are quite large - there is a mile-long city wall, two large fields with remains and lots of smaller artifacts. It looks as if the antique city was larger than the present one ! However, there are no buildings remaining on the whole. What is left is mostly brickwork, floor constructions and street plasterings. It is all typical roman stuff - mosaics, pillars, floor heatings. There seem to be not a lot of people who visit the site - I was there at a weekend in high season, and the place was almost deserted. The area is surrounded by low vegetation with no modern building in sight, which enhances the athmosphere of an abandoned place. On the bad side, the site does not seem to be fully developed - the two main fields are a mile apart, and there is no path between them but the dusty country road. The associated museum is another mile away. A private car seems to be the best choice of visiting - I came with a taxi but couldn't visit everything, as long walks in the scorching greek sun were not advisable.

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Name: Ralf Regele

Country: Germany

Visited WHS: 193

Most Impressive: Angkor

Proposal New WHS: Empire State & Chrysler Building

Update 2018-09-14 15:16:07

  1. Chavin : 5.0
  2. Edinburgh : 5.0
  3. Great Wall : 5.0
  4. Imperial Palace : 5.0
  5. Machu Picchu : 5.0
  6. Rome : 5.0
  7. Seville : 5.0
  8. Vatican City : 5.0
  9. Aachen Cathedral : 4.5
  10. Acropolis : 4.5
  11. Angkor : 4.5
  12. Ayutthaya : 4.5
  13. Chan Chan : 4.5
  14. Cordoba : 4.5
  15. Cuzco : 4.5
  16. Fortified City of Carcassonne : 4.5
  17. Hill Forts of Rajasthan : 4.5
  18. Istanbul : 4.5
  19. Mesa Verde : 4.5
  20. Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve : 4.5
  21. Oporto : 4.5
  22. Paris, Banks of the Seine : 4.5
  23. Qhapaq Ñan : 4.5
  24. Qutb Minar : 4.5
  25. Rani-ki-Vav : 4.5
  26. Taj Mahal : 4.5
  27. Teotihuacan : 4.5
  28. Agra Fort : 4.0
  29. Ancient Kyoto : 4.0
  30. Ancient Nara : 4.0
  31. Caral-Supe : 4.0
  32. Changdeokgung Palace Complex : 4.0
  33. Himeji-jo : 4.0
  34. Ironbridge Gorge : 4.0
  35. Itsukushima Shrine : 4.0
  36. Khajuraho Group of Monuments : 4.0
  37. Lübeck : 4.0
  38. Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor : 4.0
  39. Medina of Fez : 4.0
  40. Museumsinsel (Museum Island) : 4.0
  41. Namhansanseong : 4.0
  42. Nikko : 4.0
  43. Oaxaca and Monte Alban : 4.0
  44. Redwood : 4.0
  45. Statue of Liberty : 4.0
  46. Stonehenge : 4.0
  47. Sukhothai : 4.0
  48. Te Wahipounamu : 4.0
  49. Temple of Heaven : 4.0
  50. Tower of London : 4.0
  51. Uxmal : 4.0
  52. Vienna : 4.0
  53. Yellowstone : 4.0
  54. Albi : 3.5
  55. Amsterdam Canal Ring : 3.5
  56. Antequera Dolmens Site : 3.5
  57. Budapest : 3.5
  58. Calakmul : 3.5
  59. Cathedral of St. James in Sibenik : 3.5
  60. Chichen-Itza : 3.5
  61. Coa Valley and Siega Verde : 3.5
  62. Derwent Valley Mills : 3.5
  63. Durham Castle and Cathedral : 3.5
  64. Genbaku Dome : 3.5
  65. Granada : 3.5
  66. Grand Canyon : 3.5
  67. Grand Place, Brussels : 3.5
  68. Guimarães : 3.5
  69. Gwynedd Castles : 3.5
  70. Horyu-ji Area : 3.5
  71. Humayun's Tomb : 3.5
  72. Hwaseong Fortress : 3.5
  73. Iguacu : 3.5
  74. Imperial Tombs : 3.5
  75. Jantar Mantar : 3.5
  76. Jelling : 3.5
  77. Kii Mountain Range : 3.5
  78. Lima : 3.5
  79. Luther Memorials : 3.5
  80. Meknes : 3.5
  81. New Lanark : 3.5
  82. Palenque : 3.5
  83. Red Fort : 3.5
  84. South China Karst : 3.5
  85. Speyer Cathedral : 3.5
  86. Stevns Klint : 3.5
  87. Studley Royal Park : 3.5
  88. Summer Palace : 3.5
  89. Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch : 3.5
  90. Thingvellir : 3.5
  91. Verona : 3.5
  92. Villa Adriana (Tivoli) : 3.5
  93. Villa d'Este : 3.5
  94. Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch : 3.0
  95. Ahmadabad : 3.0
  96. Alto Douro : 3.0
  97. Arequipa : 3.0
  98. Beemster Polder : 3.0
  99. Belfries : 3.0
  100. Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe : 3.0
  101. Brugge : 3.0
  102. Corvey : 3.0
  103. Dong Phayayen : 3.0
  104. Drottningholm : 3.0
  105. Fatehpur Sikri : 3.0
  106. Flemish Béguinages : 3.0
  107. Fortifications of Vauban : 3.0
  108. Frontiers of the Roman Empire : 3.0
  109. Hedeby and Danevirke : 3.0
  110. Huascaran National Park : 3.0
  111. Jongmyo Shrine : 3.0
  112. Kinderdijk : 3.0
  113. Kronborg Castle : 3.0
  114. La Lonja de la Seda : 3.0
  115. Liverpool : 3.0
  116. Mexico City and Xochimilco : 3.0
  117. Pantanal : 3.0
  118. Pilgrimage Church of Wies : 3.0
  119. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal : 3.0
  120. Reichenau : 3.0
  121. Riga : 3.0
  122. Rio de Janeiro : 3.0
  123. Roskilde Cathedral : 3.0
  124. Royal Joseon Tombs : 3.0
  125. Saltaire : 3.0
  126. Schönbrunn : 3.0
  127. Shirakawa-go and Gokayama : 3.0
  128. Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District : 3.0
  129. Split : 3.0
  130. Tallinn : 3.0
  131. Tongariro National Park : 3.0
  132. Town Hall and Roland, Bremen : 3.0
  133. Upper Middle Rhine Valley : 3.0
  134. Van Nellefabriek : 3.0
  135. Volubilis : 3.0
  136. Yosemite National Park : 3.0
  137. Bauhaus Sites : 2.5
  138. Campeche : 2.5
  139. Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust : 2.5
  140. Christiansfeld : 2.5
  141. Cologne Cathedral : 2.5
  142. Donana National Park : 2.5
  143. Fagus Factory : 2.5
  144. Forth Bridge : 2.5
  145. Graz : 2.5
  146. Hildesheim Cathedral and Church : 2.5
  147. Keoladeo National Park : 2.5
  148. Maritime Greenwich : 2.5
  149. Palmeral of Elche : 2.5
  150. Puebla : 2.5
  151. Trogir : 2.5
  152. Venetian Works of Defence : 2.5
  153. Brasilia : 2.0
  154. Major Town Houses : 2.0
  155. Messel Pit : 2.0
  156. Ouro Preto : 2.0
  157. Skogskyrkogarden : 2.0
  158. Zollverein : 2.0
  159. Berlin Modernism Housing Estates : 1.5
  160. Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz : 1.5
  161. Par force hunting landscape : 1.0
  162. Stoclet House : 1.0
  163. Struve Geodetic Arc : 1.0
  164. Archaeological Site of Delphi
  165. Avignon
  166. Bryggen
  167. Camino Real
  168. Canal du Midi
  169. Epidaurus
  170. Everglades
  171. Iguazu National Park
  172. Le Havre
  173. Longobards in Italy
  174. Maulbronn Monastery
  175. Mont-Saint-Michel
  176. Mystras
  177. Olympia
  178. Pont du Gard
  179. Quedlinburg
  180. Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France
  181. Salzburg
  182. Santa Maria delle Grazie
  183. Stralsund and Wismar
  184. Strasbourg
  185. Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley
  186. The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier
  187. Trier
  188. Versailles
  189. Völklingen Ironworks
  190. Wachau Cultural Landscape
  191. Wadden Sea
  192. West Norwegian Fjords
  193. Westminster