Latest Community Reviews

Modernist Centre of Gdynia — the example of building an integrated community (T)

Jarek Pokrzywnicki Polska - 14-Apr-21

Modernist Centre of Gdynia — the example of building an integrated community (T)

Just visited (April, 2021) or to be specific revisited after several other visits in the past. This time I solely focused my stay on the modernistic aspect of central part of Gdynia. As briefly described in the introduction Gdynia as town has relatively short history that implies its current layout. For many years it was not more than a small fishing village on the shores of Gdańsk Bay (Zatoka Gdańska) but when Poland finally retake its independence in 1918 and after granted limited access to the sea (Baltic) in 1920, Gdynia become a central point of construction process (harbor, infrastructure, the city itself). Hence the results of these building works you can still admire today.

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Eastern Arc Mountains Forests of Tanzania (T)

Patrik Netherlands - 12-Apr-21

Eastern Arc Mountains Forests of Tanzania (T)

I visited the Amani forest reserve in januari 2019. I traveled by bus from the coastal town of Tanga and changed in Muheza. There is a daladala (local small bus) up to Amani around 13.00h. The daladala does not depart from the main road but a bit further. A motorbike taxi brought me to the daladala. I thought I was lucky to have caught the daladala just on time but luggage and goods kept being stocked into the daladala. It was not until 15.00h before we started moving. There was a discussion and two women were left behind, looking very upset. I just hoped the discussion was not about me for occupying their seat.

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The Marble Basin of Carrara (T)

Hubert Austria - 12-Apr-21

The Marble Basin of Carrara (T)

Where does all the snow on the mountains come from? You might think so when driving along the Autostrada A12 between Pisa and La Spezia in summer and looking up at the slopes of the Apuan Alps. Indeed, the quarries of Carrara look like a glacier from a distance. I visited the marble quarries in early November 2017 as a stopover on my Tuscany trip. It was a worthwhile detour to see where the raw material for Michelangelo's David came from, which I had previously visited at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence.Marble is quarried in three valleys located above Carrara: Torano, Fantiscritti, and Colonnata. The quarries in the middle valley, Fantiscritti, are the most accessible

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The Transhumance: The Royal Shepherd's Track (T)

Patrik Netherlands - 11-Apr-21

The Transhumance: The Royal Shepherd

I was staying in the hills near Benevento in August 2020 and it was rather hot to go for hikes, and I found out that Saepinium was not very far. For some reason, the title used for the tentative site reminded me of Murakami's book 'A wild sheep chase'. Alas, in Saepinium, the sheep turned out to be about as elusive as in the book.

The region feels rather remote and deserted and it came as a surprise to see the parking almost full. It seemed there just had been an event, I would expect the place more or less deserted in general

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El Escurial

Hubert Austria - 08-Apr-21

El Escurial

The literal translation of El Escorial is "the slag heap". But this is actually the name of the neighbouring village and also a pretty good description of the barren landscape around it. Not exactly the typical setting for a royal palace. Opinions about its architecture are divided, and were already so when King Philipp II had the palace built in the 16th century.  Austere and sober for some, imposing and majestic for others. And I didn't really know what to think of this building either when I stood in front of the façade.
El Escorial is much more than just a palace, it is a combination of monastery, palace, college, library and royal crypt. So no surprise that it's huge, it is considered the largest Renaissance building in the world.

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Residences of the Royal House of Savoy

Patrik Netherlands - 07-Apr-21

Residences of the Royal House of Savoy

Early July 2020, I stayed in a Piedmonte countryside apartment near Turin for a week and visited all the buildings included in the inscription.

At the tourist office in Turin, I bought the 'Royal Card Torino' which costs €35 and is valid for 7 days, a substantial saving on the regular entrance fees. In addition to the palaces in Turin and Piedmonte, it includes also access to the rooftop of the Superga Basilica and a tour of the Royal Tombs below the Basilica, which are an interesting addition to the palaces. The Royal apartments at Superga were closed.

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Cathedral of St. James in Sibenik

Frédéric M Canada - 06-Apr-21

Cathedral of St. James in Sibenik

I spent three days in Šibenik in June 2018, in between my jaunts to Zadar in Split. I took the opportunity to wander through the winding streets of the town, to swim in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea and to admire the waterfalls of Krka National Park. I really enjoyed this city with the Mediterranean charm of Split or Dubrovnik, but with less tourists and more authenticity. In addition to the attractions mentioned above, the town is home to a second WHS, the Tvrđava sv. Nikole, which is part of the Venetian works of defence.

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Prehistoric Pile Dwellings

Hubert Austria - 05-Apr-21

Prehistoric Pile Dwellings

My first visit to these prehistoric pile dwellings was Fiave and Molina di Ledro/Italy in 2011 (see my review below). And to say it right away, these are the best (or basically the only) sites to see original remains. Usually, all the remains are under water or in the bog, otherwise none of it would have survived for thousands of years. And often the sites are covered with geotextile and gravel to protect against erosion and mechanical damage. Thus you have to rely on the preserved finds in museums and on replicas of the dwellings and settlements to understand what this WHS is all about. However, the preservation conditions under oxygen exclusion are so good that organic material, food and textiles, has also been preserved

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Land of Frankincense

Clyde Malta - 02-Apr-21

Land of Frankincense

I visited this WHS in December 2020 over several days during my extended road trip in Oman and it turned out to be a real highlight of our trip which would certainly warrant a revisit to Southern Oman any time (perhaps apart from the wet Khareef season).

I visited all 4 components which make up this WHS on separate days. All 4 locations have UNESCO markers just next to their entrances. 

The first component I visited was that of Ubar after a long drive from the delisted Al Wusta Arabian Oryx Nature Reserve. I consciously decided to risk the one hour long unpaved road to the Archaeological Site of Ubar as I wanted to venture as far as possible into the Empty Quarter. The drive with a 2WD sedan car was bumpy but perfectly doable. Just make sure to have a spare tire and loads of water in your car just in case something goes wrong (you're likely to see camel skeletons along the way clearly showing what happens if you end up without water in the desert!). If you're visiting from Salalah instead of from Muscat or Duqm, there's a perfectly paved road now and it's just over an hour drive from Wadi Dawkah

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Painted Churches in the Troödos Region

Tsunami Japan / USA / Cyprus - 22-Mar-21

Painted Churches in the Troödos Region

When I entered Cyprus in mid-December 2020 with intention to stay for 3 months, there was not much of lockdown.  Museums and archaeological sites were open, and I was able to visit Choirokoitia and Paphos WHSs within my first 2 days in the country without any problems. Staying in the Paphos District for 3 months, I thought I would visit the Painted Churches in the Troodos Region WHS sometimes in January or February. I was not following the local news and just going about my own business. Then on January 10 I was told by my landlord that a strict lockdown was to commence on the next day. 

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Lake Titicaca (T)

GabLabCebu Philippines - 01-Apr-21

Lake Titicaca (T)

I visited Lake Titicaca in April 2016, crossing from the Bolivian side into Peru one afternoon, then visiting the Uros Floating Islands the next morning before leaving. While the experience was admittedly brief, I can say that I was able to experience, and therefore compare, both sides of the lake (wrote a review on Bolivian side a while back, kinda cringe but y'all can check it to see my complete opinion anyway). While I agree that the Bolivian side, with the Islas del Sol y de la Luna, packed more of the authentic cultural-heritage-site punch, along with an overall more pristine environment, I can't really see the two sides as separate. Naturally, they form a single lake, one of the most pristine for its size, simply separated by arbitrary political boundaries

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Cultural Landscape of Bisya & Salut and its Archaeological Remains (T)

Clyde Malta - 02-Apr-21

Cultural Landscape of Bisya & Salut and its Archaeological Remains (T)

I visited this tentative WHS in January 2021 as a day trip from Nizwa. The archaelogical remains of Bisya and Salut are some 30 km away from Bahla Fort which would make for an interesting stop if you were only to focus on the Salut Archaeological Park with a huge newly built museum.

The cultural landscape of Bisya and Salut is situated where Wadi Seyfam and Wadi Bahla converge, which provided the water necessary for irrigation and therefore enabled permanent human settlements. Several archeological remains have been found and most are still being excavated. The best examples are clustered in close proximity to Jabreen Castle, at the clearly marked Salut Archaeological Park

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Corcovado National Park and Isla del Cano Biological Reserve (T)

Els Slots The Netherlands - 09-Apr-21

Corcovado National Park and Isla del Cano Biological Reserve (T)

Corcovado currently is the only entry on the Tentative List of Costa Rica. There seem to be no plans to bring it forward (again), after the 2004 withdrawal caused by a negative IUCN advice. At the time it was dismissed with not much further explanation than “too small”, too small even for its mammals to survive in the near future. It could not match similar sites (Darien, Talamanca) that were already inscribed. Although I can see the point, I still found it the most worthwhile destination of my Costa Rica trip.

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Kronborg Castle

Jakob Frenzel Germany - 31-Mar-21

Kronborg Castle

August 2020 - before biking from Copenhagen to Berlin we spent 3 days in and around the city. After visiting the Parforce hunting park we took the train at the north entrance further to Kronborg. We got kicked out of the train, as our ticket was not valid and the bikes not included. But luckily the next train came 20min later. In Kronborg we walked a bit around the castle, took an obligatory hamlet picture and visited the near food hall with around 20 street food stands. I had been on a sailing trip in the Kattegat in 1999, so had been here before. The revisit was very pleasant though

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Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine

Nan Germany - 23-Dec-20

Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine

On a day trip from Hiroshima, I visited the Iwami Ginzan silver mine. In the 18th century Iwami Ginzan was one of the largest silver mines of the world and a small town grew around it. The mine itself or the shrines for the miners aren't spectacular. The town (Omoricho), though, was nice with plenty of historic wooden houses some of which are open to visitors. In the area, you can manage everything on foot. However, to see the additional components related to the shipping of the silver, you will need some form of transport as these are on the coast.

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Site of the Retiro and the Prado in Madrid (T)

Jakob Frenzel Germany - 31-Mar-21

Site of the Retiro and the Prado in Madrid (T)

April 2017 - at the end of our honeymoon trip through Andaluzia we took the train to Madrid and flew back from there. It was the same price as flying back from Sevilla directly. The Renfe entered Madrid early in the morning, we stored our baggage at the train station and took a long walk along the Prado and through the Retiro park. It was marathon that day so in the Park we could spot some athletes who either were done or gave up early. The park is nice, it has a giant lake, a wonderful greenhouse and some representative building, but I guess it is comparable to other city parks in Europe. We enjoyed way more Madrids early skyscrapers, the castle and our last tapas for that trip. Happy we visited another European capital, though.

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Slender West Lake and Historic Urban Area in Yangzhou (T)

Zoë Sheng Chinese-Canadian - 27-Mar-21

Slender West Lake and Historic Urban Area in Yangzhou (T)

Yangzhou used to be very difficult to get to, and I'm not talking about ancient times but pre-2000 even. There are now a half dozen bridges and a high-speed train access to make it super easy of course, but back in the days it was basically a secret place to visit.

2 of the 3 components are already inscribed as part of the Grand Canal WHS. I used to think the Ge Yuan is also inscribed but it just falls outside of the core zone after all so there is technically another world heritage site here, although the criteria for inscribing these again would be different to the Grand Canal anyway. My thumbs down start with it being already inscribed and the very crappy criteria such as being a traditional "tourism destination". Don't get me wrong - Yangzhou is overall a great place to visit!

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Bulwarked Fortifications (T)

Hubert Austria - 24-Mar-21

Bulwarked Fortifications (T)

This Tentative WHS includes three fortified towns on the Spanish-Portuguese border proposed as an extension of the already inscribed Garrison Border Town of Elvas. Of these, I visited Almeida and Marvão on my trip to Portugal in May 2018. In both towns, the first fortifications date back to the Middle Ages, presumably built by the Moors. In the following centuries, the medieval castles were expanded to fortified towns. The bulwark constructions as they have been preserved until today date mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries. But that's where the similarities end. The two cities could hardly be more different. This is mainly due to their different locations: Almeida is situated on a high plateau and Marvão was built on the top of a high crag.

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Elvas

Hubert Austria - 15-Mar-21

Elvas

♥ elvas’ is written in large letters at the Praça da República, the central square of Elvas. And that could also be the summary of my review. This fortified town on the border with Spain was the biggest surprise on my Portugal trip in May 2018. It consists not only of the historic town centre but also includes several forts outside the city walls and the Amoreira aquaduct, which secured the water supply even during a siege.

The first surprise was how large this system of walls, bastions and ravelins is. Standing at the Castelo, the highest point of the Historic Centre, and looking across to the fort on Monte de Graça, one inevitably wonders why such extensive fortifications were built in this barren landscape. The answer is that this region played a key role in the battles with Spain for Portuguese independence in the 17th century. And in response to advancing military technology with greater range of the guns, the fortifications were continuously extended during the following two centuries.The second surprise was how well preserved the inscribed sites are

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Les Alpes de la Méditerranée (France) (T)

Jarek Pokrzywnicki Polska - 13-Mar-21

Les Alpes de la Méditerranée (France) (T)

Visited in August, 2018. It is quite strange that nobody has ever described the places so far as all they look as very popular tourist destinations. From UNESCO heritage point of view it is an idea to put together the efforts of France, Italy and Monaco and inscribe part of Mediterranean Alps in those countries. Initially I intended to see the area in Monaco but since on our map it is placed in the middle of the ocean I opt for something more conventional and decided for French Mercantour National Park.

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