Latest Community Reviews

Great Spa Towns of Europe

Nan Germany - 14-Jul-21

Great Spa Towns of Europe

There is a funny story re Aachen: Technically, it should be called Bad Aachen. "Bad" is the indicator of a town being a Bad (= spa). If you look at the German components of the site (Baden Baden, Bad Kissingen) you see this naming convention at work.

Eventually, Aachen figured that being first in an alphabetically sorted list of German cities would come in handy and dropped the prefix. To this day, though, town signs advertise that Aachen is a "Bad" and a "Kurort". While Bad translates nicely to spa, "Kurort" (Kur town) doesn't really have a proper English translation. The term "Kur" (cure, roughly treatment) is key to understanding the German and Czech spa sites.

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The timeless, humanistic architecture of Jože Plečnik (T)

Matejicek Czechia - 20-Jul-21

The timeless, humanistic architecture of Jože Plečnik (T)

I have already expressed my enthusiasm towards Plečnik´s designs in Ljubljana in my previous review. Now, one week before the ultimate verdict of the UNESCO committee (July 2021), I would like to comment the omitting of The Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord in Prague from the original nomination and compare it to the Church of St. Francis in Ljubljana, which has been added to the nomination quite recently. (PHOTO - LEFT: Ljubljana church exterior from East and interior towards East, RIGHT: Prague church exterior from East and interior towards East)

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Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea (T)

Martina Ruckova Slovakia - 19-Jul-21

Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea  (T)

After ticking off most WHSs in Russia, Ivan and I are trying to visit the most of the tentative sites that seem to be in for a subscription. And especially those more remote ones, so we don't have to return there once we'll leave Russia for good. So we did one of our weekend trips by night train and rode to Petrozavodsk to visit the petroglyphs of Lake Onega and Kenozero National Park.

As far as this site is concerned, it can be done as a round trip whilst visiting Solovetsky islands and Kizhi pogost

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Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe - extension (North Macedonia) (T)

Christravelblog Netherlands - 18-Jul-21

Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe - extension (North Macedonia) (T)

Summer holidays with my son ticking of all that Macedonia has to offer and a bit of Albania. Of course with the Beech Forest listed for 2021 (I think it should) I wanted to go as we wanted to make some hikes anyway. UNESCO gives coordinates N41 45 06 E20 35 23 for the center. Good for me and it has 168ha with a 200ha buffer zone. I made it to about 200 meters from N41 45 06 E20 35 23 as it was exactly on a slope so couldn't reach it.

How to get there? It's the REAL [...]

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Coastal Cliffs (T)

Tsunami Japan / USA / Europe - 21-Jun-21

Coastal Cliffs (T)

Coastal Cliffs: Fifla Islet

On my 4th day in Malta, from Valletta I visited Mdina TWHS and Maltese Catacomb Complexes TWHS and then took the bus 201 from Mdina to the bus stop "Panorama" for Blue Grotto, also stopping at Dingli Cliffs on the way for Malta South West Cliffs TWHS.

I have no idea if Blue Grotto, which is located on the South West coast of Malta, is part of the Malta South West Cliffs TWHS. But it's perhaps one of the more scenic parts of the South West coast of Malta. 

From both Dingli Cliffs and Blue Grotto, Fifla Islet, which is one of the 5 components of this nomination, is visible, as you can see above the Blue Grotto in this photo. 

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The timeless, humanistic architecture of Jože Plečnik (T)

Hubert Austria - 16-Jul-21

The timeless, humanistic architecture of Jože Plečnik (T)

When the Advisory Body Evaluations (ABE) of the 2020/2021 nominations were published a few weeks prior to the WHC meeting, I was surprised to see that Ljubljana received a clear positive recommendation from the ICOMOS experts. According to the ABE, inscription is justified because the architecture of Jože Plečnik transformed a provincial town of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire into a modern and prestigious capital.However, ICOMOS also had some concerns. They considered that the proposed criterion (i) (a masterpiece of human creative genius) was not met

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Santa Maria delle Grazie

Astraftis Italy - 15-Jul-21

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Curious: the name of this site implies that the main sight is the church, which just so happens to include Da Vinci's version of the Last Supper. This might be historically true, as Leonardo was commissioned to do a painting in the Dominicans' refectory: an important piece, but still for private contemplation by the monks only, and in a sense, however important, a decorative element of a bigger church. But then, the Artist set in and decided that this would not have been your ordinary painting. And so, if there once was a painting as part of a convent complex, now we rather have a convent complex and church functioning as the frame for one of the most famous paintings in the world.

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Mountain-top Hotel and Television Transmitter Ještěd (T)

Nan Germany - 06-Jul-21

Mountain-top Hotel and Television Transmitter Ještěd (T)

When we look back, we often judge periods and events from the end result. E.g. the Star Wars prequels are pointless because everyone knows who the annoying brat named Anakin turns into. With communism it's similar. We know it failed. We know people were waiting in lines to get bananas. We have seen pictures of the post communist, downtrodden cities. Consequently, we assume, that communism was a big fluke from the start and the West always lightyears ahead on wealth and progress.

This is a view that doesn't reflect history. In the 50s, people were genuinely scared of the Soviets. And it wasn't just about the nukes they had. Or the different worldview. The Soviets put a man into space first, quite a technical achievement. This triggered the Sputnik Crisis in the late 50s/early 60s where the West was playing catch up

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Hal Saflieni Hypogeum

Tsunami Japan / USA / Europe - 21-Jun-21

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum

After 3 months in Bulgaria, where I managed to receive full Pfizer vaccination even though I am not a citizen or resident of Bulgaria or the EU, I flew to Malta on June 2, 2021, 2 days after my second dose (and my 3rd PCR test on the same day) and a day after Malta opened up for tourists, and stayed for 4 nights. 

This was my first time in Malta, and honestly I could not believe I had not been there after all these years of traveling in Europe. I didn't know what I was missing. 

As the site is already well described by previous reviewers, I'll focus on the practicalities. 

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The Bachkovo Monastery (T)

Els Slots The Netherlands - 15-Jul-21

The Bachkovo Monastery (T)

At an about 45-minute drive south of Plovdiv, in the pretty Rhodope Mountains, lies the Monastery of Bachkovo. With origins in the 11th century, it is one of the oldest still active monasteries of the Balkan. It is a popular one as well: the site is already well signposted from the main road and there is a large paid car park. The last part of the road to the monastery, which lies - as it should be – on a hill, is flanked on either side by rows of souvenir and food stalls.

The monastery comprises a large complex, most of the places of interest lie within a walled compound. It is best known for its murals. The entrance is free, but I did buy an audio guide in English for 6 Lev (3 EUR) to learn more about its history and features. You can play the guide from your own phone

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Žatec – the Hops Town (T)

Nan Germany - 05-Jul-21

Žatec – the Hops Town (T)

There are these ideas of future WHS you have in your mind when you travel a bit. For instance, I would love a historic pub serial site in the UK and Ireland. Alas, I am only missing the proper locations to match to my idea. And obviously a say in the UK heritage committee and tentative list.

For Czechia, it always felt that a beer country, should have a beer related site. They like beer around here

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Žatec – the Hops Town (T)

Matejicek Czechia - 06-Jul-21

Žatec – the Hops Town (T)

I gave the second chance to Žatec and the landscape of Saaz hops in July 2021. After deferral in 2018, the state party of Czechia submitted the new nomination file to be evaluated in 2022. The Žatec historical core with the Prague suburb was kept, but the cultural landscape with hops fields around villages Stekník and Trnovany has been added following the advice of ICOMOS. Though the new nomination is still problematic (bad shape of hops-related buildings, which lost their original function and their original owners have been repelled after WWII), it is better than the previous one, as its potential OUV might be expressed. Anyway, I expect inscription in 2022.

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The Fortress of Terezín (T)

Nan Germany - 29-Jun-21

The Fortress of Terezín (T)

The Fortress of Terezin is a site most of us will have heard about. At least, if you are just a tiny little bit informed about 20th century history, you will know the place, but not by its Czech name. To give the site a neutral evaluation, I will resolve this later.

Historically, Austria and Prussia were bitter rivals. The border regions (Saxony, Erzgebirge, Bohemia, Silesia) between the Habsburg Empire and Prussia were industrious and prosperous and the growing power of Prussia was constantly searching to expand its influence. In the War of Austrian Succession, Austria had already lost the province of Silesia. To protect the province of Bohemia, a fortress and garrison town was built by Joseph II, the son of Maria Theresia.

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Prague

Nan Germany - 04-Jul-21

Prague

A while back Korean Air acquired a share in CSA, Czech Airlines. They have since divested, but if you assume this was solely an expansion step, you might be mistaken. Goal as I recall for Korean Air was to establish Prague as its European hub and dispatch travelers all across Europe from Prague. Prague’s location in the heart of Europe - a fact often overlooked by those of us having grown up with the Iron Curtain still in place - may have contributed to this decision. The main reason, as I understood, was a different one: Apparently, for most Koreans coming to Europe, Prague is a must visit.

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Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor

Nan Germany - 09-Jun-21

Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor

On my last visit to China in early 2020, I finally managed to see the Terracotta Army. The scale of the site is hard to fathom. When you are standing in front of the main host, it really feels like you are facing an army, a ghost army from the past. And then you go around and there are so many unique details to explore on each statue. Each of the 8.000 statues on its own would feature prominently in a Western museum. It's weird to think about it that a ruler would spend this much time and effort on a fake army. But the result is incredible.

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Bishop's Basilica and Late-Antique Mosaics of Philippopolis, Roman Province of Thrace (T)

Els Slots The Netherlands - 10-Jul-21

Bishop

The Mosaics of Philippopolis comprise three former Roman and early Christian structures with well-preserved mosaic floors in Bulgaria’s second city, Plovdiv. I had a pleasant two-night stay in modern Plovdiv; it has a more oriental and less Sovietesque feel than other Bulgarian towns. Because I travelled with a rental car I stayed overnight in a hotel in the outskirts, at the other end of the ‘regatta’ – an artificial rowing canal. I decided to walk all the way to the city center, over 5km, so I saw quite a lot of Plovdiv. Most of the city’s monuments (from Roman, Ottoman and 19th century periods) are covered by the city’s other TWHS. I’ll focus on the mosaics here.

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Evaporite karst and caves of Emilia Romagna Region (T)

Astraftis Italy - 25-Jun-21

Evaporite karst and caves of Emilia Romagna Region (T)

This is to me a bit of a mysterious (tentative) site, and one that I don't know if it will ever manage to make it on the list, although it has potential

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Two neolithic dwellings with their interior and household furnishings and utensils completely preserved. (T)

Els Slots The Netherlands - 23-Jun-21

Two neolithic dwellings with their interior and household furnishings and utensils completely preserved. (T)

Two days ago I visited this TWHS with the funny long name: Two neolithic dwellings with their interior and household furnishings and utensils completely preserved. The remains of the two adjacent dwellings lie in a museum building in the center of the town of Stara Zagora. Downstairs there is a collection of neolithic ceramics, mostly taken from other sites around Bulgaria. As the site is already well described by previous reviewers, I'll focus on the Practicalities.

Getting there by car Although the museum is officially registered at ul. General Stoletov, the entrance to the parking lies at ul

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The Ringed Seal Archipelagos of Lake Saimaa (T)

Juha Sjoeblom Finland - 22-Jun-21

The Ringed Seal Archipelagos of Lake Saimaa (T)

Site visited May 2021. Ringed seal archipelagos of Lake Saimaa were a nice experience. It was also something new to me in my home country. This natural site may not be for everyone, but those who want to see the rare seals, and those who love birdwatching, pristine lake nature and beautiful landscapes will be pleased. I spent two days exploring some of the elements of this tentative site.

When Finland announced a revised list of tentative sites in 2021, it presented one totally new site which seemed right away a logical move. Saimaa ringed seals – of course. It is hard to think any other object in Finland with so much positive impression and support from Finnish people.

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Padmanabhapuram Palace (T)

Carmen Maria David Luxembourg - 18-Jun-21

Padmanabhapuram Palace (T)

The trip started off the wrong foot. We had booked a tour through the tourist office in Trivandrum and as we got halfway, the minibus had a breakdown and all the tour director could say was that we had to wait. After 2 hours of eating red bananas, drinking coconut water and cursing next to a church (this is Kerala, after all), we finally started moving, but all I wanted to was to be done with the visit quickly. 

Once on the premises though, I regained my excitement: the woodwork is impressive. One such example is the pillar in Thai Kottaram (pictured). After reading here about the murals, I started checking the photos frantically, but then I realised that the access Upparikka Malika's topmost floor was restricted to visitors in order to preserve the paintings.

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