World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Forum: Start | Profile | Search |         Website: Start | The List | Community |
Connections Forum / Connections /  

Largest Cultural WHS

Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 1 Nov 2021 05:44 | Edited by: Solivagant 
We have long had a "Connection" for the "Smallest Cultural WHS" - but not for the "Largest". I have done a trawl through and will present the list below (Nb Mixed sites are excluded). But first, a few comments and observations.
a. I haven't checked the core areas of all 897 Cultural WHS! There is no listing by area available and it is a hassle to get the figure from each UNESCO page in turn, so I have used background "knowledge" of which sites seem most likely to be the largest - but may well have missed some! Although any "Largest Cultural WHS by area" Connection would only to cover a top 10 or 20, a longer list contains some aspects of interest and "near misses" so I will add a "selected list" below that.
b. A number of potential candidates have no UNESCO published "inscribed area". These include the Spanish Compostela Route (SCR) and Mediterranean Rock Art sites together with the Philippine Rice Terraces. However, from site descriptions, maps and reports etc I don't think that they, or any of the others which lack area data, would have figured very high in the "largest" list. The lack of figures for SCR may reflect lack of clarity over the nature of the inscription - whether a continuous line or separate points.
c. I looked at the core areas of around 115 WHS, knowing that many were much smaller than the existing "leaders" but it seemed interesting, whilst engaged in the exercise, to look at some of the other "categories" identifying which are the largest sites in each and how much variation is there for e.g Archaeological sites, Railways, Cities, Wine Areas, Routes, Mining sites so have assigned a "category" to each.
d. As would be expected, most of the largest Cultural WHS are Cultural Landscapes (CLs) – 35 of the top 50 of my selection. Rock Art sites constitute the 2nd largest group – one suspects that in some cases these could have been inscribed under the CL category if it had existed when they were inscribed.
e. There are some surprises. Some WHS turn out to be much smaller than one might expect from their title. The Great Wall of China for instance – that object, supposedly viewable from space, has only had a mere 2151 ha "officially" inscribed. Upper Svaneti, described in terms of being a "region" containing "an exceptional example of mountain scenery with medieval villages and tower houses", actually consists of just 1 village covering a mere 1.06 ha – this making it one of the smaller Cultural WHS! I had expected the French Route de Compostela, which often seems to include half of "La Belle France", to be quite large – but somehow only comes out at 92.21ha.
f. There has undoubtedly been a tendency for more recent inscriptions to be larger than earlier ones. There could be a number of reasons – the increase in the number of sites proposed as CLs, ICOMOS could be exerting pressure to include more core areas and States Parties might also be adopting the "bigger must be better" philosophy evident also in the size of recent Nomination Files. If so that could be a mistake – both Dresden and Liverpool suffered from including an excessive area which UNESCO/ICOMOS were then unwilling to rein back from.
g. Different sites in the same category have sometimes taken a different approach to identifying OUV and determining the boundaries and hence the area. India (3 railways!), Austria and Switz/Italy all managed to establish these matters within between 90 and 156ha for their railway - but Iran needed 5784 to do so for its nomination!!
h. It is quite normal for Natural WHS to include a lot of water – but the cultural sites of Venice and Bikini Atoll also gain a large amount of their OUV and hence their size from marine areas!
i. Most inscribed cities (apart from marine Venice as above) fit comfortably within 500ha or less. The exceptions are St Petersburg and Mexico City which both include areas beyond the main city. But Rome and Prague, in that sequence, also stand out as much larger "historic" pure cities, with modern Brasilia way out in front by size.
j. Angkor Wat and Petra are the 2 largest archaeological sites by area followed by Mesa Verde, Pyramids and Chaco.
k. A number of the largest properties raise significant issues regarding their boundaries. The largest, Tadrart Acacus, was not one I would have guessed. However, its enormous size would seem to relate to 2 factors. First - as a reflection of the lack of full detailed surveying of the area's cultural assets and a somewhat relaxed attitude to such matters when it was inscribed way back in 1984. The locations of the main groups of sites are well known and the inscription could have been restricted to them (at least pro tem) - and surely would have been nowadays. Second - the decision not to nominate it as a mixed site (thus "justifying" the inclusion of much country without specific cultural value) whilst its contiguous neighbouring WHS, Tassili n'Ajjer, which is almost twice its size, was so inscribed 3 years earlier. I can find no mention of why this approach wasn't replicated but the IUCN evaluation of Tassili was unbelievably perfunctory compared with today's practices!
l. The 2nd , 3rd, 5th largest, (ǂKhomani CL, Gt Burkan and Causses) all fell foul of ICOMOS regarding their boundaries – but all were inscribed anyway!

PS. I have just checked and Tadrart Acacus is slightly smaller than the Netherlands .. But rather bigger than Belgium!!

Author Solivagant
#2 | Posted: 1 Nov 2021 05:46 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Suggested "Top 20" Cultural WHS by inscribed core area
Rank/Area (ha)/Title/State/Yr/Category
1 3,923,961 Tadrart Acacus Liby 1985 Art
2 959,100 Khomani CL RSA 2017 CL
3 443,739 Gt Burkhan Khaldun Mong 2015 CL
4 417,800 Aasivissuit-Nipisat Den 2018 CL
5 302,319 Causses/Cev CL Fra 2011 CL
6 233,600 Kondoa Rock Art Tan 2006 Art
7 229,205 Lake District CL UK 2017 CL
8 205,000 Matabo Hills CL Zim 2003 CL
9 182,600 R P'ntings S de S Fr Mex 1993 Art
10 172,116 Quebrada de H' CL Arg 1982 CL
11 160,000 Richtersveld CL RSA 2007 CL
12 145,811 Saloum Delta CL Sen 2011 CL
13 141,120 Coffee Cult CL Col 2011 CL
14 130,600 Serra de Capivara Bra 1991 Art
15 121,967 Orkhon CL Mong 2004 CL
16 106,307 Hawraman/Uramanat Ira 2021 CL
17 86,021 Loire Valley Fra 2000 CL
18 74,820 Hortobagy NP Hun 1999 CL
19 73,500 Bikini Atoll M Isl 2010 ??
20 70,176 Venice & Lag Ita 1987 Cit

Author Solivagant
#3 | Posted: 1 Nov 2021 05:48 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Selected other WHS by inscribed core area
Area (ha)/Title/State/Yr/Cat
68,369 Ferto CL Hun+ 2001 CL
61,187 Val D'Orcia Ita 2004 CL
60,100 St Cath Area Egy 2002 ??
56,323 S Oland Swe 2000 CL
50,309 Bassari c'ntry Sen 2012 CL
50,000 Koutammakou Tog 2004 CL
42,668 S R'ds Chang Chi+ 2014 Rte
40,100 Angkor etc Camb 1992 Arch
35,018 Agave L'scape Mex 2006 CL
34,892 Kujataa Den 2017 CL
33,021 Curon Spit Lith+ 2000 CL
30,745 S de Tramunt Sp 2011 CL
30,200 Lushan NP Chi 1996 CL
28,466 Halstadt-Dach Os 1997 CL
28,168 Mapungubwe RSA 2003 CL
27,250 Up Mid Rhine Ger 2002 CL
26,171 Petra Jor 1985 Arch
24,500 Alto Duro Port 2001 CL
23,000 Konso CL Eth 2011 CL
21,043 Mesa Verde US 1978 Arch
20,819 Grand Canal Chi 2014 Rte
20,632 Banska Stiav Slvk 1993 Min
20,334 Prosecco CL Ita 2019 CL
19,710 Cornwall Min UK 2006 CL
19,519 Bali Subak Indo 2012 CL
19,057 Persian Qanat Ira 2016 ??
18,415 Mt Wutai Chi 2009 CL
18,387 Wachau CL Os 2000 CL
16,603 Hani Terr Chi 2013 CL
16,510 Roros Nor 2010 Min
16,358 Mem/Pyr f'lds Egy 1979 Arch
14,600 Kotor Region Mont 1979 ??
14,261 Chaco Cult US 1987 Arch
13,255 Tokaj CL Hun 2002 CL
13,219 Burgundy Fra 2015 CL
12,640 Chongoni Mal 2006 Art
11,300 Mong Altai Mong 2011 Art
11,268 Brasilia Bra 1987 Cit
10,789 Piedmont CL Ita 2014 CL
9,935 Budj Bim CL Aus 2019 CL
9,425 Risco Caido Sp 2019 CL
9,270 Thingvellir Ice 2004 CL
8,544 Al Ahsa Oas Saud 2018 CL
7,847 St Emilion Fra 1999 CL
7,356 Sawahlunto Indo 2019 Min
6,833 Erzgeburg Cz+ 2019 CL
6,621 Zuojiang Chi 2016 CL
5,809 Pyu Cities Mya 2014 Arch
5,784 TransIranian Ira 2021 Rlw
5,005 Bagan Mya 2019 Arch
4,985 Stonehenge UK 1986 Arch
4,959 Rjuken Nor 2015 ??
4,945 Al Ain UAE 2011 CL
4,543 Parforce Hunt Den 2015 CL
4,274 Madriu Pera And 2004 CL
3,943 Nord Pas min Fra 2012 CL
3,934 St Petersburg Rus 1990 Cit
3,642 Qapac Nan Arg+ 2014 Rte
3,290 Blaenavon UK 2000 CL
3,259 Slate L'scape UK 2021 CL
3,101 Camino Real Mex 2010 Rte
2,357 Meroe Sud 2011 Arch
2,298 Las Medulas Sp 1997 Min
2,151 Great Wall Chi 1987 Arch
2,043 Hail R'ck Art Sau 2015 Art
2,012 C of Benev Bel+ 2021 CL
2,010 Mexico Cit Mex 1987 Cit
1,720 Holy Valley Leb 1998 CL
1,672 Tarnowskie Pol 2017 Min
1,670 Dan Limes W Os 2021 Arch
1,455 Aflaj Oma 2006 ??
1,430 Rome Ita 1980 Cit
1,414 Chan Chan Per 1986 Arch
1,328 Champaner Ind 2004 Arch
1,323 Grand Pre CL Can 2012 CL
1,210 Kladruby Cz 2019 ??
1,172 Canal du Midi Fra 1996 Rte
1,106 Prague Cz 1992 Cit
1,106 Writ' on Stone Can 2019 CL
1,101 Champagne Fra 2015 CL
1,070 Versailles Fr 1979 Pal
898 Lavaux Terr Swi 2007 CL
756 L Ger Limes Ger+ 2021 Rte
535 Ahmadabad Ind 2017 Cit
481 Asmara Eri 2017 Cit
473 Budapest Hun 1987 Cit
371 Vienna Os 2001 Cit
365 Paris Fra 1991 Cit
236 Salzburg Os 1996 Cit
198 Amsterdam Nl 2010 Cit
186 Schonbrunn Os 1996 Pal
156 Semmering Os 1998 Rlw
152 Rhaetian Swi 2008 Rlw
97 S de C Rte Fr Fr 1998 Rte
90 Mnt R'ways Ind 1999 Rlw

Author elsslots
#4 | Posted: 1 Nov 2021 11:28 | Edited by: elsslots 
I have done a trawl through and will present the list below

Well done! I will put them into a Connection

1 3,923,961 Tadrart Acacus Liby 1985 Art

If you had asked me beforehand, I would have said Wadi Rum as one of the candidates for the no. 1 position. But that's a mixed WHS of course. One wonders whether Tadrart Acacus shouldn't have been a mixed site as well.

but may well have missed some

Will have a second look at it tonight, but knowing you - this has been thorough research already.

Author Solivagant
#5 | Posted: 1 Nov 2021 11:42 
If you had asked me beforehand, I would have said Wadi Rum as one of the candidates for the no. 1 position. But that's a mixed WHS of course

And, if not, would have come in at number 19.

Author elsslots
#6 | Posted: 1 Nov 2021 12:20 | Edited by: elsslots 
I found First Coffee Plantations of Cuba at 81,475 ha , which would get it into the Top 20.

I looked at some sites very familiar to me, like the Kathmandu Valley, and it is amazing how large the difference in size is compared with Tadrart Acacus (its size is ridiculous) and the other sites in the top 10.

I am planning to visit the Rock Paintings of de Sierra de Francisco (#9 in your ranking) next January. This is one big and inhospitable area, I think they did not think it through well enough when it was separated from the El Vizcaino nomination.

Connections Forum / Connections /
 Largest Cultural WHS

Your Reply Click this icon to move up to the quoted message

Only registered users are allowed to post here. Please, enter your username/password details upon posting a message, or register first. Forum Powered by Chat Forum Software miniBB ®