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Best by country

Author meltwaterfalls
#1 | Posted: 5 Aug 2014 07:56 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
I know we have talked about rankings and the like before, but it was always a little too subjective to warrant anything more formal.

However reading Els' latest review of Southern Öland did bring up the idea of the best WHS in each country. It especially piqued my interest as Els' selection for best WHS in Sweden (Falun) was one I would put near the bottom of my list and quite regularly there are sites that grab my interest that seem to leave others rather unimpressed.

As such I thought I would just put forward my own little list of best (roughly top 3) WHS by country.

I have limited it to those countries where I have visited 7 or more sites (a rather arbitrary number but I think 7 starts to give a good feel for what is on offer)

Germany Sites visited:29 Percentage of country total visited:74%
Best: Bauhaus Dessau (honourable mention (HM) Dresden and Bamberg)
UK 23 82%
Best: Edinburgh (HM Gwynedd Castles)
Spain 19 43%
Best: Segovia (HM both of Barcelona's Modernisme sites)
France 17 44%
Best: Strasbourg (HM le Corbusier's Villa Savoye [T-list])
Italy 14 28%
Best: Rome, Venice (HM Aquileia and Scorvegni Chapel [T-list])
Czech Republic 12 100%
Best: Prague, (HM Cesky Krumlov, Olomouc)
Belgium 10 91%
Best: Plantin Moretus (HM Gent is the nicest city to pick up the Belfries and Beginhofs)
Sweden 10 67%
Best: Varberg Radio Station (HM Gamelstad)
South Korea 9 82%
Best: Hwaseong (HM Haeinsa temple)
USA 9 41%
Best: Natural Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Cultural Chaco Canyon
Austria 7 78%
Best: Vienna (HM Graz, Salzberg)
China (Beijing Area only) 7 15%
Best: Summer Palace (HM Great Wall)
Morocco 7 78%
Best: Marrakesh (HM Rabat)
Netherlands 7 64%
Best: Rietveld Schröder House (HM Amsterdam)
Tunisia 7 88%
Best: Dougga (HM Kerkouane, Tunis)

Well there you go, some are rather obvious, but some aren't. Perhaps it is of interest to others, if not then hey ho you at least know what I like in terms of WHS :)
Was also thinking of adding least favourite by country as well but maybe another time.

Author elsslots
#2 | Posted: 5 Aug 2014 09:31 | Edited by: elsslots 
I've been rating my visits since a year or 3. So of these, it is easy to point out the most impressive sites among the countries I've visited in the past couple of years:

Australia: Willandra Lakes, Uluru, Kakadu (all equal on a 8.5/10)
Bolivia: Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos (8)
Cuba: Vinales (8)
France: Loire Valley (8) (Paris was before my rating system started, but would probably rank higher)
India: Hampi (9), Mountain Railways (8.5)
Jordan: Petra (8.5), Wadi Rum (8)
Lebanon: Baälbek (8)
Peru: Macchu Picchu first (9), followed by Nazca, Manu and Caral-Supe (8.5)
Portugal: Elvas (8)
Switzerland: Sardona (8)
Sweden: Falun (7)
Vietnam: Phong Nha-Ke Bang, Hue (8)

Some countries have a much higher average then others, especially Peru and India stand out for me.

Author winterkjm
#3 | Posted: 5 Aug 2014 21:38 | Edited by: winterkjm 
I have limited it to those countries where I have visited 7 or more sites

China: Great Wall of China, Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (both equal 9/10), South China Karst (8)
South Korea: Jeju Island (8), Seokguram Grotto, Haeinsa, Hahoe (all equal 7/10)
USA: Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Redwoods (all equal 9/10) Chaco, Taos, Mesa Verde (all equal 8.5)

quite regularly there are sites that grab my interest that seem to leave others rather unimpressed.

One WHS that left some unimpressed, but I found quite unique and beautiful, are the Royal Joseon Tombs URL. I've visited most of the (18) tomb clusters. I debated listing it here, but I deferred in favor of the most exceptional properties found in Korea.

Author Solivagant
#4 | Posted: 6 Aug 2014 05:56 | Edited by: Solivagant 
As such I thought I would just put forward my own little list of best (roughly top 3) WHS by country.

We recently had a bit of "fun" developing a consensus around a "Top 50 Missing" list and I wonder if we could find a similar interest in developing a "Top 100" (or 200?) list from among the current 1000+? What views do we have on which are the really "outstanding" sites? I guess we are all going to agree on a fair number but how varied are our views going to be beyond them?. We would need to frame the question carefully in order to create a reasonably common basis for assessment. We could do it simply in the form of "Which are the best 100 WHS" but perhaps some explicit definition of "best" is required to frame our decisions – not that it is likely to prevent variations in opinion!! E.g those sites which as a group best represent the pinnacles of human culture and the natural world. One potential benefit of extending beyond 100 could be to provide more "space" for differing views but we wouldn't want to extend so far that patently "lesser" sites gained significant inclusion. We could "vote" as before using the full list. It might (will!) be said that the current WHS list has some significant gaps but it would generally seem better to limit the exercise to the current WH List? The fact that we would inevitably be voting for some sites which we haven't visited might result in a degree of inclusion on the basis of inadequate information but this would be no different from our "Top 50 missing" list – and a visit doesn't make one an expert on a site anyway.

Author meltwaterfalls
#5 | Posted: 6 Aug 2014 10:42 
I wonder if we could find a similar interest in developing a "Top 100" (or 200?)

I would certainly be interested in that. I guess the quirks will come out in the wash during the process but it may be an interesting exercise. It will be subjective, but to paraphrase Hegel "what ain't".

One thing I did pick up from Els' and Kyle's lists is what constitutes a 10?

The idea that there is room for improvement on Grand Canyon, Macchu Picchu, Hampi or Petra caught my eye. I am not saying that any of those scores are wrong, it just got me wondering if people are willing to award a 10 or if it is a concept of perfection that is a motivator for thought, but perhaps not achievable.

For me I have awarded a 10 to 4 sites (just under 2% of my total visits) but that is based just on my feelings for the site itself. I have tried, to some extent, to separate my visit experience as a different score. The rationale being if I went to Angkor and it was bucketing down with rain would that make the archaeological ruins any less worthy? no. Would it make my experience of the site worse? Well yes.

(it happens the other way around as well, otherwise a bunch of rather run of the mill European cities would also receive 10's based mostly on the density of their drinking establishments and quality of pork products)

Author elsslots
#6 | Posted: 6 Aug 2014 12:21 | Edited by: elsslots 
One thing I did pick up from Els' and Kyle's lists is what constitutes a 10?

I did not award 'just' a 9 to Machu Picchu because it's so crowded or the weather was a bit cloudy when I visited. I left it at a 9 as there were a few minor points that I found disappointing. For example, the Inca were great in carving straight lines and edges. But the site isn't full of sculptural art: Angkor at the location of Machu Picchu, that would be the ultimate! And remember: the site dates from the 15th century, that is relatively late among the great sites of the world. Artistically a civilization could have created something more exuberant in that era (think of Florence, which is from the same period).

And maybe I also want to have some room to move left when I come across an even more excellent site.

Author meltwaterfalls
#7 | Posted: 6 Aug 2014 12:37 
did not award 'just' a 9 to Machu Picchu because it's so crowded or the weather was a bit cloudy when I visited

Ah that wasn't quite what I was aiming at with the comment, but reading it back that is how my point seems.
And maybe I also want to have some room to move left when I come across an even more excellent site.

That was more along the line of where I was heading. My point afterwards was supposed to be supplementary, but doesn't really read like that, hey ho.

Author Durian
#8 | Posted: 6 Aug 2014 21:40 | Edited by: Durian 
I have my personal ranking method for cultural sites by using 5 categories that are
1. Historic, if the site has played a part of worldwide history then 10 points, more than one continents will be 9-8, regional will be 7-6, national will be 5-4, only certain group then 3-1
2. Artistic, if the site is the masterpiece in art or engineering then 10-8, great art or design but not in the rank of masterpiece will be 7-6, fine will be 5-4, and almost or no artistic will be 3-1
3. Uniqueness , for the site that so iconic or one or two of it kinds I will give 10-9, can find only in some centain place will get 8-7, can find everywhere in many regions 6-5, common sight will get 4-1
4. Surrounding, beautiful landscape or well maintain and clean will get 10-8, acceptable protection and maintainace will be 7-5, poor management in the area then 4-1
5. Impression depend on trip experience, great trip will get 10-8, fine 7-6, so so or poor will be 5-1

From this method the site that got the highest scores (but still not perfect 50) are Vatican City, Venice, Angkor and Versailles. And the lowest is Schokland!

Author meltwaterfalls
#9 | Posted: 7 Aug 2014 10:04 
I quite like that method Durian.

Interestingly Schokland comes out all but bottom with my system as well.

Author kintante
#10 | Posted: 8 Aug 2014 02:31 
I think now that the list has reached 1000+ entries and there are currently 75 members with 200+ visited sites this would be a nice experiment. I also rated the sites I visited, but of course this is purely objective and based on my personal preferences. A modern architecture site will never be ranked high on my list, while medieval places must be reeeally bad to get a low rating. And because it is a highly subjective subject there should be no rules on why someone selected a site into the top 100 (or 200). The ranking should of course be independent from the countries, but to answer meltwaterfalls list of 7 or more, here's my list (just for fun and comparing preferences):

Italy: 39 (visited) – (best) Venice
Germany: 34 – Upper Middle Rhine Valley
France: 30 – Carcassonne
Spain: 30 – Segovia
UK: 17 – Gwynedd Castles
India: 17 – Ajanta Caves
Czech Republic: 12 – Cesky Krumlov
Switzerland: 11 - Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch
Peru: 10 – Machu Picchu
Austria: 9 – Salzburg
Sri Lanka: 8 - Ancient City of Sigiriya
Israel: 8 - Masada
China: 8 – Summer Palace
Hungary: 7 - Budapest
Belgium: 7 – Plantin Moretus
Sweden: 7 – Falun
Mexico: 7 - Palenque

Author Assif
#11 | Posted: 8 Aug 2014 14:34 | Edited by: Assif 
I am limiting my impressions to countries where I visited more than 40 percent of the sites.

Israel 9/9: Masada
Austria 6/9: Vienna
Cyprus 2/3: Troodos
Czech Rep. 5/12: Prague
Ukraine 3/7: Czernovitz
Slovakia 3/7: Spiss

Author nfmungard
#12 | Posted: 9 Aug 2014 08:22 
My short list (40% threshold):

Austria (9/9): Vienna.
Belgium (7/11): Brugge
Czech Republic (12/12): Prague, Tugendhat
Denmark (3/6): N/A.
France (23/39): Versailles.
Germany (39/40): Upper Middle Rhine Valley.
Netherlands (8/10): Kinderdijk.
Poland (9/14): Auschwitz, Wieliczka
South Korea (8/11): Haeinsa
United Kingdom (13/28): Kew Botanical Gardens

Below threshold, still liked a lot:
India (12/32): Mountain Railways of India
Italy (17/50): Venice.
Jordan (1/4): Petra.
Spain (12/44): Granada.
Sweden (5/15): Öland
US (6/22): Mesa Verde
Vietnam (3-4/8): Ha Long Bay

Too little choice (discounting Stuve):
Estonia (1/2): Tallinn.
Latvia (1/2): Riga
Luxembourg (1/1): City of Luxembourg

The idea of doing top 100 whs sounds like fun. Other option: Give registered users ability to rate sites (instead of writing comments) based on set of defined criteria and derive a score and a dynamic top 100.

Author clyde
#13 | Posted: 20 Aug 2014 08:10 
Here's my list:

Malta: Valletta
Italy: Rome, Florence, Venice
Germany: Bamberg, Wies
France: Paris, Loire, Lascaux
Switzerland: Sardona, Lavaux
Netherlands: Wadden Sea, Schroeder House
Belgium: Bruges, 4 Canal Lifts
UK: Westminster, Stonehenge
Greece: Meteora, Acropolis
Portugal: Belem, Coimbra
Spain: Pyrenees, Val de Boi
Egypt: Giza, Abu Simbel
Jordan: Petra, Wadi Rum
China: Great Wall, Temple of Heaven
Japan: Itsukushima, Nikko
India: Hill Forts, Taj Mahal
Nepal: Kathmandu, Sagarmatha
Ireland: Skellig Michael
Croatia: Plitvice, Dubrovnik

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