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World Heritage Ha Long Bay Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, situated in the Gulf of Tonkin, includes some 1600 islands and islets forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and relatively unaffected by human influence. The geomorphology of Ha Long Bay is known as a drowned karst landscape due to the exceptional combination of its limestone karst features which have been subject to repeated regression and transgression of the sea over geological time. The limestones of Ha Long Bay have been eroded into a mature landscape of fengcong (clusters of conical peaks) and fenglin (isolated tower features) karst features, modified by sea invasion at a later stage.

Ha Long Bay Vietnam
Continent: Asia
Country: Vietnam
Category: Natural
Criterion: (II)(IV)
Date of Inscription: 1994

Ha Long Bay Nature of the Landscape

The smaller islands are fenglin towers of 50m to 100m high with height. Many have vertical walls on all or most sides and these continue to evolve by rock falls and large slab failures. Marine invasion of Ha Long Bay has added an extra element to the normal process of lateral undercutting of the limestone towers and islands. The most conspicuous feature being the main notch cut into the entire rocky coastline. Notches are a feature of limestone cliffs worldwide, but those of Ha Long Bay are exceptionally well developed and, at many sites, extend into arches and caves. This process of undercutting and subsequent erosion maintains the steep faces of the fenglin karst towers and thereby perpetuates the spectacular nature of the landscape.

Heritage Ha Long Bay Vietnam
Ha Long Bay Vietnam

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A distinctive feature of Ha Long Bay is the abundance of lakes within the larger limestone islands. Extensive limestone caves represent another important feature of Ha Long Bay, with three main types able to be identified: old phreatic caves formed below the water table of the time; old karstic foot caves formed by lateral undercutting of cliffs at base level; and marine notch caves formed at sea level where rock structures are powerfully eroded and eventually reduced to a wave cut platform.

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In summary, Ha Long Bay possesses a tremendous diversity of caves and other landforms which derive from the unusual geomorphological process of marine invaded tower karst. These areas provide a unique and extensive reservoir of data for the future understanding of geoclimatic history and the nature of karst processes in a complex environment.

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World Heritage Great Barrier Reef System Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is a site of remarkable variety and beauty on the north-east coast of Australia. It the world's most extensive stretch of coral reef and is probably the richest area in terms of faunal diversity in the world. Its great diversity reflects the maturity of an ecosystem which has evolved over millions of years on the north-east continental shelf of Australia. The site contains a huge diversity of species including over 1,500 species of fish, about 360 species of hard coral, 5,000 species of mollusc, and more than 175 species of bird, plus a great diversity of sponges, anemones, marine worms and crustaceans, among others.

Great Barrier Reef
Continent: Oceania
Country: Australia
Category: Cultural
Criterion: (VII)(VIII) (IX) (X)
Date of Inscription: 1981

The Reef System

The reef system, extending to Papua New Guinea, the reef comprises some 2900 individual reefs of all sizes and shapes covering more than 20,000 km2, including 760 fringing reefs, which range in size from under 1ha to over 10,000 ha and vary in shape to provide the most spectacular marine scenery on Earth. There are approximately 600 continental islands including many with towering forests and freshwater streams, and some 300 coral cays and unvegetated sand cays. A rich variety of landscapes and seascapes, including rugged mountains with dense and diverse vegetation and adjacent fringing reefs, provide spectacular scenery.

Great Barrier Reef Australia
Great Barrier Reef

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The form and structure of the individual reefs show great variety. Two main classes may be defined: platform or patch reefs, resulting from radial growth; and wall reefs, resulting from elongated growth, often in areas of strong water currents. There are also many fringing reefs where the reef growth is established on subtidal rock of the mainland coast or continental islands.

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The site includes major feeding grounds for the endangered dugong and nesting grounds of world significance for two endangered species of marine turtle, the green and the loggerhead, as well as habitat for four other species of marine turtle; given the severe pressures being placed on these species elsewhere, the Great Barrier Reef may be their last secure stronghold. It is also an important breeding area for humpback and other whale species.

A wide range of fleshy algae occurs, many of which are small and inconspicuous but which are highly productive and are heavily grazed by turtles, fish, molluscs and sea urchins. In addition, algae are an important component of reef building processes. 15 species of seagrass grow throughout the reef area forming over 3,000 km2 of seagrass meadows and providing an important food source for grazing animals, such as dugongs.

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Complex of Hue Monuments Vietnam

Complex of Hue Monuments represents an outstanding demonstration of the power of the vanished Vietnamese feudal empire at its apogee in the early 19th century. The complex of monuments is an outstanding example of an eastern feudal capital and of the planning and construction of a complete defended capital city in a relatively short period. The integrity of town layout and building design make it an exceptional specimen of late feudal urban planning. Hue served as the administrative centre of southern Vietnam in the 17th and 18th centuries. Gia Long, first ruler of the Nguyen dynasty, made it the national capital of united Vietnam in 1802, a position that it held until 1945.

Complex of Hue Monuments Vietnam
Continent: Asia
Country: Vietnam
Category: Cultural
Criterion: (IV)
Date of Inscription: 1993

Hue Monuments

Hue is situated in the geographical centre of the country and with easy access to the sea. The new capital was planned in accordance with ancient oriental philosophy in general and Vietnamese tradition in particular; it also respected the physical conditions of the site, especially the Perfume River and Ngu Binh Mountain (known as the Royal Screen)

The relationship between the five cardinal points (centre, west, east, north, south), five natural elements (earth, metal, wood, water, fire), and five basic colours (yellow, white, blue, black, red) underlies the conception of the city, and is reflected in the names of some important features. The Perfume River, the main axis, divides the capital in two.

Complex of Hue Monuments

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Four citadels or defended enclosures made up the city: Kinh Thanh (Capital City), for official administrative buildings; Hoang Thanh (Imperial City) for royal palaces and shrines; Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Purple City) for the royal residences; Dai Noi (or Inner City); and Tran Binh Dai, an additional defensive work in the north-east corner of the Capital City, designed to control movement on the river. A fifth fortress, Tran Hai Thanh, was constructed a little later to protect the capital against assault from the sea.

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Planning lasted from 1803 to 1805, and it was not until 1832 that construction was complete. The new capital was much larger than its predecessor, Dong Trang, and encompassed several villages as well. The fortress itself was modelled on the European style of Vauban, the first of its type in South-East Asia, but the complex suffered considerably as a result of military operations in 1885, 1947 and 1968.

The main enceinte, the Capital City, is square in plan, each side measuring 2,235 m. The defensive walls have six projecting bastions on each side and ten gates. The external defensive works comprise a berm, ditch, and glacis. The buildings inside the Capital City include various former ministerial buildings, the Royal College and the Hué Museum.

The Inner City is rectangular in plan and defended by brick walls, supplemented by a moat and wide berm; there is a single entrance on each of the walls. Inside it is divided by walls into a number of zones - the Great Ceremonies Zone, the Worshipping Zone, the residential zone of the King's Mother and Grandmother, the storage and workshop zone, the garden and school zone for royal princes, as well as the Forbidden Purple City. The palaces within the Inner City are similar in style and design, set on a raised podium, with wooden trusses (usually ironwood), gilded and painted pillars and rafters, brick walls, and roofs of yellow- or blue-glazed cylindrical tiles. Roof edges are straight, and the decoration, both internally and externally, is abundant. Among the most important buildings are the Palace of Supreme Harmony, the royal reception hall; the Mieu Temple, the royal place of worship; the Queen Mother's Palace; and the Pavilion of Dazzling Benevolence.

At the heart of the complex is the Forbidden Purple City, surrounded by brick walls. There is a single gate in the front wall, reserved for the use of the king, and the other walls have several entrances, each with a specific purpose. Originally there were over 40 buildings within the walls, but most are now in ruins and only their foundations survive.

Outside the Capital City there are several associated monuments of importance. These include the tombs of the Nguyen dynasty to the south of the Perfume River. Other structures along both banks of the river are buildings related to the spiritual life of the dynasty, including the Temple of Literature, the Esplanade of the Sacrifice to the Sun and Earth, the Royal Arena and the Temple of the Roaring Elephant, and the Celestial Lady Pagoda.

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Bank of Israel Released UNESCO World Heritage Sites Coin

The Bank of Israel released the fourth coin in its series of UNESCO world heritage sites, celebrating the biblical site of Tel Megiddo. The Tel Megiddo Commemorative Coin, which was designed by Osnat Eshel and is available through the Israel Coins and Medals Corp., is being issued in three denominations. These denominations are: a NIS 10 coins struck in 22-carat gold with proof finish, with maximum mintage of 555 coins. A NIS 2 coins struck in silver .925, weighing 28.8 grams, with a maximum mintage of 2,800; and a NIS 1 coin struck in silver .925, weighing 14.4 grams, with maximum mintage of 1,800.

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Truths behind Megiddo

UNESCO World Heritage Sites CoinMegiddo was an important city in the Canaanite and Israelite periods because of its strategic location at the head of a pass through the Carmel Ridge. The city played a particularly important role during the reign of King Solomon and is mentioned a dozen times in the Tanakh. Some Christians believe it to be the site of Armageddon, where the battle marking the end of days is supposed to take place.

Excavations are Tel Megiddo have revealed the remains of ancient cities, palaces, altars, and most importantly, a sophisticated water system with a vertical shaft and subterranean tunnel, which is depicted on the coin

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St Kilda Heritage Management Plan Implemented

A new heritage management plan for the remote St Kilda archipelago is to be signed by a charity, public bodies and the Ministry of Defence (MoD). National Trust for Scotland (NTS) said the document set out a vision for the islands for the next 20 to 30 years. St Kilda, which lies 41 miles (66km) west of the Western Isles, is the UK's only natural and cultural Unesco World Heritage Site. The MoD has a radar station on the main island of Hirta. It tracks missiles fired on a range in the Western Isles. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the local authority for the Western Isles, Historic Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage will also sign up to the plan. NTS staff and volunteers, MoD contractors and scientists can spend several months at a time on Hirta.

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St Kilda Residents

St Kilda World HeritageSt Kilda does not have any permanent residents.The largest island in the archipelago, Hirta was occupied until 1930 when the last islanders left after they asked to be evacuated because their way of life was no longer sustainable.Last year, evidence of a permanent settlement was uncovered on another, smaller island. Previously it was thought Boreray was only visited by islanders to hunt seabirds and gather wool from sheep.

St Kilda was bequeathed to NTS in 1957 and given World Heritage status in 1986. In 2004, the designation was extended to include the surrounding marine environment and, in 2005, recognition was also given to St Kilda's unique cultural landscape. NTS chief executive Kate Mavor said the new plan offered protection to the islands' wildlife and historical remains.

St Kilda World Heritage
Sea Birds St Kilda Scotland

She said: "These beautiful and beguiling islands provide habitats for a range of important species, including one of the smallest mammals, the St Kilda Mouse."Protecting the seas around the archipelago is equally important for a rich variety of marine life, which by contrast includes the largest of mammals, such as killer whales and dolphins, as well as supporting colonies containing almost 5% of all the seabirds in Europe.

"Lichens and flowering plants, some unique, such as the recently discovered Pankhurt's dandelion, exist at the absolute limits of tolerance and support feral Soay sheep, living relics of domestic livestock from the Iron Age.

"It is for these reasons that St Kilda is not only treasured by Scotland but by the world and we have a supreme obligation to conserve and protect it for all." Speaking for the MoD, Sean Quinn said the government department was re-affirming its commitment to work productively with NTS and others.

TheText

He added: "As well as helping to protect a World Heritage Site, this close co-operation will assist us in ensuring the ongoing delivery of vital test, evaluation and training services for the Armed Forces at the MoD Hebrides Range."

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Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas Venezuela

The University City of Caracas is an outstanding example, and one of the best in the world, of the modern urban, architectural and artistic concepts of the early 20th century. It therefore illustrates in an excellent way this recent but already significant period in human history. The urban and architectural spaces created by Carlos Raúl Villanueva in association with the works of the artists who participated in the 'integration of the arts' are of incomparable quality and character. The essence of the work is in the message and the aesthetic emotion that its authors have managed to transmit.

Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas Venezuela
Continent: South America
Country: Venezuela
Category: Cultural
Criterion: (I)(IV)
Date of Inscription: 2000

Origin of the Central University of Venezuela

The origin of the Central University of Venezuela was the foundation of the Royal and Pontifical University by a decree of Philip V in 1721, promulgated during the Spanish colonial period. It operated within the Santa Rosa Seminary. In 1856 it became independent of the seminary and was transferred to the former San Francisco Convent. The university soon started growing and occupied other buildings outside the convent. This dispersal caused problems for its work and so it was decided to concentrate the university in a new ensemble, a campus in the outskirts of Caracas.

Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas

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Studies for the new university campus began in 1942. In the following year a Coordinating Commission was created, composed of Dr Armando Vegas as coordinator and Carlos Raúl Villanueva as planner. Villanueva, founder and professor of the Faculty of Architecture, had participated in a commission sent to study the university campus of Bogotá, and after this experience he emerged as the principal planner-architect of the new team. Work started on the first buildings in 1945.

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The 1949 revised plan produced the first important changes in the urban layout: Villanueva abandoned the symmetrical disposition of the structures. His project is characterized by the application of modern technology, the audacity of the forms, and the use of bare concrete structures, conceived as sculptures. It led to the creation of a complex, open and integrated space which was at the same time protected from light and heat. Since the death of Villanueva there have been various modifications, including new buildings designed by Gorka Dorronsoro, who was one of the young collaborators of Villanueva.

The architecture of the university involves the use of spatial elements that have been extracted from Venezuelan colonial architecture, such as bright colours, latticed windows for ventilation, and internal gardens of copious tropical vegetation. It constitutes an outstanding example in a small enclosed space of a utopian world reflecting that time and expressing the quality of modern urbanism, vegetation joined with the use of new materials and modern aesthetics.

The University City, an integral part of the modern city of Caracas, is articulated through a zoning scheme; there are several groups that are identified with the unity of their functions: 1, cultural and administrative centre; 2, medicine; 3, engineering, economics, liberal arts and sciences; 4, residential units; 5, botany; 6, architecture; 7, sports; 8, industrial technology school; and 9, services. The campus includes a series of large buildings, in particular the faculties of Architecture, Economy, Pharmacy, and Dentistry, the Library and the Hospital. The most notable buildings are the Aula Magna, with the magnificent 'Clouds' of Alexander Calder, the Olympic Stadium, and the covered plaza.

The Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas is an example of outstanding quality representing the highest ideals and concepts of modern city planning, architecture and art in the mid-20th century. Its particular quality is in the skill of integrating new architectural forms and contemporary art into a spatial and environmental whole, satisfying the functional and ideological requirements of the institution.

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Chief Roi Mata’s Domain Vanuatu

Chief Roi Mata's Domain is the first site to be inscribed in Vanuatu. It consists of three early 17th century AD sites on the islands of Efate, Lelepa and Artok associated with the life and death of the last paramount chief, or Roi Mata, of what is now Central Vanuatu. The property includes Roi Mata's residence, the site of his death and Roi Mata's mass burial site. It is closely associated with the oral traditions surrounding the chief and the moral values he espoused. The site reflects the convergence between oral tradition and archaeology and bears witness to the persistence of Roi Mata's social reforms and conflict resolution, still relevant to the people of the region.

Chief Roi Mata's Domain Vanuatu
Continent: Oceania
Country: Vanuatu
Category: Cultural
Criterion: (III)(V) (VI)
Date of Inscription: 2008

Cultural Landscape of Chief Roi Mata's domain

The continuing cultural landscape of Chief Roi Mata's domain, Vanuatu, has Outstanding Universal Value as an outstanding example of a landscape representative of Pacific chiefly systems. This is reflected in the interaction of people with their environment over time in respecting the tangible remains associated with Roi Mata and being guided by the spiritual and moral legacy of his social reforms. The landscape reflects continuing Pacific chiefly systems and respect for this authority through tabu prohibitions on use of Roi Mata's residence and burial that have been observed for over 400 years and structured the local landscape and social practices. The landscape memorialises the deeds of Roi Mata who still lives for many people in contemporary Vanuatu as a source of power and inspiration.

Chief Roi Mata's Domain

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Chief Roi Mata's Domain is a continuing cultural landscape reflecting the way chiefs derive their authority from previous title holders, and in particular how the tabu prohibitions on the use of Roi Mata's residence and burial site have been observed for 400 years and continue to structure the local landscape and social practices.

Chief Roi Mata's Domain is an outstanding example of a landscape representative of Pacific chiefly systems and the connection between Pacific people and their environment over time reflected in respect for the tangible remains of the three key sites associated with Roi Mata, guided by the spiritual and moral legacy of his social reforms.

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Chief Roi Mata's Domain still lives for many people in contemporary Vanuatu, as a source of power evident through the landscape and as an inspiration for people negotiating their lives.

The authenticity of Chief Roi Mata's Domain lies in the continuing association of the landscape with the oral traditions of Roi Mata, continuity of chiefly systems of authority and customary respect for the tangible remains of his life evident in the continuing tabu prohibitions on these places.

The legal protection of the nominated areas and their buffer zones are adequate. The overall management system for the property is adequate, involving both traditional management through the chiefly system and tabu prohibitions and government legislation for protection of the site. The management system involves the local community and government administrative bodies. The integrity of the site is thus maintained.

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Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long -- Hanoi, located in the heart of the capital of Viet Nam, is the most important and best-preserved part of the ancient Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. The Thang Long Imperial Citadel was built in the 11th century by the Vietnamese Ly Dynasty, marking the independence of the Đại Việt. It was built on the remains of a Chinese fortress dating from the 7th century, on drained land reclaimed from the Red River Delta in Hanoi. It was the centre of regional political power for almost thirteen centuries without interruption.

Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
Continent: Asia
Country: Vietnam
Category: Cultural
Criterion: (II)(III) (VI)
Date of Inscription: 2010

Archaeological Monuments

The buildings of the Imperial Citadel and the remains in the 18 Hoang Diêu Archaeological Site reflect a unique South-East Asian culture specific to the lower Red River Valley, at the crossroads of influences coming from China in the north and the ancient Kingdom of Champa in the south. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is characterized by its longevity and continuity as a seat of power, evidenced by different archaeological levels and monuments.

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

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The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi bears witness to the meeting of influences coming mainly from China in the north and the Kingdom of Champa in the south. It expresses a set of intercultural exchanges which shaped a unique culture in the lower Red River Valley.

The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long bears witness to the long cultural tradition of the Viêt populations established in the Delta and the lower Red River Valley. It was a continuous seat of power from the 7th century through to the present day.

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long at Hanoi, with its political function and symbolic role, is directly associated with numerous and important cultural and historical events, and leading artistic expressions and moral, philosophical, and religious ideas. The succession of these events marks the formative and development process of an independent nation over more than a thousand years, including the colonial period and the two contemporary Wars of Independence and reunification of Viet Nam.

The continuity of its political role is demonstrated by the archaeological elements brought to light and by the later built elements of the Thang Long Citadel. In spite of absent and not always very visible evidence, the conditions of integrity in terms of the architecture, structure and landscaping of the property are acceptable. The very promising archaeological vestiges of the 18 Hoang Diêu site must be completed by a study programme on the scale of the property for confirmation of the archaeological integrity.

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Authenticity

The degree of authenticity expressed by the architecture of Thang Long corresponds to buildings of the late 19th and the 20th centuries. Older buildings, dating back to the dynastic periods, notably the Doan Mon Gate and the Hau Lau Palace, have been restored and modified. However, these changes are related to the political history of the property. Over the long historical period of the Citadel of Thang Long, the archaeological authenticity of the property is good, even if expressed by only a small excavation area. The degree of authenticity of the architecture is variable depending on the period examined, being more satisfactory for the contemporary and colonial buildings.

Requirements of Protection

The legal protection of the property is based primarily on two laws: the Law on Cultural Heritage (2001) which ensures the protection of the various recognized moveable and immoveable components of the property, and the Law on Construction for all work and projects. In the event of discordance in the application of these two laws, for example for a proposed project in the territory of the property nominated for inscription, the Law on Heritage Management takes precedent. The legal protection in place is appropriate for the property, but it must be completed and a wider buffer zone should be envisaged.

The management authority is well-defined and already functional: in 2006, the People's Committee of Hanoi entrusted the Co Loa and Thang Long Vestiges Preservation Centre, also called Thang Long Centre, with the responsibility for the management of the property. The general guidelines of the Management Plan are satisfactory, but this Plan must be enacted, and the archaeological studies component should be strengthened and expanded. Furthermore, the capacity building for the personnel involved in the conservation of the property should be enhanced.

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World Heritage Canaima National Park

Canaima National Park is spread over 3 million ha in south-eastern Venezuela along the border between Guyana and Brazil. Roughly 65% of the park is covered by table mountain (tepui) formations. The tepuis constitute a unique biogeological entity and are of great geological interest. The sheer cliffs and waterfalls, including the world's highest (1,000 m), form a spectacular landscape. Canaima was established as a national park in 1962 and its size was doubled to the present area in 1975 and inscribed Word Heritage in 1994.

World Heritage Canaima National Park
Continent: South America
Country: Venezuela
Category: Natural
Criterion: (VII)(VIII) (IX) (X)
Date of Inscription: 1994

Caronì River Angel Falls

The park is best known for the unique table mountain (tepui ) formations: there are numerous waterfalls, including Angel Falls with a free drop of 1,002 m. The high level of endemism found on the summits of the tepuis has led to the recognition of Pantepui as a unique biogeographic entity. The park protects the headwaters of the Caronì River which supplies Guri, the country's largest hydroelectric power station and source of 60% of the nation's energy. The savannah portion of the park is inhabited by the indigenous Pemòn people, many of whom are settled and dependent on three Capuchin missions. A main road from Ciudad Bolivar runs along the eastern border of the park, bisecting its south-east corner and providing easy access for tourists. There are no other metalled roads within the park, the western section being accessible only by air.

Canaima National Park
Angel Falls

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Species

The fauna is diverse, although not very abundant: 118 mammals, 550 birds, 72 reptiles and 55 amphibians have been recorded. There are six species of mammals of conservation concern: giant anteater, giant armadillo, giant otter, bush dog, little spotted cat and margay. The only endemic mammal is the rodent Podoxymys roraimae . The avifauna is varied and contains over 30 species endemic to Pantepui. The less mobile orders, amphibians, reptiles and fish, exhibit even higher levels of endemism.

The forests and savannah have been occupied for 10,000 years by various groups of Amerindians of the Carib family, collectively known as the Pemon. Two archaeological sites, containing various hand-fashioned stone tools estimated to be 9,000 years old, have been found in the park.

The park is sparsely inhabited: many Pemon maintain traditional lifestyles of swidden agriculture, hunting and gathering. They also trade artefacts and now have access to electricity, schools and basic medical care.

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The Heritage Site of At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah

The site of at-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah illustrates a significant phase in the human settlement of the central Arabian plateau, when in the mid-18th century Ad-Dir'iyah became the capital of an independent Arab State and an important religious centre. At-Turaif District in Ad-Dir'iyah is an outstanding example of traditional human settlement in a desert environment. This property was the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty, in the heart of the Arabian Penisula, north-west of Riyadh. Founded in the 15th century, it bears witness to the Najdi architectural style, which is specific to the centre of the Arabian Peninsula. In the 18th and early 19th century, its political and religious role increased, and the citadel at at-Turaif became the centre of the temporal power of the House of Saud and the spread of the Wahhabi reform inside the Muslim religion. The property includes the remains of many palaces and an urban ensemble built on the edge of the ad-Dir'iyah oasis.

At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah
Continent: Asia
Country: Saudi Arabia
Category: Cultural
Criterion: (IV)(V) (VI)
Date of Inscription: 2010

The At-Turaif District

The At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah was the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty, in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, north-west of Riyadh. Founded in the 15th century, it bears witness to the Najdi architectural style, which is specific to the centre of the Arabian Peninsula. In the 18th and the early 19th century, its regional political and religious role increased, and the citadel of at-Turaif became the centre of the temporal power of the House of Saud and the spread of the Islamic reform movement in Arabia, Wahhabism. The property includes the remains of many palaces and an urban ensemble built on the edge of the ad-Dir'iyah oasis.

Saudi At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah
At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah

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The Citadel of At-Turaif

The citadel of at-Turaif is representative of a diversified and fortified urban ensemble within an oasis. It comprises many palaces and is an outstanding example of the Najdi architectural and decorative style characteristic of the centre of the Arabian Peninsula. It bears witness to a building method that is well adapted to its environment, to the use of adobe in major palatial complexes, along with a remarkable sense of geometrical decoration.

The At-Turaif District was the first historic centre with a unifying power in the Arabian Peninsula. Its influence was greatly strengthened by the teachings of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Wahhab, a great reformer of Sunni Islam who lived, preached and died in the city. After his enduring alliance with the Saudi Dynasty, in the middle of the 18th century, it is from ad-Dir'iyah that the message of Wahhabism spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula and the Muslim world.

The property comprises the remains of a relatively comprehensive urban ensemble of which the vast majority of the components are still in place, although many buildings are in ruins. The initial planning is well preserved and can be clearly observed in its road network. The structural integrity of the property is thus acceptable. The property has not been subject to excessively aggressive modern development, as it was abandoned for a long time, and the integrity of the landscape appears to be satisfactory, although fragile.

The urban and architectural components of the property that have not been altered or reconstructed during 20th century reemployments or restorations are authentic. The buildings are generally in a state of ruins or vestiges. A major programme of restoration work is in place, which respects the original locations, plans and techniques. It must take particular care to preserve the attributes of the authenticity of its buildings and the road network. Vigilance must be on-going and reinforced by a conservation programme which takes priority over other considerations.

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Requirement of Protection

Since 1976, the property has been under the protection of the Antiquities Act 26M, 1392 (1972). This law protects the moveable and immoveable ancient heritage registered as "antiquity", a term that can apply to vestiges which are at least two-hundred years old. The Ministry of Education and the Council of Antiquities are responsible for enforcement of the law. This is strengthened by a police department under the responsibility of the governor. A new bill that systematically provides for a protection zone of 200 m around the boundaries of the property is pending approval.

A detailed global management plan of the property is being prepared by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and the designers of the Living Heritage Museum, the future management structure of the property. This should give priority to the organisation and monitoring of the conservation of the different historic components comprising the property. A scientific conservation committee must be established with broad powers to define, supervise and monitor the work programmes and projects for the property.

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UNESCO might strike St. Petersburg from its World Heritage List

If Gazprom's skyscraper distorts the historical view of the city, UNESCO might strike St. Petersburg from its World Heritage List. In Russia's northern capital, authorities have given Gazprom the green light to build its proposed skyscraper in St. Petersburg's Primorsky District. The decision has not only outraged a number of the city's residents but has also drawn the attention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). There are concerns that the 472-meter-tall building, which is the center-piece of Gazprom's future business complex, might mar the historical panorama of the city's center and disrupt the architectural integrity of St. Petersburg.

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Lakhta Center, Okhta Center

Gazprom Skyscraper DistortsGazprom's construction project, which now goes by the name "Lakhta Center", was previously referred to as "Okhta Center". "In June 2011, we took part in public hearings in which all concerned citizens of St. Petersburg could express their comments and proposals," reports Svetlana Afanasyeva, the PR director of the Okhta Public and Business Center Company. Following the hearings, the Committee for City Planning and Architecture issued a directive, which allowed for the construction of objects of up to 500 meters in height at another location, on the new Lakhta site. In November 2011, the St. Petersburg City Court affirmed the legitimacy of this directive; representatives of the future skyscraper received a construction permit after the project had also been agreed upon by Russia's State Expert Evaluation Department.

Currently, UNESCO's representatives are waiting for an official evaluation of the building's potential impact on the overall image of the cultural heritage site. Chairman of the World Heritage Committee Eleonora Mitrofanova told Izvestia: "Before making a decision to approve the project, the authorities of St. Petersburg should submit a relevant document to UNESCO. The authorities must try to prove to us that no damage will be done to the objects of cultural heritage. If we receive too many public protests, a special UNESCO mission is set to consider the issue on site."

Gazprom Skyscraper Distorts Project

UNESCO Might Take Extreme Measures.

If the historical integrity of St. Petersburg is found to be violated by the Gazprom construction project, UNESCO might take extreme measures.

"It's a measure of last resort which could be taken by the organization," said Victoria Kalinina, Russia's official UNESCO representative in France. "Previously, this has only happened once. Such a decision was made last fall about Dresden's center. The reason was that the Germans changed the historic center of the city, let's say, not in the best way."

An experience similar to that of Dresden's may be in store for St. Petersburg if a special expert commission decides that the image of the historical center has been distorted. "Such decisions are not taken overnight," says Kalinina. The process may be lengthy and the relevant authorities usually receive a number of official warnings from UNESCO beforehand. "UNESCO has not yet made any harsh warnings because the project is not located in the cultural heritage area or its buffer zones," Mitrofanova adds.

Architecture experts say that the Lakhta Center's new design does not much differ from the original, controversial office building that was planned for Gazprom at the Okhta site. Yury Volchok, architectural historian and professor at Moscow Architectural Institute, told Izvestia: "The situation with the Okhta Center repeats itself. The construction site was moved to the Primorsky District, which is not considered a part of the historical center, so it is easier to get the construction permit there. However, Russian legislation protects not only buildings but also city views."

Volchok's point is this: the skyscrapers' designers have moved the construction site from Okhta to Lakhta, but a modern skyscraper will nevertheless be visible from many parts of the city. In any event, Gazprom's tower is unlikely to blend in with the city's historical center.

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5,000 Year old Orkney’s Maeshowe Tomb Virtual Tour

SCOTS across the globe will now be able to enjoy one of Orkney's most enigmatic Neolithic monuments from their own homes. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unveiled a new virtual tour of the 5,000-year-old chambered tomb at Maeshowe at a special reception in Kirkwall on Tuesday. The tour has been created using 3D laser-scanning data collected as part of the Scottish Ten project, collaboration between Historic Scotland, Glasgow School of Art and CyArk to digitally document Scotland's five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The project will also document five historic sites from around the world.

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The Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site

5,000 Year old Orkney's Maeshowe TombThe Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site comprises Maeshowe, the Stones of Stenness, the Barnhouse settlement, Skara Brae prehistoric village and the famous standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar. In addition to the tomb, images of the Orkney stone circles and standing stones were also recorded by the Scottish Ten team.

Ms Sturgeon, who visited Maeshowe on Tuesday, said: "Maeshowe has fascinated people for millennia with its incredible structure, having been built even before Egypt's great pyramids. Now, people on the other side of the world can use this new tour to get a better understanding of the ancient and magical history Scotland has on offer.

The Deputy First Minister also announced that the Scottish Ten team will shortly begin scanning the Eastern Qing Tombs, the final resting place of some of China's best-known emperors, following the Chinese Government's agreement to incorporate the site into the Scottish Ten project.

Maeshowe Tomb Virtual Tour


Orkney's Maeshowe Tomb
5,000 Year old Orkney's Maeshowe Tomb

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Esrefoglu Mosque and Social Complex Now Gets UNESCO Attention

The historic Esrefoglu Mosque and social complex in the Central Anatolian province of Konya's Beyşehir district is expected to be included in the permanent list of the UNESCO's world heritage site. UNESCO Turkey National Committee Chairman Professor Ocal Oguz and the committee members made examinations at the mosque and received information about it from Selçuk University Faculty of Literature member Associate Professor Yasar Erdemir.

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Esrefoglu Mosque is expected to be World Heritage Site

The historic Esrefoglu MosqueSpeaking to press members at the mosque, Oguz said a structure had to be unique to be included in the UNESCO list. "We think the Esrefoglu Mosque deserves to be included in the world heritage list," he said. "It is a historic structure and very unique one. We hope that the mosque, which is currently included in the temporary list, will move to the permanent list, and we will keep this issue on the agenda," Oguz said.

"Konya and Beyşehir's officials should also work harder to revive and promote the area's social environment. Unfortunately, although the Esrefoglu Mosque is very precious, it is not very well known in Turkey."

The historic Esrefoglu Mosque Complex

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China's Grand Canal Will be World Heritage Site in 2014

China's Grand Canal, the world's longest and oldest artificial waterway, could be added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014 with the help of a new campaign launched by the Shandong provincial government. Starting in Beijing in the north, the 1,747-kilometer-long canal passes through Tianjin as well as the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang before reaching the city of Hangzhou in the south. The canal's oldest sections can be traced back 2,500 years, and they were linked together in the Sui Dynasty (581-618). It connects China's five major rivers - the Yellow River, the Haihe River, the Huai River, the Yangtze River and the Qiantang River.

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Truth behind Grand Canal

Grand Canal
As a major water route for business over the centuries, it is now dotted with numerous ancient buildings and cultural relics, including not only ancient docks and ship locks but also business streets, temples, and former residences of past celebrities along the riverside. To better protect them, the Chinese central government put the canal on the list of key cultural relics under national protection and began to apply for world heritage status for it in 2009.

As an important part of the canal, the waterway in Shandong runs 570 kilometers across five cities, including Zaozhuang, Jining, Tai'an, Liaocheng and Dezhou. According to the Shandong Cultural Relics Bureau, five sections of the canal that lie within the five cities and 61 cultural heritage sites along them have been included on a tentative list of application for World Heritage Status.

Grand Canal China

"The preservation of the canal is crucial in its application efforts. We'll do our best to protect the rich natural and cultural resources along these sections," said Sun Shiqin, deputy director of the bureau. "Preparations are well under way, including improving the water quality, repairing ancient buildings, archaeological investigation and excavations as well as drafting nomination files," he said.

A feasible protection plan has been unveiled and special offices have been designated to coordinate canal conservation among different departments in the five cities.

A 2 square kilometer ancient town of Taierzhuang surrounded by the waterway in Zaozhuang has been restored. As a transport hub and thriving trading center, the town dates back to 2,000 years ago and was once praised by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912) as the "No 1 town under heaven".

Grand Canal China

It is also the site of the Battle of Taierzhuang, an important victory during the Anti-Japanese War (1937-1945), and some buildings in the town were destroyed during the battle.

Since 2008, a total of 2.7 billion ($424.7million) yuan has been allocated to restoring the town to its previous glory. It now has some classical bridges, an old water transport system, wetland parks, temples, museums, and an architectural complex of a bygone era, which attract more than 1.5 million visitors annually.

An archaeological park project was also launched last June to protect the historic sites of the delicately designed hydraulic works in Wenshang county of Jining. Built in 1411, the hydraulic works, which have high scientific and artistic value, were said to be a wonder in Chinese architectural history.

Additionally, Liaocheng, the once-thriving commercial center in North China, is planning to invest 3.8 billion yuan to restore the city's image as the "Canal Capital of Northern China", by building a Canal Culture Museum of China and repairing the historical relics along the canal.

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Panasonic Partnership with NGC to broadcast The World Heritage Special Programme

Panasonic Partnership with NGC to broadcast The World Heritage Special Programme from September. Panasonic Corporation has announced the sponsorship of a new television series focused on UNESCO World Heritage sites to be aired on the National Geographic Channel (NGC) across the world from this autumn. As part of its strategic partnership agreement* with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Panasonic has been solely sponsoring "The World Heritage Special" broadcast on the NGC in 193 countries and regions since June 2011.

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Access 360° World Heritage

NGC World Heritage Hagia SofiaTo celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage this year and support its principles, Panasonic has further strengthened its partnership with the NGC to sponsor the new TV series. Called "Access 360° World Heritage," which was newly commissioned to the NGC for productions, the program will focus on the sites of natural and cultural heritage around the world and illustrate the work to protect and conserve these sites, including the latest technologies and people that support the work behind the scenes. It will be broadcast from September 2012 to May 2013.

The new "Access 360° World Heritage" series will also be offered free as an archived streaming video via Panasonic's VIERA Connect IPTV service, gradually becoming available from this October in Japan, the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world. Developed and operated by Actvila Corporation, this application will allow owners of VIERA Connect-enabled TVs to enjoy spectacular HD video of World Heritage sites by simply installing from the VIERA Connect Market.

Panasonic's Digital Single Lens Mirror fewer cameras LUMIX G were used to supplement the main shoot and capture some General Video (GVs) on location in New York. A selection of this footage will be integrated into the episode entitled "Access 360° Statue of Liberty," which is set for broadcast in December.

Panasonic Strategic partnership with UNESCO

Panasonic and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre signed a strategic partnership agreement in June 2011, with the aim of protecting UNESCO World Heritage sites and promoting sustainable growth through the provision of environmental education for the next generation. Under the agreement, Panasonic has been undertaking communication and educational activities that promote conservation and awareness of World Heritage sites as well as environmental educational activities for the next generation through a World Heritage education program. The activities include Panasonic's two-year sole sponsorship of "The World Heritage Special" on the National Geographic Channel and educational initiatives using its 3D AV equipment and technologies. The company has also been hosting tours of historical ruins and various contests to provide children with opportunities to learn first-hand about the importance of protecting World Heritage sites.
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Libya to take care of Sufi Holy Sites

Libya to take care of Sufi Holy Sites asked U.N. cultural body UNESCO on Tuesday immediately cease the destruction of Sufi holy sites after Islamist hardliners wrecked shrines across the country. UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova expressed "grave concern" at the destruction of Sufi sites in Zliten, Misrata and Tripoli and urged perpetrators to "cease the destruction immediately." "I am deeply concerned about these brutal attacks on places of cultural and religious significance. Such acts must be halted, if Libyan society is to complete its transition to democracy," she said in a statement.

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Muslim Shrines Attacked

Libya Sufi Holy Sites Attacks"For this, we need dialogue and mutual respect. Libya's future prospects depend on its inhabitants' ability to build a participatory democracy that respects the rights and the heritage of all its citizens." Several Muslim shrines have been attacked in recent days, including those of the mystic Sufi strand of Islam. Islamist hardliners on Saturday bulldozed part of the mausoleum of Al-Shaab Al-Dahman, close to the centre of the Libyan capital.

The demolition came a day after hardliners blew up the mausoleum of Sheikh Abdessalem al-Asmar in Zliten, 160 kilometers east of the capital. According to witnesses, another mausoleum ― that of Sheikh Ahmed al-Zarruq ― was destroyed in the port of Misrata, 200 kilometers east of Tripoli.

Hardline Sunni Islamists are opposed to the veneration of tombs of revered Muslim figures, saying that such devotion should be reserved for God alone.The Sufis, who have played a historical role in the affairs of Libya, have increasingly found themselves in conflict with Qatari- and Saudi-trained Salafist preachers who consider them heretical.

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#941 Water towers, Kuwait

It's a pretty interesting phenomenon when something as functional as a water tower becomes a national symbol, but that is what has happened in Kuwait, whose traditional desert culture only leaves tents and camels in the changing sands. Anyone who has been to Kuwait has most likely driven past or seen these three iconic towers, a peculiar, yet award-winning architecture, built in 1977. Surely such uniqueness should be celebrated!?
 

Think this aerial photo is absolutely beautiful, but it isn't mine! The oil wells on fire in the desert after the Gulf war helped to create the sureal image.

Kuwait Towers 1991
Inside the towers during the war. Photo courtesy of http://www.joanna3.magix.net/public/The%20Gulf.html
These water towers are also memorable for those who have lived in Kuwait:
Source: http://ftrctlb.com/node/806

#942 Aden, Yemen

Very few people know that during the Cold War, it wasn't just Korea, Vietnam and Germany were split in half. Another country that fell victim to the power plays of the powers was Yemen. The capital of South Yemen was the city of Aden, an ancient shipping city, with connections to Africa, the Middle East and the Indies because of its strategic location on the Gulf of Aden (across from the Horn of Africa in Somalia). Infamous today for the bombing of the USS Cole in 1992 which occurred in its harbor and was the start of awareness of Yemen's long terrorism connection which continues to this day. Aden, however is a much more interesting city than just that. 

It was a British port in the Colonial era (a convenient stopping off point en route to India), and one particularly interesting hapstance was when a group of Indian-origin migrant workers built a fascinating Zoroastrian temple on the top of the hill above the city. Zoroastrian temples are used to place the bodies of the dead with the intention that the vultures will pick the bones clean so that they can be collected and stored. The temple is no longer functioning as a temple today in conservative Islamic Yemen, but remains a fascinating relic of a bygone era. 

Another really fantastic historical feature of the city are its series of water cisterns that sit at the bottom of the hills that surround the city. These (the Cisterns of Tawila, named for the Wadi Tawila) form the remains of a highly sophisticated water collection system that supplied the city with water from the hills perhaps as far back as 115BC. They were rediscovered and reused in the 19th Century and can still be used today if needed, although water has not filled them for 15 or so years and they are threatened with development and erosion.

In addition to these features, it is a beautiful city, with cream houses creeping up the brown hills, overlooking the clear blue Indian Ocean. It remains a busy shipping lane despite being one of the poorest and forgotten corners of the world. 

#943 Krakow, Poland

Beautiful cityscape from Wikipedia, as viewed from the Krakow Mound.


Beautiful Krakow: ancient, academic, artistic, cultural, catholic, charming!

From the main square, the Ryneck, the biggest square in Europe, a delight in summer when it's filled with restaurants and cafes, with it's unusual twin brother towers of the old St. Mary's basilica and St. Peter and Paul church to the Wawel Castle and the military-like Barbican, there are many things to see. The ancient university can be seen in the Collegium Magnus, and the old city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. World War II has left a fresh history in it's ghetto and graveyards across the river in formerly-Jewish Kazimierz.

Majestic poignant music, quaint little old streets, and a history of monarchies, duchys, small tribes, as well as Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin. Krakow is the cultural heart of Poland, with heritage as old as it's ancient city can have.

I feel sad that I have only visited Krakow in the middle of winter, when the Wistula River is frozen and the snow deep, but that means that I have a summer gem to return to, discovering a whole new city.
Outside the Sukiennice -- the main square, the Ryneck.
Looking up at Wavel Castle
View of the Wistula River
Photo courtesy of Nellie Bednarek
Krakow Street. Photo courtesy of Nellie Bednarek
Mulled wine stand. Photo courtesy of Nellie Bednarek
Sukiennice market. Photo courtesy of Nellie Bednarek
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krak%C3%B3w