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Laureates 2007

The International Melina Mercouri Prize has been awarded for 2007 to the Borodino Battlefield (Russian Federation).

Mr Alexander V. Gorbunov, Deputy-Director of the State Military and History Musem-reserve Borodino Battlefield, submitted the nomination file to UNESCO via the Russian Permanent Delegation.

Located in the area of Moscow, in the Mozhaisk district, the Borodino Battlefield (Moksova or Borodino Battle, 1912) covers over 100 km2. The historic landscape is similar to the one of 1812 and comprises about 205 monuments, fortifications, outstanding sites and historic buildings (redoubts, battery, gravestones; some defensive works date back to the Second World War, etc.). Among the cultural landscape elements, one can identify monumental evidence of the events, fortifications, cemeteries, parts of rural landscape, in which the events took place, and memorials. Moreover, there are also associated intangible elements, toponyms, written memoirs, books, pictures and maps.

The battlefield lies in a rural landscape with Russian traditional wooden villages. There are open landscapes with few inhabitants, woods, meadows along the rivers, fields around villages. This is an evolving landscape, iconic for the countryside in the western part of the greater Moscow area. What has turned this area into a cultural landscape is the fact that the Borodino battle took place there. After the destruction of a part of the countryside, three factors contributed to the emergence of a cultural landscape: a natural process, an economic revival and finally actions in favor of a memory emergence. The first memorial dates back to 1914. In 1941, the fortifications of the Mozhaisk defense line were erected (the Nazi troops were stopped at this place). From 1950 to 1980, large restoration works were conducted.

A special mention has been awarded to the Grand Bassin (Ganga Talao) (Mauritius).

The Hindu Maha Sabha association, which submitted the nomination file to UNESCO, was established in 1925 with a view to unifying the Indians living in Mauritius, who in the first quarter of 20th century were not able to go back to their home country. Hindu Maha Sabha is a religious and cultural society which looks after the welfare and advancement of the Indian community in Mauritius. It aims at promoting education, Indian interests in Mauritius, building temples, etc

Before 1998, the Grand Bassin (Ganga Talao) was considered a natural site standing out for its beauty. Thereafter, it was declared a "sacred lake", and in 1988 the first pilgrimage took place. In 1972, some holy water from the Ganges River was mixed with that of the Grand Bassin, establishing a symbolic link between the sacred Indian River and the Grand Bassin, which was then renamed Ganga Talao.

Nowadays, nearly 1 000 tourists come daily to the Grand Bassin, and about 450 000 pilgrims from all parts of the island in February/March.

Ceremony