The Site of Xanadu (China), the Bassari Country: Bassari and Bedik Cultural Landscapes (Senegal) and the Historic Town Grand Bassam, the first capital of Côte d’Ivoire have been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
North of the Great Wall, the Site of Xanadu encompasses the remains of Kublai Khan’s legendary capital city, designed by the Mongol ruler’s Chinese advisor Liu Bingzhdong in 1256. Over a surface area of 25,000 hectares, the site exhibits a unique attempt to assimilate the nomadic Mongolian and Han Chinese cultures. This was the base from where Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty that ruled over China over a century, extending its boundaries across Asia. The religious debate that took place here resulted in the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism over northeast Asia, a cultural and religious tradition still practiced in many areas today. The site was planned according to the traditional Chinese feng shui in relation to the nearby mountains and river. It features the remains of the city, including temples, palaces, tombs, nomadic encampments and the Tiefan’gang Canal along with other water works.
Bassari Country: Bassari, and Bedik Cultural Landscapes is situated in the south east of Senegal. It includes three geographic areas: the Bassari – Salémata area, the Bedik – Bandafassi area and the Fula – Dindéfello area, each with its specific morphological traits. The Bassaris, Fulas and Bediks peoples settled from the 11 th to the 19 th centuries and developed specific cultures and habitats symbiotic with their surrounding natural environment. The Bassari landscape is marked by terraces and rice paddies, interspersed with villages, hamlets and archaeological sites. The villages of the Bediks are formed by dense groups of huts with steeped thatched roofs. Their inhabitants’ cultural expressions are characterized by original traits of agro-pastoral, social, ritual and spiritual practices, which represent an original response to environmental constraints and human pressures. The site is a well preserved multicultural landscape housing original and still vibrant local cultures.
The first capital of Côte d’Ivoire, the Historic Town of Grand-Bassam, is an example of a late 19 th and early 20 th -century colonial town planned with quarters specializing in commerce, administration, housing for Europeans and housing for Africans. The site includes the N’zima African fishing village alongside colonial architecture marked by functional houses with galleries, verandas and gardens. Grand-Bassam was the most important port, economic and judicial centre of Côte d’Ivoire. It bears witness to the complex social relations between Europeans and Africans, and to the subsequent independence movement. As a vibrant centre of the territory of French trading posts in the Gulf of Guinea, which preceded modern Côte d’Ivoire, it attracted populations from all parts of Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean Levant.