Durban (South Africa) – The World Heritage Committee, chaired by Themba Wakashe, South Africa’s Deputy Director-General for Heritage and National Archives, today inscribed 17 cultural sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The World Heritage List now numbers 812 sites in total, which includes: 628 cultural; 160 natural and 24 mixed sites in 137 States Parties. With today’s inscriptions Bahrain, the Republic of Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina enter the List for the first time. The sites inscribed during the current session of the World Heritage Committee include three transboundary sites and extensions to six sites that were already on the List. St Kilda, previously a natural site, became a mixed site by its inscription also under cultural criteria. One of the sites inscribed today, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works in Chile, was also inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The sites inscribed on the World Heritage List today are:
Albania – Museum-City of Gjirokastra
The historic town of Gjirokastra, in the Drinos river valley in southern Albania, is a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estate. The 13th-century citadel provides the focal point of the town with its typical tower houses (Turkish kule). Characteristic of the Balkan region, Gjirokastra contains a series of outstanding examples of kule, a type of building which crystallized in the 17th century. But Gjirokastra also features some more elaborate examples from the early 19th century. The kule has a tall basement, a first floor for use in the cold season, and a second floor for the warm season. Interiors feature rich decorative details and painted floral patterns, particularly in the zones reserved for the reception of visitors. The town also retains a bazaar, an 18th-century mosque and two churches of the same period.
Bahrain - Qal'at al-Bahrain Archaeological Site
Qal'at al–Bahrain is a typical tell – an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation. The strata of the 300x600-metre tell testify to continuous human presence from about 2300 B.C. to the 16th century A.D. About 25% of the site have been excavated revealing structures of different types: residential, public, commercial, religious and military. They testify to the importance of the site, a trading port, over the centuries. On the top of the 12m high mound there is the impressive Portuguese fort, which gave the whole site its name, qal'a, meaning fort. The site was the capital of the Dilmun, one of most important ancient civilizations of the region. It contains the richest remains inventoried of this civilization, which was hitherto only known from written Sumerian references.
Belarus - Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh
The Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh is located in central Belarus. The Radziwill dynasty, who built and kept the ensemble from the 16th century till 1939, gave birth to some of the most important personalities in European history and culture. Due to their efforts, the town of Nesvizh came to exercise great influence in the sciences, arts, crafts and architecture. The complex consists of the residence castle and the mausoleum church of Corpus Christi with their setting. The castle has ten interconnected buildings, which developed as one architectural whole around a six-sided courtyard. The palaces and Corpus Christi Church became important prototypes, which marked the development of architecture throughout central Europe and Russia.
Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Sweden, Ukraine - Struve Geodetic Arc
The Struve Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through ten countries and over 2,820km. These are points of a survey, carried out between 1816 and 1855 by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which represented the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian. This helped establish the exact size and shape of our planet and marked an important step in the development of earth sciences and topographic mapping. It is an extraordinary example of scientific collaboration among scientists from different countries, and of collaboration between monarchs for a scientific cause. The original arc consisted of 258 main triangles with 265 main station points. The listed site includes 34 of the original station points, with different markings, i.e. a drilled hole in rock, iron cross, cairns, or built obelisks.
Belgium - Plantin-Moretus House–Workshops–Museum Complex
The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a printing plant and publishing house dating from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Situated in Antwerp, one of the three leading cities of early European printing along with Paris and Venice, it is associated with the history of the invention and spread of typography. Its name refers to the greatest printer-publisher of the second half of the 16th century: Christophe Plantin (c. 1520-1589). The monument is of outstanding architectural value. It contains exhaustive evidence of the life and work of what was the most prolific printing and publishing house in Europe in the late 16th century. The building of the company, which remained in activity until the 1867, contains a large collection of old printing equipment, an extensive library, invaluable archives and works of art, among them a painting by Rubens.
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar
The historic town of Mostar, spanning a deep valley of the Neretva River, developed in the 15th and 16th century as an Ottoman frontier town and during the Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mostar has long been known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, Stari Most, after which it is named. In the 1990 conflict, however, most of the historic town and the Old Bridge, designed by the renowned architect, Sinan, were destroyed. The Old Bridge was recently rebuilt and many of the edifices in the Old Town have been restored or rebuilt with the contribution of an international scientific committee established by UNESCO. The Old Bridge area, with its pre-Ottoman, eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and western European architectural features is an outstanding example of a multicultural urban settlement. The reconstructed Old Bridge and Old City of Mostar is a symbol of reconciliation, international cooperation and of the coexistence of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities.
Chile - Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works
Humberstone and Santa Laura works contain over 200 former saltpeter works where workers from Chile, Peru and Bolivia lived in company towns and forged a distinctive communal pampinos culture. That culture is manifest in their rich language, creativity, and solidarity, and, above all, in their pioneering struggle for social justice, which had a profound impact on social history. Situated in the remote desert Pampa, one of the driest deserts on earth, thousands of pampinos lived and worked in this hostile environment, for over 60 years, from 1880, to process the largest deposit of saltpeter in the world, producing the fertilizer sodium nitrate that was to transform agricultural lands in North and South America, and in Europe, and produce great wealth for Chile. Because of the vulnerability of the structures and because of the impact of a recent earthquake, the site was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, to help mobilize resources for its conservation.
China - Historic Centre of Macao
Macao, a lucrative port of strategic importance in the development of international trade, was under Portuguese administration from the mid 16th century until 1999, when it came under Chinese sovereignty. With its historic street, residential, religious and public Portuguese and Chinese buildings, the historic centre of Macao provides a unique testimony to the meeting of aesthetic, cultural, architectural and technological influences from East and West. The site also contains a fortress and a lighthouse, which is the oldest in China. The site bears testimony to one of the earliest and longest-lasting encounters between China and the West based on the vibrancy of international trade.
Cuba - Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos
The colonial town of Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 in the Spanish territory but was initially settled by immigrants of French origin. It became a trading place for sugar cane, tobacco and coffee. Situated on the Caribbean coast of southern-central Cuba at the heart of the country’s sugar cane, mango, tobacco and coffee production area, the town first developed in the neoclassical style. It later became more eclectic but retained a harmonious overall townscape. Among buildings of particular interest are the Government Palace (City Hall), San Lorenzo School, the Bishopric, the Ferrer Palace, the former lyceum, and some residential houses. Cienfuegos is the first, and an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble representing the new ideas of modernity, hygiene and order in urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th century.
France - Le Havre, the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret
The city of Le Havre, on the English Channel in Normandy, was severely bombed during the Second World War. The destroyed area was rebuilt according to the plan of a team headed by Auguste Perret, from 1945 to 1964. The site forms the administrative, commercial and cultural centre of Le Havre. Amongst many reconstructed cities, Le Havre is exceptional for its unity and integrity. It combines a reflection of the earlier pattern of the town and its extant historic structures with the new ideas of town planning and construction technology. It is an outstanding post-war example of urban planning and architecture based on the unity of methodology and the use of prefabrication, the systematic utilization of a modular grid, and the innovative exploitation of the potential of concrete.
Iran - Soltaniyeh
The mausoleum of Oljaytu was constructed in 1302-12 in the city of Soltaniyeh, the capital of the Ilkhanid dynasty, which was founded by the Mongols. Situated in the province of Zanjan, Soltaniyeh is one of the outstanding examples of the achievements of Persian architecture and a key monument in the development of its Islamic architecture. The octagonal building is crowned with a 50m-tall dome covered in turquoise blue faience and surrounded by eight slender minarets. It is the earliest existing example of the double-shelled dome in Iran. The mausoleum’s interior decoration is also outstanding and scholars such as A.U. Pope have described the building as “anticipating the Taj Mahal.”
Israel - Biblical Tells – Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba
Tells, or pre-historic settlement mounds, are characteristic of the flatter lands of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Eastern Turkey. Of more than 200 tells in Israel, Megiddo, Hazor and Beer Sheba are representative of tells that contain substantial remains of cities with biblical connections. The three tells also present some of the best examples in the Levant of elaborate Iron Age, underground water collecting systems, created to serve dense urban communities. Their traces of construction over the millennia reflect the existence of centralized authority, prosperous agricultural activity and the control of important trade routes.
Israel - Incense Route / Cities in the Negev
The four Nabatean towns of Haluza, Mamshit, Avdat and Shivta, along with associated fortresses and agricultural landscapes in the Negev Desert, are spread along routes linking them to the Mediterranean end of the Incense and Spice route. Together they reflect the hugely profitable trade in frankincense and myrrh from south Arabia to the Mediterranean, which flourished from the 3rd century B.C. until to 2nd century A.D. With the vestiges of their sophisticated irrigation systems, urban constructions, forts, and caravanserai they bear witness to the way in which the harsh desert was settled for trade and agriculture.
Italy - Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica
The site consists of two separate elements, containing outstanding vestiges dating back to Greek and Roman times: The Necropolis of Pantalica contains over 5,000 tombs cut into the rock near open stone quarries, most of them dating from the 13th to 7th century B.C. Vestiges of the Byzantine era also remain in the area, notably the foundations of the Anaktoron (Prince's Palace). The other part of the property, Ancient Syracuse, includes the nucleus of the city’s foundation as Ortygia by Greeks from Corinth in the 8th century B.C. The site of the city, which Cicero described as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of all”, retains vestiges such as the Temple of Athena (5th century B.C., later transformed to serve as a cathedral), a Greek theatre, a Roman amphitheatre, a fort and more. Many remains bear witness to the troubled history of Sicily, from the Byzantines to the Bourbons, with, in between, the Arabo-Muslims, the Normans, Frederick II (Hohenstaufen, 1197 to 1250 A.D.), the Aragons and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Historic Syracuse offers a unique testimony to the development of Mediterranean civilization over three millennia.
Nigeria - Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove
The dense forest of the Osun Sacred Grove, on the outskirts of the city of Osogbo, is one of the last remnants of primary high forest in southern Nigeria. Regarded as the abode of the goddess of fertility Osun, one of the pantheon of Yoruba gods, the landscape of the grove and its meandering river is dotted with sanctuaries and shrines, sculptures and art works in honour of Osun and other Yoruba deities. The Grove, which is now seen as a symbol of identity for all Yoruba people, is probably the last sacred grove in Yoruba culture. It testifies to the once widespread practice of establishing sacred groves outside all settlements.
Russian Federation - Historical Centre of the City of Yaroslavl
Situated at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl rivers some 250km northeast of Moscow, the historic city of Yaroslavl developed into a major commercial centre as of the 11th century. It is renowned for its numerous 17th century churches and is an outstanding example of the urban planning reform Empress Catherine the Great ordered for the whole of Russia in 1763. While keeping some of its significant historic structures, the town was renovated in the neo-classical style on a radial urban master plan. It has also kept elements from the 16th century in the Spassky Monastery, one of the oldest in the Upper Volga region, built on the site of a pagan temple in the late 12th century, but reconstructed overtime.
Turkmenistan - Kunya-Urgench
Kunya-Urgench is situated in northwestern Turkmenistan, on the south side of the Amu Daria River. Urgench was the capital of the Khorezm region, part of the Achaemenid Empire. The old town contains a series of monuments mainly from the 11th to 16th centuries, including a mosque, the gates of a caravanserai, fortresses, mausoleums and a minaret. The monuments testify to outstanding achievements in architecture and craftsmanship whose influence reached Iran and Afghanistan, and later the architecture of the Mogul Empire of 16th-century India.
France and Belgium - Belfries of Belgium and France
Twenty-three belfries in the north of France and the belfry of Gembloux in Belgium were inscribed as a group, an extension to the 30 Belgian belfries inscribed in 1999 as Belfries of Flanders and Wallonia. Built between the 11th and 17th centuries, they showcase the Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles of architecture. They are highly significant tokens of the winning of civil liberties. Whilst Italian, German and English towns mostly opted to build town halls, in part of northwestern Europe (France, Belgium and the Netherlands), greater emphasis was placed on building belfries. Originally, a belfry was erected as a sign of communal independence obtained by charter, and as the very symbol of freedom. Compared to the keep (symbol of the seigneurs, i.e. feudal lord) and to the bell-tower (symbol of the Church), the belfry, the third tower in the urban landscape, symbolizes the power of the aldermen. Over the centuries, they came to represent the influence and wealth of the towns.
Germany and the United Kingdom - Frontiers of the Roman Empire
The site consists of two sections of the border line of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent in the 2nd century A.D., part of what is known as the “Roman Limes”. The two sections cover a length of 550 km from the northwest of Germany, to the Danube in the southeast and are inscribed as an extension of Hadrian’s Wall (UK), which was listed in 1987. All together, the Limes stretched over 5,000kms from the Atlantic coast of northern Britain, through Europe to the Black Sea, and from there to the Red Sea and across North Africa to the Atlantic coast. They consist of remains of built walls, ditches, forts, fortresses, and watch towers. Certain elements of the line have been excavated, some reconstructed and a few destroyed. Some parts are only known from field surveys. Vestiges in this site include remains of the ramparts, walls and ditches, close to 900 watchtowers, 60 forts, and civilian settlements, which accommodated tradesmen, craftsmen and others who serviced the military.
India - Mountain Railways of India
The site includes the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which was inscribed in 1999. The site now encompasses the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 46km long meter-gauge singletrack railway in Tamil Nadu State. Its construction was first proposed in 1854, but due to the difficulty of the mountainous location, the work only started in 1891 and was completed in 1908. This railway, scaling an elevation of 326m to 2,203m and still in use today, represented the latest technology of the time. It was highly significant in facilitating population movement and the social-economic development in the British colonial era.
South Africa – Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs
The Taung Skull Fossil Site, part of the extension, is the place where in 1924 the celebrated Taung Skull - a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus - was found. Makapan Valley, also in the site, features in its many archaeological caves traces of human occupation and evolution dating back some 3.3 million years. The area contains essential elements that define the origin and evolution of humankind. Fossils found there have enabled the identification of several specimens of early hominids, more particularly specimens of Paranthropus, dating back between 4.5 million and 2.5 million years as well as evidence of the domestication of fire 1.8 million to 1 million years ago. It is an extension to the site inscribed in 1999.
Spain - Works of Antoni Gaudí
Four properties built by the architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in or near Barcelona are added to his Parque Güell, Palacio Güell and Casa Mila in Barcelona, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1984. They testify to Gaudí’s exceptional creative contribution to the development of architecture and building technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These monuments represent an eclectic, as well as a very personal, style which was given free reign in the design of gardens, sculpture and all decorative arts, as well as architecture. The four buildings added to the List are: Casa Vicens (1883-85); Gaudí’s work on the Nativity façade and Crypt of the Sagrada Familia cathedral (1884-1926); Casa Batlló (1904-06); Crypt in Colonia Güell (1898-1905).
The 21-member World Heritage Committee has been meeting in Durban since July 10. On Thursday it added seven new natural sites to UNESCO’s World Heritage List which now totals 160 such sites. Earlier in the session, the Committee removed three sites from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Committee, which is in charge of implementing the 1972 Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, will continue its work until July 17. As it considers the state of conservation of sites already on the List tomorrow, it may place some of them on the List of World Heritage in Danger so as to help overcome obstacles to their conservation.
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