Marrakesh - UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, meeting since November 29 in Marrakesh (Morocco), has inscribed 48 new cultural and natural sites on the World Heritage List.
The List now has 630 sites of "exceptional universal value" in 118 countries. Sites in South Africa, Nigeria, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Turkmenistan are on the List for the first time.
Notable among the new sites are the Valdés Peninsula in Patagonia (Argentina), Robben Island (South Africa), Lorentz National Park (Indonesia), Wartburg Castle (Germany) and the Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion (France). The record number of 48 new sites chosen this year is made up of 11 natural sites, 35 cultural sites and two mixed sites, both cultural and natural. There have also been extensions made for five already-listed sites.
The 48 new sites are located in 33 countries, reflecting the aim of improving geographical balance (two African countries being among the four new arrivals) as well as taking into account the concept of "cultural landscape", several of the new sites fitting this description.
Península Valdés (N iv) in Patagonia is a site of global significance for the conservation of marine mammals. It shelters an important breeding population of the endangered southern right whale as well as important breeding populations of southern elephant seals and southern sea lions. The orcas in this area have developed a unique hunting strategy to adapt to local coastal conditions. The Cueva de las Manos, Río Pinturas, (C iii) contains an exceptional assemblage of cave art, executed between 10,000 and 1,000 years ago. It takes its name (Cave of the Hands) from the stencilled outlines of human hands in the cave, but there are also many depictions of animals, such as guanacos (Lama guanicoe), which are still common in the region. The hunter- gatherer communities that were responsible for the paintings inhabited this remote area of Patagonia until the arrival of European settlers in the 17th century.
City of Graz – Historic Centre (C ii, iv) is a central European urban complex marked by the centuries-long presence of the Habsburgs. The old city integrates harmoniously the architectural styles and artistic movements that have succeeded each other since the Middle Ages, as well as the different cultural influences of the neighbouring regions.
The Belfries of Flanders and Wallonia (C ii, iv), thirty in number and invariably found in urban settings, are imposing bell- towers of medieval origin, generally attached to the town hall and occasionally to a church. In addition to their outstanding artistic value, the belfries are potent symbols of the transition from feudalism to the mercantile urban society that played a vital role in the development of late medieval Europe.
The Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves (N ii, iv) in the states of Bahia and Espirito Santo consist of eight separate protected areas containing 112,000 ha of Atlantic forest and associated shrub (restingas). The rainforests of the Atlantic Coast of Brazil are the world's richest in terms of biodiversity. The site contains a distinct range of species with a high level of endemism and reveals a pattern of evolution of great interest to science and of importance for conservation.
The Southeast Atlantic Forest Reserves (N ii, iii, iv) in the states of Parana and Sao Paolo, contain some of the best and largest examples of Atlantic forest in Brazil. The 25 protected areas that make up the site (some 470,000 ha in total) display the biological wealth and evolutionary history of the last remaining Atlantic Forests. From mountains covered by dense forests, down to wetlands, coastal islands with isolated mountains and dunes, the area comprises a rich natural environment of scenic beauty.
The Historic Centre of the Town of Diamantina (C ii, iv), a colonial village inserted like a jewel in a necklace of inhospitable rocky mountains, illustrates the adventure of diamond prospectors in the 18th century and testifies to human cultural and artistic ascendancy over its living environment.
Miguasha Park (N i) in south-eastern Quebec on the southern coast of the Gaspé Peninsula, is a palaeontological site, considered to be the world's most outstanding illustration of the Devonian Period known as the "Age of Fishes". Dating from 370 million years ago, the Upper Devonian Escuminac Formation represented here contains six of the eight fossil fish groups associated with this period. Its paramount importance is due to its having the greatest number and best- preserved fossil specimens of the lobe-finned fishes that gave rise to the first four-legged, air-breathing terrestrial vertebrates – the tetrapods.
Mount Wuyi (N iii iv C iii, vi) is the most outstanding area for biodiversity conservation in south-east China and a refuge for a large number of ancient, relict species, many of them endemic to China. The serene beauty of the dramatic gorges of the Nine Bend River, with its numerous temples and monasteries, many now in ruins, provided the setting for the development and spread of Neo- Confucianism, which has been very influential in the cultures of East Asia since the 11th century. In the 1st century BC a large administrative capital was built at nearby Chengcun by the Han Dynasty rulers. Its massive walls enclose an archaeological site of great significance.
The Dazu Rock Carvings (C i ii iii) in the steep hillsides of the Dazu area contain an exceptional series of rock carvings dating from the 9th to 13th centuries. They are remarkable for their high aesthetic qualities, for their rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and for the light that they shed on everyday life in China during this period. They provide outstanding evidence of the coming together of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism in a harmonious synthesis.
The Area de Conservación Guanacaste (N ii, iv) contains important natural habitats for the conservation of biological diversity, including the best dry forest habitats from Central America to northern Mexico and key habitat for endangered or rare plant and animal species. The site demonstrates significant ecological processes in both its terrestrial and marine-coastal environments.
The Desembarco del Granma National Park (N i, iii) with its uplifted marine terraces and associated ongoing development of karst topography and features, represents a globally significant example of geomorphologic and physiographic features and ongoing geological processes. The area, in and around Cabo Cruz in southwestern Cuba, includes spectacular terraces and cliffs, as well as some of the most pristine and impressive coastal cliffs bordering the western Atlantic.
The Viñales Valley (C iv) is encircled by mountains, and its landscape is interspersed with dramatic rocky outcrops. Traditional techniques are still in use for agricultural production, particularly of tobacco. The quality of this cultural landscape is enhanced by the vernacular architecture of its farms and villages, where a rich multi-ethnic society survives, illustrating the cultural development of the islands of the Caribbean, and of Cuba.
Litomyšl Castle(C ii, iv) is in origin a Renaissance arcade-castle of the type first developed in Italy and adopted and greatly developed in central Europe in the 16th century. Its design and decoration are of high quality, including the later High-Baroque features added in the 18th century. It preserves intact the range of ancillary buildings associated with an aristocratic residence of this type.
The Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca (C ii, iv, v) a town set in a valley surrounded by the Andean Mountains, is typical of an inland colonial town. Dedicated to agriculture, it became a melting pot for local and immigrant populations.
FINLANDThe Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki (C iii, iv) features more than thirty granite burial cairns bearing exceptional witness to the funerary practices and the social and religious structures of northern Europe more than three millennia ago.
FRANCEJurisdiction of Saint-Emilion (C iii, iv). Viticulture was introduced to this fertile region of Aquitaine by the Romans, and intensified in the Middle Ages. The Saint-Emilion area benefited from its location on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Many churches, monasteries, and hospices were built there from the 11th century onwards. It was granted the special status of a jurisdiction during the period of English rule in the 12th century. It is an exceptional landscape devoted entirely to wine- growing, with many fine historic monuments in its towns and villages.
Museumsinsel (Museum Island) (C ii, iv). The museum as a social phenomenon owes its origins to the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century. The five museums on the Museumsinsel in Berlin, built between 1824 and 1930, represent the realisation of a visionary project and the evolution of approaches to museum design over the century. Each museum has been designed with a view to establishing an organic connection to the art it houses. The importance of the museum's collections – which bear witness to the development of civilisations – is enhanced by buildings' urban and architectural qualities.
The Wartburg Castle (C iii, vi) blends superbly into its forest surroundings and is in many ways "the ideal castle." Although it contains some original sections from the feudal period, the outline it acquired in the course of a 19th-century reconstitution is a splendid evocation of what this fortress might have been at the peak of its military and seigneurial power. It was during his exile at Wartburg Castle that Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German.
The Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns (C i, ii, iii, iv, vi) are imposing ruins of the two greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilisation which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world in the 15th to 12th centuries BC and which played a vital role in the development of the culture of classical Greece. These two cities are indissolubly linked to the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, which have influenced European art and literature for more than three millennia.
Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos (C iii, iv, vi). The small island of Pátmos in the Dodecanese is reputed to be where St John the Theologian wrote both his Gospel and the Apocalypse. A monastery dedicated to the "Beloved Disciple" was founded there in the late 10th century and it has been a place of pilgrimage and of Greek Orthodox learning continuously since that time. The fine monastic complex dominates the island, and the old settlement of Chorá associated with it, which contains many religious and secular buildings.
Hortobágy National Park (C iv, v). The cultural landscape of the Hortobágy Puszta is a vast area of plains and wetlands in eastern Hungary. Traditional forms of land-use, such as grazing domestic animals, have been present in its pastoral society for more than two millennia.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (C ii, iv) is the first, and still the most outstanding, example of a hill passenger railway. Opened in 1881, it applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. It is still fully operational and retains most of its original features intact.
Lorentz National Park (N i, ii, iv) is the largest protected area in Southeast Asia (2.5 mil. ha.). It is the only protected area in the world which incorporates a continuous, intact transect from snow cap to tropical marine environment, including extensive lowland wetlands. Located at the meeting point of two colliding continental plates, the area has a complex geology with on-going mountain formation as well as major sculpting by glaciation. The area also contains fossil sites, which record the evolution of life on New Guinea, a high level of endemism and the highest level of biodiversity in the region.
Villa Adriana (C i, ii, iii), an exceptional complex of classical buildings created in the 2nd century AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, reproduces the best elements of the material cultures of Egypt, Greece, and Rome in the form of an "ideal city."
The Shrines and Temples of Nikko (C i, iv, vi), together with their natural surroundings, have for centuries formed a sacred site known for its architectural and decorative masterpieces. They are closely associated with the history of the Tokugawa Shoguns.
The Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco (C iii, iv), is an exceptionally well preserved example of a fortified political, religious, and commercial centre from the troubled period of 650- 900 AD that followed the breakdown of the great Mesoamerican states such as Teotihuacan, Monte Alban, Palenque, and Tikal.
Historic Fortified Town of Campeche (C ii, iv). The historic centre of Campeche is a harbour town typical of the Spanish colonial period in the New World. It has kept its outer walls and system of fortifications, constructed to defend this Caribbean port against attacks from the sea.
The Droogmakerij de Beemster (Beemster Polder) (C i, ii, iv), dating from the early 17th century, is the oldest area of reclaimed land in The Netherlands. It has preserved intact its regular landscape of fields, roads, canals, dikes and settlements, laid out in accordance with the principles of classical and Renaissance planning.
The Sukur Cultural Landscape (C iii, v, vi), with the Palace of the Hidi (Chief) on a hill dominating the villages below, its terraced fields and their sacred symbols, and the extensive remains of a former flourishing iron industry, is a remarkably intact physical expression of a society and its spiritual and material culture.
The Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (N iii, iv) features a spectacular limestone karst landscape with its underground river. A distinguishing feature of the river is that it emerges directly into the sea, and the lower portion of the river is subject to tidal influences. The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full "mountain-to the-sea" ecosystem and protects some of the most significant forests in Asia.
The Historic Town of Vigan (C ii, iv), established in the 16th century, is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines and from China with those of Europe to create a unique culture and townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.
Kalwaria Zebrzydowska: the Mannerist Architectural and Park Landscape Complex and Pilgrimage Park (C ii, iv) is a cultural landscape of great beauty and spiritual quality. Its natural setting, in which a linked series of symbolic places of worship relating to the Passion of Jesus Christ and the Life of the Virgin Mary was laid out at the beginning of the 17th century, has remained virtually unchanged. It is still today a place of pilgrimage.
The Laurisilva of Madeira (N ii iv) is an outstanding relict of a previously widespread laurel forest type. It is the largest area of laurel forest surviving and is believed to be 90% primary forest, containing a unique suite of plants and animals including many endemic species such as the Madeiran long-toed pigeon.
The Historic Centre of Sighisoara (C iii, v), founded by German craftsmen and merchants, known as the Saxons of Transylvania, has preserved in an exemplary way the features of a small, fortified, medieval town, which played an important strategic and commercial role at the edges of central Europe for several centuries.
The Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains (C ii, iii, iv) six Late Iron-Age defensive works, were created in the 1st centuries BC and AD as protection against Roman conquest. Their extensive and well- preserved remains are located on a spectacular natural site and present a dramatic picture of a vigorous and innovative Iron Age civilisation.
The Wooden Churches of Maramures (C iv) represent a selection of eight outstanding examples of different architectural solutions from different periods and areas. They provide a vivid picture of the variety of design and craftsmanship expressed by narrow but high timber constructions with their characteristic tall, slim clock towers at the western end of the building, single or double roofed and covered by shingles. As such, they are a particular vernacular expression of the cultural landscape of that mountainous area of northern Romania.
The Western Caucasus (N ii, iv), extending over 275,000 ha of the extreme western end of the Caucasus Mountains and located 50 km northeast of the Black Sea, is one of the few large mountain areas of Europe that has not experienced significant human impacts. Its subalpine and alpine pastures have only been grazed by wild animals, and its extensive tracts of undisturbed mountain forests, extending from the lowlands to the subalpine zone, are unique in Europe. The site has a great diversity of ecosystems with important endemic plant and wildlife and is the place of origin and reintroduction of the mountain sub-species of the European bison.
SAINT KITTS AND NEVISThe Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park (C iii, iv) is an outstanding example of the application of the principles of 17th- and 18th- century military architecture in a Caribbean context. It is of especial interest since it represents an exclusively British solution, the choice of prominent natural features as the sites of fortresses that served both as defensive works and places of refuge.
Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park (N ii iii iv). The ongoing fluvial, marine and aeolian processes in the site have produced a variety of landforms including coral reefs, long sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lake systems, swamps, and extensive reed and papyrus wetlands. The interplay of the park's environmental heterogeneity with major floods and coastal storms and a transitional geographic location between sub-tropical and tropical Africa has resulted in exceptional species diversity and on-going speciation. The mosaic of landforms and habitat types creates superlative scenic vistas. The site contains critical habitat for a range of species from Africa's marine, wetland and savannah environments.
Robben Island (C iii vi) was used at various times between the 17th and the 20th century as a prison, a hospital for socially unacceptable groups, and a military base. Its buildings, and in particular those of the late 20th century, such as the maximum security prison for political prisoners, bear witness to the triumph of democracy and freedom over oppression and racialism.
The Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs (C iii, vi) have produced abundant scientific information on the evolution of modern man over the past 3.5 million years, on his way of life, and on the animals with which he lived and on which he fed. The landscape also preserves many features of that of prehistoric man.
Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture (N ii iv C ii iii iv) gives an excellent example of the interaction between the marine and coastal ecosystems. The dense prairies of oceanic Posidonia (seagrass), an important endemic species found only in the Mediterranean basin, contain and support a diversity of marine life. Ibiza preserves considerable evidence of its long history. The archaeological sites at Sa Caleta (settlement) and Puig des Molins (cemetery) testify to the important role played by the island in the Mediterranean economy in protohistory, particularly during the Phoenician-Carthaginian period. The fortified Upper Town (Alta Vila) is an outstanding example of Renaissance military architecture, which had a profound influence of the development of fortifications in the Spanish settlements of the New World.
San Cristóbal de La Laguna (C ii iv) has two nuclei, the original unplanned Upper Town, and the Lower Town, the first ideal "city-territory" laid out according to philosophical principles. Its wide streets and open spaces contain a number of fine churches and public and private buildings from the 16th to 18th centuries.
State Historical and Cultural Park "Ancient Merv" (C ii iii), the oldest and most completely preserved of the oasis cities along the Silk Route in Central Asia. The remains in this wide oasis span four thousand years of human history and a number of monuments are visible, particularly from the last two millennia.
The Heart of Neolithic Orkney (C i, ii, iii, iv). The group of Neolithic monuments on Orkney consist of a large chambered tomb (Maes Howe), two ceremonial stone circles (the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar), and a settlement (Skara Brae), together with a number of unexcavated burial, ceremonial, and living sites. The group constitutes a major relict cultural landscape graphically depicting life in this remote archipelago north of the coast of Scotland five thousand years ago.
Hoi An Ancient Town (C ii v) constitutes an exceptionally well preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port from the period of the 15th to 19th centuries. Its buildings and its street pattern reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that combined to produce this unique heritage site.
My Son Sanctuary (C ii iii). Between the 4th and the 13th centuries a unique culture developed on the coast of contemporary Vietnam which owed its spiritual origins to the Hinduism of India. This is graphically illustrated by the remains of a series of impressive tower temples in a dramatic site that was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom for most of its existence.
The following five sites already inscribed in the World Heritage List were extended:
- Pyrénées-Mont Perdu (France/Spain)
- the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin (Germany)
- Ferrara, City of the Renaissance and its Po Delta (Italy)
- Villages with fortified churches in Transylvania (Romania) – an extension of "Biertan and its fortified Church"
- and, under certain conditions, the site of Butrinti (Albania).