The World Heritage Committee on Saturday afternoon added the following sites to UNESCO’s World Heritage List: Gonbad-e Qābus (Iran), Archaelogical Heritage of the Lenggong Valley (Malaysia), The Landscape of Grand Pré (Canada); Heritage of Mercury (Almadén and Idrija (Slovenia/Spain); Margravial Opera House Bayreuth (Germany); Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (Portugal); and Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin (France).
Gonbad - e Qābus (Iran): The 53-metre high tomb built in 1006 A.D. for Qābus Ibn Voshmgir near the ruins of the ancient city of Jorjan on the Gorgan River in northeast Iran, bears testimony to the cultural exchange between Central Asian nomads and the ancient civilization of Iran. The tower is the only remaining evidence of Jorjan, a former centre of arts and science that was destroyed during the Mongols’ invasion in the 14 th and 15 th centuries. It is an outstanding and technologically innovative example of Islamic architecture that influenced sacral building in Iran, Anatolia and Central Asia. Built of unglazed fired bricks, the monument’s intricate geometric forms constitute a tapering cylinder with a diameter of 17 to 15.5 metres, topped by a conical brick roof. It illustrates the development of mathematics and science in the Muslim world at the turn of the first millennium A.D.
Archaelogical Heritage of the Lenggong Valley (Malaysia): Situated in the lush Lenggon Valley, the property includes four archaeological sites in two clusters which span close to two million years, one of the longest records of early man in a single locality, and the oldest outside the African continent. It features open-air and cave sites with Palaeolithic tool workshops, evidence of early technology. The number of sites found in the relatively contained area, suggests the presence of a relatively large, semi-sedentary population with cultural remains from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Metal ages.
The Landscape of Grand-Pré (Canada): Situated in the southern Minas Basin of Nova Scotia, the Grand Pré marshland and archaeological sites constitute a cultural landscape bearing testimony to the development of agricultural farmland using dykes and the aboiteau wooden sluice system, started by the Acadians in the 17 th century and further developed and maintained by the Planters and present day inhabitants. The site - marked by one of the most extreme tidal ranges in the world, averaging at 11.6 metres – is also inscribed as a memorial to Acadian way of life and deportation, which started in 1755. Over 1,300 hectares, the cultural landscape encompasses a large expanse of polder farmland and archaeological elements of the towns of Grand Pré and Hortonville, which was built by the British successors of the Acadians. The landscape is an exceptional example of the adaptation of the first European settlers to the conditions of the North American Atlantic coast and an iconic place of remembrance of the Acadians’ deportation, known as the Grand Dérangement.
Heritage of Mercury Almadén and Idrija (Slovenia/Spain): The property includes the mining sites of Almadén, where mercury (quicksilver) has been extracted since Antiquity, and Idrija, where mercury was first found in 1490 A.D. The Spanish property includes buildings relating to its mining history, including Retamar Castle, religious buildings and traditional dwellings. The site in Idrija notably features mercury stores and infrastructure, as well as miners’ living quarters, and a miners’ theatre. The sites bear testimony to the intercontinental trade in mercury which generated important exchanges between Europe and America over the centuries. The two sites represent the two largest mercury mines in the world and were operational until recent times.
Margravial Opera House Bayreuth (Germany): A masterpiece of Baroque theatre architecture, built between 1745 and 1750, the Opera House is the only entirely preserved example of its type where an audience of 500 can experience Baroque court opera culture and acoustics authentically, as its auditorium retains its original materials, i.e. wood and canvas. Commissioned by Margravine Wilhelmine, wife of Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg–Beyreuth, it was designed by the renowned theatre architect Giuseppe Galli Bibiena. As a court opera house in a public space, it foreshadowed the large public theatres of the 19 th century. The highly decorated theatre’s tiered loge structure of wood with illusionistic painted canvas represents the ephemeral ceremonial architectural tradition that was employed in pageants and celebrations for princely self-representation.
Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (Portugal): The site, extensively fortified from the 17 th to 19 th centuries, represents the largest bulwarked dry ditch system in the work. Within its walls, the town contains barracks and other military buildings as well as churches and monasteries. While Elvas contains remains dating back to the 10 th century A.D., its fortification began when Portugal regained independence in 1640. The fortifications designed by Dutch Jesuit Padre João Piscásio Cosmander represent the best surviving example of the Dutch school of fortifications anywhere. The site also contains the Amoreira Aqueduct, built to enable the stronghold to withstand lengthy sieges.
Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin (France): Remarkable as a landscape shaped over three centuries of coal extraction from the 1700s to the 1900s, the site consists of 109 separate components over 120,000-hectare. It features mining pits (the oldest of which dates from 1850) and lift infrastructure, slag heaps (some of which cover 90 hectares and exceed 140 metres in height), coal transport infrastructure, railway stations, workers estates and mining villages including social habitat, schools, religious buildings, health and community facilities, company premises, owners and managers’ houses, town halls and more. The site bears testimony to the quest to create model workers’ cities from the middle of the 19 th century to the 1960s and further illustrates a significant period in the history of industrial Europe. It documents the living conditions of workers and the solidarity to which it gave rise.