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Laureates 1999

The UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes has been awarded for its first edition in 1999 jointly to Valle de Viñales (Cuba), the Elishia's Park in Jericho (State of Palestine), and the Open-Air Art Museum at Pedvale (Latvia).

Valle de Viñales

Valle de Viñales (Cuba) © UNESCO, Ron Van Oers

The Valle de Viñales, situated in the Pinar del Rio province in the extreme west of Cuba, is, above all, a traditional rural landscape, dominated by the cultivation of tobacco, but also featuring pre-colonial and post-colonial architectural riches. It is situated at the foot of the "Mogotes", a group of small karstic hills that gives an emblematic value to the landscape. This unique scenery has been exploited by local artists and constitutes a part of the Cuban collective imagination. The Valle de Viñales is a cultural landscape belonging to the category of evolving, living landscapes, which today are seeing increasing numbers of tourists. After receiving the Prize, the site was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in December 1999.

Elishia's Park, Jericho
State of Palestine

Jericho © 2012 Tamar Hayardeni - CC BY 3.0

Elishia's Park, owned by the Jericho Municipality (State of Palestine), is an oasis landscape grouped around the spring that gives the park its name (it is also called Elisee's Spring or Ain El-Sultan). Orchards, palm groves and banana plantations, together with examples of diverse tropical plants, make up this green, refreshing area in the heart of the arid Judean desert. Dominated by the Mount of Temptation, where Christ is said to have battled with the Devil for 40 days, and overlooking the ruins of Jericho, the first historical fortified city whose destruction is told in the Book of Joshua, this landscape is steeped in a rich history that goes back to the Bible, thus attracting many tourists to the area.

The Open-Air Art Museum at Pedvale

The Open-Air Art Museum at Pedvale (Latvia) © 2009 עודד.ש - CC BY-SA 4.0

Situated to the north of the Courlande historical region in Latvia, the Open-Air Art Museum at Pedvale is a private institution, founded in 1992 at the instigation of the sculptor Feldbergs. Placed at the heart of the Abava Valley, a nationally protected area that combines pine and oak forest and that forms a rural landscape still bearing the traces of collective agriculture and of architectural heritage of national importance, this "museum", or living landscape, plays an active social role. The protection of the natural environment, together with the promotion of national traditions and of the arts, has a special meaning in this country which has only recently won its independence.

Three honourable mentions have been awarded, one to Muskauer Park (Poland and Germany), the others to the Jardin del Principe at Aranjuez (Spain) and to the site of Mount Huangshan (China). The Leucade salterns (Greece) have been awarded a special mention.