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Sites in Germany and Italy bring to 19 the number of sites inscribed on the World Heritage List this year

Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 19:00
access_time 4 min read
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe © Nik Barlo jr | Nik Barlo jr

Two new sites and one extension to a Polish site were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List on Sunday afternoon, bringing to 19 the total number of sites added to the List during the 37th session taking place in Phnom Penh.

The latest inscriptions are:

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, (Germany)

Descending a long hill dominated by a giant statue of Hercules, the monumental water displays of Wilhelmshöhe were begun by Landgrave Carl of Hesse-Kassel in 1689 around an east-west axis and were developed further into the 19th century. Reservoirs and channels behind the Hercules Monument supply water to a complex system of hydro-pneumatic devices that supply the site’s large Baroque water theatre, grotto, fountains and 350-metre long Grand Cascade. Beyond this, channels and waterways wind across the axis, feeding a series of dramatic waterfalls and wild rapids, the geyser-like Grand Fountain which leaps 50m high, the lake and secluded ponds that enliven the Romantic garden created in the 18th century by Carl’s great-grandson, Elector Wilhelm I. The great size of the park and its waterworks along with the towering Hercules statue constitute an expression of the ideals of absolutist Monarchy while the ensemble is a remarkable testimony to the aesthetics of the Baroque and Romantic periods. 

Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany, (Italy)

Twelve villas and two pleasure gardens spread across the Tuscan country side make up this site which bears testimony to the influence the Medici family exerted over modern European culture through its patronage of the arts. Built between the 15th and 17th centuries, they represent an innovative system of rural construction in harmony with nature and dedicated to leisure, the arts and knowledge. The villas embody an innovative form and function, a new type of princely residence that differed from both the farms owned by rich Florentines of the period and from the military might of baronial castles. The Medici villas form the first example of the connection between habitat, gardens, and the environment and became an enduring reference for princely residences throughout Italy and Europe. Their gardens and integration into the natural environment helped develelop the appreciation of landscape characteristic Humanism and the Renaissance.

Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines

Bochnia Royal Salt Mines (Poland) is an extension to the Polish Wieliczka Salt Mine, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978, which is now to be known as the Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines. The Wieliczka Saltworks Castle used for the management of the property was also added to the site. The rock salt deposit in Wieliczka-Bochnia has been mined since the 13th century and is the oldest of its type in Europe. Spread over several levels, it has 300 km of galleries with underground chapels, storerooms and more. It includes altars and statues sculpted in the salt, making a fascinating pilgrimage into the past of a major industrial undertaking that developed over 700 years.

Five natural sites were inscribed: Xinjiang Tianshan (China), Mount Etna (Italy), El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve (Mexico), Namib Sand Sea (Namibia), Tajik National Park (Tajikistan)

Fourteen cultural sites were inscribed:  Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (Canada), Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, (China);  Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong (Democratic People’s Reublic of Korea), Levuka Historical Port Town (Fiji); Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (Germany), Hill Forts of Rajashtan (India), Golestan Palace (Iran), Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany (Italy), Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration (Japan), Historic Centre of Agadez (Niger), Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine (Poland / Ukraine), University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia (Portugal), Al Zubarah Archaeological Site (Qatar), Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora (Ukraine)

Three sites received extensions: Mount Kenya-Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (Kenya), Maloti Drakensberg Transboundary World Heritage Site (Lesotho / South Africa), Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines (Poland)

The following changes were made to the List of World Heritage in Danger:

Bam and its Cultural Landscape (Iran) was removed from the Danger List

East Rennell (Solomon Island) was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger along with the six World Heritage sites of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The World Heritage List now numbers 981 in 160 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention. Fiji and Qatar had their first sites inscribed during the present session. The List numbers 759 cultural, 193 natural and 29 mixed properties.