Category Archive: World Heritage Sites

Plantin-Moretus House-Workshops-Museum Complex

Posted by on March 15, 2017

Plantin-Moretus House-Workshops-Museum Complex: My 320th UNESCO World Heritage Site

Plantin-Moretus House-Workshops-Museum Complex: My 320th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Plantin-Moretus House-Workshops-Museum Complex:

The Plantin-Moretus House-Workshops-Museum Complex is the only surviving printing workshop and publishing house in the world dating back to 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 dissemination of typography. Its name refers to the greatest printer-publisher of the second half of the 16th century, Christophe Plantin (c. 1520-1589), and his son-in-law, Jan Moretus I (1543-1610), who took over the best-equipped printing company in Europe upon Plantin’s death. It was thanks to the Moretus family that the firm’s production activities continued in the same location for three centuries, from 1576 to 1867. Ten years later, the Complex was opened as a museum dedicated to presenting the relationship between the living environment of the family, the world of work, and the world of commerce during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

The Complex evolved over the centuries to include a patrician mansion as well as north, south, west, and east wings, added to the 1576-1580 core in three phases (1578-1584, 1620-1640, and 1760-1763), creating an interior courtyard. In addition to its outstanding architectural value, the Complex 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. Within its walls are the equipment of the workshops (printing-press, foundry, typesetting room), the furnishings that have remained in situ (equipment, tools, an extensive library, furniture, portraits), the invaluable business archives of the Officina Plantiniana (inscribed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register of documentary heritage in 2001), and works of art, including paintings from the workshop of Rubens.

Overview of the Plantin-Moretus House-Workshops-Museum Complex

Inside the residential part of the complex. Original paintings by Rubens are on the wall.


The Plantin-Moretus House-Workshops-Museum Complex was far more interesting than I thought it would be. It is the oldest printing workshop in the world and home to the two oldest printing presses in the world.

What makes it remarkable is that the building and the equipment were kept in the hands of the same family for several centuries, and much of the printing equipment was never upgraded, even into the 19th century. As a result, there is an amazing collection of printing tools which show how printing presses were operated in the 16th century.

In addition to the printing significance, the home has a fantastic collection of art, including many original Rubens paintings.

Plan Your Visit to the Plantin-Moretus House

The World's Oldest Printing PressesThe house is located in central Antwerp and is walking distance from other attractions such as the cathedral and train station. It is only a few blocks away from the river. If you have a smartphone you can get directions by typing in the name of the building, or the address which is: Vrijdagmarkt 22-23, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium.

The house is open 10 am to 5 pm every day except for Mondays.

Admission prices are €8 for adults, €6 for people over 65 and between 12-25, and free for children under 12.

What to See in the Plantin-Moretus House

In the residential part of the building, take the time to notice the original Rubens paintings on the walls. You will not see this many in most museums. In the printing wing of the building, the original printing presses, which are the oldest in the world, are the star attraction. There is also a larger collection of blocks and other printing tools which date back to the 15th and 16th century as well.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 16, 2017 @ 3:14 pm

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

Posted by on March 14, 2017

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier: My 319th UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier: My 319th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier:

Chosen from the work of Le Corbusier, the 17 sites comprising this transnational serial property are spread over seven countries and are a testimonial to the invention of a new architectural language that made a break with the past. They were built over a period of a half-century, in the course of what Le Corbusier described as “patient research”. The Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh (India), the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Japan), the House of Dr Curutchet in La Plata (Argentina) and the Unité d’habitation in Marseille (France) reflect the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply during the 20th century to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society. These masterpieces of creative genius also attest to the internationalization of architectural practice across the planet.

Overview of The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier is a serial site with 17 locations located in 7 different countries on 3 different continents which celebrate the work of 20th-century architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier.

To date I have only visited Maison Guiete in Antwerp.

As with most serial sites, I will be visiting more of the locations which make up the site as I continue to travel.

Here is a complete list of locations which comprise the world heritage site:

  • Argentina, Curutchet House
  • Belgium, Maison Guiete
  • France, Maisons La Roche et Jeanneret
  • France, Immeuble locatif à la Porte Molitor
  • France, Unité d’habitation Marseille
  • France, La Manufacture à Saint-Dié
  • France, Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp
  • France, Cabanon de Le Corbusier
  • France, Cité Frugès
  • France, Villa Savoye et loge du jardiner
  • France, Couvent Sainte-Marie-de-la-Tourette
  • France, Maison de la Culture de Firminy
  • Germany, Maisons de la Weissenhof-Siedlung
  • India, Complexe du Capitole
  • Japan, Musée National des Beaux-Arts de l’Occident
  • Switzerland, Immeuble Clarté
  • Switzerland, Petite villa au bord du lac Léman

Visiting Maison Guiete, Antwerp, Belgium

As of January 2017, the home is not open to the public or visitation. As it has only recently be inscribed to the world heritage list, there is nothing on the outside of the building which indicates its world heritage status. There are no signs or plaques indicating that it has world heritage status. Like the Stoclet House in Brussels, all you can do it stand outside and take photos. My cab driver (shown in the photo) had no idea about the importance of the house.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 14, 2017 @ 9:04 am

Stoclet House

Posted by on March 13, 2017

Stoclet House: My 318th UNESCO World Heritage Site

Stoclet House: My 318th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Stoclet House:

The Stoclet House is an outstanding testimony to the creative genius of the Wiener Werkstätte. It was designed and built in Brussels from 1905 to 1911 by one of the founders of the movement, the Austrian architect Josef Hoffmann, of whose work it is the masterpiece. The Vienna Secession movement bears witness to a profound conceptual and stylistic renewal of Art Nouveau. Ever since its creation the Stoclet House has been and remains one of the most consummate and emblematic realizations of this artistic movement, characterizing the aesthetic research and renewal of architecture and decoration in the west at the start of the 20th century. The Stoclet House decoration was the work of a very large number of artists from the Wiener Werkstätte, including Koloman Moser, Gustav Klimt, Frantz Metzner, Richard Luksch, and Michael Powolny. They worked under the guidance of Hoffmann to achieve a Gesamtkunstwerk (‘total work of art’), which is expressed simultaneously in every dimension – interior and exterior architecture, decoration, furniture, functional objects, and the gardens and their flower beds. From its creation, the House inspired many architects in Belgium and other countries. It heralded Art Deco and the Modern Movement in architecture. It bears witness to the influence of the Vienna Secession, and the dissemination of its ideas in Europe at the start of the 20th century. It bears witness to a monument of outstanding aesthetic quality and richness, intended as an ideal expression of the arts. A veritable icon of the birth of modernism and its quest for values, its state of preservation and conservation are remarkable.

Overview of the Stoclet House

Yet another exterior view of the Stoclet House

Yet another exterior view of the Stoclet House

Of all the world heritage sites I have visited, the Stoclet House might be the most disappointing in that you can’t actually visit it. The Stoclet House is privately owned and no visitors are allowed. None. Nada. I tried pulling strings and there were no exceptions.

The best you can do is stand outside the building and see the exterior. What is even more disappointing is that the street facing view isn’t even the formal facade. That faces the back garden, so you can’t even see the best parts of the house from the street.

No one has actually lived in the house since 2002, just two caretakers. No one has been allowed inside except for one small group of friends of the granddaughter of Adolphe Stoclet in 2013. You can read about that trip inside the Stoclet House here as well as see some images of the interior.

I have been told that talks are underway to either transfer ownership of the house to the Belgian government, or to open it to the public, but as of 2017 nothing has been done yet. The interior looks amazing and I hope the world will be able to appreciate it at some point in the near future.

How to Visit the Stoclet House

The Stoclet House is located near the intersection of Avenue de Tervueren and Avenue L’Gribaumont in Brussels. It is easily accessible by taxi from anywhere in Brussels.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 14, 2017 @ 8:54 am

Flemish Béguinages

Posted by on March 12, 2017

Flemish Beguinages World Heritage Site

Flemish Beguinages: My 317th UNESCO World Heritage Site (Photo: Our-Lady Ter Hooyen, Ghent)

From the World Heritage inscription for the Flemish Beguinages:

The Flemish béguinages are a series of 13 sites in the Flanders Region of Belgium. They bear extraordinary witness to the cultural tradition of the Beguines that developed in north-western Europe in the Middle Ages.

These Beguines were either unmarried or widowed women who entered into a life dedicated to God but without retiring from the world. In the 13th century, they founded the béguinages, enclosed communities designed to meet their spiritual and material needs.

The Flemish béguinages formed architectural ensembles, enclosed by walls or surrounded by ditches, with gates opening to the outside world during the day. Inside, they were composed of houses, churches, ancillary buildings, and green spaces organized in a spatial conception of urban or rural origin, and built-in styles specific to the Flemish cultural region.

The inscribed sites are the most representative béguinages of the Beguine tradition, identified on the basis of their historic and architectural development and their state of conservation. These 13 béguinages testify to their original function, even though many suffered damage during World Wars I and II. They have maintained their residential character as well as the configuration with church or chapel, streets or squares with community and individual houses etc. Today, most béguinages are still clearly defined components of the urban fabric, and considered havens of tranquillity, as they were in the past. In some places, the enclosed character is preserved, although many béguinages lost their enclosed aspect during the French period and the gates were removed. The boundaries of the inscribed areas are sufficient to include the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value, but many of the components have no buffer zone. The béguinages are generally in good condition.

Overview of the Flemish Beguinages

The Flemish Beguinages are a unique historical artifact dating back to the crusades. As men left for the crusades, there was an oversupply of adult unmarried women. The norms of the time required that women either be married, live with their families, or enter a convent. The beguinages were a compromise where unmarried women could live outside their families, own property, and live their own lives. They could almost be thought of as secular convents. They were walled and enclosed and usually located on the outskirts of the city.

The Beguinages fell out of favor in the early 20th century and the last of the women who lived in them died in the early 21st century.

The Ten Wijngaerde Beguinage in Bruges, Flanders

The Ten Wijngaerde Beguinage in Bruges

There are 13 Béguinages located in Flanders. You can find them in the following towns and cities.

  • Bruges
  • Dendermonde
  • Diest
  • Gent
  • Hoogstraten
  • Kortrijk
  • Leuven
  • Lier
  • Mechelen
  • Sint-Amandsberg
  • Sint-Truiden
  • Tongeren
  • Turnhout

To date, I have visited two of the Beguinages in Bruges and Ghent.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 14, 2017 @ 9:04 am

Belfries of Belgium and France

Posted by on March 11, 2017

Belfries of Belgium and France World Heritage Site

Belfries of Belgium and France: My 316th UNESCO World Heritage Site (Belfry of Ghent shown in photo)

From the World Heritage inscription for the Belfries of Belgium and France:

High towers built in the heart of urban areas, often dominating the principal square, the belfries are essential elements in the organization and representation of the towns to which they belong. The site inscribed on the World Heritage List comprises 33 belfries located in Belgium (26 in Flanders and 7 in Wallonia) and 23 belfries located in northern France.

A symbolic element in the landscape in ancient Netherlands and the north of France, the belfry represents, in the heart of urban areas, the birth of municipal power in the Middle Ages. A practical building housing the communal bells, conserving charters and treasures, where city council meetings were held, serving as a watchtower and a prison, the belfry has, over the centuries, become the symbol of power and prosperity of the communes.

The belfries are, together with the market hall, significant representatives of civil and public architecture in Europe. The evolution from the “seigneurial keep” to the “communal keep” is noteworthy. The church belfries bear witness to the relationship, within the community, between civil and religious power. Closely associated with the expansion and government of European towns in the Middle Ages, the belfries, by the variety of their type and the evolution of their appearance, and the complexes with which they were often associated, represent an essential element in public architecture from the 11th century onwards.

Beyond their architectural structure, the belfries present a wide typology linked both to the history of the communities, the period of construction, the materials used and the personality of their master builders. In the urban configuration, they can be isolated, attached to a marketplace or to a town hall. In several cases, the civil function is exercised by the church belfry. The period of construction of the belfries extends from the 11th to the 20th century, presenting a wide diversity of style, from Roman art to Art Deco.

Bearing a strong identity, the belfries have suffered much damage from armed conflict but their regular rebuilding, occurring to this day, expresses their exceptional symbolic role and the communities’ attachment to them.

Overview of the Belfries of Belgium and France

Belfry of Belgirum and France - Bruges

The Belfry of Bruges

Technically speaking, I could have claimed a visit to this site as early as 2009, but I held off until I could make a more purposeful visit. At the time I visited Brugges I wasn’t aware that I was looking at the belfries inscribed on this site.

This is a serial site which is scatted all across Belgium, both Flanders and Wallonia, as well as Northern France, in Picardy and Nord-Pas de Calais.

There are 55 belfries in total which have been placed in this serial nomination. Some of them, like the Belfry of Bruges, are actually part of more than one world heritage site.

Here is the complete list of all the cities which an inscribed belfry and where it is located.

    Belfries in Belgium

  • Bruges: Hallentoren belfry and halls
  • Diksmuide: City Hall and Belfry
  • Kortrijk: Hallentoren Belfry
  • Lo-Reninge (Lo): Town Hall with Belfry
  • Menen: City Hall and adjacent Belfry
  • Nieuwpoort: Stadshalle grain hall with Belfry
  • Roeselare: City Hall, Stadshalle and Belfry
  • Tielt: Hallentoren belfry, Cloth Hall and Aldermen’s Chamber
  • Veurne: Landhuis and Belfry
  • Ypres: Cloth Hall with Belfry
  • Aalst: Aldermen’s House with Belfry
  • Dendermonde: City Hall with Belfry
  • Eeklo:City Hall with Belfry
  • Ghent: Belfry, Cloth Hall and Mammelokker
  • Oudenaarde: City Hall with Belfry
  • Antwerp: Cathedral of Our Lady
  • Antwerp: City Hall
  • Herentals: Former City & ‘Laken’ Hall
  • Lier: City Hall and Belfry Tower
  • Mechelen: St. Rumbolds Tower of the Cathedral
  • Mechelen: Old Cloth Hall with Belfry
  • Leuven: St. Peter’s Church and Tower
  • Tienen: St. Germanus Church with Stadstoren
  • Zoutleeuw: St. Leonard’s Church
  • Sint-Truiden: City Hall with Tower
  • Tongeren: Basilica of Our Lady with Stadstoren
  • Binche: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Charleroi: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Mons: Belfry
  • Thuin: Belfry
  • Tournai: Belfry
  • Gembloux: Belfry
  • Namur: Belfry
  • Belfry at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp

    Belfry at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp

    Belfries in France

  • Armentières: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Bailleul: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Bergues: Belfry
  • Cambrai: Belfry of the St. Martin’s Church
  • Comines: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Douai: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Dunkirk: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Dunkirk: Belfry of Dunkirk
  • Gravelines: Belfry
  • Lille: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Loos: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Aire-sur-la-Lys: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Arras: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Béthune: Belfry
  • Boulogne-sur-Mer: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Calais: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Hesdin: Belfry of the City Hall
  • Abbeville: Belfry
  • Amiens: Belfry
  • Doullens: Belfry of the former Municipal Hall
  • Lucheux: Belfry on the remaining City Gate
  • Rue: Belfry
  • Saint-Riquier: Belfry

It should be noted that the vast majority of the belfries are not religious or associated with a church. Most of them were constructed as part of a town hall.

To date, I have visited the belfries in Ghent, Bruges, and Antwerp. I will be adding more visiting in the future.

Visiting any of the individual Belfries of Belgium and France is usually as simple as visiting a town and looking for the tallest structure.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 11, 2017 @ 11:06 am

Van Nellefabriek

Posted by on March 10, 2017

Van Nellefabriek UNESCO World Heritage Site

Van Nellefabriek: My 315th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription:

Designed and built in the 1920s, the Van Nellefabriek demonstrates an extremely accomplished industrial architecture. It comprises a complex of buildings consisting of several factories aligned along the perspective of a large internal roadway, and close to several means of transport (canals, roads, railway lines). Supported on an internal structure of reinforced concrete, the facades of the main buildings consist essentially of steel and glass, making large-scale use of the curtain wall principle. Via a common purpose agreed between the entrepreneur and the project architects and engineers, the Van Nellefabriek embodies an ideal factory, open to the outside world, whose interior working spaces are progressive, and in which daylight is used to provide pleasant working conditions. It embodies the accomplished realization of a new kind of factory that has become a symbol of the modernist and functionalist culture of the inter-war period. Lastly, it bears witness to the long port-related economic tradition of the Netherlands, in the processing of imported food products (coffee, tea, and tobacco) and their marketing in Europe.

Overview

Van Nellefabriek World Heritage SiteVan Nellefabriek is the former headquarters of the Van Helle Company which was an importer of coffee, tea, and tobacco in the Netherlands. The site was placed on the world heritage list primarily because of because of its architectural significance, being one of the best early examples of modernism.

Many of the original furnishings such has doors, knobs, and toilet fixtures are still in place.

How to Get to Van Nellefabriek

Van Nellefabriek is located in Rotterdam, Netherlands and is approximately 4km away from the Rotterdam city center. It is easily accessible by taxi or car. There is also a bus stop right across the street from the facility which makes it easily accessible via public transportation.

How to See Van Nellefabriek

Van Nellefabriek, Rotterdam, NetherlandsVan Nellefabriek is still a functioning commercial space with offices and event space. Because it is a working facility, you can’t just walk in. There is a guard desk at the front gate which requires you to check in.

Unless you know someone who works in the facility, your opportunities to tour it are limited to two options.

  1. The buildings are open to the public in September and June for Open Monument Day National Architecture Day. Check the official website for details.
  2. You can hire a private guide to tour the facility. This is what I did. The only company that I know of who provides the tours is Urban Guides. Guides cost €125 and you can bring a maximum of 20 people on each tour. The tour will last about an hour.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Netherlands.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 10, 2017 @ 9:36 am

Mistaken Point

Posted by on March 9, 2017

Mistaken Point

Mistaken Point: My 314th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription:

This fossil site is located at the south-eastern tip of the island of Newfoundland, in eastern Canada. It consists of a narrow, 17 km-long strip of rugged coastal cliffs. Of deep marine origin, these cliffs date to the Ediacaran Period (580-560 million years ago), representing the oldest known assemblages of large fossils anywhere. These fossils illustrate a watershed in the history of life on earth: the appearance of large, biologically complex organisms, after almost three billion years of micro-dominated evolution.

Overview

Fossil at Mistaken PointMistaken Point is the location of the oldest multicellular fossils on Earth.

The fossils are one of the few places where you can see evidence of life from before the Cambrian explosion. The fossils can be found in a very thin layer of rock which is right on the coast. The fossils look like an aspen leaf, but it is doubtful if they were actually plans as we know them today. Most probably they were creatures with a leaf-like morphology that were attached to the bottom of the seafloor. They date back to the Ediacaran Period which dates back 635-541 million years ago.

The entire rock surface where the fossils can be found has been captured in a rubber mold so they can be studied in the future, regardless of what might happen to the rock surface.

How to Get There

Mistaken Point is located on the Avalon Peninsula near the Southeasternmost point of the island of Newfoundland. Driving time from St. John’s is approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours. St. John’s is the nearest major airport to Mistaken Point.

There are several small hotels in the towns of Trepassey, Biscay Bay, and Portugal Cove South.

It is entirely possible to visit Mistaken Point on a day trip from St. John’s, however, you have to plan the timing of the trip so you arrive at the visitor center on time for group tour(s) as that is the only way to visit the fossil sites.

What to See

There are several important things you need to know before you visit Mistaken Point.
Mistaken Point Sign

  1. If you are a world heritage site collector, make note that the official boundary of the world heritage site is only a few meters of the shoreline. Most of the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve is not technically does not have world heritage status. If you drive or walk into the ecological reserve, you are not actually entering the world heritage area.
  2. The only way to officially access the world heritage site is to take part in a guided tour, which is run out of the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in the town of Portugal Cove South. Check on the official website for tour times as the number and times of the tours changes throughout the year.
  3. You will have to walk 6 kilometers round trip to access the fossil site. Because it is an ecological reserve, you cannot drive directly up to the fossil site. You have to park your vehicle about 1.5 kilometers away and walk there on a path. Once there, you will have to put cloth booties over your shoes to access the actual fossils. There are no facilities in the ecological reserve.
  4. Since Mistaken Point was placed on the world heritage list, demand for tours has increased and it has been reported that several hundred people in 2016 were not able to get on a tour. Make sure to call ahead to get a reservation.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 13, 2017 @ 11:43 pm

Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia

Posted by on March 8, 2017

Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia

Nan Madol: My 313th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Nan Madol:

Nan Madol is a series of more than 100 islets off the southeast coast of Pohnpei that were constructed with walls of basalt and coral boulders. These islets harbor the remains of stone palaces, temples, tombs and residential domains built between 1200 and 1500 CE. These ruins represent the ceremonial center of the Saudeleur dynasty, a vibrant period in Pacific Island culture. The huge scale of the edifices, their technical sophistication and the concentration of megalithic structures bear testimony to complex social and religious practices of the island societies of the period. The site was also inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to threats, notably the siltation of waterways that is contributing to the unchecked growth of mangroves and undermining existing edifices.

Overview of Nan Madol

The Canals of Nan Madol, MicronesiaNan Madol is one of the most fascinating and significant places in the Pacific. I first visited Nan Modal in 2007 as I began my around the world trip. However, it took until 2016 to be placed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The site is extremely deserving of world heritage status and years it was number one on my list of places which should have been world heritage sites.

The site has been called “the Venice of the Pacific” because it is a network of small islands separated by canals and connected by bridges. In fact, the name Nan Modal means “spaces between” which references the canals. Most of the islands have a structure which can best be described as a log cabin built with basalt rocks. Geologic testing shows that many of the rocks were brought from other islands to Pohnpei, and it hasn’t been positively determined how they were transported.

The structures were used both as dwellings and as burials sites.

How to Get There

Stones of Nan MadolThe hard part about visiting Nan Madol is getting to the island of Pohnpei. Micronesia gets very few visitors as it is far away from any major population center, and there is only really one way to get to the island. The only way to get to the island is via the “island hopper” flight which is run by United Airlines. It starts in Honolulu and stops at islands in the Marshall Islands and Micronesia on the way to Guam three days a week. It alternates going Guam to Honolulu the other days of the week.

There are no major hotels or resorts on Pohnpei, so you will likely be staying in lodging which would be the equivalent of a 2-star hotel or a motel.

I arrived at the site by boat on a day long boat tour of the Pohnpei lagoon. You can also arrive by car, but there is a hike involved to get from the road to the location. It is approximately a 90-minute drive from the capital city of Palikir.

Expect to pay a few dollars as an entry fee.

What to See

Give yourself at least an hour, if not more, to explore the site. The location isn’t very visitor friendly. There is no visitor center and little to nothing in the way of interpretative material. If possible, hire a guide who can share some of the oral history of the site.


View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 11, 2017 @ 8:37 am

Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor

Posted by on March 7, 2017

Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Silk Roads were an interconnected web of routes linking the ancient societies of Asia, the Subcontinent, Central Asia, Western Asia and the Near East, and contributed to the development of many of the world’s great civilizations. They represent one of the world’s preeminent long-distance communication networks stretching as the crow flies to around 7,500 km but extending to in excess of 35,000 km along specific routes. While some of these routes had been in use for millennia, by the 2nd century BC the volume of exchange had increased substantially, as had the long distance trade between east and west in high-value goods, and the political, social and cultural impacts of these movements had far-reaching consequences upon all the societies that encountered them.

The routes served principally to transfer raw materials, foodstuffs, and luxury goods. Some areas had a monopoly on certain materials or goods: notably China, who supplied Central Asia, the Subcontinent, West Asia and the Mediterranean world with silk. Many of the high-value trade goods were transported over vast distances – by pack animals and river craft – and probably by a string of different merchants.

The Tian-shan corridor is one section or corridor of this extensive overall Silk Roads network. Extending across a distance of around 5,000 km, it encompassed a complex network of trade routes extending to some 8,700 km that developed to link Chang’an in central China with the heartland of Central Asia between the 2nd century BC and 1st century AD, when long distance trade in high-value goods, particularly silk, started to expand between the Chinese and Roman Empires. It flourished between the 6th and 14th century AD and remained in use as a major trade route until the 16th century.

Overview

The Silk Roads world heritage sites is a serial site consisting of 35 different locations spread across three different countries: China, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor
I visited the Burana Tower which was in the ancient, and near the current, city of Balasagun, Kyrgyzstan.

Like most towers in Muslim lands, it served as a minaret for daily calls to prayer. However, as it was an important stop on the silk road, it also served as a type of landlocked lighthouse. In the evenings a fire would burn on the top of the tower so caravans could see it from a distance. Today the tower is approximately half the height of the original tower which was reduced in size due to earthquakes.

In addition to the tower, there is also a graveyard located containing Turkish headstones known as balbals. They are carved into the likeness of the person who was buried there.

How to Get There

Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan CorridorThe Burana tower is located just outside the city of Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan. It is approximately 70km from the capital of Bishkek. You can reach Tokmok by bus and then take a taxi to the Burana Tower. It can be visited as a day trip from Bishkek.

What to See

The primary attraction is the tower itself. You can climb to the top of the tower via a very narrow and winding staircase. The staircase only has room for one person. The graveyard mentioned above is the other primary attraction of the site. There is also a small museum on the site which displays artifacts which have been excivated from the site.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyrgyzstan.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 11, 2017 @ 8:40 am

UNESCO World Heritage Site #311: Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region

Posted by on May 16, 2016

UNESCO World Heritage Site #311: Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region

UNESCO World Heritage Site #311: Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Lake Ohrid region, a mixed World Heritage property covering 83,350 ha, was inscribed for its natural values in 1979 and for its cultural values a year later. Lake Ohrid is a superlative natural phenomenon, providing refuge for numerous endemic and relict freshwater species of flora and fauna dating from the tertiary period. As a deep and ancient lake of tectonic origin, Lake Ohrid has existed continuously for approximately two to three million years. Its oligotrophic waters conserve over 200 species of plants and animals unique to the lake, including algae, turbellarian flatworms, snails, crustaceans and 17 endemic species of fish including two species of trout, as well as a rich birdlife.

Situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid, the town of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. Built mostly between the 7th and 19th centuries, Ohrid is home to the oldest Slav monastery (dedicated to St. Pantelejmon) and more than 800 Byzantine-style icons of worldwide fame dating from the 11th century to the end of the 14th century. Ohrid’s architecture represents the best preserved and most complete ensemble obf ancient urban architecture of this part of Europe. Slav culture spread from Ohrid to other parts of Europe. Seven basilicas have thus far been discovered in archaeological excavations in the old part of Ohrid. These basilicas were built during the 4th, 5th and beginning of the 6th centuries and contain architectural and decorative characteristics that indisputably point to a strong ascent and glory of Lychnidos, the former name of the town. The structure of the city nucleus is also enriched by a large number of archaeological sites, with an emphasis on early Christian basilicas, which are also known for their mosaic floors. Special emphasis regarding Ohrid’s old urban architecture must be given to the town’s masonry heritage. In particular, Ohrid’s traditional local influence can be seen among its well-preserved late-Ottoman urban residential architecture dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. The limited space for construction activities has led to the formation of a very narrow network of streets.

Although the town of Struga is located along the shores of Lake Ohrid, town life is concentrated along the banks of the Crn Drim River, which flows out of the lake. The existence of Struga is connected with several fishermen settlements on wooden piles situated along the lake shore. A great number of archaeological sites testify to origins from the Neolithic period, the Bronze Age, the Macedonian Hellenistic period, the Roman and the early Middle Age period.

The convergence of well-conserved natural values with the quality and diversity of its cultural, material and spiritual heritage makes this region truly unique.

The Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region is a fantastic world heritage site. The lake straddles Macedonia and Albania, although only the Macedonian side of the lake is part of the World Heritage Site. It is one of only 28 sites in the world that are recognized as a mixed World Heritage Site; recognized for both its natural and cultural value.

I spent several days on the shore of Lake Ohrid for a recent conference I attended. It has the charm of a small sea side resort, but it still doesn’t have the feel of being overrun (although I wasn’t there during the peak season, and I’m sure it is much more crowded then.)

The lake itself is one of the deepest in Europe with a depth of 288 m (940 ft), and is also one of the coldest.

The city of Ohrid has seen history dating back to the ancient Macedonians and has remained an important city throughout history. The Greeks, Romans, Bulgarians, and Ottomans all controlled Ohrid at one point or another and used it as an important center for trade and religion.

Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region is about a 2.5 hour drive from both Skopje and Tirana. Roads are mostly 2-lane and wind through the mountains. As of 2016, there is construction of 4 lane roads to connect it to Skopje, which should cut driving time almost in half.