UNESCO World Heritage Site #189: Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Site #189: Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
UNESCO World Heritage Site #189: Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Stonehenge, Avebury, and Associated Sites World Heritage property is internationally important for its complexes of outstanding prehistoric monuments.

It comprises two areas of chalkland in Southern Britain within which complexes of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and funerary monuments and associated sites were built. Each area contains a focal stone circle and henge and many other major monuments. At Stonehenge these include the Avenue, the Cursuses, Durrington Walls, Woodhenge, and the densest concentration of burial mounds in Britain. At Avebury, they include Windmill Hill, the West Kennet Long Barrow, the Sanctuary, Silbury Hill, the West Kennet and Beckhampton Avenues, the West Kennet Palisaded Enclosures, and important barrows.

Stonehenge is unquestionably one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. There are few people who can’t immediately recognize it from a photo. It is often placed on lists of world wonders and was even commemorated in song by Spinal Tap.

The actual site of Stonehenge wasn’t quite what I expected. There is a road which passes surprisingly close to it, but you never actually see it in photos. Also, the impression of large megalithic blocks is somewhat toned down by the fact that you can’t actually get close to the stones anymore. You can only walk around the structure at a distance.

As I write this in December 2012 they are in the process of replacing the current visitor center and removing the road which passes by. By 2014 the entire area should be green pasture with the visitor center about a mile away, out of sight.

Stonehenge can easily be visited by day trip from London. You can often find trips that will take you there for £30, not including admission.


The Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites is one of the most recognizable tourist attractions in England. It is also a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its prehistoric and archaeological value. It was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1986.

The Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites is a group of prehistoric megalith monuments. It is considered as the most important monument of its kind in the world. According to archaeological experts, these megaliths have been dated back to c. 3700 and 1600 BC. The megaliths are associated with the funerary and ceremonial practices that were done in Britain during the Neolithic and Bronze Age.

About Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

The Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites comprised of two major land areas that are located within 30 miles from each other. The first site is the famous Stonehenge, while the second location comprised within this World Heritage Site is the Avebury and associated sites.

It is therefore important to look closer into each location to have a better understanding of these cultural monuments and their heritage value:

Stonehenge and Associated Monuments

The Stonehenge monuments are one of the most significant megaliths in the world, but also for the culture and heritage of England. It is located in South Wiltshire and spans up to 26 square kilometers in land area. The prehistoric monument of the Stonehenge is the main feature on this WHS. The ownership of this monument is divided between various organizations including the National Trust, Wiltshire Council, and the English Heritage.

There are various monuments included within this component of the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites. These monuments include the following: Stonehenge, Stonehenge Cursus, Woodhenge, Cuckoo Stone, Coneybury Henge, King Barrow Ridge, The Lesser Cursus, Vespasian’s Camp, Stonehenge Landscape, Robin Hood’s Ball, Bluestonehenge, and more.

The associated monuments in Stonehenge represent the most architecturally sophisticated stone circle from the prehistoric times. This also represents the highest concentration of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments found in England. There are several burial mounds and a processional route within the axis of this complex of monuments. In fact, some experts claim there is an astronomical character to how these structures were built.

Avebury and Associated Monuments

The Avebury associated monuments were dated back to the 2600 BC. It also holds the same level of importance as the monuments found within Stonehenge. In particular, this component of the World Heritage Site features 3 prehistoric stone circles (one of them is the largest of its kind in the world). The main stone circle is measured at 331.6 meters in diameter.

The monuments that belong to this part of the World Heritage Site are as follows: Avebury Henge, Windmill Hill, Beckhampton Avenue, West Kennet Avenue, The Sanctuary, West Kennet Long Barrow, and the Silbury Hill.

Tips for Visitors

Want to visit the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites in England? Here are some tips to help you prepare for what is to expect:

  • The site is located in a far-out part of England. The closest town is Salisbury and the site itself is about 30 minutes away. Be prepared for a long drive.
  • For conservation purposes, tourists are not allowed to get too close to the monuments. A rope encloses the perimeter of the monuments in order to deter curious tourists. The closest you can get to the monuments is 15 feet. The restriction followed after studies reveal that the soil beneath the stones is of fragile nature. Hence, UNESCO and the conservationists at the site wanted to reduce activity around the surface.
  • There is a car park available for the ticket holders who visit the Stonehenge. There is also a visitor center near the area.
  • Winter is considered as the best time to visit. Also, as a bonus, the entrance is free during the winter and summer solstices.
  • The site is open daily from 9:30 AM to 7PM from March to October. Meanwhile, from October to March the opening times are shorter from 9:30 AM to 5PM.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Photo Essay : Egypt

I visited Egypt in early 2009. It was a place I had been anxious to visit during my previous two years of traveling. They pyramids and the other Egyptian ruins are some of the most ancient remnants of human civilization. Egypt didn’t disappoint. Despite a rather negative experience at the pyramids, my experience in Egypt overall was a positive one. I went SCUBA diving in Alexandria to see the ruins of the ancient lighthouse, traveled all the way to Abu Simbel, sailed down the Nile from Aswan to Luxur, crossed the Sinai Peninsula and visited the world’s oldest monastery: St. Catherine’s.

I know that the recent turmoil in Egypt has soured many people on visiting, but I would return again in a heartbeat.
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UNESCO World Heritage Site #188 – City of Bath

UNESCO World Heritage Site #188: City of Bath
UNESCO World Heritage Site #188: City of Bath

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Roman remains, especially the Temple of Sulis Minerva and the baths complex (based around the hot springs at the heart of the Roman city of Aquae Sulis, which have remained at the heart of the City’s development ever since) are amongst the most famous and important Roman remains north of the Alps, and marked the beginning of Bath’s history as a spa town.

The Georgian city reflects the ambitions of John Wood Senior, Ralph Allen and Richard ‘Beau’ Nash to make Bath into one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with architecture and landscape combined harmoniously for the enjoyment of the spa town’s cure takers.

The Neo-classical style of the public buildings (such as the Assembly Rooms and the Pump Room) harmonises with the grandiose proportions of the monumental ensembles (such as Queen Square, Circus, and Royal Crescent) and collectively reflects the ambitions, particularly social, of the spa city in the 18th century.

The individual Georgian buildings reflect the profound influence of Palladio, and their collective scale, style, and the organisation of the spaces between buildings epitomises the success of architects such as the John Woods, Robert Adam, Thomas Baldwin, and John Palmer in transposing Palladio’s ideas to the scale of a complete city, situated in a hollow in the hills and built to a Picturesque landscape aestheticism creating a strong garden city feel, more akin to the 19th century garden cities than the 17th century Renaissance cities.

Bath might just be the most charming city in England. While originally built and best known for its Roman baths, it is also an excellent showcase of English Georgian architecture. The city has a whole is very walkable and I found it to be one of the highlights of England.

In addition to the Roman baths, Bath is home to Bath Abbey, the Fashion Museum and a host of Georgian buildings. The riverfront area is especially picturesque.


City of Bath

The City of Bath is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Somerset, England. It was inscribed in 1987 and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. This city is located within the valley of River Avon and has a population of more or less 90,000 people. It is most famous for its Roman-built baths.

During the time of the Romans, the city was built into a spa. It was even called Aquae Sulis, which means “the waters of Sulis”. This was in c. AD 60 when the Romans built baths and a temple even though hot springs were not known during this time. The historic value and the monumental ensemble in this city combine to help earn it the recognition from UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites in the United Kingdom.

About the City of Bath

City of Bath

As mentioned earlier, the City of Bath was added to the UNESCO list in 1987. It was developed into a spa town during the roman times due to the continuous flow of hot mineral water in the area. In fact, the average temperature of the water is 46 degree Celsius. The water is believed to contain 43 minerals.

The thermal spa in Bath is therefore the primary feature of this cultural UNESCO site. It is the only hot spring in Britain. This is composed of 250,000 gallons of water that flows through the spring every single day. In addition to the hot springs, the Roman Baths is considered as one of the best ruins left behind by the Romans that exhibit the traditional Roman architecture. The distinctive use of Roman architectural details among the Baths is also notable. But aside from the Roman Baths, there are several other Roman ruins found within the City of Bath such as the Roman town of Aquae Sulis, Roman temple of Goddess Sulis Minerva, and Roman street plan and road system, hill forts, villas, and field systems. These structures reflect the extent of the Roman settlement in the city.

Roman Baths

City of Bath

The Roman Baths is a historical complex with cultural value and interest within the City of Bath. It is a well-preserved Roman site that is frequented by tourists. The baths themselves are situated below the street level of modern Bath. It is comprised of four main features: the 1) Sacred Spring, 2) Roman Bath House, 3) Roman Temple, and 4) Roman Bath Museum. In the 19th century, the Roman Baths were located above the street level.

There are about 1 million tourists who visit the Roman Baths each year, along with the Grand Pump Room. It is also recognized as one of the Seven Natural Wonders in West Country. The baths have undergone various modifications over a period of several years. The spring is now located within buildings built during the 18th century. These buildings that surround the Roman Baths were designed by Architect John Wood, and a few others. For visitors who wish to drink the water from the hot spring, you can do so at the Grand Pump Room.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Gary’s 20 Immutable Laws of Air Travel

As someone who puts on over 150,000 miles in the air each year and has elite status on all three major airline alliances, I’ve come to realize that there are certain things that will always happen when you fly. I have codified these into Gary’s 20 Immutable Laws of Air Travel.

1) The biggest person on the plane will probably sit next to you.

1a) If you are the biggest person on the plane, you will get the middle seat.

2) If you have only a short amount of time for a layover, your flight will almost certainly arrive late.

3) If the seat next to you is empty when they are about to close the door, the last person to enter the aircraft will be the person sitting next to you. Also, see #1.

4) If you are on the list for an upgrade and there are 4 seats available, you will be number 5 on the list.

5) If you have to transfer planes, your gate will be the one farthest away.

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