Notre Dame Fire Interview

Notre Dame Fire Interview

I did an interview with Paul Lasley of On Travel, on the American Forces Radio Network this afternoon to talk about the Cathedral of Notre Dame fire and a wider discussion of cathedrals and cultural preservation.

Heritage of Mercury: Almadén and Idrija

Heritage of Mercury: Almadén and Idrija UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the Heritage of Mercury: Almadén and Idrija World Heritage inscription:

The property includes the mining sites of Almadén (Spain), where mercury (quicksilver) has been extracted since antiquity, and Idrija (Slovenia), where mercury was first found in AD1490. 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. Together they represent the two largest mercury mines in the world, operational until recent times.

Almaden: World Heritage City
Almadén: World Heritage City

Overview

There are two sites in two different countries which are part of this world heritage site. Almadén, which is in Spain, and Idrija, which is in Slovenia.

I visited the property in Spain and this post will deal with visiting the mine in Almadén.

NOTE: There is no risk of mercury of poisoning in visiting this mine. Mercury in its liquid elemental form is very dangerous. However, you will not see any silverly liquid in the mine. The Mercury is in the form of Cinnabar, which is a red mineral created when mercury bonds with sulfur to create Mercury Sulfide (HgS). The only place you will see liquid mercury is in the visitor center, behind glass.

If you look at a map of the World Heritage Sites in Spain, Almadén sort of sits by itself, at least a 2-hour drive away from any other world heritage site. You could visit on a road trip from Madrid to Seville, but otherwise, you will probably have to make a special trip to visit. I drove out of my way to visit when going from Trujillo to Madrid.

Many people shy away from industrial heritage sites, but they are my favorite types. Learning how the items which made our modern world are an important part of our heritage, and visiting places like Almadén are an important part of that history.

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Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida

Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida UNESCO World Heritage Site, Spain

From the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida World Heritage inscription:

The Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, located in Extremadura, Spain, has its origins in the year 25 BC when Augustus completed the conquest of the North of Hispania and founded the Colony of Augusta Emerita. The city was created as an idealized model of Rome and was the capital of Lusitania, the western-most province of the Roman Empire. Following Diocletian’s reform, it functioned as the capital of the Diocese of Hispania. It was also temporarily the royal seat of two Germanic peoples – the Suebi and the Visigoths – and under the Arabic dominion, Mérida was one of the three border capitals of Al-Andalus, together with Toledo and Zaragoza, ensuring control of the western part of the Iberian peninsula.

The modern city of Mérida has been built on top of Emerita; yet, archaeological remains are well preserved and still evidence the Roman city. The 22 component parts of the property comprise an area of 31 ha. These include buildings for entertainment (theatre and amphitheater), the public architecture of the Forum and other spaces of power (provincial forum), engineering works (bridges, the dike, cutwater and clean and wastewater systems), and religious buildings, such as the Temple of Diana or the Temple of Marte. The property also includes excellent examples of private architecture, such as the Casa del Anfiteatro, La Casa Basílica, or Casa del Mitreo, which represent daily life. Most of the elements are located within the walled area of the Roman colony, but some are found outside its walls, such as the dams, aqueducts or thermal baths of Alange, in a natural environment and a landscape that has remained comparable to one of Roman times.

Overview

Mérida is a city in the Extremadura region of Spain with a population of 60,000. The city was originally founded as a Roman colony and it is best known of its Roman ruins.

The Roman ruins in the city are probably the best in the entire Iberian peninsula and among the best in the world. In addition to the signature Roman theater (see above), there is also a well-preserved aqueduct, one of the longest Roman bridges in the world, an amphitheater, arches, and a circus. The museum of Roman artifacts is one of the best museums of its kind that I have ever seen in the world.

Mérida should easily be on any list of top places in the world to visit to see Roman ruins and artifacts.

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The Old Town of Cáceres

The Old Town of Cáceres UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the Old Town of Cáceres World Heritage inscription: The Old Town of Cáceres is an urban ensemble of 9 hectares surrounded by a wall of 1,174m, located in the Autonomous Community of Extremadura in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula. Cáceres has been a trade route city and a political center of the local …

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Historic Center (Old Town) of Tallinn

Historic Center (Old Town) of Tallinn, Estonia

Overview of the Historic Center of Tallinn From the Historic Center of Tallinn World Heritage inscription: The Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn is an exceptionally complete and well-preserved medieval northern European trading city on the coast of the Baltic Sea. The city developed as a significant center of the Hanseatic League during the major …

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Historic Center of Riga

Historic Center of Riga, Latvia - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Overview of the Historic Center of Riga From the Historic Center of Riga World Heritage inscription: The Historic Centre of Riga is a living illustration of European history. Through centuries, Riga has been the center of many historic events and a meeting point for European nations, and it has managed to preserve evidence of European …

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Vilnius Historic Center

Vilnius Historic Centre UNESCO World Heritage Site

Overview From the Vilnius Historic Centre World Heritage inscription: The Vilnius Historic Centre began its history on the glacial hills that had been intermittently occupied from the Neolithic period; a wooden castle was built around 1000 AD to fortify Gedimino Hill, at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers. The settlement did not develop …

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Curonian Spit

Curonian Spit UNESCO World Heritage Site

Curonian Spit Overview

From the Curonian Spit World Heritage inscription:

The Curonian Spit is a unique and vulnerable, sandy and wooded cultural landscape on a coastal spit which features small Curonian lagoon settlements. The Spit was formed by the sea, wind and human activity and continues to be shaped by them. Rich with an abundance of unique natural and cultural features, it has retained its social and cultural importance. Local communities adapted to the changes in the natural environment in order to survive. This interaction between humans and nature shaped the Curonian Spit cultural landscape.

The Curonian Spit is perhaps the top natural attraction in Lithuania and one of the top attractions in the Baltic Region. I visited the Curonian Spit on a G Adventures tour of the Baltic States.

Most of the information in this article will pertain to visiting the Lithuanian side of the Curonian Spit, however, half of the spit is shared with Russia. The Lithuanian side is much easier for most tourists to visit unless you have gone through the process of getting a Russian visa. This article will deal mostly with the Lithuanian side.

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Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe

Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe, World Heritage Site, Spain

Overview

From the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe World Heritage inscription:

The monastery is an outstanding repository of four centuries of Spanish religious architecture. It symbolizes two significant events in world history that occurred in 1492: the Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula by the Catholic Kings and Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. Its famous statue of the Virgin became a powerful symbol of the Christianization of much of the New World.

The Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe is located in the town of Guadalupe in the Spanish Region of Extremadura. It is one of the most important religious destinations in Spain and was a vital place in the history of Spanish exploration and conquest of the Americas, as well as to the political history of Spain.

The site is a popular religious and tourist destination for Spanish tourists, but relatively unknown to international travelers. About 80% of the visitors to the site are from Spain.

Guadalupe is the namesake of many other Guadalupes around the world, mostly in Latin American countries.

The monastery is still an active monastery with monks and daily services, although the number of monks living here is much smaller than what it was in the past.

In 1993 it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the many World Heritage Sites in Spain.

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