Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Japan - Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration



The beauty of the solitary, often snow-capped, stratovolcano, known around the world as Mount Fuji, rising above villages and tree-fringed sea and lakes has long been the object of pilgrimages and inspired artists and poets. The inscribed property consists of 25 sites which reflect the essence of Fujisan’s sacred and artistic landscape. In the 12th century, Fujisan became the centre of training for ascetic Buddhism, which included Shinto elements. On the upper 1,500-metre tier of the 3,776m mountain, pilgrim routes and crater shrines have been inscribed alongside sites around the base of the mountain including Sengen-jinja shrines, Oshi lodging houses, and natural volcanic features such as lava tree moulds, lakes, springs and waterfalls, which are revered as sacred. Its representation in Japanese art goes back to the 11th century, but 19th century woodblock prints of views, including those from sand beaches with pine tree groves have made Fujisan an internationally recognized icon of Japan and have had a deep impact on the development of Western art.

Ireland - Sceilg Mhichíl



This monastic complex, perched since about the 7th century on the steep sides of the rocky island of Skellig Michael, some 12 km off the coast of south-west Ireland, illustrates the very spartan existence of the first Irish Christians. Since the extreme remoteness of Skellig Michael has until recently discouraged visitors, the site is exceptionally well preserved.

Uvs Nuur Basin


Russian Federation, Mongolia 
The Uvs Nuur Basin (1,068,853 ha), is the northernmost of the enclosed basins of Central Asia. It takes its name from Uvs Nuur Lake, a large, shallow and very saline lake, important for migrating birds, waterfowl and seabirds. The site is made up of twelve protected areas representing the major biomes of eastern Eurasia. The steppe ecosystem supports a rich diversity of birds and the desert is home to a number of rare gerbil, jerboas and the marbled polecat. The mountains are an important refuge for the globally endangered snow leopard, mountain sheep (argali) and the Asiatic ibex.



Greenland




Italy - Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna



Ravenna was the seat of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and then of Byzantine Italy until the 8th century. It has a unique collection of early Christian mosaics and monuments. All eight buildings – the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Neonian Baptistery, the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, the Arian Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, the Church of San Vitale and the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe – were constructed in the 5th and 6th centuries. They show great artistic skill, including a wonderful blend of Graeco-Roman tradition, Christian iconography and oriental and Western styles.

United Kingdom - Ironbridge Gorge



Ironbridge is known throughout the world as the symbol of the Industrial Revolution. It contains all the elements of progress that contributed to the rapid development of this industrial region in the 18th century, from the mines themselves to the railway lines. Nearby, the blast furnace of Coalbrookdale, built in 1708, is a reminder of the discovery of coke. The bridge at Ironbridge, the world's first bridge constructed of iron, had a considerable influence on developments in the fields of technology and architecture.

United Kingdom - Durham Castle and Cathedral



Durham Cathedral was built in the late 11th and early 12th centuries to house the relics of St Cuthbert (evangelizer of Northumbria) and the Venerable Bede. It attests to the importance of the early Benedictine monastic community and is the largest and finest example of Norman architecture in England. The innovative audacity of its vaulting foreshadowed Gothic architecture. Behind the cathedral stands the castle, an ancient Norman fortress which was the residence of the prince-bishops of Durham.

United Kingdom - Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd



The castles of Beaumaris and Harlech (largely the work of the greatest military engineer of the time, James of St George) and the fortified complexes of Caernarfon and Conwy are located in the former principality of Gwynedd, in north Wales. These extremely well-preserved monuments are examples of the colonization and defence works carried out throughout the reign of Edward I (1272–1307) and the military architecture of the time.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Spain - San Cristóbal de La Laguna



San Cristóbal de La Laguna, in the Canary Islands, has two nuclei: the original, unplanned Upper Town; and the Lower Town, the first ideal 'city-territory' laid out according to philosophical principles. Its wide streets and open spaces have a number of fine churches and public and private buildings dating from the 16th to the 18th century.

Malaysia - Kinabalu Park



Kinabalu Park, in the State of Sabah on the northern end of the island of Borneo, is dominated by Mount Kinabalu (4,095 m), the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. It has a very wide range of habitats, from rich tropical lowland and hill rainforest to tropical mountain forest, sub-alpine forest and scrub on the higher elevations. It has been designated as a Centre of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia and is exceptionally rich in species with examples of flora from the Himalayas, China, Australia, Malaysia, as well as pan-tropical flora.

Malaysia - Gunung Mulu National Park



Important both for its high biodiversity and for its karst features, Gunung Mulu National Park, on the island of Borneo in the State of Sarawak, is the most studied tropical karst area in the world. The 52,864-ha park contains seventeen vegetation zones, exhibiting some 3,500 species of vascular plants. Its palm species are exceptionally rich, with 109 species in twenty genera noted. The park is dominated by Gunung Mulu, a 2,377 m-high sandstone pinnacle. At least 295 km of explored caves provide a spectacular sight and are home to millions of cave swiftlets and bats. The Sarawak Chamber, 600 m by 415 m and 80 m high, is the largest known cave chamber in the world.

France - Palace and Park of Fontainebleau



Used by the kings of France from the 12th century, the medieval royal hunting lodge of Fontainebleau, standing at the heart of a vast forest in the Ile-de-France, was transformed, enlarged and embellished in the 16th century by François I, who wanted to make a 'New Rome' of it. Surrounded by an immense park, the Italianate palace combines Renaissance and French artistic traditions.

Hungary - Hortobágy National Park - the Puszta



The cultural landscape of the Hortobágy Puszta consists of a vast area of plains and wetlands in eastern Hungary. Traditional forms of land use, such as the grazing of domestic animals, have been present in this pastoral society for more than two millennia.


Sweden - Mining Area of the Great Copper Mountain in Falun



The enormous mining excavation known as the Great Pit at Falun is the most striking feature of a landscape that illustrates the activity of copper production in this region since at least the 13th century. The 17th-century planned town of Falun with its many fine historic buildings, together with the industrial and domestic remains of a number of settlements spread over a wide area of the Dalarna region, provide a vivid picture of what was for centuries one of the world's most important mining areas.

Germany - Pilgrimage Church of Wies



Miraculously preserved in the beautiful setting of an Alpine valley, the Church of Wies (1745–54), the work of architect Dominikus Zimmermann, is a masterpiece of Bavarian Rococo – exuberant, colourful and joyful.

Germany - Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg



These places in Saxony-Anhalt are all associated with the lives of Martin Luther and his fellow-reformer Melanchthon. They include Melanchthon's house in Wittenberg, the houses in Eisleben where Luther was born in 1483 and died in 1546, his room in Wittenberg, the local church and the castle church where, on 31 October 1517, Luther posted his famous '95 Theses', which launched the Reformation and a new era in the religious and political history of the Western world.

France - Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments



Arles is a good example of the adaptation of an ancient city to medieval European civilization. It has some impressive Roman monuments, of which the earliest – the arena, the Roman theatre and the cryptoporticus (subterranean galleries) – date back to the 1st century B.C. During the 4th century Arles experienced a second golden age, as attested by the baths of Constantine and the necropolis of Alyscamps. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Arles once again became one of the most attractive cities in the Mediterranean. Within the city walls, Saint-Trophime, with its cloister, is one of Provence's major Romanesque monuments.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

China - Mount Huangshan



Huangshan, known as 'the loveliest mountain of China', was acclaimed through art and literature during a good part of Chinese history (e.g. the Shanshui 'mountain and water' style of the mid-16th century). Today it holds the same fascination for visitors, poets, painters and photographers who come on pilgrimage to the site, which is renowned for its magnificent scenery made up of many granite peaks and rocks emerging out of a sea of clouds.

United Kingdom - Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret’s Church




Westminster Palace, rebuilt from the year 1840 on the site of important medieval remains, is a fine example of neo-Gothic architecture. The site – which also comprises the small medieval Church of Saint Margaret, built in Perpendicular Gothic style, and Westminster Abbey, where all the sovereigns since the 11th century have been crowned – is of great historic and symbolic significance.



Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Switzerland - Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces



The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, stretching for about 30 km along the south-facing northern shores of Lake Geneva from the Chateau de Chillon to the eastern outskirts of Lausanne in the Vaud region, cover the lower slopes of the mountainside between the villages and the lake. Although there is some evidence that vines were grown in the area in Roman times, the present vine terraces can be traced back to the 11th century, when Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries controlled the area. It is an outstanding example of a centuries-long interaction between people and their environment, developed to optimize local resources so as to produce a highly valued wine that has always been important to the economy.

Vietnam - My Son Sanctuary



Between the 4th and 13th centuries a unique culture which owed its spiritual origins to Indian Hinduism developed on the coast of contemporary Viet Nam. This is graphically illustrated by the remains of a series of impressive tower-temples located in a dramatic site that was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom for most of its existence.

Spain - Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada



Rising above the modern lower town, the Alhambra and the Albaycín, situated on two adjacent hills, form the medieval part of Granada. To the east of the Alhambra fortress and residence are the magnificent gardens of the Generalife, the former rural residence of the emirs who ruled this part of Spain in the 13th and 14th centuries. The residential district of the Albaycín is a rich repository of Moorish vernacular architecture, into which the traditional Andalusian architecture blends harmoniously.


Romania - Churches of Moldavia



These eight churches of northern Moldavia, built from the late 15th century to the late 16th century, their external walls covered in fresco paintings, are masterpieces inspired by Byzantine art. They are authentic and particularly well preserved. Far from being mere wall decorations, the paintings form a systematic covering on all the facades and represent complete cycles of religious themes.Their exceptional composition, the elegance of the characters, and the harmony of the colors blend perfectly with the surrounding countryside. The interior and exterior walls of the Church of the Suceviţa Monastery are entirely decorated with mural paintings of the 16th century, and this church is the only one to show a representation of the ladder of St John Climacus.