Saturday, 12 March 2016

Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka



Located in south-west Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is the country's last viable area of primary tropical rainforest. More than 60% of the trees are endemic and many of them are considered rare. There is much endemic wildlife, especially birds, but the reserve is also home to over 50% of Sri Lanka's endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians.

Old Town of Cáceres, Spain



The city's history of battles between Moors and Christians is reflected in its architecture, which is a blend of Roman, Islamic, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance styles. Of the 30 or so towers from the Muslim period, the Torre del Bujaco is the most famous.

Kernavė Archaeological Site (Cultural Reserve of Kernavė), Lithuania



The Kernavė Archaeological site, about 35 km north-west of Vilnius in eastern Lithuania, represents an exceptional testimony to some 10 millennia of human settlements in this region. Situated in the valley of the River Neris, the site is a complex ensemble of archaeological properties, encompassing the town of Kernavė, forts, some unfortified settlements, burial sites and other archaeological, historical and cultural monuments from the late Palaeolithic Period to the Middle Ages. The site of 194,4 ha has preserved the traces of ancient land-use, as well as remains of five impressive hill forts, part of an exceptionally large defence system. Kernavė was an important feudal town in the Middle Ages. The town was destroyed by the Teutonic Order in the late 14th century, however the site remained in use until modern times.

Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata, Italy



When Vesuvius erupted on 24 August AD 79, it engulfed the two flourishing Roman towns of Pompei and Herculaneum, as well as the many wealthy villas in the area. These have been progressively excavated and made accessible to the public since the mid-18th century. The vast expanse of the commercial town of Pompei contrasts with the smaller but better-preserved remains of the holiday resort of Herculaneum, while the superb wall paintings of the Villa Oplontis at Torre Annunziata give a vivid impression of the opulent lifestyle enjoyed by the wealthier citizens of the Early Roman Empire.

Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining



The site encompasses a series of twenty three component parts, mainly located in the southwest of Japan. It bears testimony to the rapid industrialization of the country from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century, through the development of the iron and steel industry, shipbuilding and coal mining. The site illustrates the process by which feudal Japan sought technology transfer from Europe and America from the middle of the 19th century and how this technology was adapted to the country’s needs and social traditions. The site testifies to what is considered to be the first successful transfer of Western industrialization to a non-Western nation.

Tajik National Park (Mountains of the Pamirs), Tajikistan



Tajikistan National Park covers more than 2.5 million hectares in the east of the country, at the centre of the so-called “Pamir Knot”, a meeting point of the highest mountain ranges on the Eurasian continent. It consists of high plateaux in the east and, to the west, rugged peaks, some of them over 7,000 meters high, and features extreme seasonal variations of temperature. The longest valley glacier outside the Polar region is located among the 1,085 glaciers inventoried in the site, which also numbers 170 rivers and more than 400 lakes. Rich flora species of both the south-western and central Asian floristic regions grow in the Park which shelters nationally rare and threatened birds and mammals (Marco Polo Argali sheep, Snow Leopards and Siberian Ibex and more). Subject to frequent strong earthquakes, the Park is sparsely inhabited, and virtually unaffected by agriculture and permanent human settlements. It offers a unique opportunity for the study of plate tectonics and subduction phenomena.

Friday, 11 March 2016

The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes, France



The Loire Valley is an outstanding cultural landscape of great beauty, containing historic towns and villages, great architectural monuments (the châteaux), and cultivated lands formed by many centuries of interaction between their population and the physical environment, primarily the river Loire itself.

Sundarbans National Park, India



The Sundarbans covers 10,000 km2 of land and water (more than half of it in India, the rest in Bangladesh) in the Ganges delta. It contains the world's largest area of mangrove forests. A number of rare or endangered species live in the park, including tigers, aquatic mammals, birds and reptiles.

Mammoth Cave National Park, USA



Mammoth Cave National Park, located in the state of Kentucky, has the world's largest network of natural caves and underground passageways, which are characteristic examples of limestone formations. The park and its underground network of more than 560 surveyed km of passageways are home to a varied flora and fauna, including a number of endangered species.

Stoclet House, Belgium



When banker and art collector Adolphe Stoclet commissioned this house from one of the leading architects of the Vienna Secession movement, Josef Hoffmann, in 1905, he imposed neither aesthetic nor financial restrictions on the project. The house and garden were completed in 1911 and their austere geometry marked a turning point in Art Nouveau, foreshadowing Art Deco and the Modern Movement in architecture. Stoclet House is one of the most accomplished and homogenous buildings of the Vienna Secession, and features works by Koloman Moser and Gustav Klimt, embodying the aspiration of creating a ‘total work of art' (Gesamtkunstwerk). Bearing testimony to artistic renewal in European architecture, the house retains a high level of integrity, both externally and internally as it retains most of its original fixtures and furnishings.

Birka and Hovgården, Sweden



The Birka archaeological site is located on Björkö Island in Lake Mälar and was occupied in the 9th and 10th centuries. Hovgården is situated on the neighbouring island of Adelsö. Together, they make up an archaeological complex which illustrates the elaborate trading networks of Viking-Age Europe and their influence on the subsequent history of Scandinavia. Birka was also important as the site of the first Christian congregation in Sweden, founded in 831 by St Ansgar.

Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point, USA



Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point owes its name to a 19th-century plantation close to the site, which is in the Lower Mississippi Valley on a slightly elevated and narrow landform. The complex comprises five mounds, six concentric semi-elliptical ridges separated by shallow depressions and a central plaza. It was created and used for residential and ceremonial purposes by a society of hunter fisher-gatherers between 3700 and 3100 BP. It is a remarkable achievement in earthen construction in North America that was unsurpassed for at least 2,000 years.

Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey


A striking landscape was created around the ruins of the Cistercian Fountains Abbey and Fountains Hall Castle, in Yorkshire. The 18th-century landscaping, gardens and canal, the 19th-century plantations and vistas, and the neo-Gothic castle of Studley Royal Park, make this an outstanding site.

Lofoten, Norway



Lofoten is an archipelago and a traditional district in the county of Nordland, Norway. Lofoten is known for a distinctive scenery with dramatic mountains and peaks, open sea and sheltered bays, beaches and untouched lands. 

South Korea



South Korea, an East Asian nation on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, shares one of the world’s most heavily militarized borders with North Korea. It’s equally known for its green, hilly countryside dotted with cherry trees and centuries-old Buddhist temples, plus its coastal fishing villages, tropical islands and high-tech cities such as Seoul, the capital.

Zurich, Switzerland



The city of Zurich lies at the north end of Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland, a global center for banking and finance. The picturesque lanes of the central Altstadt (Old Town), on either side of the Limmat River, reflect its premedieval history. Waterfront promenades like the Limmatquai follow the river toward the 17th-century Rathaus (town hall).

Padua, Italy



Padua is a city in Northern Italy’s Veneto region. It’s known for the frescoes by Giotto in its Scrovegni Chapel and the vast 13th-century Basilica of St. Anthony. The basilica, with its Byzantine-style domes and notable artworks, contains the namesake saint’s tomb. 

Santa Claus Village - Arctic Circle, Finland



Santa Claus Village is an amusement park in Rovaniemi in the Lapland region of Finland.

Mdina, Malta



Mdina, also known by its titles Città Vecchia or Città Notabile, is a fortified city in the Northern Region of Malta, which served as the island's capital from antiquity to the medieval period. 

Bab Al Bahrain



Bab Al Bahrain is a historical building located in the Customs Square in Manama's former central business district. It marks the main entrance to the Manama Souq.