Chichen Itza
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World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Recent Community Reviews

1034 of 1073 WHS have been reviewed by our community.

Cocos Island Justin, USA 22.10.17

When I lived in Jaco, Costa Rica, lots of people talked about a legend where some pirate hid  lot of treasure on Cocos Island and it hasn't been found yet, and that is why no one is aloud to live there, because the government wants to find it for themselves. 

Anyways, the scuba diving around Cocos is actually some of the best in the world. It is even said to be the new and improved Galapagos Islands, and just like Galapagos you can see huge schools of Hamerhead sharks and other big pelagic. Definitely try the scuba diving in Costa Rica and in particular, Cocos Island. 

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Belize Barrier Reef Justin Carmack, USA 22.10.17

I have visited Belize and its barrier Reef a few times for scuba trips, and its definitely worth a visit. It is less touristy then nearby Mexico, yet has some amazing diving. During the right season you can see whale sharks in the south, and I saw a few white tip sharks in the Blue Hole as well. You have to be careful what dive center you go with, as many in Belize have a bad reputation for being too lax with the rules or dive safety. 

Another fun thing to do with your dive operator is the now popular lion fish hunts. They give you little Hawaiian style spear guns, and you get to shoot this invasive species all day. Pretty fun and helps the environment. More information on scuba diving Belize.

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Ningaloo Coast Justin Carmack, USA 22.10.17

Nigaloo has some of the best scuba diving in the world, along with the nearby Navy pier. I actually prefer it to the Great Barrier Reef, as you don't need long boat rides, and can dive right off shore if you want. Its really common to take road trips up the coast from Perth with a camper van, and you can camp anywhere on great beaches near the road. Besides diving, they also offer whale shark tours where a small plane flies over head searching for the sharks so that you don't have to search all day by boat. Awesome place. Heres more information about scuba diving Australia.

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Victoria Falls Kerwin, United States 22.10.17

I just did the Falls in September and love it. I actually found that although the best views are on the Zimbabwe side, the Zambia side has some spectacular views as well. Plus the hike is more intense and much better.

Seeing the Falls from the bottom and spotting Devil's Pool from the Zimbabwe side is also good to see.

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Rome Michael Turtle, Australia 20.10.17

Rome

I'm not sure what I can say you you wouldn't already know about Rome. It's an incredible city full of history and heritage. The struggle here, I imagine, was choosing what to leave out of the WHS listing.

I have been to Rome a few times but on my most recent trip, made the effort to see parts of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill that I hadn't seen before. I found it really interesting to go deeper into the history and concentrate on just one or two of the important sites in the city. I think if you rush through Rome then you don't do it justice.

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Blog: Hoge Kempen Transition Landscape

Belgium is currently preparing the 2019 nomination for Hoge Kempen Rural - Industrial Transition Landscape. This is going to be proposed as a mixed site ánd evolutionary cultural landscape. It covers the Hoge Kempen National Park plus .. more. To me it’s unclear which locations will comprise the core zone, but additionally to the park the garden cities of Winterslag, Waterschei, Zwartberg and Eisden seem to be included.

Hoge Kempen and its industrial left-overs in the distance

The core zone will be centred around Maasmechelen, a municipality of 37,000 inhabitants known for its coalmining history. Maasmechelen nowadays also is well-known even across the border in the Netherlands for its Outlet Shopping Center (attracting over 2 million people a year): ‘Maasmechelen Village’ was constructed on the grounds of the former mine of Eisden.

I did not come to shop obviously, but to get a grasp of this potential WHS. For its natural values I prepared a visit to Hoge Kempen National Park. The park only exists since 2006, and commercial exploitation seems to be a big issue here too. There are 6 designated access points to the park, but most have been spiced up to include attractions such as dog parks, miniature golf courts or a planetarium. I eventually choose the ‘Mechelse Heide’. This is mostly heathland, where a few easy hiking trails have been laid out. I walked the 5.5km long blue route, which has distant views on a former sand and gravel quarry.

Sand and gravel quarry

The site’s natural value is geological: here you can find river sediments of the last Ice Ages – sand, gravel, pebbles. This is said to be the best-kept example of glacial formation effects from that period in Europe. I cannot really say that my hike brought me closer to seeing, let alone understanding, this. There’s no interpretation along the trail, and most of it goes through a rather nondescript forest. I was even less successful at another access point, Station As. Here I followed a short trail that should reach the wall of a former gravel quarry where you can see the different deposits since the Ice Age. No “wall” was found by me however!

It’s a long story getting from the natural circumstances to the cultural landscape, which is the other pillar of this proposed WHS. Due to the sand and gravel, the agricultural value of this area was poor and it was mostly used for keeping cows and sheep. However, coal was discovered in the ground and the area was quickly turned around into an industrial economic system. This system came with changes in the landscape (slag heaps etc), migration from other parts of Europe and specific facilities such as housing for the miners. It even became the subject of 19th-century, Western European landscape painting (a favourite spot for plein air painting). This broad scope is reflected in the proposed criteria for inscription, and I can already see IUCN and ICOMOS lamenting about the lack of focus.

Former Parish House in the garden city of Eisden

On my way back home I drove via the garden quarter of Eisden, considered to be the most beautiful example of the Garden City concept on the European continent. This is not exactly a neighbourhood with homes for poor miners’ families. Spacious villas and public buildings were constructed in a leafy suburb. They’re now often converted into restaurants (and even a casino), or are in private use so that it felt a bit awkward to stop the car and take photos. There are a number of pretty buildings though, such as the huge ‘mining cathedral’, the parish house, the school and the house of a mining engineer.

Published 21 October 2017

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