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Afghanistan
Minaret of Jam

The Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam comprise a masterwork of Islamic architecture and decoration.

The well-preserved minaret and its surrounding remains are the products of the Ghurid civilization, which in the 12th and 13th centuries controlled not only Afghanistan, but also parts of eastern Iran, Northern India and parts of Pakistan. The 65-metre-high minaret is built entirely of baked bricks, with intricate brick, stucco and glazed tile decorations such as alternating bands of calligraphy, geometric patterns, and verses from the Qur'an.

Community Perspective: this site has been unreviewed so far and has been rarely visited in the past. Since the most recent takeover by the Taliban in 2021, tourists have been reaching it again.

Bamiyan Valley

The Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley is an outstanding representation of Gandharan Buddhist art and culture in Central Asia.

The kingdom of Bamiyan was a Buddhist state that was strategically located on the Silk Road and was an important centre of pilgrimage. The site consists of eight components, including caves with painted decorations and Buddha statues carved into the cliffs. The cliffs held two standing Buddhas, measuring 55 and 37 meters high respectively, that were the largest examples of standing Buddha carvings in the world.  They were deliberately destructed in March 2001 by the Afghan Taliban government and only the niches remain.

Community Perspective: Sidney visited in 1971 and witnessed a spectacular sunset on the Buddha statues. Noone since has reviewed it, although Bamiyan is usually part of Afghanistan travel itineraries.

Albania
Butrint

Butrint is a relict cultural landscape representing an example of Mediterranean history from the time of the Greek colony until the Middle Ages.

The site, which was inhabited from prehistoric til Ottoman times, has a fine natural setting. Major remains include the well-preserved ancient Greek theatre and the paleo-Christian basilica with beautiful mosaics.

Community Perspective: easy to reach by boat from Corfu (or the Albanian mainland), this is a vast site spanning a large time span. The mosaics unfortunately are generally not visible to the public. Nan has provided tips for visiting on public transport.

Ohrid Region

The Natural and cultural heritage of the Ohrid Region comprises the ancient town of Ohrid and nearby Lake Ohrid, one of the deepest and oldest lakes in Europe.

Ohrid has been a cultural centre of great importance for the Balkan and the Slavonic language. Its Byzantine churches are renowned for their frescoes and icons. The lake, which is low in nutrients, holds many endemic species of fish, molluscs etc. The lakeshore reed beds and wetlands provide critical habitat for hundreds of thousands of wintering water birds.

Community Perspective: the site encompasses a large area and warrants multiple days to experience both its cultural and natural aspects. Visit outside of the summer months to avoid the tourist crowds. Clyde’s recent review focuses on the lesser-visited Albanian side.

Berat and Gjirokastra

The Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra are well-preserved Ottoman towns, decorated with outstanding examples of kule: Balkan-Ottoman style tower houses.

Berat has been particularly marked by the peaceful coexistence of Ottoman Islam with a large Christian minority. The designated area includes Berat Castle, mosques, churches, and the Gorica Bridge. Gjirokastra was built around a 13th-century citadel and developed into a regional center. Residential quarters, the bazaar, churches, and mosques were built vertically and in stone.

Community Perspective: the two towns lie some 150km apart, complement each other and they warrant an overnight stay each.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan, Adrian; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar, Adrian; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp, Adrian; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Algeria
Al Qal'a of Beni Hammad

The Al Qal'a of Beni Hammad comprises the remains of the first capital of the Hammadid empire.

The Qal'a (Fortress) is located in a mountainous setting at more than 1,000m altitude. In the 11th century, a prosperous Islamic town developed here. Surrounded by walls, it includes residential complexes, a large mosque, and the emir's palace surrounded by gardens and pavilions. Its design later influenced Arab architecture as can be seen in the Maghreb, Andalusia and Sicily.

Community Perspective: worth the long detour for the surrounding landscape and the 25m tall minaret that is its most striking highlight.

Tassili n'Ajjer

The Tassili n'Ajjer is a mountain range in the Sahara characterized by its impressive rock art and geological formation of sandstone "rock forests".

Erosion in the area has formed nearly 300 natural rock arches, along with many other spectacular landforms. Its prehistoric rock paintings and other ancient archaeological sites date from neolithic times when the local climate was much moister, with savannah rather than desert. Over 15,000 rock paintings have been inventoried.

Community Perspective: This area near the Libyan border is covered by regular ‘desert’ tours departing from Djanet, a city best reached by flight from Algiers.

M'Zab Valley

The M'Zab Valley in the northern Sahara holds five traditional fortified villages (ksour), which are perfectly adapted to their environment and where the traditional building techniques have been kept up.

The Ibadis settled here from the 11th century on, making the most of the defensive possibilities and creating a water distribution system to make life in the semi-desert possible. Their settlements were built around a citadel and included palm groves. The five ksour included are El Atteuf, Bou Noura, Beni Isguen, Melika, Ghardaia.

Community Perspective: one of the most interesting areas in Algeria, with Ghardaia as the main component. The area has been prone to ethnic clashes in the past and a guide is obligatory to enter the walled cities.

Djémila

Djémila shows the unique adaptation of Roman architecture to a mountain environment.

This mountain village has some of the best-preserved and most beautiful Roman ruins in North Africa. They belong to a Roman colony known at the time as Cuicul. The remains include a theatre, two fora, temples, basilicas, arches, streets, and houses. Also, impressive mosaics have been uncovered.

Community Perspective: Constantine and Setif are the major cities from where you easily can visit Djémila as a half-day trip. The site is covered in flowers in Spring.

Tipasa

Tipasa is an archaeological site that resulted from the Punic and Roman civilizations.

It was founded by the Carthaginians as a port and trading centre. They left behind one of the most extensive cemeteries of the Phoenician world. The site also includes the Royal Mauritanian Mausoleum, a Numidian circular funerary monument. As a Roman colony, it gained many prestigious structures including Christian religious buildings.

Community Perspective: be aware that it has three components: one in town, where most of what you’ll see is of Late Roman origin including the remains of four basilicas. The other one east of it, is a scruffy graveyard (see Zoë’s review). And the third, the Numidian Mausoleum, lies 11km southeast of the main archaeological complex (see Solivagant’s review).

Timgad

Timgad is an example of Roman urban planning that extended from a military camp.

Timgad, called Thamugas by the Romans, was a Roman colony in North Africa founded by Emperor Trajan around 100 CE. Its typical grid plan included features such as paved streets, 14 baths and Trajan's Arch, a 12 m high triumphal arch.

Community Perspective: Solivagant explains how Timgad differs from other Roman ruins along the North African coast as it was built ‘ex nihilo’ as a Roman “ideal city”. Juha ranks its ruins “among the best outside of Italy”; he also provides information on how to get there.  

Kasbah of Algiers

The Kasbah of Algiers represents a typical Mediterranean Muslim urban landscape that has been influential across the region.

The Old Town with its labyrinths of lanes is enclosed by ramparts. The historic buildings, dating mostly from the late 16th and 17th centuries, include the remains of the citadel, ancient mosques, Ottoman palaces, as well as traditional houses.

Community Perspective: Solivagant summarizes it as “I can’t think of any cultural WHS I have visited which has been in a worse condition than the Algiers Kasbah.”, and he also shares his research on the site’s boundaries. In light of the frequent safety warnings regarding visiting this site, Juha found the Lower Kasbah quite safe to walk around on your own and the quiet and labyrinthine alleys of the High Kasbah may be better done with a guide.

Andorra
Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley

The Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley is a pastoral landscape reflecting an agricultural way of life that was once widespread in the upland regions of Europe but now survives only in this part of the Pyrenees.

The valley was a place of passage with tracks linking it to France and Spain. Shepherds, charcoal burners, miners, blacksmiths, farmers and even smugglers have used these footpaths over the centuries. It corresponds with the Madriu river basin. The highest part is a glacial landscape, the rest was and still is used as pastures for the grazing of cows and horses during the summer. The two settlements within the valley are only used in the summer months. Terraced fields have been constructed to grow rye, and wheat and to provide hay. The land is communally owned. 

Community Perspective: A number of marked trails lead into the area. But as beautiful as the scenery might be, it will not bring you closer to understanding the cultural value and one reviewer even wondered how alive the pastoral tradition really is.

Angola
Mbanza Kongo

Mbanza Kongo, Vestiges of the Capital of the former Kingdom of Kongo, represents the political and religious centre of a vast African kingdom that was transformed by the arrival of the Portuguese in the late 15th century.

The site (now a town of some 175,000 inhabitants) is located on a plateau. It comprises both archaeological remains of the precolonial period as well as colonial structures – often overlapping each other. The Kingdom of Kongo has strong intangible links with the slave trade and the early conversion of African kings to the Catholic religion (with a Cathedral and Jesuit College in place from the early 17th century).

Community Perspective: this site has been unreviewed so far.

Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua Naval Dockyard

The Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites are late 18th, early 19th century defensive structures made by the British Navy.

They were built in an ideal natural setting, around a series of bays known as the English Harbour. Enslaved laborers from plantations in the vicinity were sent to work on the dockyard. A wide range of buildings has survived. They were built in the Georgian style, with some modifications for the tropical climate.

Community Perspective: the site gets mixed reviews, but it is probably the only place of historic interest in Antigua. The dockyard area now unfortunately mostly is used for modern shops and restaurants which scream “tourist trap”.  Dow's Hill Interpretation Centre and Shirley’s Heights both have good views of the harbour and the short hike out to Fort Berkeley is recommended as well.

Argentina
Los Glaciares

Los Glaciares National Park covers a remote mountain landscape known for its ongoing glacial activity.

The park is situated on the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the largest ice cap in the world outside of Antarctica and Greenland. It holds 47 larger active glaciers, among them the Perito Moreno. They feed two large lakes: Lake Argentino and Lake Viedma. The area also is important for scientific research on climate change.

Community Perspective: El Chalten in the north is generally preferred as a base above southern Calafate – choose yourself by reading the respective reviews of Nan and Squiffy. Be aware that the weather here is highly changeable and you should give it a few days.

Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis

The Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis are the archeological remains of towns created by the Jesuit Order.

The towns existed between 1609 and 1818, and aimed to socially, culturally and religiously elevate the local Guarani communities. They also provided protection and economic stability. These so-called reducciones included agricultural lands such as mate plantations as well.

Community Perspective: San Ignacio Mini in Argentina is its best-known component (it even comes with a sound-and-light show), while São Miguel das Missões has a remarkable façade. Nan and Timonator speak highly of Loreto in Argentina.

Iguazu National Park

Iguazu National Park holds one of the world's most spectacular waterfalls and is the habitat of rare and endangered species.

The waterfalls on both sides of the international border span over 2700m and have a height of 80 m. The spray creates a micro-climate that is favourable for lush sub-tropical vegetation. The riverbanks support fauna such as birds, caiman and various cat species. The park also protects a remnant of the Atlantic Forest, with high species diversity and a high rate of endemism.

Community Perspective: The common opinion seems to be that the Brazilian side is the better to view the extent of the waterfalls, and the Argentine side the better to get up close to the falls. Devil's Throat is the highlight here.

Cueva de las Manos

Cueva de las Manos, Río Pinturas, contains unique prehistoric rock art.

The cave lies in the valley of the Pinturas River, in an isolated spot in the Patagonian landscape. It stands out for the stencilled outlines of human hands. Animals and hunting scenes are also depicted. They were made by local hunter-gatherers between 9,000 and 1,300 years ago, and are among the earliest and best preserved in South America.

Community Perspective: located in a remote but lush canyon, the site nowadays can best be reached on a day trip from Perito Moreno. This can be done by car if you have your own wheels; Els has explained which route to choose. There are also daily tours, for which Chelenco Tours is recommended.

Peninsula Valdes

Península Valdés comprises the most important breeding grounds of the Southern Right Whale and is the habitat of several other marine mammals.

Only 11 kms wide, the narrow Valdes Peninsula has a dynamic coastal zone with active sand dunes and numerous cliffs, bays and lagoons. Over 1,500 Southern Right Whales visit its waters yearly to breed, and the area is essential for their conservation. It also is home to elephant seals, sea lions, orcas and penguins.

Community Perspective: Try to arrive “in season” to see the whales, elephant seals and orcas, as highlighted by Solivagant. Whale-watching tours are organized from the town of Puerto Pirámides, and more general tours of the peninsula’s wildlife from Puerto Madryn as well. You can also self-drive in the park, as described by Timonator.

Ischigualasto / Talampaya

The Ischigualasto / Talampaya Natural Parks protect geological formations of the Triassic Period where the evolution of vertebrate life can be witnessed.

These contiguous parks are rich in diversity of both plant and vertebrate fossils of the entire Triassic Period, when dinosaurs and mammals came into existence. Some of the oldest known dinosaur remains were found in this location, which makes it one of the most important palaeontological sites in the world.

Community Perspective: The sites are best reached from the town of La Rioja, although they still are 200km away. Count on a very full day of travel to visit them both. Michael has described how to reach Talampaya on public transport; for Ischigualasto you need a car. At both locations guided tours are conducted in an orderly fashion, but ”you need to really love rock formations and hard to see petroglyphs to get much out of it”. Read Frederic's tale to understand how weather-dependent a visit is.

Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba

The Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba comprise complementing urban and rural settlements that were developed by the Society of Jesus as part of their missionary activities.

In Córdoba proper, the Jesuits were allocated one of the blocks in the checkerboard plan of the city, where they built a university (Colégio Maximo), a college and a church that also held the Jesuit political/administrative bodies. The rural estancias, supported by complex hydraulic systems and worked by indigenous farmers and African slave labourers, were to provide the necessary resources through farming and textile production.

Community Perspective: Using Cordoba as a base, the estancias can be reached by adding one or two day trips by bus or car. Read Timonator’s review for the most recent info.

Quebrada de Humahuaca

The Quebrada de Humahuaca is a mountain valley that has been in use as a cultural route between the Andean highlands and the plains for over 10,000 years.

Numerous tracks, roads, settlements and fields testify to the civilizations that once lived here: hunter-gatherers, prehistoric farmers, indigenous Omaguacas, Inca, Spanish and the Argentine Republic. Especially notable are the stone-walled agricultural terraces of Coctaca. Due to its strategic position, the area was colonized by both the Inca and the Spanish, who were after the trade, minerals and agricultural products.

Community Perspective: Although set in a stunning natural setting, its cultural values are harder to grasp – the Pucará of Tilcara may be the best of the ancient sites. Frédéric spent 4 days in the area and covered a number of interesting places.

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, is the communication and trade network developed by the Inca Empire.

The infrastructure needed exceptional technological and engineering skills in a difficult geographical setting in rural and remote parts of the Andes. The network supported the Inca Empire’s integration and was a symbol of its strength.

Community Perspective: As a serial transnational site comprising over 720km of road and 273 archaeological sites, it is hard to determine whether you have 'seen' it. Even more so as it is unclear whether the so-called Associated sites are inscribed as well. The latter include sites that are also WHS in their own right (Cusco, Tiwanaku). The main approach chosen is checking out a few locations near Lima or Cuzco and looking for traces of infrastructure (described well in Clyde’s review). Additionally, Allan has visited locations in Chile, and Els Ingapirca in Ecuador.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier comprises 17 of his works across the world.

The renowned French-Swiss architect is seen as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. The series shows the dissemination of his ideas over the world during a period of 50 years, spanning seven countries on three continents. Many of the sites reflect new architectural concepts, principles, and technical features.  All were innovative and had a significant influence over wide geographical areas They also contributed to the birth of three major trends in modern architecture: Purism, Brutalism and sculptural architecture.

Community Perspective: Hubert has become our expert on this subject, having visited 14 of the 17 components. Reviews that include the interior are available of Casa Curutchet (Serianne, Nan, Michael, Timonator), Villa Savoye (Ian, Els, Ilya), Weißenhofsiedlung  (Solivagant), Sainte Marie de La Tourette in Éveux (Hubert), Firminy-Vert (Hubert), the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille (Hubert, Jakob), Maison La Roche (Hubert), Molitor (Hubert), National Museum of Western Art (Frederik), Chandigarh (Solivagant), Notre Dame du Haut Chapel (Clyde), Cité Frugès (Hubert).

Los Alerces National Park

Los Alerces National Park is a visually stunning Andean landscape moulded by glaciations and covered by lakes and temperate forests.

The forests include the best-conserved pockets of the endemic and globally endangered Alerce trees - the second-longest living tree species in the world. The largest and oldest tree here is nearly 60 metres tall and approximately 2,600 years old.

Community Perspective: Access to the park on public transport outside of the high season can be tricky, as testified by Nan. The disadvantage of the high season (January/February) on the other hand is that excursions can get fully booked, as Frédéric noticed. But you can always do a satisfying hike and see an Alerce tree. Timonator stayed overnight.

ESMA Site Museum

The ESMA Museum and Site of Memory - Former Clandestine Centre of Detention, Torture and Extermination represents the illegal oppression of opposition executed by the dictatorships of Latin America in the 1970s-1980s.

The 'Clandestine Centre' was located at the Officer's Quarters of the Argentine Navy in Buenos Aires. More than 5,000 people were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered here, and further atrocities were committed by its officers and subordinates against political left- and communist-oriented opposition members.

Community Perspective: Joel speaks of a "harrowing" museum with a strong focus on survivors' testimony, though overall it is very Argentina-specific. The museum is easy to reach within Buenos Aires by bus or Uber.

Armenia
Haghpat and Sanahin

The Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin represent a fusion of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and vernacular architecture of the Caucasus.

These monasteries dating to the 10th-13th centuries are located in the Debed Canyon in harmony with their picturesque landscape. Both compounds contain several historic churches. Sanahin also has over 50 ancient khachkars (sculptured cross-stones) standing on its territory.

Community Perspective: These are located not far from each other in a fine setting, if you think away the industrial town of Alaverdi. The khachkars are of particular interest. See Nan’s review for tips on getting there without a car.

Monastery of Geghard

The Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley are renowned for their influence on Armenian monastic architecture.

The site contains a number of churches and tombs, most of them cut into the living rock. The monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave. The main complex, situated within a defensive wall, dates from the 13th century and holds churches, chapels, cells for monks to live in, and princely tombs. The monastery had a school and library and was an important center of learning in the Middle Ages.

Community Perspective: An atmospheric site in a delightful deep valley. The buildings stand out for their delicate carvings. Geghard is a popular day trip from Yerevan, both with tourists and pilgrims.

Echmiatsin and Zvartnots

The Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots bear witness to the development of Christianity in Armenia.

They are also prime examples of Armenian church design, characterized by its central-domed cross-hall layout. Echmiatsin is the center of the Armenian Church and holds the Echmiatsin Cathedral, the most ancient church in Armenia (301), as well as other 7th-century churches. Zvartnots was built to surpass the Echmiatsin Cathedral in grandeur: it was exceptionally high for its time and covered in bas relief.

Community Perspective: Despite their importance, these are quite sober churches and one can only guess at the former beauty of Zvartnots as it’s ruined like an Ancient Greek temple. They are easily visited on the way to or from Yerevan or its airport.

Australia
Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park comprises wetlands and cliffs, that have been used by Aboriginal cultures for over 50,000 years.

Its rock art reveals insights into hunting and gathering practices, social structure and ritual ceremonies of Indigenous societies. Its variety of ecosystems hold a huge diversity of flora. Large numbers of waterbirds live here, and the wetlands are the breeding habitat of the endangered saltwater crocodile and the pig-nosed turtle.

Community Perspective: The park is prone to flooding in the wet season, but two of the most popular sights are open all year: the rock art at Nourlangie Rock and the Yellow Water Cruise. May-October is the best time to visit, and the usual point of departure is Darwin (there is even a bus service). There’s enough to see to fill 3 days.

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system, composed of roughly 2,500 individual reefs and 900 islands extending 2,000 kilometres along Queensland's coast.

The coral reefs hold a huge biodiversity, with dugong, whales, dolphins and turtles among the most notable marine species. They provide some of the most spectacular underwater scenery on earth with 400 species of coral and 1,500 species of fish.

Community Perspective: You can go and see it from a glass bottom boat, by snorkeling, diving or just straight from the boat. Cairns is a good starting point for these tours, as are the Whitsunday Islands (which come out better in comparison).

Willandra Lakes

The Willandra Lakes Region is a geologically unique area of dry lakebeds rich in fossils and very early homo sapiens evidence.

They include the world's oldest cremation site (26,000 years old) and remains of a settlement up to 40,000 years ago (agricultural use, stone tools). The lakes dried out about 18,500 years ago. The region is important for research of the Pleistocene in Australasia, when humans became dominant and large wildlife became extinct.

Community Perspective: It’s a wonderful semi-arid desert now, with exposed fossilized trees and bones, and one of Australia's top off-the-beaten-track WHS. Locally the area is better known as Mungo National Park. Clyde describes getting there and around with a non-4WD car.

Tasmanian Wilderness

The Tasmanian Wilderness constitutes one of the last expanses of temperate wilderness in the world and a cultural landscape for Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

Tasmanian Aboriginal people have lived here for approximately 40,000 years, of which traces can be found in prehistoric cave sites. Its nature is of exceptional beauty, with various distinctive landforms ranging from the alpine to wetland and coastal ecosystems. It includes some of the longest-lived trees in the world and is home to several marsupial carnivores.

Community Perspective: The lakes of Dove and St. Clair (part of the Cradle Mountain/Lake St. Clair National Park) are the most accessible option for a short visit, and you may spot platypus, wombat and echnidna there. Shandos has given an overview of 5 of the included reserves.

Lord Howe Island

The Lord Howe Island Group represents an island system developed from submarine volcanic activity with a characteristic insular biota.

It consists of islands and rocks that are home to many species of nesting seabirds and other endemic or rare animals. It also features the most southerly coral reef in the world. Besides Lord Howe Island, the designated area includes the Admiralty Group, Mutton Bird and Sail Rock, Blackburn (Rabbit) Island, Gower Island and Ball's Pyramid.

Community Perspective: airfares and accommodation are extremely expensive because of the tourism restriction of 400 beds. Climb the peaks, visit the Lord Howe Island Museum or enjoy its beaches.

Gondwana Rainforests

The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia are renowned for their geological features and unique record of the evolutionary history of Australian rainforests.

The 41 different parks in Queensland and New South Wales are located on volcanic shields that were created after the breakup of Gondwana. They hold the major remaining areas of rainforest, where many songbird species are present as well as further rare and threatened flora and fauna species.

Community Perspective: Dorrigo National Park (Michael) is an accessible choice among the parks to visit, while Lamington National Park (Clyde) proved to be good for birders.

Uluru

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a striking physical landscape of two rock formations contrasting sharply with the surrounding sand plains and desert.

The monolith Uluru (Ayers Rock) and the rock domes of Kata Tjuta (Mount Olga) are isolated remnants left after the slow erosion of an original mountain range. It also is an associative landscape via the spiritual relationship of the Aboriginal owners with the land. The area holds numerous sites sacred to the local Anangu people.

Community Perspective: Although popular, this is an expensive destination because you’re confined to the resort town of Yulara and you need a car to get around. Uluru has a magical charm, while Kata Tjuta has good hiking opportunities (Clyde has described a number of them well).

Wet Tropics of Queensland

The Wet Tropics of Queensland is an area mainly consisting of wet tropical rainforests with a great variety of animal and plant species.

It contains the remains of the great Gondwanan forest that covered Australia and part of Antarctica 50 to 100 million years ago. It is an important source of information for the study of fossils (especially of marsupials) found elsewhere in Australia. The site holds many endemic flora species and is home to the flightless Australian cassowary, one of the largest birds in the world.

Community Perspective: All reviewers so far have covered Barron Gorge National Park (an easy ride from Cairns). The other 40 or so parks and reserves stay unreviewed.

Heard and McDonald Islands

Heard Island and McDonald Islands are uninhabited, barren islands located in the Southern Ocean, with a complete absence of alien plants and animals, as well as human impact.

The islands have been territories of Australia since 1947, and contain the only two active volcanoes in Australian territory, one of which, Mawson Peak, is the highest Australian mountain. The volcanoes are covered by snow and glaciers. The islands furthermore see major breeding populations of seals, petrels, albatrosses and penguins.

Community Perspective: this site has been unreviewed so far.

Shark Bay

Shark Bay, Western Australia, covers a large, mostly marine area that is renowned for its presence of stromatolites and the largest seagrass bank in the world.

Its marine waters are hypersaline. Hamelin Pool has the most diverse and abundant examples of stromatolites in the world, while the Wooramel Seagrass Bank has the most seagrass species recorded from one area. The site is also of major zoological importance being home to about 11,000 dugongs and many dolphins and whales.

Community Perspective: According to Zoë, it’s not an easy site to come to grips with, unless you are satisfied with seeing dolphins at Monkey Mia.

Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island holds a remote, windswept landscape that is the only place on Earth where rocks from the Earth's mantle are actively exposed above sea level.

The active tectonic processes make it an important focus of geological study. The island and associated islets lie about halfway between Australia and Antarctica and are populated by huge congregations of penguins and seals. Over 850,000 Royal Penguins breed here yearly.

Community Perspective: this site has been unreviewed so far.

Fraser Island

K’gari (Fraser Island) is the largest sand island in the world.

It has over 100 clean freshwater dune lakes, spectacular coastal dune formations, sand cliffs and sandy beaches. Up to 50m tall rainforest trees grow on the dunes. Notable fauna includes various threatened species of frog. Dingoes were once common on the island, but are now decreasing.

Community Perspective: The site is strictly limited to 4WD vehicles, so most people opt for a guided tour. Clyde has described what you may expect from a 2-day tour from River Heads, while Carlo did a 1-day tour from Rainbow Beach.

Australian Fossil Mammal Sites

The Australian Fossil Mammal Sites Riversleigh and the Naracoorte are superb illustrations of the key stages of the isolated evolution of Australia's unique fauna.

Riversleigh has fossil remains of ancient mammals, birds, and reptiles of the Oligocene and Miocene ages, when the habitat changed from humid rainforest to dry forest. The Naracoorte Caves are more recent. Here, holes opened up creating traps for the unwary mammals and other land creatures. Fossils include those of Australian ice age megafauna.

Community Perspective: Almost all reviewers visited Naracoorte, which is the most accessible in southern Australia. The focus here is on Victoria Fossil Cave, for which you need to take part in an (educational) guided tour. John has covered Riversleigh as well.

Greater Blue Mountains

The Greater Blue Mountains Area is a sandstone plateau that holds a high diversity of eucalypts, representing all four existing groups.

It is an area of rugged tablelands, sheer cliffs, deep, inaccessible valleys and swamps. It also contains ancient, relict species of global significance such as the recently discovered Wollemi pine, a 'living fossil' dating back to the age of the dinosaurs. Notable fauna includes platypus and echidna.

Community Perspective: They’re an easy day trip from Sydney (there’s a direct train to Katoomba) and hiking is the main thing to do. Nan visited on a particularly smoky occasion…

Purnululu National Park

Purnululu National Park is famous for its sandstone domes, unusual and visually striking with their striping in alternating orange and grey bands.

This remote park includes the Bungle Bungle Range with its beehive-shaped karst sandstone. The banding of the domes is due to differences in clay content and porosity of the sandstone layers. The cone karst is of great scientific importance.

Community Perspective: You can fly in a small aircraft into the park: that way you will also have the opportunity to see the Bungle Bungles from the air. There are campgrounds to stay overnight.

Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape covers an ancient aquaculture system developed by the Gunditjmara Aboriginal people.

They manipulated the water flow through volcanic rock and trapped fish there (especially kooyang). The associated practices are still part of the Gunditjmara living cultural tradition.

Community Perspective: The site doesn’t lie far from the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Adelaide. Frederik has described the Tyrendarra component (could use more guidance), while Jarek covered Mt. Eccles (pretty scenery, but not much to see in terms of ancient human activity).

Royal Exhibition Building

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens represent the late 19th-century international exhibition movement, showcasing technological innovation and change that was made possible by the industrialisation.

The building consisted of a Great Hall of Industry of over 12,000 square metres and many temporary annexes in the Gardens. It presented Australian industry and technology to the world during the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880 and the 1888 Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition. The formal Carlton Gardens also were characteristic of exhibition buildings of this period.

Community Perspective: Try to book one of the guided tours to the interior (see Clyde’s review), otherwise you may leave disappointed.

Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most distinctive and famous 20th-century buildings.

This dedicated opera house and concert hall is situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour. The daring design is by the hand of the Danish architect Jorn Utzon, its engineer was Ove Arup.

Community Perspective: It’s almost a sculpture placed into the great harbour setting. One can usually walk through the building and take a peek into one of the concert halls for free. Whether a guided tour of the interior is worth it is disputed – “There is no real relationship between the outside and inside”.

Australian Convict Sites

The Australian Convict Sites comprise the remains of settlements to which British convicts were migrated by force.

The transportation and associated forced labour was a legal form of punishment in the 18th and 19th centuries. It also led to an influx of European colonists to the detriment of the Aboriginal peoples. The sites include 11 different types of structures, ranging from prisons to factories and mines.

Community Perspective: The sites lie mostly around Sydney and on Tasmania; Shandos has given an overview of them all. Reviews so far have included Port Arthur (Els), Cockatoo Island (Tom), Kingston and Arthur`s Vale (John), Hyde Park Barracks (Jay), Brickendon and Woolmers Estates (Clyde), and Old Governor's House (Nan). The interpretation at some of the sites is rather poor.

Ningaloo Coast

The Ningaloo Coast holds a fringing coral reef known for its seasonal feeding concentrations of the whale shark.

Due to seasonal nutrient upwelling, a group of 300-500 whale sharks gather here yearly. The marine area also is rich in coral, reef fish, mollusc, turtle and crustacean species. Adjacent to Ningaloo Reef, the limestone karst landscape of Cape Range has a remarkable density of underground caves and other karst features, providing a habitat for birds and reptiles.

Community Perspective: This is a hard-to-reach site, but it still is popular with the diving crowd. Zoë has described such a scuba diving trip. The best chance to see a whale shark is from mid-March to the end of July.

Austria
Salzburg

The Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg with its world-famous Baroque architecture is one of the best-preserved examples of an European ecclesiastical city-state.

Here German and Italian cultures interchanged, with Italian architects responsible for many of its Baroque monuments. The city’s quarters were divided into those belonging to the Prince-Archbishops and those of the burghers. They include notable buildings from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Furthermore, Salzburg is historically associated with classical music and festivals.

Community Perspective: Very touristy but still lovely. The Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter with the catacombs and graveyard is often named as its highlight. See Ian’s review for drink and food tips.

Semmering Railway

The Semmering Railway was the first mountain railway that crossed a high-mountain area.

The 41km long railway was constructed in the mid-19th century and features 14 tunnels (among them the 1,431 m vertex tunnel), 16 viaducts (several two-story) and over 100 curved stone bridges as well as 11 small iron bridges. It opened up new areas to live in and to use for recreation, which can still be seen in its 'summer architecture' in the Alpine resorts.

Community Perspective: trains southward from Vienna still take the Semmering pass route, so you can ‘experience’ the engineering sitting on a train. It’s also worthwhile to make a stop at the resort town of Semmering (as did Els). Clyde recommends hiking the Bahnwanderweg.

Schönbrunn

The Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn is a Baroque Gesamtkunstwerk that symbolizes Habsburg power.

Schönbrunn was the former Habsburg summer residence. The late 17th-century construction was modified often through the centuries to serve the tastes of the successive monarchs. It got its present form under Empress Maria Theresia, who added the theatre and the garden to make her stay more enjoyable.

Community Perspective: It’s best to take your time to see the whole complex, with a focus on the gardens and the exterior of the palace. Avoid visiting in summer or December if you can, as these are the busiest times.

Hallstatt-Dachstein

The Hallstatt-Dachstein Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape is a beautiful Alpine landscape where salt production brought great prosperity.

Its name is forever linked to European prehistory for the discovery of late Bronze Age and early Iron Age remains, which became the type site for the Halstatt culture. In addition to the salt mining town of Hallstatt, the landscape also includes the Halstätter Lake, the Dachstein massif, the town of Obertraun and the surrounding areas.

Community Perspective: one of the Alps' most stunning vistas, there possibly isn’t a place anywhere quite as picture-perfect as Hallstatt. It’s a bit of a mystery why it was nominated only as a cultural landscape because its natural properties are at least as important. Read Hubert’s review for tips on the natural side.

Graz

The City of Graz - Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg comprises an ensemble of typical buildings from different epochs and in different architectural styles.

Being situated in a cultural borderland between Central Europe, Italy and the Balkan States, Graz and with the patronage of the Habsburgs, Graz absorbed various influences from the neighbouring regions. Today the old town still holds many monumental buildings, their age ranging from Gothic to Contemporary. At its western edge lies the baroque Eggenberg Castle.

Community Perspective: a beautiful centre with lots of interesting sites but without the crowds of Vienna or Salzburg. Ian's review gives a good overview of how to spend 24 hours in the city.

Wachau Cultural Landscape

Wachau Cultural Landscape comprises the Danube valley between Melk and Krems which has seen a long historical evolution.

There has been human occupation in the Wachau from Palaeolithic times. It is well-known for its cultivation of apricots and grapes, which are used to produce specialty liquors and wines. It also has picturesque historic towns dating back to the Middle Ages and impressive buildings, such as the fine Baroque abbeys of Melk, Dürnstein and Göttweig.

Community Perspective: the area is best discovered by boat or by bike. Recommended are the Melk Abbey Church with its painted spiral staircases, the Gottweig Benedictine Abbey and villages and little towns such as Duernstein or Spitz.

Great Spa Towns of Europe

The Great Spa Towns of Europe represent the development of a specialized urban landscape that combined medical aspects, physical exercise and leisure.

These eleven Spa Towns are centered on natural mineral springs, which waters were used for bathing and drinking. The towns were expanded with important examples of  ‘spa architecture’, such as the ‘kurhaus’, drinking halls, theaters and casinos. They flourished from around 1700 to the 1930s.

Community Perspective: expect to find some fine Art Nouveau buildings, do some hiking, taste the water and most of the towns have modern spa facilities as well. Reviews of all inscribed towns are available: in Austria, Baden (Tsunami), in Belgium, Spa (Els, Clyde), in the UK, Bath (a double entry), in Italy, Montecatini Terme (Marian), in France, Vichy (Tsunami), in Germany, Baden-Baden (Caspar, Hubert), Bad Kissingen (Hubert), Bad Ems (Els), and in Czechia: Karlovy Vary (Matejicek, Hubert, Nan), Mariánské Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert), and Františkovy Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert).

Vienna

The Historic Centre of Vienna holds significant architecture from three periods (the Middle Ages, the Baroque period, and the Gründerzeit) and is a capital of music.

Vienna was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and medieval-era buildings remain in the inner city. The Habsburg Emperor Frederick III transformed it into an imperial residence with a strong Baroque character. Further expansion of the city led to the construction of fine examples of late 19th and early 20th century architecture along the Ring.

Community Perspective: Magnificent and Majestic. Assif highlights a number of museums to visit, Hubert the Art Nouveau masterpiece Postsparkasse and Matejicek the time-layers of the Michaelerplatz.

Fertö/Neusiedlersee

The Fertö/Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape is the result of the symbiotic process of human interaction with the westernmost steppe lake in Eurasia.

For eight millennia the lake, its reed belt and its surroundings have been used for stock raising and viticulture, starting with people of the early Iron Age Hallstatt culture. In medieval times, a network of settlements developed with an inner and outer ring around the lake.

Community Perspective: It’s a prime birdwatching area and the lake is used for all kinds of recreational activities, but this is a cultural WHS only (see Els’ review of how that happened) so you have to make do with the charming little town of Rust and the Esterhazy Palace in Fertöd. Hubert recommends doing a bicycle tour and Clyde a ‘self-drive’ boat.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan, Adrian; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar, Adrian; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp, Adrian; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Prehistoric Pile Dwellings

The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps are the remains of prehistoric agrarian lake shore communities.

Rising water levels since prehistory led to the abandonment of these stilt house settlements. Covered by lake and river sediments, organic materials such as wooden structures have been preserved. Archeological findings further include the oldest textiles discovered in Europe, dugout canoes and wooden wheels. About 30 different cultural groups were responsible for creating these pile dwellings.

Community Perspective: only at very few of the 111 locations can original remains be seen, at the others, you will be staring “intently at the water trying to spot the merest hint of some buried rotten wood”. Molina di Ledro and Fiave in Italy are your best bets. Solivagant contemplates what a visit to the Pile Dwellings entails, and Hubert has visited multiple locations.

Danube Limes

Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Danube Limes (Western Segment) comprises the remains of the Roman border along the Danube River.

This 600km stretch of military installations was linked by a military road parallel to the river. The Pannonian fleet patrolled the river. A series of legionary fortresses, with thousands of soldiers each, formed its backbone. Civilian towns developed around them, and their Roman citizens introduced Roman culture (such as baths, shrines and an amphitheatre) to their surroundings.

Community Perspective: among its 75 locations, the most accessible ones are Vindobona in the center of Vienna and Porta Praetoria in Regensburg. Hubert provides a comprehensive overview of locations with visible remains in Germany, Austria and Slovakia.

Azerbaijan
Walled City of Baku

The Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower comprises the remains of a historic town, that has been the capital of Azerbaijan since 1191.

The Old City has preserved much of its 12th-century defensive walls. Within the walls lies a maze of narrow alleys, with ancient residences, stores and mosques. It also harbours the Maiden Tower, the city’s most ancient monument. Its Shirvanshah’s Palace is the most prominent example of Azeri architecture from the Shirvanshah dynasty.

Community Perspective: the cosmopolitan city of Baku gets lots of praise, but this historic center won’t hold your attention for more than an hour or so.

Hyrcanian Forests

The Hyrcanian Forests comprise a 1,000km long massif covered in ancient natural broad-leaved forests.

They date back 25 - 50 million years when such forests covered most parts of the Northern Temperate region – after periods of glaciation these became isolated remnants. The forests cover inaccessible steep terrain. They show high floristic biodiversity (3,200 vascular plants) and are home to forest birds and the iconic Persian Leopard.

Community Perspective: Among the components in Iran, Wojciech visited Abr Forest, and Zoë also covered Abr plus National Golestan Forest. Clyde so far has provided the best coverage of Khanbulan in Azerbaijan (a component later withdrawn from the nomination/inscription).

Gobustan Rock Art

Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape has an outstanding collection of more than 6,000 rock engravings.

They can be found on three flat-topped hills within a volcanic landscape. The oldest engravings were made during a warmer and wetter period. Dating from Prehistory to the Middle Ages, they depict primitive men, animals, battle pieces, ritual dances, bullfights, boats with armed oarsmen, warriors with lances in their hands, camel caravans, and pictures of sun and stars.

Community Perspective: All international visitors seem to be steered towards the Boyukdash location. A visit here should also include the modern Gobustan Museum. Gobustan had a rocky path to inscription, adequately described by Solivagant.

Sheki

The Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace is an 18th-century trade town known for its silk farming.

Sheki was the capital of the short-lived Shaki Khanate, with the Khan’s palace as one of its most notable remaining landmarks. The urban plan was geared towards sericulture, with a hydraulic system distributing the water to the cultivated gardens with mulberry trees and residential houses with spacious attics to accommodate silkworm breeding.

Community Perspective: traditional architecture and small-town feeling in a beautiful setting in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, with the Sheki Palace as the most memorable monument with abundant and detailed decoration both in- and outside.

Khinalig

The Cultural Landscape of Khinalig People and “Köç Yolu” Transhumance Route reflects the living tradition of long-distance transhumance of the Khinalig.

The semi-nomadic Khinalig people, a distinct ethnic group within the Caucasus with their own language, seasonally move their animals over 200km between the summer pastures in the mountains and the winter pastures in the lowlands. They live in the highest inhabited mountain village in Azerbaijan. Along the route monuments such as shrines and bridges can be found that testify to its traditional use by these people.

Community Perspective: Tamas visited in 2022 and found that it "reflects rather 21st century poverty than some kind of idealistic historical atmosphere".

Bahrain
Qal'at al-Bahrain

Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun is the archaeological site of a port that was once the capital of the Dilmun civilization and served more recently as a Portuguese fort.

It is a typical tell - an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation. The hill shows almost continuous remains of fortifications and palaces from ca. 2300 BCE to the 16th century BCE. They span the Dilmun, Tylos, later Islamic societies, and the Portuguese period. This makes it a rare archeological and historical reference site in Eastern Arabia and the Gulf region.

Community Perspective: it is the most famous tourist attraction of Bahrain and popular among locals and tourists, and can easily be visited by rental car or on public transport. Reviewers found the Portuguese fort (too) heavily reconstructed and the excavated remains of the Bronze Age Dilmun civilisation are not very extensive.

Pearling

Pearling, testimony of an island economy, is a group of historic sites related to the harvest and trade of natural pearls.

The island city of Muharraq was the main pearl trading city in the Gulf and was prominent in the world until the introduction of cultured pearls by Japan in the 1930s. A pearl industry already existed here in Roman times. The inscribed area comprises Oyster beds in the territorial waters of Bahrain, two fortresses and the remaining buildings of the merchant quarter in Muharraq.

Community Perspective: although all components supposedly are connected via a Pearling Path, many are being renovated or are of little interest. The most rewarding components to visit are the Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House and the nearby Siyadi Complex in Old Muharraq. 

Dilmun Burial Mounds

The Dilmun Burial Mounds represent the architecture and sepulchral traditions of Early Dilmun culture.

Newly gained prosperity lead the ancient inhabitants to start using less fertile land for the development of these cemeteries. There are thousands of burial mounds, spread across 21 locations. Each of the mounds - usually meant for one deceased person - is composed of a central stone chamber that is enclosed by a low ring wall and covered by earth and gravel. The graves can vary considerably in size and style and are not all from the same era. People from different social strata were buried this way, and the more elaborate mounds also included alcoves filled with mortuary gifts.

Community Perspective: the mounds and the fields are underwhelming, but the sheer numbers of them do leave a lasting impression. A’Ali seems to be the best to visit and also is reachable on public transport. The National Museum of Bahrain has good displays of these tumuli.

Bangladesh
Bagerhat

The Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat comprises the remains of a 15th-century city renowned for its early Muslim architecture.

Bagerhat, the historical Khalifatabad, was founded by Khan Jahan, an Islamic preacher probably of Turkic origin. He adorned the city with mosques, roads, bridges, palaces and reservoirs constructed from baked brick. He established all of this within a short time span while introducing a distinct architectural style. The unique Shait-Gumbad mosque is a central feature.

Community Perspective: the site essentially consists of two locations a few km apart - the impressive main mosque and the mausoleum which attracts plenty of local worshippers. Those who have visited the Bangladeshi Hindu temples (from a later period) will notice the “similarity of building materials and, to some extent, style and decoration”.

Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur

The Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur comprise a Buddhist Monastery dating from the late 8th century.

The monastery was a renowned center of Buddhist religion until the 17th century. It was built from terracotta as a massive single structure.  Its architectural style influenced temples in Myanmar, Java and Cambodia. The building is covered in carved decorations, both in stone and terracotta, with bands of terracotta plaques in rows all around the terraces.

Community Perspective: located deep into the Bangladeshi countryside, so "getting there is a pleasure in itself as you pass the myriad of Bengali rural activities". It’s a very large complex and it doesn't see many visitors. Local reviewers worry about the lack of protection and more interpretative signs would be useful.

The Sundarbans

The Sundarbans are part of the world’s largest delta and hold among the largest remaining areas of mangroves in the world.

Its ever-changing landscape is fed by three major rivers and shaped by tidal shifts and monsoon rains. The site also has exceptional biodiversity, with a population of about 400 Bengali tigers (the highest density in the world) and over 300 species of birds.

Community Perspective:  the park can be reached by boat from Mongla, there are day tours or multi-day trips to choose from. But discount the idea of seeing a tiger! The Indian Sundarbans are inscribed as a separate WHS and no international cooperation seems to exist to merge the two.

Barbados
Bridgetown

Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison represent a fortified port town designed by the British to safeguard their trade interests in the region.

Bridgetown was an entrepot for goods and enslaved persons, linked to the island's sugar industry and the rest of the Caribbean. The site comprises the old town, the port and the former garrison. The old town still has the medieval English-style street plan, and holds examples of creolized forms of architecture, including Caribbean Georgian. The former garrison protected the town and the port, and served as the headquarters of the British Navy in the region.

Community Perspective: Most reviewers find it underwhelming, but Sebasfhb and Clyde have more flattering things to say and consider the unique Screw Dock as one of the highlights.

Belarus
Mir Castle

The Mir Castle Complex is a piece of military architecture that reflects the long contentious history of the region.

The 16th-century castle has five towers made of alternating brick and large boulders. Its harmonious design shows Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance cultural influences. The castle was built by the Ilinich family to withstand attacks from the Crimean Tatars. Later it fell into the hands of the Radziwill family, which converted it into a Renaissance-style residential palace.

Community Perspective: the exterior is the most impressive part, although the finalisation of the reconstruction of the castle in 2013 has improved its visitor experience.

Białowieża Forest

Białowieża Forest is an ancient woodland, the only remaining part of the immense forest which once spread across the European Plain.

Pine, beech, oak, alder and spruce are found in the (partly) old-growth forests, and the many dead trees make it important for the conservation of fungi. These little disturbed forests are home to viable populations of large mammals such as wolf and lynx, and the European Bison was reintroduced here in 1929 and now forms the species’ largest free-roaming population.

Community Perspective: the site straddles the Polish-Belarusian border and crossing it here was relatively easy before the current crisis in diplomatic relations. The Polish side is covered by Solivagant, who clarifies which elements are part of the core zone and which aren’t, by Nan who describes a visit to the museum area and the Bison Reserve, and by Els and Clyde who entered the Strict Reserve with a guide. Tips for the Belarusian side are provided by Jakob, who cycled there from Poland, and Tamas who ended up at a “dodgy Sovjet era museum, with grey and brown displays of the local flora and fauna, and a gloomy zoo”.

Nesvizh

The Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh consists of a residential castle and the Corpus Christi Church, which had their influence on architecture all over Central and Eastern Europe.

The Radziwill dynasty acted as politicians and patrons of art from the 16th to 19th centuries. They incorporated influences from Southern and Western Europe, leading to the Renaissance and Baroque design of this complex. An Italian architect was responsible for creating the domed church.

Community Perspective: the interior of the Corpus Christi church has good frescoes and an interesting family crypt, while the palace comes with the usual series of European-style palace rooms.

Struve Geodetic Arc

The Struve Geodetic Arc is a technological ensemble that played an important role in the development of earth sciences.

This chain of survey triangulations, stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, was established to measure the exact size and shape of the earth. It was developed and used by the German-born Russian scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve in the years 1816 to 1855.

Community Perspective: with its 34 remaining stations, spanning 10 countries and over 2,800 km, this has become a real Community Cult Classic, representing the “reductio ad absurdum” of the scheme. To the uninitiated: you may expect to see a slab of concrete with a small concrete fence around it; Ian describes the cult appeal well in his review. Many are located in remote rural areas, often on hilltops. The best among them is the Tartu old observatory, which has an exhibition inside. The ones in Belarus are covered by Jarek and Zoe, the one in Moldavia by History Fangirl, Michael ‘did’ Ukraine, and Els Latvia, while Svein and Solivagant described Norway. Others in the Baltic States, Sweden and Finland have been regularly reviewed as well.

Belgium
Belfries

The Belfries of Belgium and France symbolize the growing independence of cities from the feudal system in the Middle Ages.

The site comprises 56 bell towers that were built between the 11th and 20th centuries. The towers are mostly found in town centers, and connected to the local town hall or church. They were used as watch towers but also as meeting places for the city councils.

Community Perspective: “They’re all different” – so you have to visit a couple of them to get the idea. Fortunately, they are often located in towns that are also part of the Flemish Beguinages WHS, or are WHS in their own right – Nan has provided a list of possible combinations.

Flemish Béguinages

The Flemish Béguinages are secluded compounds made by a medieval religious movement.

The Beguines were women who entered into a life dedicated to God without retiring from the world. They founded the béguinages, communities enclosed by walls or ditches that opened their gates during the day. The béguinages held houses, churches, public buildings and gardens to serve their spiritual and material needs.

Community Perspective: these 13 béguinages all are fairly similar and there are many more in the Low Lands than those inscribed. Recommended are the large Groot Begijnhof of Leuven, the secluded beguinage of Kortrijk and the béguinage of Brugge. A visit can easily be combined with the Belfries WHS, as most Flemish towns with a belfry also have a béguinage.

The Four Lifts

The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs comprise well-preserved examples of 19th-century hydraulic engineering applied to canals.

To expand the Canal to bigger boats and thus better support the coal export from the industrial region of Hainaut, four hydraulic boat lifts of English design were installed. This method was necessary because of the differences in height of the Canal. Most of this rise is concentrated in a few kilometres - hence the artificial help. These four boat lifts are the only ones globally that still exist in their original working condition.

Community Perspective: It’s a nice walk along the canal, but Tsunami recommends doing a boat tour which will take you through one of the old Lifts.

Grand Place, Brussels

Grand Place, Brussels comprises a central square and a harmonious ensemble of surrounding buildings that represent the culture of this mercantile city from the late 17th century.

The rectangular marketplace has been in use since the late Middle Ages. It is now surrounded by buildings dating from the late 17th century. Most of them used to be guild halls, whose facades are decorated with statues, symbols and the house's name. There is no church; the Brabant Gothic City Hall is the most famous landmark.

Community Perspective: It’s always packed with tourists and the surroundings are quite tacky. Reviewers however appreciate its architecture, with the stone design that somehow looks like lace, and its atmosphere in the late afternoon and evenings. Jay planned his visit to coincide with the yearly display of a floral carpet.

Brugge

The Historic Centre of Brugge represents a medieval town built mostly in brick Gothic, which also was the birthplace of the Flemish Primitives painting school.

From the 13th-15th centuries, Brugge was a thriving international trading center due to the production of cloth and the presence of a Hansean warehouse. Numerous Gothic buildings and churches were built. The patronage of the arts supported the works of the Flemish Primitives such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.

Community Perspective: The medieval centre is well-preserved and the Belfort offers some of the best views over the city. A boat trip through the canals is also worth it. The ambiance of the town is magnified in the early morning and late evening hours when all of the day-trippers have left for the day and you can wander the streets by yourself.

Major Town Houses

The Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels) are pioneering works of art and architecture in the Art Nouveau style.

Belgian architect Horta was one of the most prominent men in the Art Nouveau movement, a radical new decorative style that developed in the late 19th century. Characteristics are the use of industrial materials like steel and iron in the visible parts of houses, new decorations inspired by nature, and decorative façades of houses. The site comprises four buildings: Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde, and the Maison & Atelier Horta.

Community Perspective: the incredible interiors of these four are mostly “out of bounds for mere mortals”. The most accessible is the Maison & Atelier Horta. The others sometimes open up as well on special occasions or to exclusive group tours. Els describes an exclusive visit to Hôtel Solvay, and Caspar managed to get inside Maison Eetvelde.

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes

The Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons) comprise a vast underground series of galleries dug into two chalk plateaux.

They testify to the technological capabilities and culture of Neolithic populations. Shafts up to 16m deep were dug to get to the flint, which was used to make tools such as axes. No horizontal network joined the shafts; instead up to 5,000 shafts existed parallel to each other in some spots. The mine network stayed in use for centuries

Community Perspective: this is a WH Community Cult Classic, mostly due to the gradual opening up of the site to tourists, which can be learned from reading the reviews from the oldest to the most recent. Since 2015 there has been a modern visitor center and one can enter one of the shafts by pre-booked guided tour.

Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai

The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai is seen as a precursor of the vast Gothic cathedrals.

The construction of the Cathedral lasted from 1146 until 1325. The building shows both a Romanesque core and Gothic elements, such as the choir, which were added later on. Its size is a result of the technological progress that was made during this era, while the sober decorations are said to be in the Carolingian tradition.

Community Perspective: The Cathedral seems to have been under scaffolding permanently between 2005 and 2017, according to the reviews. As of 2023, the main body of the church is fully visible again but restorations are going on inside.

Great Spa Towns of Europe

The Great Spa Towns of Europe represent the development of a specialized urban landscape that combined medical aspects, physical exercise and leisure.

These eleven Spa Towns are centered on natural mineral springs, which waters were used for bathing and drinking. The towns were expanded with important examples of  ‘spa architecture’, such as the ‘kurhaus’, drinking halls, theaters and casinos. They flourished from around 1700 to the 1930s.

Community Perspective: expect to find some fine Art Nouveau buildings, do some hiking, taste the water and most of the towns have modern spa facilities as well. Reviews of all inscribed towns are available: in Austria, Baden (Tsunami), in Belgium, Spa (Els, Clyde), in the UK, Bath (a double entry), in Italy, Montecatini Terme (Marian), in France, Vichy (Tsunami), in Germany, Baden-Baden (Caspar, Hubert), Bad Kissingen (Hubert), Bad Ems (Els), and in Czechia: Karlovy Vary (Matejicek, Hubert, Nan), Mariánské Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert), and Františkovy Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert).

Plantin-Moretus Museum

The Plantin-Moretus Museum is linked with the spreading of ideas of European humanism via its printing business Officina Plantiniana.

The museum is housed in the former residence and printing business of famous printers Christoffel Plantijn and Jan Moretus. They had a successful printing workshop and publishing house in the late 16th century, printing humanist and scientific publications. The workshop, its furnishings and the immaterial heritage associated with the business have been preserved in the original location.

Community Perspective: Everyone seems to like this one, and you can easily spend two hours inside drooling over the typographical matrices, the globes, the Gutenberg Bible and the Rubens paintings.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan, Adrian; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar, Adrian; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp, Adrian; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Stoclet House

The Stoclet House is a private mansion designed by architect Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte between 1905 and 1911.

It was built for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet. He gave them an unlimited budget and an artistic freehand. The integration of architects, artists, and artisans of the Wiener Werkstätte makes it an example of Gesamtkunstwerk, one of the defining characteristics of Jugendstil. Although the marble-clad facade is radically simplified, the house contains commissioned works by Gustav Klimt in the dining room, four copper figures at the top by sculptor Franz Metzner, and other craftwork inside and outside the building. Expensive materials were used all over, like Norwegian marble, gilded material and leather.

Community Perspective: the only thing that can be seen is the austere exterior (you actually look at the back of the house) and it is possible to take photos from different angles from the sidewalk. However, as with the nearby works of Victor Horta, the interior is what makes this house so incredible; hopefully, in the near future, the owners will decide to open parts of this WHS to the public.

Mining Sites of Wallonia

The Major Mining Sites of Wallonia represent industrial mining in continental Europe at various stages of the Industrial Revolution.

Developed in the 19th century, the Walloon mining basin became an exemplary centre of the Industrial Revolution outside England. The remains of the Grand-Hornu, Bois-du-Luc, Bois du Cazier and Blegny-Mine sites include surface and underground mining structures, industrial architecture and worker housing.

Community Perspective: The Grand Hornu is an aesthetically pleasing work of architecture, while at Blegny you can go on an underground tour. Bois du Cazier is an easy site to reach from Charleroi and has a number of exhibition spaces, including one dedicated to the Bois-du-Cazier disaster of 1956. Finally, Bois-du-Luc has a good mix of industrial and social elements.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier comprises 17 of his works across the world.

The renowned French-Swiss architect is seen as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. The series shows the dissemination of his ideas over the world during a period of 50 years, spanning seven countries on three continents. Many of the sites reflect new architectural concepts, principles, and technical features.  All were innovative and had a significant influence over wide geographical areas They also contributed to the birth of three major trends in modern architecture: Purism, Brutalism and sculptural architecture.

Community Perspective: Hubert has become our expert on this subject, having visited 14 of the 17 components. Reviews that include the interior are available of Casa Curutchet (Serianne, Nan, Michael, Timonator), Villa Savoye (Ian, Els, Ilya), Weißenhofsiedlung  (Solivagant), Sainte Marie de La Tourette in Éveux (Hubert), Firminy-Vert (Hubert), the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille (Hubert, Jakob), Maison La Roche (Hubert), Molitor (Hubert), National Museum of Western Art (Frederik), Chandigarh (Solivagant), Notre Dame du Haut Chapel (Clyde), Cité Frugès (Hubert).

Colonies of Benevolence

The Colonies of Benevolence comprise a relict cultural landscape of isolated peat and heath wastelands that were colonized in the 19th century in a model for pauper relief.

As part of an Enlightenment experiment (lasting from 1818 to 1918), agricultural colonies were founded in rural areas to transform the colonists into ideal citizens and make the land productive. There were free colonies, founded by the Society of Benevolence to help poor citizens, and unfree colonies, where people were sent by the State and had to live under a more strict regime.

Community Perspective: “If you’re looking for perfect photo opportunities, this is not the site for you.” Expect to see farmland, rural school buildings and small protestant churches. For a quick visit, Frederiksoord-Wilhelminaoord may be the best bet with its recent (2019) visitor center. Brendan visited all three components and his review even comes with hiking and drinking recommendations! And Clyde almost ended up imprisoned…

Funerary and memory sites of the First World War

The Funerary and memory sites of the First World War (Western Front) testify to the unprecedented scale of a global war and mark the start of a new tradition of remembering the war dead.

After this war, for the first time, the individual victim was remembered. This resulted in military cemeteries and war memorials of diverse typologies where attention was paid to aesthetics. These sites still are visited by millions.

Community Perspective: The sites comprise 139 locations in Belgium and northern France. Notable is that the"commemoration of all victims is equal irrespective of nation, race, creed or military rank, the graves and engravings of names are uniform". Especially recommended to visit is the area around Verdun, which "is basically one whole cultural/memorial landscape shaped by World War I".

Belize
Belize Barrier Reef

The Belize Barrier-Reef Reserve System is a marine and coastal landscape containing a series of coral reefs.

It extends for about 300 km, making it the second-largest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. A wide array of reef types contained in a relatively small area can be found here. The submarine seascape is diverse, and there are unique geological features such as the Blue Hole and Rocky Point where the barrier reef touches the shore. It is also rich in fauna, ranging from jaguars to great hammerhead sharks.

Community Perspective: It’s a scuba diver heaven, with the Blue Hole as the holy grail (though only experienced divers are allowed to do the most spectacular 40m dive, it is less spectacular at less depth). Half Moon Caye comes recommended even more as it is rich in marine fauna. If you don’t dive or snorkel, your options are to take a sightseeing flight across the reef and the Blue Hole, to visit Bacalar Chico NP which is a land component (covered on a bike by Jarek), or stay on Tobacco Caye. There are also options from Placencia.

Benin
Royal Palaces of Abomey

The Royal Palaces of Abomey testify to the power of those who ruled the Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful in West Africa.

The site consists of a number of former palaces (one for each successive king) within the same enclosure in the center of Abomey and one palace a few km’s away. These palaces were the political centers of their time and also stored the treasures of the kingdom. They were made with traditional earthen materials and decorated with polychrome bas-reliefs.

Community Perspective: inside the complex, you will find the best polychrome bas-reliefs. The tombs and museum are also interesting to visit. Solivagant’s review tells more about the history of the Fon of Dahomey.

W-Arly-Pendjari Complex

The W-Arly-Pendjari Complex comprises a savanna landscape recognized for its biodiversity of birds, fish and plants.

These three contiguous parks are located within the Volta River basin at a transition zone between savannah and woodlands, with both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The area is a refuge for species that have mostly disappeared from the rest of West Africa, such as elephants, wild dogs, lion, leopard, cheetah and manatee.

Community Perspective: you won’t find wildlife in the innumerable quantities of the East African parks, but at least in visible herds. The facilities suffer from underinvestment and the border area with and in Burkina Faso is considered unsafe. Tamas made an adventurous approach to the part in Niger (Park ‘W’) as did Michael, while Solivagant and Chris focused on Pendjari in Benin.

Koutammakou

Koutammakou, the land of the Batammariba, represents a traditional way of settlement known for the architecture of mud “takienta” tower houses.

Most of these buildings have two stories, and either flat or conical thatched roofs. They combine domestic functions with space for animals and granaries. Koutammakou also is a living cultural landscape where the agricultural society lives in harmony with the surrounding nature. This is expressed in sacred forests, rocks and intangible elements.

Community Perspective: a highlight of a trip to Togo, where a local guide with appropriate knowledge, contacts and language is absolutely essential. Solivagant visited villages in both Togo and Benin, the latter proving "a more fruitful area for exploration and interaction with the Battamariba".

Bolivia
Potosi

The City of Potosí comprises an urban and industrial landscape shaped by one of the major silver mines of modern times.

Dating from the 16th century and still in use, the site shows the whole production chain (including dams, smelters and ore-grinding mills) and its social context in the colonial city center. Its architecture and arts, using a baroque style incorporating Indian influences, have been influential across the Central Andes. It delivered so much silver to Spain that it resulted in major economic change. 

Community Perspective: La Casa de la Moneda (the former Mint) is now the main attraction in the city. Our reviewers have mixed opinions on taking an underground tour of Cerro Rico mine, arguments pro are given by Michael Anak Kenyalang and some of those against by Timonator. Potosí can best be visited as a day trip from Sucre, as the combination of dust, dirt and altitude make it a not very pleasant place to stay.

Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos

The Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos are a group of six churches that show the adaptation of Christian religious architecture to local conditions and traditions.

They represent the living heritage of the reducciones: theocratic settlements inspired by the “ideal cities” of the humanists. The churches have unique architecture and are mostly made out of wood. They also hold popular art objects from the Chiquitos population.

Community Perspective: Chiquitania is unique, with a slow pace of life, but also tough (“it takes a special kind of people to thrive here”) and often hot. Most reviewers visited only one or two of the churches due to infrequent public transport, but Patrik managed to cover all of them in four days. It’s best to start from San José if you want to do the full circuit. Timonator provides additional tips for that route.

Sucre

The Historic City of Sucre is a well-preserved colonial urban landscape that shows the blending of European and local architectural styles.

Sucre became a cultural center, the seat of an archbishopric and the seat of the Supreme Court that reigned over large parts of South America. For much of its colonial history, Sucre's temperate climate was preferred by the wealthy Spanish involved in the silver trade coming from Potosí. Its typical Spanish-colonial checkerboard street pattern is still intact, as are the religious and public buildings from the 16th-19th centuries.

Community Perspective: An attractive, relaxed city and with a climate comparable to a British colonial hill-town, Sucre is considered a good place to spend a few nights. It can be hard though to find anything open (especially the churches). The Casa de Libertad is a must-do, and good city views are to be had from the roofs of the San Felipe Neri church and La Recoleta. Furthermore, Timonator recommends a Free Walking Tour and the indigenous textile museum, Nan the Gutierrez Museum.

Tiwanaku

“Tiwanaku: Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture” comprises the ruins of the capital of an important and distinct pre-Hispanic empire in the Andes.

The ancient city was mostly built of adobe, especially the residential buildings that have now faded away. For ceremonial and administrative architecture, lithic material was used. Notable remaining monuments include the Akapana (the major temple, a stepped pyramid), a semi-underground temple (with monolithic stelae and heads (clavas) built in the walls), and the Kalasasaya (an open temple built on a platform; it includes stelae and the Gate of the Sun frieze).

Community Perspective: Tiwanaku is usually visited as a day trip from La Paz. In addition to the architectural ruins, there are also two on-site museums that are worth seeing. Most reviewers find the site overall a bit underwhelming and it does not take much time to visit.

El Fuerte de Samaipata

El Fuerte de Samaipata comprises a gigantic sculptured rock, made by a prehispanic Andean culture for ceremonial use.

The natural sandstone hill measures 200x600m, and is completely sculpted with felines, snakes, birds and geometrical motifs with a magical and religious character for the pre-Inca Chané people. Below it lies a former provincial capital of the Inca of a later date. It includes a central plaza, public buildings, houses and agricultural terraces.

Community Perspective: The site lies some 10km outside of the town of Samaipata, and can be reached via taxi or (hitch)hiking. Reviewers praise its setting, in the Amboro National Park, with great mountain vistas and abundant birdlife. The well-crafted trail around the site is self-guided and there are snacks and drinks available on site.

Noel Kempff Mercado National Park

The Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, located in the Amazon Basin, is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. 

Ranging in altitude from 200 to 1000m, the park has Cerrado savannah, seasonally flooded forests, wetlands and evergreen rainforests. An estimated 4,000 species of flora as well as over 600 bird species and viable populations of many globally endangered or threatened vertebrate species live in the park. Among these are the giant otter, giant anteater, hyacinth macaw, giant armadillo, pink river dolphin, maned wolf, marsh and pampas deer.

Community Perspective: this site has not been reviewed yet. It has been virtually inaccessible for decades due to neglect and the production of illegal drugs. An update (2023) on the current possibilities can be found here in our Forum

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, is the communication and trade network developed by the Inca Empire.

The infrastructure needed exceptional technological and engineering skills in a difficult geographical setting in rural and remote parts of the Andes. The network supported the Inca Empire’s integration and was a symbol of its strength.

Community Perspective: As a serial transnational site comprising over 720km of road and 273 archaeological sites, it is hard to determine whether you have 'seen' it. Even more so as it is unclear whether the so-called Associated sites are inscribed as well. The latter include sites that are also WHS in their own right (Cusco, Tiwanaku). The main approach chosen is checking out a few locations near Lima or Cuzco and looking for traces of infrastructure (described well in Clyde’s review). Additionally, Allan has visited locations in Chile, and Els Ingapirca in Ecuador.

Bosnia Herzegovina
Mostar

The Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar symbolizes the coexistence of culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse communities.

This Ottoman frontier town developed from the 16th century onward, with the Old Bridge as its major landmark. During the Austro-Hungarian period of the 19th century, a number of administrative and Christian religious buildings were added. These were mainly located on the right bank of the river, across from the old Ottoman (Muslim) town. The Bridge and much of the old town were destroyed during the war in the 1990s and rebuilt in 2004.

Community Perspective: Most reviewers are impressed by the quality of the restorations, although their ‘newness’ shows. Mostar is a touristy town again, and visiting early in the day is recommended. Solivagant visited in 1988 and shares a photo of the Bridge before reconstruction. Els cynically ponders about the site’s ‘peaceful coexistence’ OUV.

Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge

The Mehmed Paša Sokolovic Bridge in Višegrad is one of the best remaining examples of Ottoman architecture and civil engineering.

The bridge was built at the end of the 16th century by the Ottoman court architect Sinan at a strategic border location. Spanning the Drina River, it is almost 180m long and has 11 arches. The Ottoman Grand Vizier Mehmed Paša Sokolovic, who was born in this area, ordered the construction.

Community Perspective: then and now a bit of an outpost, located in Republika Srpska. Views from above (as photographed by Clyde) are especially striking.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan, Adrian; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar, Adrian; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp, Adrian; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Stećci

The 'Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards' are 28 medieval Christian cemeteries with richly decorated tombstones that have strong cultural and historical meaning.

The reliefs and inscriptions on the mostly limestone monolithic tombstones represent a specific tradition of the area. They include Christian religious symbols, dancing and hunting scenes, geometric shapes and Cyrillic inscriptions. The inscribed tombstones have been selected from the surviving 70,000 or so still standing in the region. 

Community Perspective: the Radimlja necropolis near Stolac in Bosnia is considered the ‘main’ location with the most important and best-preserved tombs. Since 2019 it reportedly even has a visitor center and charges a small entrance fee. Other locations are more low-key: Juha visited Stećci in Serbia, and Solivagant one each in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.

Botswana
Tsodilo

Tsodilo is a prehistoric archeological site in the Kalahari desert known for its outstanding rock art.

It comprises a group of rocky hills that hold over 4,500 rock paintings. The rock art is considered to date back from the Stone Age til the 19th century. The area has provided shelter for humans for millennia, and it still is a place of worship for the local San communities.

Community Perspective: Randi describes her visit arriving by car from the Caprivi Strip, Els ‘did’ it on a day trip by helicopter from Maun, and Stanislaw shares how he managed to exhaust the local guides.

Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta is a vast area of swamps and seasonally flooded grasslands that attract large numbers of wildlife.

This inland delta has no outlet to the sea, being formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the dry Kalahari desert. The annual flood peaks between June and August, when the delta swells to three times its permanent size and attracts animals from afar. The area is home to some 130 mammal species, such as white and black rhinoceros, elephant, cheetah, lion, leopard and lechwe antelope. The population sizes are especially noteworthy, including the world’s largest population of elephants. It is also an Important Bird Area.

Community Perspective: generally considered an expensive site when you want to have the full experience and visit for multiple days: “it is going to involve a safari company, probably a flight in and out on a small plane and a stay at a “Luxury lodge” and/or the rental of a 4x4”, but Solivagant managed to do it somewhat budget-friendly. Els enjoyed the helicopter flight and the walking safaris, and Svein describes visiting from the Okavango Panhandle.

Brazil
Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis

The Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis are the archeological remains of towns created by the Jesuit Order.

The towns existed between 1609 and 1818, and aimed to socially, culturally and religiously elevate the local Guarani communities. They also provided protection and economic stability. These so-called reducciones included agricultural lands such as mate plantations as well.

Community Perspective: San Ignacio Mini in Argentina is its best-known component (it even comes with a sound-and-light show), while São Miguel das Missões has a remarkable façade. Nan and Timonator speak highly of Loreto in Argentina.

Ouro Preto

The Historic Town of Ouro Preto is a unique representation of Baroque architecture in a homogenous cityscape.

The city's wealth has its origins in the late 17th century, when gold was discovered here. The exploration of gold was a monopoly of the Portuguese crown. Small settlements of miners in search of El Dorado were joined to create the city and the settlers were divided into parishes and ethnic groups. Each group constructed its own church (religious orders were banned), bringing in baroque artisans that created sculptures and paintings that show a fusion of European and American elements.

Community Perspective: the example of a colonial-historic town in Brazil, in a hilly location with steep streets and some breathtaking views. The main attractions are its churches: the Basilica of Nossa Senhora do Pilar, the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário, and the church of Sao Francisco de Assis (with Aleijadinho carvings) are among the highlights.

Olinda

The Historic Centre of the Town of Olinda has maintained its colonial urban fabric from its heydays when it was a centre of the sugarcane industry.

The town was built on hills overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is dominated by rich religious and public buildings, many painted in vivid colours, and includes lots of greenery. Among these are 20 baroque churches, chapels and convents.

Community Perspective: a fairly small, typical Portuguese colonial town. The highlight is the Franciscan convent with its azulejos.

Salvador de Bahia

The Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia represents the most important colonial city in the Brazilian northeast. 

Bahia was the first colonial capital of Brazil and the city is one of the oldest in the New World (founded in 1549 by Portuguese settlers). It was the main seaport and also held the first slave market on the continent, with slaves arriving to work on the sugar plantations. It is extremely rich in commercial, defensive, administrative and religious monuments dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

Community Perspective: “the most African of Brazil's cities”, “not perfectly conservated, but bold and vibrant”. Highlights include the Convent of St. Francis, the Cathedral and the drumming performances.

Congonhas

The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas is an ensemble of Catholic religious art, executed in rococo and baroque styles.

The group consists of Bom Jesus Church, the parvis with 12 statues of the prophets, and 6 chapels containing the 7 stations of the cross. The graceful sculptural work was done by the artist Aleijadinho. The sanctuary was commissioned by Feliciano Mendes who, after having been miraculously cured of an illness, used his own money and a succesful fundraising campaign for its construction.

Community Perspective: the statues of The Prophets really set this site apart. Carlo seems to be the only reviewer so far having seen the church interior in its full glory. Congonhas is best visited as a side trip from Belo Horizonte or Ouro Preto.

Brasilia

Brasilia is one of the major examples of the 20th century´s modern movement in architecture and urban planning.

The city officially became Brazil´s capital in April 1960. Four years before, President Juscelino Kubitschek commisioned Lucio Costa (urban planner), Oscar Niemeyer (architect) and Burle Marx (landscape architect) to build a new city from scratch. The design is known as the Plano Piloto, in which Brasilia is shaped like an airplane with residential zones and an area with government buildings.

Community Perspective: a “strange” city to some, an “awesome” one to others. As a fan of modernist architecture, Ian is an advocate of the latter opinion. Carlo has provided a 2-day itinerary.

Serra da Capivara

Serra da Capivara National Park holds many rock shelters in which the oldest rock art of the Americas has been found.

The art and associated archeological sites reveal aspects of the religious beliefs and practices of one of the oldest populations to inhabit South America. The earliest traces of rock painting here may date from 25,000 BP, while most of the painted works are from 10,000 to 4,000 BCE. They were made by Nordeste and Agreste cultures.

Community Perspective: all reviewers so far loved it, and you can easily spend 2-3 days here. The Caatinga landscape of the park, typical of this semi-arid region, is an additional bonus. Be aware that you need a local guide to enter: some contacts can be found in the reviews of Wojciech and Els, or you could ask at your lodgings the night before your visit.

São Luis

The Historic Centre of São Luis is an outstanding example of colonial Portuguese architecture in Latin America.

After a short period of occupation by the French, the Portuguese developed this city according to an urban plan dating from 1615. The city was further expanded in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, using an architecture that fitted the local climatic conditions. The centre includes public buildings, sumptuous manor houses, marble multi-storey houses and small houses decorated with azulejos.

Community Perspective: São Luis is the state capital of Maranhão, and is located quite far from other places of interest in the far north of Brazil (Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is the exception). Explore the city center’s streets with its many monuments on foot and keep an eye out for Bumba Meu Boi groups performing in the evenings.

Diamantina

The Historic Centre of the Town of Diamantina comprises a colonial city landscape created by the commercial and political explorers of Brazil’s interior.

Diamantina blossomed in the 18th and early 19th centuries because of diamond mining in the region, which was administered by the Portuguese Crown. Its centre has been well-preserved, with mostly Baroque architecture executed in wood and adobe.

Community Perspective: a relatively isolated, pleasant enough colonial town that doesn’t see many foreign visitors. Highlights include the Diamond Museum, the Market Square and the Casa da Glória with its picturesque passageway.

Discovery Coast

The Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves are eight nature reserves that protect Brazil’s Northeastern remnants of the Atlantic rainforest, probably the most endangered forest in the world.

They contain about 20% of the world's flora, including 627 species of endangered plants. There are no longer any corridors between the areas, which has led to an "archipelago of forests" and exceptionally high endemism. 620 bird species have been recorded, including 49 endemic.

Community Perspective: these reserves are not far from the city of Porto Seguro, but not all are open to visitors. Wojciech visited Pau Brasil NP and Els tried that too.

Atlantic Forest South-East

The Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves comprise 25 protected areas of rare remnants of Atlantic Forest.

The areas range from mountain summits to beaches and include marine and coastal ecosystems. Brazilian Atlantic Forest is the richest rainforest in terms of biodiversity. It has high endemism and a large number of tree species. Rare and threatened animals found here include primates such as the woolly spider monkey, southern muriqui, and four species of tamarin, while ocelot and jaguar occur as well.

Community Perspective: Jureia - Itatins Ecological Station seems to be the favourite location of our reviewers as it is within reach from Sao Paulo. Iain described some additional coastal locations, and João covered Intervales State Park.

Central Amazon Conservation Complex

The Central Amazon Conservation Complex comprises four nature reserves which together represent the most important ecosystems of the Amazon.

These include várzea and igapó forests, which are seasonally flooded by silty river water, and blackwater rivers, which slowly flow through forested swamps or wetlands. Furthermore, Anavilhanas is the second-largest river archipelago in the world with some 400 islands. The area is also known for its fish such as the giant Arapaima, many plant species, and endemic birds.

Community Perspective: the easiest to reach (but possibly also the least rewarding) of the four components is Anavilhanas, which can be done on a day trip from Manaus. Els covered Mamiraua, João Jaú NP, and Amana Reserve so far is unreviewed.

Pantanal

The Pantanal Conservation Area is a freshwater wetland ecosystem that seasonally floods.

In the rainy season, the rivers overspill and animals congregate at the remaining patches of dry land. The largest mammals migrate from the plain to the higher regions of the Amolar Mountain chain. Wildlife here includes a healthy jaguar population, plus marsh deer, giant anteater, capybara, and giant otter. Also, 650 species of birds have been recorded here.

Community Perspective: Be aware that the designated area covers only a small part of the wider region called Pantanal. It consists of Pantanal Matogrossense National Park, Dorochê Private Reserve, Acurizal Private Reserve, and Penha Private Reserve. We are looking forward to a more recent (>2004) and precise review, although the region’s flagship species such as tapir, giant otter, capybara and even jaguar can easily be seen in the tourist areas outside the core zone.

Iguacu

Iguaçu National Park covers the Brazilian side of one of the largest waterfalls in the world.

The waterfalls on both sides of the border together span over 2700 m., with numerous cascades and rapids. The park also contains major remnants of the interior Atlantic Forest with a high degree of diversity and endemism. Endangered mammals found here include Jaguar, Ocelot, Puma, Tapir, and Bush dog.

Community Perspective: the general opinion is that the Falls have to be seen from both the Brazilian and the Argentinian sides. A free bus will ferry you along the viewpoints; be aware that the whole area is very commercialized. GabLabCebu explored it by helicopter and boat as well.

Paraty and Ilha Grande

Paraty and Ilha Grande – Culture and Biodiversity is a forested coastal area that was the scene of early encounters between Europeans and natives.

The area contains cultural assets that testify to the occupation of the area by indigenous inhabitants and, from the 16th century onwards, by European settlers and enslaved Africans. Most of the landscape is covered by Atlantic rainforest of great biological diversity and with a high number of endemics. The area has 450 species of birds and 150 mammal species, of which the Southern Muriqui is the flagship species.

Community Perspective: the picturesque colonial town of Paraty is the main attraction here. Merging it into a cultural landscape ánd a mixed site with some more Atlantic Forest seems perhaps to have been ‘unwise’ – more about that in Solivagant’s review.

Goias

The Historic Centre of the Town of Goías covers an isolated town that has preserved much of its colonial heritage.

The settlement of Goías is closely linked to the discovery of gold. The modest houses, chapels and churches of this mining town are testimony to the height of the gold rush era. Goías was founded in the 18th century when the so-called Bandeirantes started exploring the interior of Brazil from Sao Paulo.

Community Perspective: Not comparable to the superb colonial cities in Brazil like Ouro Preto or Olinda, but the well-preserved town centre with its cobblestone streets provides an enjoyable couple of hours.

Brazilian Atlantic Islands

Brazilian Atlantic Islands: Fernando de Noronha and Atol das Rocas Reserves comprise two groups of islands with rich marine biological diversity, 340km off Brazil's coast.

The peaks of Fernando de Noronha, of volcanic origin, are also the only known occurrence of insular Atlantic Forest - a subtype of Atlantic Rainforest. The Atol das Rocas is the only atoll in the South Atlantic: an elliptical reef including two small islands surrounded by a marine reserve. The marine areas, which are considerably larger than the terrestrial core zone of both island groups, hold large volumes of tuna, sharks, dolphins, turtles and tropical seabirds.

Community Perspective: the added costs of flights and accommodation, plus the park fees and environmental protection fees, make this an expensive destination to visit, certainly, if you leave it to the last minute. Michael had to limit himself to the terrestrial areas but managed to see three of the island’s endemic animals. Els checked out some hikes and did a boat tour, with spinner dolphins and the red-footed boobies as the highlights. And we even have a review from John who was shipwrecked for 20 days on Atol das Rocas…

Cerrado Protected Areas

The Cerrado Protected Areas: Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas National Parks represent the Cerrado ecoregion, one of Earth's oldest tropical ecosystems.

Chapada dos Veadeiros lies at a higher altitude, while Emas is characterized by treeless savannahs on acid and nutrient-deprived soil. The region is known for its specialized flora and fauna, the latter including the giant anteater, the maned wolf, and the giant armadillo. The parks lie 400km apart in the Brazilian Highland Central Plateau.

Community Perspective: “Cerrado is the Brazilian savannah, although much greener than other savannah areas of the world.” All reviewers so far have chosen Chapada dos Veadeiros; it has been visited by João, Thomas (warns about the access road), Stanislaw (with public transport info), Wojciech (warns about the opening hours), and Shandos (recommends Jardim de Maytrea). Emas NP is still awaiting a first review.

Sítio Roberto Burle Marx

The Sítio Roberto Burle Marx is a landscaped estate that is an important example of Modernist Tropical garden design.

The most important works of the artist Robert Burle Marx are stored here. He was aligned with the Brazilian Modern Movement and is mostly known for his design of modern tropical gardens. He lived at this site from 1949 on and did his botany and garden landscaping experiments here, focusing on the use of native tropical plants and trees.

Community Perspective: easy to reach by metro/bus/Uber combi as it lies in the (far!) outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. The obligatory guided tour can give you the creeps (read Zoë’s review), as the “emotional tribute to the artist” is not for all.

São Francisco Square

São Francisco Square in the town of São Cristovão is an open space surrounded by a monumental architectural ensemble.

It combines the urban planning ideas of Portugal and Spain, as the square originates from a time when Portugal and Spain were under the same crown. The concept of a Plaza Mayor was taken from Spanish colonial cities. The most prominent monuments around the square are São Francisco Church and Convent (begun in 1693), Church and Santa Casa de Misericordia (18th century), and the Provincial Palace.

Community Perspective: Due to its Spanish roots it’s unique in Brazil, but that’s about it and there is little tourist infrastructure. Best reached from the coastal city of Aracaju.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea, covers an urban landscape shaped by its dramatic natural surroundings.

Rio’s natural landscape started to be altered in the 17th and 18th centuries to allow sugar and coffee growing. Its parks and gardens later became protected, and as such attributed to the outdoor living culture of the city. Guanabara Bay, Sugar Loaf and the statue of Christ the Redeemer have become global icons and an inspiration for artists.

Community Perspective: the magnificent views are its main drawcard. Be aware that the WHS boundary is actually pretty limited and excludes the majority of Rio’s built environment.

Valongo Wharf

Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site comprises the globally most significant remains of an arrival point of enslaved African persons in the Americas.

The wharf located at Rio de Janeiro’s Jornal do Comércio Square was built from 1811 onwards, and used until the construction of the Empress’ Wharf in 1843. About a quarter of all African American enslaved people to the Americas have arrived here. While its physical remains are modest (fragments of a pavement, a former road), its spiritual associations as a site of conscience for African Americans are strong.

Community Perspective: “The wharf used to jut out into the harbour, but it is now quite a way from the water and there isn't a whole lot to see.” And unless you are “emotionally attached to this place, what you will find is just a very underwhelming and poorly presented 10 minutes easy tick.”

Pampulha

The Pampulha Modern Ensemble comprises an innovative Garden City built around an artificial lake.

This neighbourhood of Belo Horizonte was designed from 1940 onward by architect Oscar Niemeyer and landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx. It included a casino, a restaurant/dance hall, a yacht club, a golf club and a church. The buildings are among Niemeyer’s earliest works and show his talent to adapt 20th-century modernism to Brazilian surroundings.

Community Perspective: this affluent suburb is mostly a residential zone with calm streets and calm traffic. The church of Saint Francis is considered the highlight. A full loop around the lake is 18km and can be done by taxi, by bike, or on foot.

Bulgaria
Boyana Church

Boyana Church is a remarkable medieval monument with especially fine wall paintings.

The architecture of the original Boyana Church dates from the late 10th and early 11th centuries, while the current building also sees additions from the mid-13th century and mid-19th century. The paintings date from 1259. In all, there are 240 depictions on the walls. Its painter is still anonymous but stands for the team that decorated the church and that was trained in the studios of the Turnove Art School.

Community Perspective: the church is easily accessible as it lies on the outskirts of Sofia, though it takes a bit of a walk when using public transport. They only let in small groups at a time with a minder/guide, but a visit doesn’t take more than a few minutes.

Madara Rider

The Madara Rider is a large rock relief that is a highlight of pagan Bulgarian art.

The relief depicts a scene revolving around a majestic horseman 23m above ground level in an almost vertical 100-metre-high cliff. The scene is surrounded by inscriptions that are a chronicle of events. The 8th-century monument is usually attributed to the Khans of the First Bulgarian Empire.

Community Perspective: The relief is chiseled high up the cliff wall – with the naked eye you can see the Rider but not the inscriptions. The core zone is very limited and you will be done with it in 15 minutes, but the surrounding area is worth exploring (see Tsunami’s review).

Thracian tomb of Kazanlak

The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is a masterpiece of Thracian creative art.

The monument is a vaulted brickwork "beehive" (tholos) tomb, that used to be part of a large Thracian necropolis. It comprises a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber, both decorated with well-preserved murals representing a Thracian couple at a ritual funeral feast.

Community Perspective: Unfortunately we are not allowed to visit the interior of the original masterpiece and have to make do with a replica. Be aware that it’s very small (about 3x3m). There are more authentic tombs in the rural areas around Kazanlak (on the T List as Seuthopolis) which are worth visiting – an extension to include those would make this WHS stronger.

Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo

The Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo comprise a group of monolithic religious buildings that are noted for their beautiful and well-preserved medieval frescoes.

The caves in the region were inhabited by monks who hewed cells, churches and chapels out of solid rock. Their 13th- and 14th-century frescoes, preserved in 5 of the churches, are considered wonderful examples of Bulgarian medieval art. Many century-old inscriptions have also been preserved in the monastical premises.

Community Perspective: Only one of the caves (Holy Virgin's Rock Church, part of Archangel Michael's cloister) is open to tourists. And it is tiny – Els has described what you may expect from a visit.

Rila Monastery

The Rila Monastery is a symbol of the 19th-century Bulgarian Renaissance.

The monastery in the remote Rila Mountains has its origins in the 10th century and had a strong influence on the Eastern Orthodox world in the following centuries. A fire in 1833 destroyed almost all buildings, which were made out of wood. The buildings were swiftly restored by Bulgarian craftsmen and got their current appearance.

Community Perspective: The setting of the main monastery is awe-inspiring and the frescoes are colourful. The four related sites so far have been mostly unreviewed, although Nan managed to hike to Saint Ivan’s cave. He also has provided public transport tips.

Nessebar

The Ancient City of Nessebar located at a peninsula in the Black Sea holds over 3,000 years of history,

Nessebar has Thracian origins and later became an important Greek colony and Byzantine settlement. The Greek colonists left an acropolis, a temple of Apollo and an agora. The town has been a spiritual centre of Christianity for 1,000 years. This is reflected in its medieval religious architecture with rich plastic and polychrome decoration on its facades.

Community Perspective: Nessebar’s attraction nowadays lies mostly with its Byzantine churches - there is virtually nothing left of the other periods of its existence. The town is usually flooded by tourists during the day as it lies close to beach resorts.

Srebarna Nature Reserve

Srebarna Nature Reserve is a lake and wetland habitat on the bird migration route between Europe and Africa.

It comprises Lake Srebarna and its surroundings, which are located on the west bank of the Danube River. It is home to some 180 bird species, both breeding and migrating. Among the most interesting waterfowl are the Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis and Spoonbill.

Community Perspective: It is very similar in scenery and bird list to the Danube Delta, less than 200km away. Near the lake lies a small visitor center / museum, and from the surrounding hills you can observe the birdlife. Tsunami managed to visit on public transport, while Nan and Els entered during the 2018 WH Community Meeting, where they were educated by birder Peter and shocked by the upkeep. Clyde has provided some birding tips.

Pirin National Park

Pirin National Park is renowned for its remote mountain scenery and glacial geomorphology.

The park comprises the undeveloped part of the Pirin mountain range, which is covered with alpine meadows and coniferous forests. Its glacial features include cirques, deep valleys and over 70 glacial lakes. The park is also noted for its variety in flora, including the Edelweiss, 300 species of mosses and algae.

Community Perspective: This is close to a major ski area (that’s essentially the buffer zone), and even when hiking in Spring you will encounter snow on or near the trails (see the reviews of Nan and Els). Solivagant has summarized its qualities nicely: "It contains attractive, if unremarkable, mountain scenery which will provide a pleasant escape from civilisation and interesting hiking opportunities.", although the many glacial lakes must be given special mention (Hubert visited several of them).

Thracian tomb of Sveshtari

The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari comprises a hypogeum from the 3rd century BCE.

The tomb's architectural decor is considered to be unique, with polychrome half-human, half-plant caryatids and painted murals. It represents local art from the Getes Thracian peoples, which was inspired by Hellenism.

Community Perspective: There are three tombs to explore here and all are authentic, so it provides a better visitor experience than the Thracian Tomb at Kazanlak. Read Els’s review for what to expect of a visit.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan, Adrian; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar, Adrian; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp, Adrian; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Burkina Faso
W-Arly-Pendjari Complex

The W-Arly-Pendjari Complex comprises a savanna landscape recognized for its biodiversity of birds, fish and plants.

These three contiguous parks are located within the Volta River basin at a transition zone between savannah and woodlands, with both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The area is a refuge for species that have mostly disappeared from the rest of West Africa, such as elephants, wild dogs, lion, leopard, cheetah and manatee.

Community Perspective: you won’t find wildlife in the innumerable quantities of the East African parks, but at least in visible herds. The facilities suffer from underinvestment and the border area with and in Burkina Faso is considered unsafe. Tamas made an adventurous approach to the part in Niger (Park ‘W’) as did Michael, while Solivagant and Chris focused on Pendjari in Benin.

Ancient ferrous metallurgy sites

The Ancient Iron Metallurgy Sites of Burkina Faso represent an early phase of iron production in Africa.

The five locations Douroula, Tiwêga, Yamané, Kindibo and Békuy are spread out over Burkina Faso’s territory. The latter four were massive production sites and comprise iron ore smelting furnaces, slag heaps and other traces of mining, while Douroula is the oldest dating back to the 8th century BCE. The development of this technology has led to blacksmith traditions that are still alive today.

Community Perspective: Wojciech visited Tiwega in 2019, and describes the effort that was necessary to get to the site.

Ruins of Loropéni

The Ruins of Loropéni are the stone remains of a 1,000 years old fortified settlement that came to play an important role in the trans-Saharan gold trade.

This was part of a network of settlements that linked the gold mining sites with the Atlantic coast. Gold was mined here from the 14th to the 17th century, and probably started as early as the 11th century. The site, mainly consisting of ruined walls, has been out of use since the 19th century and is overgrown with trees.

Community Perspective: Massimo describes a visit in 1996 when the use of the walls was left unexplained and there was no warden or ticketed entry. Jarek approached by public transport in 2014, found them well-marked and had to pay a fee.

Cabo Verde
Cidade Velha

Cidade Velha, Historic Centre of Ribeira Grande, was a Portuguese colonial settlement that played an important role in the maritime trade of enslaved persons and goods between Europa, Africa and America.

The enslaved were also used to further develop the local colony, which resulted in the birth of Creole culture. Surviving monuments in Cidade Velha from that period include the oldest colonial church in the world, constructed in 1495, and Pillory Square with its ornate 16th-century marble pillar.

Community Perspective: situated on Cabo Verde’s main island São Tiago and only 15kms outside of the current capital, the town is easy to reach. Reviewers found no great deal to see, the best-preserved monument being the Fort Real of Sao Filipe, and compared the atmosphere to “a sleepy African, or perhaps more specifically, Brazilian village”.

Cambodia
Angkor

Angkor is the archeological site covering the capital of the Khmer Empire and its artistic masterpieces.

The Khmer Empire encompassed much of Southeast Asia, and had a lot of political and cultural influence on the whole region until its downfall in the 14th century. Khmer art developed here in Angkor evolved from that of the Indian sub-continent and became highly influential in the region as a distinctive style.

Community Perspective: Spectacular. Breathtaking. Overwhelming. A childhood dream come true. Gorgeous architecture and preservation. “I had bought a 3-day pass, but I easily could have stayed longer cause there's so much to see”.

Preah Vihear Temple

The Preah Vihear Temple is a Hindu temple complex that is considered a masterpiece of Khmer architecture.

It is spectacularly situated atop a 525-meter cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains. The temple complex runs 800m along a north-south axis, linked by a system of pavements and staircases. Its carved stone decorations have been well-preserved due to the temple’s remote location.

Community Perspective:  the reviews reflect the site’s disputed history between Thailand and Cambodia, reporting on easy access from Thailand (via the original access road) in 2007, a visit among military patrols and teams carrying out mine clearance operations from Cambodia in 2010, needing a permit in 2012, and “just arranging a driver and suffering through a bit of a rickety road from time to time” from 2018 onward. All enjoyed the breathtaking view from the top and the intricate stone carvings.

Sambor Prei Kuk

The Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk is an archaeological site of the Pre-Angkorean period.

The site correspondents with Ishanapura, the capital city of the Chenla Empire whose buildings and watercourses influenced later Khmer architecture. 186 fire-brick Hindu temples remain, showing a mix of regional architectural influences and carrying sculptures and important temple inscriptions in the Khmer language. A particular feature is its octagonal-shaped temples, the oldest of their kind in South-East Asia.

Community Perspective: clearly complementary to Angkor, as it provides a good look at pre-Angkorian styles of art and architecture. It does have the same jungle setting with trees growing in and on top of buildings, but due to the smaller crowds (if any) Sambor Prei Kuk is a more intimate experience. Read Frederik’s review for more details on the art styles.

Koh Ker

Koh Ker: Archaeological Site of Ancient Lingapura or Chok Gargyar comprises the remains of an early and short-lived capital of the Khmer Empire.

Koh Ker influenced later Khmer architecture with its stone constructions and spatial layout. It also produced the distinct Koh Ker Style in sculpture, which is characterized by the monumental size and dynamics of the sculptures. They had a lasting influence on decorative styles in South East Asia.

Community Perspective: It's a day trip from Siem Reap, and can be combined with Preah Vihear on the same itinerary (although this shortchanges Koh Ker a bit if you leave it til the end). The archeological site, best known for its layered pyramid, is rather spread out and you need a car. Frederik spent a full day here and provided details on its architecture.

Cameroon
Dja Faunal Reserve

The Dja Faunal Reserve covers one of the largest and best-protected rainforests in Africa noted for its biodiversity.

The reserve is almost completely surrounded by the Dja River, a contributary to the Congo River. Its dense primary forests are the habitat of over 100 mammal species and more than 320 bird species. Especially notable are its primates, such as the western lowland gorilla, chimpanzee, mandrill, and drill. African grey parrot and Grey-necked Picathartes are among the birds that are found here.

Community Perspective: this site has been unreviewed so far, no wonder since it has no road access and only about 100 people visit overall annually.

Sangha Trinational

Sangha Trinational is a large and intact natural landscape, mainly consisting of humid forests plus wetlands and natural clearings.

These three contiguous national parks are centered along the Sangha River, a tributary to the Congo River. They harbour tree and mammal species that are much threatened elsewhere due to exploitation and poaching. Large mammals such as Forest Elephants, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Sitatunga and Bongo are still present in healthy numbers.

Community Perspective: Els visited Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic. The other two parks, Lobéké National Park in Cameroon and Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Congo, have stayed unreviewed so far.

Canada
Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi

Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi, with its thousands of years old rock art, is a living sacred landscape for the Blackfoot people.

This prairie area holds thousands of examples of indigenous rock art, carved into the sandstone. They date from ca. 3,000 BP until and after the Contact Period. For the Blackfoot society of the past and the present, there is also a spiritual connection to its impressive landforms such as hoodoos and canyons.

Community Perspective: located in a pretty hoodoo landscape, the trails are worth exploring and the guided rock art tours are well-executed at the main location of Áísínai’pi. The other two components, Haffner Coulee and Poverty Rock, are unreviewed so far.

L'Anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site comprises the remains of the only known site of Viking settlement and the earliest European settlement in North America outside of Greenland.

It was a year-round base camp for the exploration and exploitation of resources desirable in Greenland.  The settlement – with space for 70 to 90 people - was established in the early 11th century and abandoned about a decade later. The site contains the remains of eight timber-framed turf buildings, including an iron-smelting hut, in a similar style to those in Norse Greenland and Iceland.

Community Perspective: the site is located at the very tip of Northwest Newfoundland and you may spot icebergs floating by. Despite its remote location it is well-geared to receive tourists and offer them something to see and learn beyond the unassuming earthen mounds that hold the original remains.

Nahanni National Park

Nahanni National Park covers a spectacular wild river landscape further adorned with features of ongoing geological processes.

The centerpiece of the park is the South Nahanni River. Four great canyons line this whitewater river and it also holds one of North America’s most impressive waterfalls, Virginia Falls. The area sees tectonic activity, which has resulted in spectacular granitic peaks and hot springs.

Community Perspective: this is a remote and costly area to visit – you generally fly in and then continue on the river by canoe or raft. Sid and Gary did so, and Zoë has described a flightseeing day trip.

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Dinosaur Provincial Park is renowned for its beautiful badlands and high number and quality of dinosaur fossils.

The conditions of this riparian landscape with sand and mud deposits were excellent for the preservation of dinosaurs' bones as fossils. Remains of over 40 dinosaur species have been found and more than 150 complete dinosaur skeletons, making it one of the richest dinosaur fossil locales in the world. The specimens represent every known group of Cretaceous dinosaurs.

Community Perspective: It’s a beautiful place because of the badlands, but be aware that only a small part of it is fully open to visitors and the reserved zone / the part where the dinosaur bones are, need a guided visit. Svein describes “walking between dinosaur fossil bones and teeth”, while Jay enjoyed the alternative activity of creating plaster casts of fossils at the visitor center.

Glacier parks

Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek comprises a mountain landscape shaped by geologic and glacial processes.

These four parks in the Yukon and Alaska offer combined marine, coastal, wild river and high mountain scenery with minimal extent of human modification. They hold over 200 glaciers, including some of the world’s largest and longest. Wildlife is abundant too, with a healthy population of grizzly bears.

Community Perspective: Glacier Bay is regularly visited by large cruise ships and good views are had from there. Tsunami describes an unforgettable journey on smaller boats and small airplanes, while J_neveryes explored Kluane by doing rewarding day hikes from Haines Junction.

SGang Gwaay

SG̱ang Gwaay holds the remains of traditional cedar longhouses and carved poles of the Haida.

This former village on the eastern side of Anthony Island was inhabited until the late 19th century. It still has a place in the traditions of the Haida culture. It has the largest collection of Haida totem poles in their original locations, many celebrated as great works of art.

Community Perspective: this is a remote place at the far southern end of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve. Jay recently delivered a full report on the experience of visiting (“the poles are still standing … but the fine details on the poles continue to fade"), including the practicalities of getting there.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump bears witness to a communal hunting technique practiced by native people of the North American plains for nearly 6000 years.

At this site, the Indigenous people killed American Bison by driving them off the 10-metre high sandstone cliff. The carcasses were processed at a nearby camp; deep layers of animal bones can still be found buried here, as are the stone markers that were used to direct the bison towards the cliff. This custom continued into the late 19th century and still forms part of the 'traditional knowledge base' of the Plains nations.

Community Perspective: great place to visit and with a good Interpretive Centre explaining the traditions of the Blackfoot Nation (though it could do with a few more authentic items). Trails take you around the outdoor site.

Wood Buffalo National Park

Wood Buffalo National Park comprises the largest example of a Great Plains-Boreal grassland ecosystem and it holds the world's largest herd of Wood Bison.

The huge park includes grasslands, boreal forests, a large inland delta, salt plains and gypsum karst. Next to the estimated ca. 5,000 Wood Bison that live here, it is also an important nesting site of the endangered whooping crane.

Community Perspective: it takes an effort to get there by car, some 14 hours from Edmonton and 17 hours from Jasper National Park – fortunately the road is all-paved since 2018. Fort Smith is the hub of the park, it has a visitor center and you could even fly there. Randi and Zoë provide tips for ‘things to do’ inside the park, including hiking and a tour by float plane. J_neveryes approached it from Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.

Québec

The Historic District of Old Québec is the most complete fortified colonial town left in North America.

Québec (founded in 1608) is one of the oldest colonial settlements in Canada. It served as the capital of New France and that of the British colony in 1763. The Historic District covers the Upper Town (with its administrative and religious buildings) and Lower Town (the district of commerce and the navy).

Community Perspective: “Europe in North America” and almost totally French-speaking. Overall a charming place to visit, with good views. Els has listed most of the individual sights within the old city.

Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks

The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks form a striking mountain landscape, that includes a full range of glaciation features and harbours the renowned Burgess Shale fossil site.

The seven contiguous parks are aligned along the Continental Divide, separating the drainage basins of the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. They hold glaciers, canyons, waterfalls, karst systems and thermal springs. The Burgess Shale preserves the fossils of soft-bodied marine organisms, and it is one of the earliest areas of those so far found.

Community Perspective: You need multiple days or even weeks here as the combined parks cover a large area. The majestic mountains and cold glaciers in the national parks of Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho have been well-covered in the reviews, and especially Banff and Jasper can feel crowded. Jay has described a visit to the lesser-known Mount Robson Provincial Park.  

Waterton Glacier International Peace Park

Waterton Glacier International Peace Park is known for its superlative mountain scenery of glacial origin.

The contiguous Waterton Lakes NP (Canada) and Glacier NP (USA) have formed the world's first International Peace Park since 1932, although they are administered separately. Its distinctive setting spanning the Continental Divide and high elevation variance has resulted in many climates and microclimates. It also lies where the mountains meet the prairie, so flora and fauna are diverse.

Community Perspective: both Canada and the USA have parks with better scenery than Waterton Glacier, but still there are some wonderful scenic drives and hikes to be found here. Emilia did a camping trip, Kyle stayed at Many Glacier, Els hiked to Bertha Lake and Klein did the Crypt Lake Trail.

Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne National Park is renowned for its role in geological evolution and its scenic beauty.

The park has textbook examples of the process of plate tectonics. It is one of the rare places on Earth where the deep ocean crust and the rocks of the Earth's mantle have become exposed. Gros Morne also holds many rock formations, glaciers, fjords and waterfalls.

Community Perspective: Prepare to spend at least a few days here, “The park has everything, mountains, waterfalls, fjords, beaches, rugged coastline with sea stacks, heritage communities and wildlife.” Highlights include Western Brook Pond (the boat tour to the fjord), the Tablelands (where the rocks of the exposed mantle can be seen) and the Green Gardens hike (through a tuckamore forest).

Miguasha National Park

Miguasha National Park protects the world's greatest palaeontological record of fossils from the Devonian Period, known as the 'Age of Fishes'.

The fish, invertebrate and plant fossils were found at a coastal rock formation. Five of the six main fossil fish groups from this period (dating from 370 million years) can be found here. A great quantity of some of the best-preserved fossil specimens of lobe-finned fish, ancestors to the tetrapods (believed to be the first four-legged air-breathing terrestrial vertebrates), were found here.

Community Perspective:  the museum with its collection of well-preserved fossils comes recommended, while there isn’t much to see ‘outside’ anymore.

Old Town Lunenburg

Old Town Lunenburg, founded in 1753, is the best remaining example of planned British colonial settlement in North America.

Lunenburg was developed as a model town, with a rigid grid and wooden houses. Its vernacular architecture has been well-preserved. The town grew into an important seaport, shipbuilding centre and base for the offshore Atlantic fishery.

Community Perspective: It’s a very small town and you can easily walk through it within an hour or two. Many of the homes have little signs telling the name and job of their historical owners. Don’t miss the former Academy on the outskirts of town. The shipyards and fish plants (including the fisheries museum) are also worth seeing.

Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America.

The 19th-century canal runs for 202 km from Ottawa, Canada's capital, to Kingston on Lake Ontario. The canal's initial purpose was military (to defend the British colony of Canada against the USA), later it opened up the area for settlement and commerce. It is mostly a slackwater canal due to the use of sections of the Rideau and Cataraqui rivers, as well as several lakes. About 19 kilometres of the route is man-made.

Community Perspective: easily accessible components are the Ottawa Locks (as described by Ian) and Kingston’s Fort Henry (Rob, Frederic). Jay, Frederik and Els both southward along the Canal, stopping at different locks and towns.

Joggins Fossil Cliffs

The Joggins Fossil Cliffs hold the most complete fossil record from the "Coal Age" of Earth's history, approximately 310 million years ago.

At the 14.7km stretch of cliffs, the fossilized remains of a coastal forest are exposed, including upright trees and terrestrial fauna such as the earliest known reptile. The fossils have remained in situ, in their complete ecosystem. Joggins also figures in Darwin's "On the Origin of Species".

Community Perspective: its attractive location at the Bay of Fundy (with the world’s highest tidal range) is a bonus. You can visit the fossil beach on your own or with a guide; most fossils on display there are of plants and trees.

Grand Pré

The Landscape of Grand Pré is a polder created for farmland by the Acadian community that holds high symbolic value for them.

The reclamation of the land in this tidal flooded zone was carried out in stages in the 17th and 18th centuries. The polderisation used dykes as well as a community-based management system still in use today. Grand Pré became the place of memory for the Acadian diaspora, as these descendants of the 17th-century French colonists were deported from here in 1755 by British colonial officers. A number of symbolic memorial buildings and monuments to commemorate this have been added to the landscape in the 20th century.

Community Perspective: the site has a large Visitor Center (closed November-April) that tells the Acadian history well. Frédéric describes several viewpoints from which to admire their polder landscape.

Red Bay Basque Whaling Station

Red Bay Basque Whaling Station comprises the archaeological remains of the largest pre-industrial whaling site in north-eastern Canada.

The station was founded in the 1530s by Basque sailors, who made an annual transatlantic voyage to the site for summer whale hunting. They processed the whales in situ and took the oil home to Europe. The remains are mostly underwater or covered up. They include traces of buildings (including ovens for melting the whale blubber), whalebone deposits and shipwrecks.

Community Perspective: even when whaling is not your thing, you’ll enjoy the beautiful surroundings of this site. Take the boat out to Saddle Island (closed during the bird nesting season). Red Bay lies far from anywhere, but it is a relatively easy add-on to a trip to Newfoundland by ferry (see Randi’s review for the ‘difficult’ approach by gravel road).

Mistaken Point

Mistaken Point is a 17-kilometer-long coastal strip renowned for its fossil deposits on exposed rock surfaces.

The more than 10,000 fossil impressions date from the middle Ediacaran, 580 to 560 million years ago. They show the transition of life on earth from microbe-dominated to the ancestors of animals as we know them. These large and complex organisms lived on the deep-sea floor.

Community Perspective: Located in the far southeastern corner of Newfoundland, this is considered the most interesting of the three fossil sites in East Canada. It has a small visitor center, but the main focus is the guided hike along the coastal marshland to the rock platforms with the fossils that have been kept mostly in situ and can be clearly seen.

Pimachiowin Aki

Pimachiowin Aki is a large forest landscape in the heart of the North American boreal shield that holds sacred meaning for the Anishinaabe First Nations.

Pimachiowin Aki (“Land that gives life”) encompasses three provincial parks: Woodland Caribou and Atikaki Provincial Parks along with Eagle-Snowshoe Conservation Reserve and the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe First Nations. The Anishinaabe continue to live in this forested area in four small settlements and use its waterways for trapping and fishing. They also hold ceremonies at specific sites. Wildlife in the parks includes Woodland Caribou, Moose, Wolf, and Wolverine.

Community Perspective: Zoë is the only one who has reported on a visit so far, reaching the outer edges of the parks and searching for the cultural aspects in Bloodvein.

Tr’ondëk-Klondike

Tr’ondëk-Klondike testifies to the dramatic effects that the search for gold and precious minerals had on the indigenous people and the landscape.

The ancestral land of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in was overrun by newcomers in 1874 and eventually came under colonial authority in 1908. The eight selected sites include archeological remains and settlements of indigenous inhabitants, traders and colonial settlers.

Community Perspective: best visited on a tour from Dawson to understand its history.

Anticosti

Anticosti is an island where the virtual disappearance of life in the oceans 447-437 million years ago can be traced via fossils and layers of sediment.

The findings reflect the first recorded mass extinction event, which affected about 85% of marine organisms. The island's thick limestone layer holds the best-preserved fossil record of marine life at the end of the Ordovician and Silurian Periods. It especially allows for the study of shells and soft-bodied organisms that lived on the sea floor.

Community Perspective: although the site holds the same name as the island, included only are its coastline and the channels of its two principal rivers. Michael has described three ways to visit this remote island.

Central African Republic
Manovo-Gounda St. Floris

The Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park covers an extensive savanna landscape that forms a transitional zone to the rainforests.

Here animal species from the East and West African savannas cross paths with those of the forests of the South. They include elephant, hippo, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, and buffalo. The park includes the entire basins of three rivers with grassy floodplains and wetlands. 320 bird species have been recorded.

Community Perspective: Gavin reports about the poaching situation in 1997 (the black rhino and lion mentioned in the original nomination have already disappeared from the park).

Sangha Trinational

Sangha Trinational is a large and intact natural landscape, mainly consisting of humid forests plus wetlands and natural clearings.

These three contiguous national parks are centered along the Sangha River, a tributary to the Congo River. They harbour tree and mammal species that are much threatened elsewhere due to exploitation and poaching. Large mammals such as Forest Elephants, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Sitatunga and Bongo are still present in healthy numbers.

Community Perspective: Els visited Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic. The other two parks, Lobéké National Park in Cameroon and Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Congo, have stayed unreviewed so far.

Chad
Lakes of Ounianga

The Lakes of Ounianga are 18 connected, permanent lakes within the arid Sahara desert.

They are being fed by a system of fossil groundwater. The lakes are divided into two groups, 40km apart. They are the remaining part of a much larger lake that existed in this basin 5,000 - 15,000 years ago. The colour variety of the lakes, the floating reed carpets and the surrounding palm trees and sandstone landforms result in a place of high aesthetic beauty.

Community Perspective: The lakes are remote, they lie another day's drive north of the Ennedi Massif, across the pure desert of the Mourdi Depression and not far from the border with Libya. They are situated within an intriguing cultural landscape dedicated to the salt trade and the produce from date palms.

Ennedi Massif

The "Ennedi Massif: Natural and Cultural Landscape" is an eroded mountain massif in the Sahara desert, containing numerous rock paintings and archaeological sites.

The sandstone plateau was sculpted by water and wind erosion, leading to scenically impressive features such as formidable rock arches and pinnacles. Though lying deep in the desert, the area sees regular rain. This results in a varied flora and fauna, and notably in the surviving Nile crocodiles in the permanent pocket of water called Guelta Archei. It became a refuge also for humans, who left rock art there. Nomadic pastoralists are still visiting.

Community Perspective: a difficult but rewarding site to visit, "spectacular in so many different aspects". It takes 3.5 days of solid driving on mostly unpaved roads to get there from the capital. You have it all to yourself, as it is unlikely to encounter any other tourists than the ones you arrived with. The most recent review describes what you may expect from a 4-day stay in the area.

Chile
Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui National Park covers a fascinating archeological landscape developed by an isolated society and characterized by the huge moai.

Between the 10th and 16th centuries, the local population, descendants of settlers from Eastern Polynesia, created great stone works such moai (colossal statues representing ancestors) and ahu (ceremonial platforms). Additional archeological sites on the island include the quarries such as Rano Raraku, rock art sites, and Orongo, a ceremonial village.  

Community Perspective: Easter Island is a dream destination for many, though expensive and “logistically awkward”. Joseph found that “there is a haunting sadness to the site of a toppled, broken moai that affected me more than the standing statues”. Solivagant gives a good overview of the main sights that can be done in a day, while Dennis shares his 3-day itinerary and Nan zooms in on the practical details. Timonator is the first to report back on the drastic changes in visiting conditions that have taken place since Covid (guided tours required).

Churches of Chiloé

The Churches of Chiloé are outstanding examples of the mestizo culture that resulted from Jesuit missionary activities.

Groups of missionaries would travel around the islands of the Chiloé archipelago. In each zone, they would build a church, looked after by local laymen for the rest of the year. This tradition was started by the Jesuits in 1608 and later continued by the Franciscans. European and indigenous cultural traditions were combined to create this unique form of wooden architecture.

Community Perspective: these churches are a great excuse to visit the beautiful surroundings of Chiloé and taste its excellent seafood. Nan visited 7 of them on public transport, Allan tackled 11 by rental car. Timonator (14/16) found out that they only have regular opening hours in January and February – the rest of the year you have to look for someone with a key.

Valparaiso

The Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaiso testifies to Valparaiso's leading position as a merchant port in the late 19th century.

Valparaiso played an important role on the Pacific Coast during the early phase of globalisation, before the opening of the Panama Canal. The geographic location on steep hills and the different nationalities of the inhabitants have led to a distinct and innovative urban landscape.

Community Perspective: some of our reviewers were more bothered than others by the fact that Valparaiso's best days clearly are behind it. But the historic elevators to travel between the lower and upper parts are a joy, and the maze of stairs and alleys in the upper town are the highlights of a visit.

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works

The Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works represent the technical heritage and the social transformation brought about by the saltpeter industry.

Exploiting the largest deposit of saltpeter in the world, these two industrial sites were in use from 1872 until the mid-20th century to produce nitrate fertilisers for the rest of the Americas and Europe. Thousands of workers lived in company towns in this remote environment and developed a distinctive Pampinos culture.

Community Perspective: Humberstone has the best-preserved town remains, while Santa Laura is the more impressive for its industrial area but is in a bad and potentially dangerous condition. The sites lie only 2 km apart and can easily be visited by local bus from Iquique.

Sewell Mining Town

Sewell Mining Town is an example of an early 20th-century company town set up by a foreign company for copper mining.

The site is located in a harsh environment on the slopes of the Andes. Founded in 1905 by the Braden Copper Company, the commercial company built all infrastructure necessary to exploit what was to become the world’s largest underground copper mine. In its heydays, 15,000 people lived here. The remains consist of industrial installations and residential and social buildings.

Community Perspective: early reviewers have put quite an effort into finding out how exactly this site that is managed by a private company can be entered. The most recent review by Timonator (2023) provides the most up-to-date information. Some reviewers describe their visits as “eerie”, with “corridors of doors that are never opened or closed and hide an emptiness behind them”. Be aware that you're not allowed in if you are over 70.

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, is the communication and trade network developed by the Inca Empire.

The infrastructure needed exceptional technological and engineering skills in a difficult geographical setting in rural and remote parts of the Andes. The network supported the Inca Empire’s integration and was a symbol of its strength.

Community Perspective: As a serial transnational site comprising over 720km of road and 273 archaeological sites, it is hard to determine whether you have 'seen' it. Even more so as it is unclear whether the so-called Associated sites are inscribed as well. The latter include sites that are also WHS in their own right (Cusco, Tiwanaku). The main approach chosen is checking out a few locations near Lima or Cuzco and looking for traces of infrastructure (described well in Clyde’s review). Additionally, Allan has visited locations in Chile, and Els Ingapirca in Ecuador.

Chinchorro Culture

The Settlement and Artificial Mummification of the Chinchorro Culture in the Arica and Parinacota Region represent the long-practiced mortuary techniques and associated beliefs of this Pre-Columbian civilization.

The Chinchorro were marine hunter-gatherers who lived in these coastal areas of the arid Atacama Desert from 7,400 BP to 2,840 BP. They are known for their advanced mummification practices, and the oldest known artificially mummified human bodies have been found here. The area illustrating the Chinchorro habitat also consists of settlements, cemeteries, and shell middens.

Community Perspective: This site has 3 components, and Walter visited them all. Colon 10 in Arica is the location where you can get the closest to the mummies. Timonator recommends staying in the hotel "Le petit clos" opposite for a close but controversial encounter.

China
Liangzhu Archaeological Site

The Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City show the accomplishments of a prehistoric urban civilization in the Yangtze River Basin.

The city was the centre of power and belief of the Liangzhu culture, an early regional state. The culture possessed advanced agricultural methods, including irrigation, paddy rice cultivation and aquaculture, and urban planning expressed in earthen monuments.

Community Perspective: Easily accessible as it lies on the outskirts of Hangzhou (see Nan’s review for transport tips). Most people start at the Liangzhu Museum which contains the best findings (though it's not part of the core zone). Shandos has described what you may expect from the “Jurassic Park”-like Liangzhu Ancient City Relic Site.

Old Town of Lijiang

The Old Town of Lijiang represents a fusion of indigenous Naxi architecture and culture with external influences.

Lijiang has been an important regional trade center since the 12th century. The town plan is characterized by canals and bridges, while in its architecture the two-storey buildings and wooden carvings stand out. Lijiang also has an ingenious ancient network of waterways, that is supplied by the mountain springs and via Heilong Pool is connected with canals to the houses in town.

Community Perspective: “One of the nicest small cities in China”, with interesting architecture and the living culture of the Naxi people. Don’t be put off by the huge bar and clubbing area in the center.

Quanzhou

'Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song–Yuan China' represents an important port city from a highly prosperous stage of Asia's maritime trade.

Quanzhou is located at the junction of river and sea, with easy connections to both the world’s oceans and the hinterland. It holds buildings and other structures used for administration, trade, and production of ceramics and iron. The religious buildings of various denominations show its global reach.

Community Perspective: There are 16 components that are scattered around the city and its environs, which need some form of motorized transport to travel between them. Recommended are Tianhou temple, dedicated to Mazu the goddess of the sea, most of the other old town sites such as the neighbouring Taoist temple, Confucian shrine and mosque, and the statues of Lao Tze and Mani further away.

Mount Qingcheng and Dujiangyan

Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiang Irrigation System comprise the intellectual and spiritual centre of Taoism and an ancient water management system that has survived up to the present day.

In 142 CE, the philosopher Zhang Ling founded the doctrine of Chinese Taoism at Mount Qingcheng. It now holds eleven Taoist temples, constructed in the traditional architecture of western Sichuan. The origins of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System date back to 256 BCE, when a scheme making subtle use of the local topography was set up to counter the devastating flooding caused by the Min River. The original system has been preserved, but modern materials and technology have been utilized to enable it to perform until today.

Community Perspective: Dujiangyan Irrigation System nowadays is set up like a theme park, “a nice place to walk around; [but] the genius design of the irrigation system was hard to appreciate”. Mount Qingcheng is another cable car experience.

Longmen Grottoes

The Longmen Grottoes are caves that hold over 100,000 stone sculptures that are manifestations of Chinese Buddhist art.

The carvings were created after Emperor Xianwen moved the Northern Wei capital to Luoyang in 493, and the tradition continued with the Tang Dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries. The site also holds more than 60 stupas and 2,800 inscriptions carved on steles.

Community Perspective: The site’s strength lies in the multitude of Buddhist carvings that are present and the riverside setting. Solivagant recalls his visit in 1978, while Frederik explains the differences between the Northern Wei and Tang art.

Imperial Tombs

The Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties are examples of funerary architecture built on the principles of feng shui.

These impressive mausolea were built over the course of five centuries, not only as places to rest the dead but also to accommodate royal ceremonies and to impress. The works combine the architectural arts of the Han and Manchu civilizations.

Community Perspective: After two extensions, this site geographically has strayed far from the well-known Ming Tombs near Beijing (which are usually part of a combination tour with the Great Wall, and where you’ll be “given a dull tour of a few reconstructed buildings”). Zos visited remote Ming Xian Ling in Zhongxiang.

Xidi and Hongcun

'Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui - Xidi and Hongcun' comprises two exceptionally well-preserved traditional Chinese villages.

Their townscapes are developed in harmony with the natural environment, using the geomantic principles of Feng Shui. The Huizhou style is the predominant architecture in the villages: white walls, dark tiles, horse-head gables, stone drums or mirrors, and open interior courtyards are common features. It was the style favoured by the local merchant class.

Community Perspective: You should visit both towns. Although they are now firmly dedicated to handling tourists, especially for foreigners they provide a view into small-town China. Khuft has described their distinctive features well.

Mount Taishan

Mount Taishan is an impressive rock mass that has been worshipped for over 3,000 years.

This mountain, covered in pine forests and rocky cliffs, is dotted with man-made structures such as bridges, gateways, pavilions and a flight of 6,660 steps. It was where the Emperor paid homage to Heaven and Earth in ritualized ceremonies. It is also notable for its 1,800 historic stone tablets and inscriptions.

Community Perspective: It takes hours to climb to the top, where the most important monuments are, but there are cable cars as well. Zos did it like a real pilgrim and hiked all the way up during the night.

Great Wall

The Great Wall is a masterpiece of construction of ancient China that has also high symbolic value.

The stone and earthen fortifications in northern China were built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups. As it is "virtually impossible" to guarantee the perfect preservation of the whole length of the wall(s), the conservation is focused on the Badaling section, the western starting point at Jiayuguan Pass and the eastern end at Shanhaiguan.

Community Perspective: To escape the tourist crowds, reviewers recommend hiking stretches of the “wild” Wall or seeking out remote, unrestored portions (although these are not part of the core zone, you will feel that you have properly visited). Solivagant saw the ‘official’ start and end points at Shanhaiguan and Jiayuguan.

Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang with their grand palatial architecture represent State power in late feudal China

The Imperial Palace of the Ming Dynasty, commonly known as the Forbidden City, lies in Beijing and has been the residence of the Ming emperors since 1421. It represents the ritual and court culture of that period. The Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty was the secondary capital; the palace dates from the 17th century and its plan and architecture show the Manchu culture of this dynasty, including sacrificial places to practice Shamanism.

Community Perspective: The Forbidden City in Beijing stands out for its enormous scale, and takes hours to explore if you stray off the main path. The palace in Shenyang shows the intricate design of Manchu architecture.

Mogao Caves

The Mogao Caves comprise a Buddhist rock art sanctuary that flourished along the Silk Road.

The 492 rock-cut cells and sanctuaries are known for the artistic quality of their statues and wall paintings. Because of its strategic position along the Silk Road, the caves attracted many pilgrims and a variety of cultural influences from the 4th until the 14th century.

Community Perspective: The art may be fabulous, but the visitor experience is far from that and you’ll only be allowed to see 4-8 caves as part of a group accompanied by a (often rushing and unhelpful) guide.

Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor

The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor is known for its life-size terracotta statues of warriors.

The hyperrealistic sculptures are seen as major works in the history of Chinese sculpture and are valuable for the insight they provide into the social and military history of the period. Qin Shi Huang in 246 BCE arranged for this burial site for himself. The Terracotta Army was to be buried with him to help him rule another empire in the afterlife. The three main pits have uncovered over 8,000 figures of warriors and horses and a large number of exquisite funeral objects.

Community Perspective: “The longer you spend around the warriors the more impressed you become.”

Peking Man Site

The Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian is an important finding place of early Asian hominids such as one of the first specimens of Homo erectus, dubbed Peking Man.

The natural limestone caves and adequate water supplies in this area made it suitable for the survival of early humans. The findings show the process of human evolution, with remains of Homo erectus pekinensis, archaic Homo sapiens and Homo sapiens sapiens having been discovered. Stone tools and evidence of fire-making by Peking Man have also been found.

Community Perspective: The only site within the Beijing Hotspot that takes you off the beaten path, although it is reachable on public transport. It comprises a number of (original) caves in the woods plus an interesting museum.

Huangshan

Mount Huangshan has played a leading role in the cultural, literary and artistic history of China because of its scenic beauty.

Its attraction lies in the peculiar shapes of the granite peaks, in the weather-shaped Huangshan Pine trees, and in views of the mountain tops that are often above cloud level. It has become a favourite subject of Chinese landscape painters. The mountains also provide the habitat for numerous endemic plant species, such as mosses and ferns.

Community Perspective: “Uniquely Chinese”, but be prepared also for a very crowded experience. Nan shares a harrowing story of his much-troubled visit.

Jiuzhaigou Valley

Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area comprises a mountainous area with a series of lakes and waterfalls containing clear, mineral-rich water.

The natural beauty of the site lies in the over 100 coloured lakes and limestone terraces. They are the result of karst erosion and deposits. The Area also preserves important forest ecosystems that are the habitat of vulnerable mammal species such as giant panda and takin.

Community Perspective: It’s a large and well-kept site, best discovered on foot and over multiple days (you can stay just outside the entrance). Be aware that it can get very cold here in winter and that it is very popular with Chinese tourists (but not so much with foreign visitors).

Huanglong

Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area is renowned for its beautiful karst features such as travertine pools and limestone shoals.

The mountain scenery is dotted with lakes and unique travertine terraces. Calcite deposition has led to the pools being rich in algae and minerals, which results in orange, yellow, blue and green coloured waters.

Community Perspective: It lies close to Jiuzhaigou WHS, to which it is often compared. It’s much smaller though and there is one main circular trail to walk, where you ascend from 3,000 to 4,000m (oxygen canisters are available!).

Wulingyuan

Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area contains over 3,000 tall quartzite sandstone pillars which create a spectacular landscape.

The forested landscape is often covered in mists and clouds, which adds to its beauty. Between the peaks lie ravines and gorges with streams, pools and waterfalls, and some 40 caves, as well as two large natural bridges.

Community Perspective: Better known as Zhangjiajie in the Chinese tourist industry, this is a large and popular park. Avoid visiting on weekends or during Chinese holidays because of the crowds. Frederik and GabLabCebu each wrote extensive reviews on its highlights which need a visit of multiple days. Els did a day trip via the South Entrance.

Mountain Resort, Chengde

The Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples, Chengde, comprise a designed landscape that served as the summer resort of the Qing emperors.

At the end of the 17th century, the Qing emperors created a summer residence, exploiting mountains, woods and other existing natural features to which they added contrived landscapes to make settings for innumerable pavilions, palaces and temples. Some temples outside the palace walls were built in the architectural styles of the ethnic minorities, affirming China as a unitary multi-ethnic state.

Community Perspective: The site consists of extensive gardens and outlying temples, and needs at least a full day. Don’t come here in winter! It’s a controversial site as well, as detailed by Solivagant.

Temple, Mansion and Cemetery of Confucius

The Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu represent the influence of Confucianism on China and other oriental countries.

The layout and style of the Temple serve as a model for all Confucius temples in Asia. The Cemetery contains Confucius’ tomb and more than 100,000 graves of his descendants, while the Kong Family Mansion was the place where the male direct descendants of Confucius lived and worked. The buildings were strictly designed according to the ideas of Confucianism and built by the finest artists and craftsmen due to the support given by Chinese Emperors.

Community Perspective: A good place if you study Chinese culture or Confucius' philosophy. Mary even stayed overnight in the Kong Family Mansion in 1990.

Wudang Mountains

The Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains is renowned for its many Taoist monasteries and secular buildings which have had a profound influence on Chinese art and architecture.

This Taoist pilgrimage center includes palaces, monasteries, nunneries and temples in a picturesque setting. Most surviving buildings date from the 14th to 16th centuries when Taoism grew in importance due to the support of the emperors of the Ming Dynasty.

Community Perspective: Although the two early reviewers hint at corruption and other issues at the site, Juha found it one of the highlights of his China trip. The costs of a visit add up, with cable car rides and separate entrance fees per temple.

Potala Palace

The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa, represents the apogee of Tibetan architecture and the combination of religious and secular authority.

The Ensemble includes the Potala Palace and the Norbulingka Summer Palace, which were the administrative, religious and symbolic centers of Tibet's theocratic government for many centuries, and the Jokhang Temple, the most sacred in Tibetan Buddhism. The Potala and Jokhang date back to the 7th century CE.

Community Perspective: The Potala is one of the world’s great iconic sites and nearby Jokhang Temple is also worthwhile for its religious activity. The site is also inextricably linked to the oppression of Tibetan culture by the Chinese, and most of the earlier reviews reflect that.

Lushan National Park

Lushan National Park is an outstanding example of Chinese landscape culture, where temples and educational buildings have been added to the scenic landscape.

The area has attracted the cultural elite for over 1,700 years. Buddhist and Taoist temples and the Confucian White Deer Cave Academy were built. From the late 19th century it became a summer resort for both Chinese and foreign visitors, which is reflected in the diverse architecture of the villas.

Community Perspective: This is an eclectic site. Els noticed the Communist Party links (and Mao’s bathroom), Stanislaw saw the park from above and a lot of inscriptions, and Dwight explored the more remote parts including 11th century Guanyin Bridge, Lushan waterfall, and White Deer Cave Academy. 

Mount Emei, including Leshan Giant Buddha

Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, comprises the place where Buddhism was first established in China.

The slopes and summit of Mount Emei hold numerous traditional temples, including the successor to the 1st-century Buddhist temple that was the first to be built in China. The nearby 8th-century Giant Buddha of Leshan measures 71 m high overall, which makes it the largest sculpture of the Buddha in the world. Covering Emei Shan is a sub-tropical forest with many endemic and endangered plants such as orchids, rhododendrons, camellias, ginkgos, cycads and tree ferns.

Community Perspective: Els spent 3 days in the area, admired the head of the Great Buddha and hiked down the mountains. Frederik compared Emei Shan to the similar WHS of Wutaishan and liked the natural setting of the former more.

Ping Yao

The Ancient City of Ping Yao is an integral and well-preserved Han Chinese city.

It dates from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), and its urban plan and city walls have not significantly changed since. Its buildings show the evolution of architectural styles. Numerous impressive buildings associated with banking can be seen, as Ping Yao was a major financial centre in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Community Perspective: It looks like a movie set (though with houses without toilets). The city wall is one of the most perfect in Asia. Visit the courtyard buildings and temples that are now in use as museums, as well as the former financial institutions.

Classical Gardens of Suzhou

The Classical Gardens of Suzhou are the most refined representations of the art of classical Chinese garden design.

They are complex landscapes imitating natural scenery with pavilions, rocks, hills and rivers. The designs were specially adapted to the small space available in private gardens in an urban environment. The selected gardens show their evolution over time from the 11th to the 19th centuries.

Community Perspective: The Humble Administrator's Garden is considered the most beautiful, while the Lion Forest Garden certainly is the weirdest, with its ‘mountain landscape’ of Taihu rockery.

Summer Palace

The Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing, is a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design that is noted for its harmony and large scale.

This "New” Summer Palace landscape is dominated by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. In addition to halls and pavillions that provided political and administrative functions, it contains large areas for recreational use to enjoy views and spiritual contemplation. The garden has had a major influence on subsequent oriental garden art and culture.

Community Perspective: Not to be confused with the “Old” Summer Palace which is in ruins, this large site provides magnificent views and the boat trips are good as well. “If strolling around the lovely pavilions doesn't convince you that you're in the heart of Chinese culture, nothing will.”

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing represents the legacy of the feudal Ming and Qing dynasties.

Here their Emperors would act as middlemen between humankind on Earth and Heaven, and pray for good harvests. The temple complex is a precious example of China's ancient architecture and its symbolic layout and design influenced subsequent sacrificial sites in the Far East.

Community Perspective: An oasis of peace almost in the heart of Beijing, an exquisite wooden structure whose grounds include dozens of unique stone carved images along stairways. The park is also good for watching people “playing music or singing, chatting, playing cards” and “water calligraphy, mass participation Tai chi, practice sword fighting and line-dancing to Europop”.

Mount Wuyi

Mount Wuyi is a scenic landscape of forests and deep gorges, which became the cradle of Neo-Confucianism.

The area contains several archaeological sites, including a Han City established in the 1st century BCE, and a number of temples and study centres associated with the birth of Neo-Confucianism in the 11th century CE. Its natural values include the beauty of the gorges of the Nine-Bend River, the monoliths of local red sandstone, its subtropical forests, and its reptile, amphibian and insect species diversity.

Community Perspective: Hiking and rafting are the main things to do here. Els explored the Han City component and recommends the Da Hong Pao Tea Trail.

Dazu Rock Carvings

The Rock Carvings in Dazu show the harmonious coexistence of Tantric Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism in medieval China.

These five clusters with diverse cave temple art shed light on everyday life of the 9th to 13th centuries. They also show the craftsmanship of their artists because of their grand scale and aesthetic quality.

Community Perspective: There are a lot of carvings and most of the figures are painted brightly. Baoding is the main site of the five inscribed components; Chris has visited three others as well and compares the experiences.

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries

The Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea - Bohai Gulf of China cover a mudflat system serving as bird foraging and resting areas.

The sanctuaries are part of the largest intertidal mudflat system in the world. Its habitats are crucial for the survival of migratory birds such as the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann’s Greenshank.

Community Perspective: Zoë visited the "National Nature Reserve for Rare Birds" near Yancheng, a visitor center for the area, and advises to come in November (but she did see red-crowned cranes and Siberian cranes in September). Zos has gone into more detail about where the core zone starts around this reserve, while Els gave the latest update on getting there.

Yungang Grottoes

The Yungang Grottoes are excellent examples of early Chinese Buddhist cave art.

The 53 caves with 51,000 carved statues were excavated in the south face of a sandstone cliff. They were created during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), whose emperors introduced the 'foreign' Buddhism and turned it into their state religion.

Community Perspective: The grottoes are easily visited from the city of Datong, and present a virtual art laboratory where “ancient artists acted like scientists who made experiments to assimilate South and Central Asian arts into local arts”. Frederik laments its location among dusty industrial coal mine complexes, but that was in 2009 (it was already that way in 1978 when Solivagant visited) – we need a more recent review of what it looks like now!

Three parallel rivers of Yunnan

The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas represent a landscape of river gorges and high mountains.

The areas contain the watershed areas of the Yangtze (Jinsha), Mekong (Lacang) and Salween (Nujiang) rivers and glaciated peaks of over 6,000m altitude. It also has significant geological value, with it being on the "collision point" of tectonic plates and holding landforms such as alpine karst and alpine Danxia.

Community Perspective: Although this is mostly high mountain scenery no one will get to, a few component parts are accessible from the city of Zhongdian/Shangrila, including the Tiger Leaping Gorge, Podatso National Park (see Jarek's review), Balagezong Scenic Spot and Napa Hai (labelled as an “influencing area”).

Koguryo Kingdom

The Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom represent an exceptional testimony to the vanished Koguryo civilization.

These archaeological sites comprise their first three capitals and 40 tombs. The imperial tombs have a stepped pyramid form, while the tombs of the nobles are decorated with wall paintings that depict scenes from daily life. Stele and inscriptions at the sites show the impact of Chinese culture on the Koguryo.

Community Perspective: Zoë liked Wandu Mountain City best and has written an overview of what you can see on a 3-hour visit.

Macao

The Historic Centre of Macao represents the early and long encounter between Chinese and European civilizations.

Macao was the first European enclave in Asia, starting with the arrival of Portuguese tradesmen in 1557. Over the years they developed Macao into one of the major trade ports in Asia - as a stopover on the route to Japan or as part of the Silk Route by sea. Both Western and Chinese roots are reflected in its architecture.

Community Perspective: It’s a well-preserved melting pot of architectural styles and full of vivid colours. Highlights include the Portuguese buildings at Guia Hill and the very old A-Ma Temple.

Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries

Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries - Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains contain more than 30% of the world's Giant Pandas and are among the most important sites for their captive breeding.

These reserves and parks also are refuges for other endangered species such as the red panda, the snow leopard, and the clouded leopard. It is among the botanically richest sites of the world outside of tropical rainforests and is home to between 5,000 and 6,000 species of flora.

Community Perspective: Although you’re unlikely to encounter a Giant Panda in the wild, your best bet is to visit one of the 16 included parks. Els went to Mount Qingcheng, Boj to Bifeng Gorge, Frederik spent 2 days in the Siguniang Mountains and Michael visited the Wolong Breeding Center.

Yin Xu

Yin Xu comprises an archaeological site that represents the golden age of early Chinese culture, crafts and sciences.

Yin was the last capital of China's Shang Dynasty (1766 BCE - 1050 BCE). It is renowned for the discovery of 'oracle bones', inscriptions on animal bones and tortoise shells which are considered the beginnings of Chinese characters and writing. The tombs also have revealed rich bronze ritual vessels, ceramics and chariots in addition to remains of victims of sacrifice.

Community Perspective: “This is an amazing site for those studying the Chinese language”. Els has written a comprehensive review of the various site components that can be visited.

South China Karst

South China Karst comprises one of the two great karst regions of the world.

This huge karst area represents the variety of karst landforms in the humid (sub)tropics. Shilin is regarded as the world’s best example of pinnacle karst (stone forests), while Libo Karst is renowned for its cone karst and Guilin Karst for its tower karst landscape.

Community Perspective: The 12 components are spread across 4 provinces. Reviews so far have focused on Shilin, the Stone Forest (Solivagant, Els, Frederik) and Guilin Karst with its spectacular scenery along the Li River (Kyle, Nan).

Kaiping Diaolou

The Kaiping Diaolou and Villages comprise fortified multi-story towers, built by returning Chinese immigrants from America, Canada, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

They display a fusion of Chinese and Western decorative forms. The towers were constructed in the 1920s and 1930s when there were more than 3,000 of these structures. The diaolou served as housing and as protection against forays by bandits (and later the Japanese). Three separate forms can be distinguished: communal towers, residential towers and watchtowers.

Community Perspective: Zili is the most visited and most touristy of the villages. Els made it to Jingjiangli as well, and Nan has covered Majianlong and provided the most up-to-date practical info. The fourth component, Sanmenli, so far has been unreviewed.

Fujian Tulou

The Fujian Tulou are unique communal residential buildings constructed by the Hakka people from Fujian Province.

The Tulou are several stories high and are enclosed by a thick earth wall. They were built around a central, open courtyard with only one entrance and few windows. This building style was chosen because it made the houses well-defensible. Each tulou was occupied by one family clan. 

Community Perspective: The Hongkeng Cluster (as reviewed by YS, Geoff, Els) is the most accessible among the 10 components, as it lies within 3 hours from Xiamen, and provides the opportunity to visit another one, Tianloukeng (Els) if you stay overnight. Others include Hekeng (DL) and the remote Chuxi (Boj).

Mount Sanqingshan

Mount Sanqingshan National Park holds an outstanding scenery of granite peaks and pillars.

The area also has numerous waterfalls, valleys, lakes and springs. The massif is covered with temperate forest, home to rare and endangered plant species. Meteorological effects like bright halos on clouds and white rainbows enhance its visual impact.

Community Perspective: Zos had a memorable visit to this park, where visualizing rock formations into snakes or penguins seems to be the main thing. Els was less impressed.

Mount Wutai

Mount Wutai is one of the Four Sacred Mountains in Chinese Buddhism.

The mountain with its over 50 Buddhist monasteries, pagodas and statues was inspired by Tibetan Buddhist ideas from Nepal and Mongolia and has become a place of pilgrimage. It is home to some of the oldest existing wooden buildings in China that have survived since the era of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Community Perspective: “Wu” means five, and this mountain range has five peaks so it takes a while to visit (most people only visit one) and the entrance fees add up. Dwight has reviewed the Great East Hall of the Foguang Temple, one of China’s oldest wooden buildings.

Dengfeng

The Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in "The Centre of Heaven and Earth" reflect the tradition of mountain worship.

Mount Songshan was considered the best place for a terrestrial capital according to astronomical observations. A large number of sacred and secular buildings were constructed here, commissioned by Emperors who meant to reinforce their power. They include Buddhist shrines and an astronomical Observatory.

Community Perspective: The globally best-known component is the Shaolin monastery, “the birthplace of Kung Fu”. Juha managed to visit 5 of the other 7 locations, while Zos added a perspective on the Gaocheng Observatory.

China Danxia

China Danxia comprises landscapes dominated by eroded red sandstone landforms.

The nine components hold examples varying from most to least eroded, where natural pillars, cliffs, and ravines have been shaped by weathering, erosion and tectonic uplift. The Danxia landform is named after Mount Danxia, one of the most famous examples of this landform.

Community Perspective: Nan and Frederik have covered the Danxiashan component, which is accessible via Guangzhou and where the main attraction seems to be the large red phallus stone. Els visited the compact Guifeng section of the Longhushan National Park.

West Lake

The West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou is an implementation of the classical Chinese landscape aesthetic ideal by improving the natural landscape

The natural lake has been made more beautiful with bridges, pagodas, causeways, pavillions, ornamental trees, etc to demonstrate the harmony between man and nature. The 'improved' landscape had a profound impact on the design of gardens and landscapes in and outside of China.

Community Perspective: Frederik has written a good introduction to this site, while Nan added more ideas and tips for using public transport to get to the lake.

Site of Xanadu

The Site of Xanadu encompasses the remains of Kublai Khan's legendary summer capital of the Yuan Dynasty.

The grassland capital at the edge of the Mongolian plateau includes the former city with temples and palaces, water control works, tombs, and traditional ovoo (stone cairn) shrines of the Mongolian nomads. Its plan shows a mix between Mongolian and Han Chinese traditions. It is also the place from where Tibetan Buddhism expanded over north-east Asia.

Community Perspective: It’s far from everywhere and you’ll need to take a taxi for the last 20km. However, the archeological site is fenced, requires an entrance fee and has multilingual signs. Michael found few remains from the Yuan Dynasty but imagined how the Mongols on horses entered the city after each victory in war. 

Chengjiang Fossil Site

Chengjiang Fossil Site holds marine fossils from the early Cambrian period, 530 million years ago, when life on Earth rapidly diversified.

A rich number of species has been found within the remains of a complex marine ecosystem. Most of the fossils are that of soft-bodied organisms.

Community Perspective: It’s fairly easily accessible from Kunming, though you have to get a taxi for the last 20km to “Maotianshan”. The surroundings are appreciated more by our reviewers than the site itself, which boasts a basic museum, with a showcase area of the cliffside where the first fossils were discovered but overall without much interpretation.

Xinjiang Tianshan

Xinjiang Tianshan is a mountain range that holds glaciers, snowcapped peaks, alpine meadows, lakes and canyons.

These mountains are in stark contrast with the surrounding six deserts, of which part of the Taklamakan Desert is within the site’s borders. The biodiversity within its altitudinal natural zones is high, especially regarding vascular plants and wild fruit species.

Community Perspective: The most accessible components can be reached as a day trip from Urumqi, as Zos and Zoë did (both visited touristy Tianchi Lake in the Bogda mountain area). No special permit is needed for that.

Hani Rice Terraces

The Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces consists of irrigated rice paddies, forested mountain tops and farming villages where farming and water management are combined.

This landscape spread across three valleys has been developed over the past 1300 years by the Hani people, one of China's official ethnic minority groups. It is the most concentrated area of steep rice terraces in China. The terraces are irrigated via a complex system of channels that transport water from the surrounding mountain tops.

Community Perspective: “The subject of many coffee table books”. Els made it there on a rainy day in 2019 (it takes a full day to reach from the nearest big city, Kunming), while Zoë introduces us to the world of Chinese hobby photographers.

Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is the world's longest and oldest artificial waterway system.

The canal runs along a north-south axis originating in Beijing, passing through eight provinces, and ending at the seaport of Ningbo. Successive dynasties used it for the unified administration of its territory. It was used to transport raw materials, grain, an imperial monopoly, and rice to feed the people and troops.

Community Perspective: There doesn’t seem to be a ‘best’ place to see the Grand Canal. Tongzhou (reviewed by Ian) lies conveniently close to Beijing, while Suzhou (Michael, GabLabCebu) and Hangzhou (Els) also have very easy-to-access parts. Solivagant traveled from Suzhou to Hangzhou by boat in 1989, while Frederik zoomed in on the water towns and Juha focused on the inscribed granaries.

Silk Roads Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor

Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor comprises a heritage route of some 5,000 km linking Chang'an in central China with the heartland of Central Asia.

The network facilitated extensive cultural and economic exchange, resulting in the development of towns, forts, water management systems, caravanserai, and Buddhist and other religious buildings. It functioned between the 2nd century BCE and the 16th century CE.

Community Perspective: as a serial site with 35 locations spread wide across 3 countries, the main ‘problem’ is which one to choose. The easiest are in Xi’an, as well as the double-inscribed sites Longmen Grottoes and Mogao Caves. Alternative locations covered by reviewers are Yumen Pass, Burana, Talgar and Suyab - Ak Beshim, and Yar City.

Tusi Sites

The Tusi Sites are three examples of the Tusi system in which the inheritance of official positions was granted to tribal leaders in ethnic minority regions.

The practice was used in China’s feudal period between the 13th and 20th centuries. Laosicheng Site, Hailongtun Site and Tang Ya Tusi Site are the archaeological remains of former tribal domains located in mountainous regions in southwest China. They are also testimony to the traditional cultures and cultural practices of the Tujia, Gelao and Miao Ethnic Peoples.

Community Perspective: Frederik made an almost accidental visit to "Tujia Old Fortress” in Laosicheng in 2011, while Stanislaw visited that same site in 2019 and explained the logistics for individual travellers. Zos managed to visit all three components.

Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art

The Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape comprises thousands of pictographs, painted on steep cliff faces along the river in a karst landscape.

The paintings were made between the 5th century BCE to the 2nd century CE by the Luoyue people. The site is a cultural landscape and also includes hamlets and villages where people still perform rituals connected to the rock art. They cover four distinct phases of painting and include depictions of bronze drums, ferry boats and human figures.

Community Perspective: You get to Ningming by train from Vietnam or by bus from Nanning, which is the closest Chinese city. The pictographs, spread across three locations, can be seen from boats that navigate the river and wooden platforms on the opposite bank. Read all three reviews posted so far about why the visitor experience is unsatisfactory.

Fanjingshan

Fanjingshan is an isolated mountain landscape with a high degree of endemism.

The property’s geologic and climatic characteristics have shaped its flora which behaves as if it were on an island. The rugged terrain of primary forest contains many endangered floral and fauna species, such as the Guizhou snub-nosed monkey. Fanjingshan’s wet conditions also result in an extraordinary richness of bryophytes (mosses).

Community Perspective: Zoë definitely recommends a visit and has written a comprehensive review about what to expect (spoiler alert: you’re unlikely to encounter an endangered Guizhou monkey).

Hubei Shennongjia

Hubei Shennongjia is a forested mountain massif mostly known for its floral diversity.

The conservation area protects the largest primary forests in Central China. It is a place of significant scientific interest particularly for botanists, with many endemic plant and tree species. Endangered mammal species found here include the Golden Snub-nosed Monkey.

Community Perspective: Zoë managed to visit Shennongjia, including the peak of Shennongding, as part of a small group tour – the only realistic way to visit at the moment.

Kulangsu

Kulangsu: A Historic International Settlement covers an island where Chinese, Southeast Asian and European architectural and cultural values came together.

Foreign missionaries, diplomats and workers lived on Kulangsu while working in the larger city of Xiamen across the strait. They were instrumental in introducing modern Western culture and technology to China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The fusion of cultures also resulted in a new architectural style: Amoy Deco.

Community Perspective: Els has written a comprehensive overview of a 3-hour visit to the island, where the exteriors of the historic buildings stand out.

Qinghai Hoh Xil

Qinghai Hoh Xil represents the landscapes and biodiversity of the high-altitude Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

Temperatures average sub-zero year-round, which has kept it free from modern human influence. Glacial meltwater supplies the many rivers, lakes and marshlands. The site is also important as a calving area and place of seasonal migration of large numbers of Tibetan antelope.

Community Perspective: The G109 highway as well as the Xining - Lhasa train cut right through the core zone, but you won’t see much that way. Zos managed to make a very adventurous entry but still missed out on the Tibetan antelopes.

Ancient Tea Plantations of Pu'er

The Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er covers an ancient tea production area sustained by the traditional knowledge of the Blang and Dai peoples.

Nine traditional Blang and Dai villages are located near old tea groves. The tea growers use a system of domesticating wild tea trees. The wooden dwellings in the villages hold space for tea processing and storage. The landscape is considered to be the place of origin of Pu’er tea.

Community Perspective: the tea plantations can be visited on a day trip from Jinghong, as detailed by Anthony. According to Boj, the most traditional villages are Nuogang and Wengji.

Colombia
Cartagena

The Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena, comprise a port city and the remains of military constructions built by the Spanish.

Cartagena de Indias holds a strategic position at the commercial maritime routes in the Caribbean. From the 16th century on, the Spanish designed a defense plan to protect the city against the plundering of English, Dutch and French pirates. It led to one of the most extensive and complete systems of military fortifications in South America. Within the walled city, three neighbourhoods developed with fine civil, religious and residential monuments.

Community Perspective: the overall feel is much more Caribbean than South American, and one can easily spend 2 days here walking the city walls and exploring the historic center. But “it is so fully geared to tourism that sooner or later you will get fed up with it”.

Los Katios National Park

Los Katíos National Park is renowned for its high biodiversity and high regional endemism.

Because of its location on the Darien isthmus, it filtered the interchange of flora and fauna between North and South America. The park comprises the mountains of the Serranía del Darién and the floodplain of the Atrato River, with lowland swamp forests such as the Ciénagas de Tumaradó. Notable fauna species found in Los Katios include the giant anteater, tapir, jaguar, spectacled caiman and American manatee. More than 450 species of birds have been recorded.

Community Perspective: The park is officially closed to the public (source: IUCN Outlook 2020), but you can view it from the Atrato River by taking a boat from Turbo to Riosucio which crosses the core zone.

Santa Cruz de Mompox

The Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox represents a riverport from the Spanish colonial era.

The town connected the seaport of Cartagena with the interior via the Magdalena River. It further enabled Spanish colonization and the growing trade. In the nineteenth century, Mompox lost much of its economic importance: due to the lack of modern influences, the original Spanish elements such as churches, private houses and the street plan have been preserved in their authentic state.

Community Perspective: nowadays reachable by a 6.5h bus ride from Cartagena, but Mompox has been difficult to access before the 21st century – as described well in Solivagant’s review. The historic centre doesn’t take long to explore, but all reviewers so far enjoyed it for its lethargic atmosphere and historical significance.

Tierradentro

The National Archaeological Park of Tierradentro is renowned for its pre-Columbian hypogea.

The park features elaborate hypogea dating from the 6th to 9th centuries CE, carved into the volcanic tuff. The typical hypogeum has an entry oriented towards the west, a spiral staircase and a main chamber with several lesser chambers around, each one containing a corpse. The walls are painted with geometric, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic patterns in red, black and white.

Community Perspective: Tierradentra lies in a remote part of the country and requires considerable effort to reach by public transport. On-site, four of the five locations can be easily accessed via a walking trail starting from the park entrance/museum, and guards posted at each of the tombs will open them up for visitors. Solivagant has described the merits of each of these four locations, while Jarek and Lucio also visited Aguacate, which takes another 1.5-2 hours of hiking.

San Agustín

San Agustín Archaeological Park is a pre-Columbian archaeological site containing the largest collection of megalithic sculptures on the continent.

The sculptures, carved from volcanic rock, vary from abstract forms to realistic images of gods and animals. Most monuments adorn funerary sites, except for the Fuente de Lavapatas, a religious monument carved in the stone bed of a stream. They were constructed during the Agustinian Culture, which flowered from the 1st century CE.

Community Perspective: the site consists of 3 separate locations, and you can easily spend 2 days here as there are some non-inscribed but worthwhile sites in the area as well. Iain visited in 1996, during a period when military roadblocks were common so “getting there was half the fun”.

Malpelo

Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary is a strictly protected marine landscape holding impressive populations of marine species, including large top predators.

This sanctuary in the Pacific Ocean consists of the small, barren Malpelo Island and the wider marine environment. It is a no-fishing zone which has allowed the underwater environment to stay in excellent condition. The rugged underwater topography includes steep walls, caves and tunnels.

Community Perspective: the only way to experience this site is via a live-aboard diving cruise. Zoë describes how it compares with the Galapagos and Cocos Island.

Coffee Cultural Landscape

The Coffee Culture Landscape of Colombia is a system of collectively cultivated coffee plantations in a mountainous landscape.

The area comprises 6 regions with a total of 18 villages and 24,000 small coffee farms. Together they account for around 35% of Colombian coffee production. The plantations and associated villages were founded in the 19th century and are still in use.

Community Perspective: the first reviewers tried to make sense of which areas exactly are part of the core zone, until Solivagant shed light on the matter. Els describes the particular way of coffee production that got the site inscribed, and Solivagant (in his 2nd review) highlights the coffee towns.

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, is the communication and trade network developed by the Inca Empire.

The infrastructure needed exceptional technological and engineering skills in a difficult geographical setting in rural and remote parts of the Andes. The network supported the Inca Empire’s integration and was a symbol of its strength.

Community Perspective: As a serial transnational site comprising over 720km of road and 273 archaeological sites, it is hard to determine whether you have 'seen' it. Even more so as it is unclear whether the so-called Associated sites are inscribed as well. The latter include sites that are also WHS in their own right (Cusco, Tiwanaku). The main approach chosen is checking out a few locations near Lima or Cuzco and looking for traces of infrastructure (described well in Clyde’s review). Additionally, Allan has visited locations in Chile, and Els Ingapirca in Ecuador.

Chiribiquete National Park

Chiribiquete National Park - "The Maloca of the Jaguar" is a very large and inaccessible national park in the Amazon rainforest, known for its tepuis and painted rock shelters.

The tepui or tabletop setting has led to a high level of endemism, with numbers expected to rise when more research will be done in the future. The park is home to a healthy population of jaguar and other vulnerable mammal species. It also protects flooded forests called “Purus Varze”. Sixty rock shelters with ca. 75,000 paintings are present at the foot of the tepuis. The depicted scenes are linked to a purported cult of the jaguar and their ceremonial use extends into the present day by isolated indigenous communities.

Community Perspective: tourism into the park is not allowed because of the “potential threat to the rights .. of the voluntarily isolated and uncontacted indigenous peoples” (IUCN Outlook 2020). The only way to catch a glimpse is “through flyovers by small planes on pre-arranged flight paths that are designed to be far away from known human settlements”. Zoë reports about a visit to an area near San José del Guaviare with similar (but uninscribed) rock art.

Congo (Democratic Republic)
Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park covers a spectacular montane landscape with seven active volcanoes and a high diversity of plants and animals.

Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira are the most active African volcanoes with substantial associated lava plains and a lava lake. The park, which holds a wide range of habitats, is home to mammal species such as the hippopotamus, the mountain gorilla, the lowland gorilla, and the eastern chimpanzee. Virunga - then called Albert National Park - was established in 1925 as Africa's first national park, in order to protect the mountain gorillas.

Community Perspective: the park is well-geared to receive tourists when the DRC’s security situation allows it. Michael en Els both visited from the Rwanda border and met the habituated gorillas.

Garamba National Park

Garamba National Park comprises an area of savannah, marshland and forests that is the habitat of the world’s four largest land mammals.

The vegetation is especially suited for great herbivores such as elephants (both forest elephants and bush elephants), giraffes, hippopotamus and rhinoceros. The park aimed to protect the last known wild population of northern white rhinoceros. By 2016 it had lost all of its northern white rhinos (the species has become extinct in the wild), 95% of its elephants, most of its Kordofan giraffe and an estimated 80-90% of other large mammals

Community Perspective: Barbara reports on fieldwork she did at Garamba in the 1990s.

Kahuzi-Biega National Park

Kahuzi-Biéga National Park protects a primary tropical forest that is one of the last refuges of the critically endangered Eastern Lowland Gorilla.

The Eastern Lowland Gorilla is the largest subspecies of the Gorilla and the largest living primate. The park reaches high altitudes at Mounts Kahuzi (3,308 m) and Biega (2,790 m). where sub-alpine vegetation has developed. Its bird list holds 349 species, including 42 endemic.

Community Perspective: There have been no recent reviews of this site, though it is regularly visited as it is easily accessible from the Rwanda border.

Salonga National Park

Salonga National Park is Africa's largest tropical rainforest reserve.

It is a very isolated park, located in the central basin of the Congo River and crossed by many rivers. The park can only be reached via water transport, and in parts is considered to be completely virgin. Its marshlands and forests are home to many endangered fauna species, notably the bonobo.

Community Perspective:  this site has been unreviewed so far.

Okapi Wildlife Reserve

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve protects a rainforest that is home to about 5,000 of the estimated 30,000 okapi (forest giraffes) surviving in the wild.

The reserve lies in the Congo Basin and covers part of the Ituri rainforest. It has numerous species that are absent from surrounding areas. This includes endemic and threatened species of primates and birds, such as large numbers of chimpanzees and forest elephants.

Community Perspective: this site has been unreviewed so far.

Congo (Republic)
Sangha Trinational

Sangha Trinational is a large and intact natural landscape, mainly consisting of humid forests plus wetlands and natural clearings.

These three contiguous national parks are centered along the Sangha River, a tributary to the Congo River. They harbour tree and mammal species that are much threatened elsewhere due to exploitation and poaching. Large mammals such as Forest Elephants, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Sitatunga and Bongo are still present in healthy numbers.

Community Perspective: Els visited Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic. The other two parks, Lobéké National Park in Cameroon and Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Congo, have stayed unreviewed so far.

Odzala-Kokoua

The Forest Massif of Odzala Kokoua comprises savanna ecosystems that have seen post-glacial forest recolonization.

It includes very rare types of forest. The fully overlapping Odzala Kokoua National Park is dotted with clearings, salt pans and savannas. The park protects a near-complete assemblage of Central African mammal species, except for Lion. It is essential to Forest Elephant migrations in the region, and is a critical stronghold for Western Lowland Gorillas and Chimpanzees in Central Africa.

Community Perspective: this site has been unreviewed so far.

Costa Rica
Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves

Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves/La Amistad National Park comprises a large mountain range covered with dense forests and marks of glacial activity.

Both the high mountains, the glacial features such as cirques and lakes and the natural forests are unique to Central America. It is also a land bridge connecting animal and plant species from North and South America. This is a vast contiguous and transboundary site comprising 8 parks: Barbilla, Chirripó, Hitoy Cerere, La Amistad (Costa Rica), La Amistad (Panama), Las Tablas, Rio Macho and Tapantí-Macizo de la Muerte.

Community Perspective: It is quite hard to gain deep access to any of these parks; they are best for hiking and birding. In Costa Rica, Anthony visited La Amistad, Esteban Chirripo National Park, and Els Tapantí-Macizo de la Muerte. Jarek covered the Las Nubes section of La Amistad on the Panama side.

Cocos Island

Cocos Island National Park covers a remote oceanic island primarily known for its marine ecosystem, that is globally significant for sharks.

Situated at a meeting point of major currents, marine species come here for feeding, reproduction and ‘cleaning’ (having parasites removed by specialised fish). The sharks range from the near-threatened Silky and Lemon Shark to the Hammerhead Shark; aggregations of large pelagic fish can also be seen and the area is visited by Blue Whale and Bottlenose Dolphin. The island is covered by a tropical rainforest and a cloud forest, and has three endemic bird species.

Community Perspective: it takes 36 hours of cruising on a live-aboard dive boat to reach. Zoë reports on the excellent diving, without another dive group in sight.

Guanacaste

The 'Area de Conservación Guanacaste' covers diverse landscape and forest types, including a rare vast stretch of Pacific Tropical Dry Forest.

This ecosystem ranges from 12 miles into the Pacific Ocean, with its upwelling and coral reefs, to the coastal dry tropical forest and the lowland Caribbean rainforest it interacts with. It is a habitat for threatened or rare fauna species like the False Vampire Bat, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, Jaguar, and Mangrove Hummingbird.

Community Perspective: located in northern Costa Rica not far from Liberia airport, this is a contiguous area of seven protected zones. Rincon de la Vieja National Park is the most visited of those, while Horizontes Forestry Experiment Station is easily accessible too. 

Stone Spheres of the Diquís

The Precolumbian chiefdom settlements with stone spheres of the Diquís are four archaeological sites containing mysterious ball-shaped stone objects.

The settlements date from the Chiriqui Period (800-1500 CE), during which a hierarchical society developed in southern Costa Rica. The area contains artificial mounds, paved areas and burial sites. The man-made stone spheres are rare in their perfection and large size (up to 2.57m diameter). The sites were rediscovered, and often damaged in the process, in the 1930s as the United Fruit Company was clearing the jungle for banana plantations

Community Perspective: Finca 6 is the main location of the four (it also has a small museum), located at an active banana plantation, and the only one really visited and reviewed so far.

Croatia
Cathedral of St. James in Sibenik

The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik shows a blend of Gothic and Renaissance church architecture.

The cathedral was built in three phases between 1431 and 1535. Its style started out as Venetian Gothic, but was turned to Renaissance by the two later architects. These were also responsible for the characteristic sculptures. Only slabs of stone from the island of Brac were used, even for the dome where stone wedges held the tiles in place.

Community Perspective: It has its own special charm: the location close to the shore, the bright white of the facade, and the 74 small sculptured heads that represent eminent Sibenik citizens that adorn the exterior.

Venetian Works of Defence

The Venetian Works of Defence Between 16th and 17th centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar represent a defensive network in the Adriatic dating from the historic Republic of Venice.

The bastioned system (‘alla moderna’) was introduced after the increased use of firearms. It protected the Venetian commercial network. The site consists of six components located in Italy, Croatia and Montenegro and spans more than 1000 km.

Community Perspective: all 6 included forts have received a review, they are Palmanova (Els, Ian), Peschiera del Garda (Clyde, Ralf), Sibenik (Alexander, Ilya), Kotor (Jay, Ilya), Bergamo (Ilya, Ralf), and Zadar (Ilya).

Dubrovnik

The Old City of Dubrovnik is a late-medieval walled city known for its Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque monuments.

It developed under the name of “Ragusa” in the 14th century as a maritime city-state. In its heydays, during the 15th and 16th centuries, it was a rival of Venice. A devastating earthquake in 1667 destroyed most of its public buildings and ended the city’s prosperity. Dubrovnik’s old city walls are fully intact.

Community Perspective: one of the most beautiful Mediterranean cities, best seen from the walk on its city walls. Few individual buildings stand out, although the Franciscan monastery is recommended for a visit.

Split

The Historic Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian is both an archeological and an urbanistic monument that has been in use since Roman times.

At the end of the third century CE, the Roman Emperor Diocletian built his palace here. After the fall of the Roman Empire, his palace was divided into small houses for the local population. Diocletian's mausoleum was turned into a cathedral. Romanesque churches from the 12th and 13th centuries, medieval fortifications, Gothic palaces of the 15th century, and other palaces in Renaissance and Baroque style make up the rest of the protected area.

Community Perspective: the city has a very original layout and it can be difficult to find your way. Highlights include the Golden Gate, Narodni Trg (People's Square), the heart of the Venetian city, and the Podrumi, the cellars of the Palace.

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes National Park comprises 16 lakes that are known for their scenic beauty and distinctive colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue.

The Plitvice Lakes lie in a basin of karstic rock, mainly dolomite and limestone, which has given rise to their most distinctive feature. The lakes are separated by natural dams of tufa, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae and bacteria. The colours change constantly depending on the number of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.

Community Perspective: expect to spend a full day here; a network of hiking trails connects the lakes. Spring and Autumn are good seasons to visit, as it will be less hot and less crowded.

Euphrasian Basilica in Porec

The Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč is one of the best examples of early Byzantine architecture.

The basilica was built in 553 under the bishop Euphrasius on the site of the older basilica that had become dilapidated. All basic components such as the church, memorial chapel, atrium, baptistery, and episcopal palace have been preserved, but have undergone changes over time. The wall mosaics were executed by Byzantian masters and the floor mosaics by local experts.

Community Perspective: The attention of the visitor is mainly drawn to its mosaic-decorated apse - Ravenna-esque but not as good.

Trogir

The Historic City of Trogir shows a medieval townscape on classical foundations that has survived almost intact into the 21st century.

Trogir was founded by Greek colonists in the 3rd century BCE on a little island. It flourished under the Romans and expanded its power significantly under Venetian rule (13th to 15th centuries). It has well-preserved its medieval urban fabric.

Community Perspective: “It's a charming complex of lanes and streets and a great place to wander.”, but it does not add much to the previous inscriptions of Dubrovnik and Split.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan, Adrian; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar, Adrian; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp, Adrian; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Stari Grad Plain

The Stari Grad Plain is an agricultural landscape of vineyards and olive trees that has been in continuous use since Greek Antiquity.

The farming land on the island of Hvar is divided into regular-sized parcels, with authentic dry stone walls marking the boundaries. Also, little beehive-shaped sheds (for storage of tooling) and cisterns were constructed. These methods were introduced to Hvar by Greeks from the island of Pharos, who colonized the area in the 4th century BCE. The Greeks also founded a town, Paros (now Stari Grad).

Community Perspective: Stari Grad can easily be reached from Split by ferry (also for a day trip). The farmland is best explored by bicycle.

Stećci

The 'Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards' are 28 medieval Christian cemeteries with richly decorated tombstones that have strong cultural and historical meaning.

The reliefs and inscriptions on the mostly limestone monolithic tombstones represent a specific tradition of the area. They include Christian religious symbols, dancing and hunting scenes, geometric shapes and Cyrillic inscriptions. The inscribed tombstones have been selected from the surviving 70,000 or so still standing in the region. 

Community Perspective: the Radimlja necropolis near Stolac in Bosnia is considered the ‘main’ location with the most important and best-preserved tombs. Since 2019 it reportedly even has a visitor center and charges a small entrance fee. Other locations are more low-key: Juha visited Stećci in Serbia, and Solivagant one each in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.

Cuba
First Coffee Plantations

The Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the Southeast of Cuba forms a unique testimony of agricultural exploitation for coffee production.

The remains of 171 historic coffee plantations are located in the mountain valleys of the Sierra Maestra. They were established in the 19th and early 20th century, by French colonial plantation owners who had fled Haiti after independence.

Community Perspective: from Santiago de Cuba, the most accessible seems to be La Isabelica which has been visited by all reviewers so far.

Old Havana

Old Havana and its Fortification System represent a colonial city that was an important stop on the crossing between the New World and the Old World.

As its importance required military protection, a set of 18 fortifications along the coast and the harbour were built. The Castillo de la Real Fuerza is the the oldest extant colonial fortress in the Americas. Other important remaining castles include Castillo del Morro, La Cabaña fortress and San Salvador de la Punta Fortress. The site also includes the old city center (Habana Vieja) with its harmonious architecture and its 19th-century extensions.

Community Perspective: the fortifications arguably are the most spectacular part of this site, while Habana Vieja has come to resemble a tourist trap (however, some still enjoy its vibrant atmosphere).

Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios

Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios are testimony to the sugar trade, which resulted in Trinidad's prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Trinidad was founded already in 1514, but the remaining buildings date from the sugar boom and include impressive public buildings and single-storey domestic houses with verandas and multi-coloured walls. In the San Luis, Santa Rosa and Meyer valleys, areas of sugar production remain such as sugar mills, villages of craftsmen, plantation houses and slave quarters.

Community Perspective: Trinidad’s small, well-preserved city center attracts hordes of tourists. The Valley of the Sugar Mills nowadays seems devoid of sugarcane.

Viñales Valley

Viñales Valley is a living cultural landscape where traditional agriculture is practiced.

The karst landscape holds fertile soil and a favourable climate, and farming started here in the 17th century. It got a boost in the 1860s because of the rise in tobacco cultivation, which still is the main crop. Tobacco production still is done via traditional, non-mechanical methods.

Community Perspective: it’s a rural area in a visually interesting setting. There are tobacco farms open to tourists where you can watch the process of growing this product.

San Pedro de la Roca Castle

San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba, is considered the best preserved and most complete example of Spanish-American military architecture.

The castle and associated batteries protected the canal that leads up to the harbour of Santiago. It was designed by the Italian Giovanni Battista Antonelli in the Renaissance style. Built on a promontory with steep cliffs, a series of stairways connect the various levels. The fortress has been damaged and rebuilt several times after earthquakes and piracy attacks.

Community Perspective: locally known as El Morro, it is a pleasant excursion from Santiago. It can be reached on public transport via a local bus/boat combi, as described by Iain.

Desembarco del Granma National Park

Desembarco del Granma National Park has been recognized for its marine terraces and pristine sea cliffs.

The park, located in a tectonically active zone, includes both a terrestrial and a marine area. On land, there are several karst features and rich endemic flora, while coral reefs can be found in the sea. The submarine limestone terraces of Cabo Cruz and Maisí are like gigantic stepping stones.

Community Perspective: this is a remote site, it takes 4 hours of driving from Santiago de Cuba. The village of Las Coloradas holds a visitor center and accommodation options. As the place where Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and their fellow revolutionaries disembarked from the Granma, it has cultural relevance too.

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park covers a remnant forested mountain ecosystem that is unparalleled in the Insular Caribbean.

This coastal landscape is crossed by many rivers. The park has a high biodiversity, with high numbers of endemic flora, and vertebrates and invertebrates. Its diverse marine species include the West Indian Manatee.

Community Perspective: The park can be visited from the town of Baracoa, where guided tours are available. Inside the park, you can hike or go on a boat trip. You’ll find a gorgeous environment with tropical flora everywhere around you.

Cienfuegos

The Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos is the best extant example of 19th-century urban planning principles in Latin America.

The homogenous architecture and streetplan of this seaport was influenced by the Spanish Enlightenment and French colonists. New ideas of modernity, hygiene and order were implemented here, and the the streets are of a neo-classic straight and symmetric design, with the use of porches and arcades.

Community Perspective: “the most elegant and prosperous Cuban city”. Visit the Parque José Marti, the central square surrounded by monumental buildings, and the Teatro Tomas Terry.

Camagüey

The Historic Centre of Camagüey has an unusually irregular urban layout.

This inland town was one of the first founded by the Spanish in Cuba. The nucleus is the Plaza Mayor, from where numerous churches and convents can be found in equidistant positions to the four winds. Earthen components and clay vessels for water storage were used in its domestic architecture.

Community Perspective: A “decent city with its pluses and minuses”, including lots of churches and squares.

Cyprus
Paphos

Paphos is an archeological site of a place of worship from Antiquity, with fine mosaics.

It was known for its cult of the fertility goddess of Venus and has been in use since the Neolithic. The town blossomed as one of the oldest Mycenaean settlements. The mosaics of Nea Paphos, displaying scenes from Greek mythology, date from the later Hellenistic and Byzantine periods.

Community Perspective: located near a very touristy beach resort, the mosaics are generally considered the highlight of a visit to this sprawling site that covers a significant timespan in a way that isn’t always harmonious. Squiffy’s review (updated in 2023) gives a detailed overlook of all components and the practicalities involved. Tsunami has provided info on getting around by bus.

Painted Churches in the Troödos Region

The Painted Churches in the Troödos Region comprise ten rural Byzantine churches and monasteries that are renowned for their paintings.

Their rich interiors present an overview of Byzantine and post-Byzantine painting. The architecture of the churches is indigenous: on the inside there's the classical form of a Byzantine church, on the outside it often looks like a stable or a farm. The extra layer on the outside was constructed to be able to cope with the heavy snowfall that can occur in the Troödos Mountains.

Community Perspective: “You won't be able to visit them all if you're in a hurry and you won't enjoy your visit if you're in a rush.” Two days and a rental car are necessary at least. The review by Kbecq provides access information for all 10 churches while departing from Nicosia, and Riccardo's does so when basing yourself in Kakopetria. Tsunami’s story reminds us of what travel could be like during Covid.

Choirokoitia

Choirokoitia is one of the most important prehistoric archeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean.

This only partially excavated site preserves the remains of a proto-urban settlement. It was founded around 7000 BCE, in the Neolithic, as the result of colonization from the Near East. The settlement consisted of circular houses, with the dead buried under the floors of the houses of their living relatives.

Community Perspective: “a jumble of stones”, but the replica circular huts/houses built next to the archaeological remains and the booklet on sale at the entrance help to better understand the concept.

Czechia
Holy Trinity Column

The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a demonstration of Central European religious faith and Baroque artistic expression.

The 35m high column is the most splendid example of a Baroque column construction craze all over Central Europe, which started out with Plague columns decorating many town centres in the 17th century and later turned to Trinity columns. Its construction started in 1717. It is the work of the master stonemason Václav Render, who designed it and mostly paid for it himself, with further sculptural decoration added by Andreas Zahner.

Community Perspective: Impressive for its sheer size and a good excuse to visit the town of Olomouc. The sculptures are especially fine. Matejicek has placed its history into perspective.

Kladruby nad Labem

The Landscape for Breeding and Training of Ceremonial Carriage Horses at Kladruby nad Labem was designed exclusively for the breeding and training of Kladruber horses, which were used in ceremonies by the Habsburg imperial court.

It is one of the most significant horse-breeding institutions in Europe and continues to function to this day. The extensive terrain has been modified following Classicist and Romantic principles and consists of three stud farms with pastures, avenues and irrigation canals.

Community Perspective: Try to get on a Stables tour (you may need to reserve online beforehand on a busy day); Clyde has described it and the three included farms well. Ian provided information on getting there on public transport.

Great Spa Towns of Europe

The Great Spa Towns of Europe represent the development of a specialized urban landscape that combined medical aspects, physical exercise and leisure.

These eleven Spa Towns are centered on natural mineral springs, which waters were used for bathing and drinking. The towns were expanded with important examples of  ‘spa architecture’, such as the ‘kurhaus’, drinking halls, theaters and casinos. They flourished from around 1700 to the 1930s.

Community Perspective: expect to find some fine Art Nouveau buildings, do some hiking, taste the water and most of the towns have modern spa facilities as well. Reviews of all inscribed towns are available: in Austria, Baden (Tsunami), in Belgium, Spa (Els, Clyde), in the UK, Bath (a double entry), in Italy, Montecatini Terme (Marian), in France, Vichy (Tsunami), in Germany, Baden-Baden (Caspar, Hubert), Bad Kissingen (Hubert), Bad Ems (Els), and in Czechia: Karlovy Vary (Matejicek, Hubert, Nan), Mariánské Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert), and Františkovy Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert).

Prague

The Historic Centre of Prague has seen continuous urban development from the Middle Ages to the present, resulting in an architectural ensemble of outstanding quality.

Prague’s riverine setting, townscape and individual buildings make it one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Many architectural styles can be seen, notably Gothic, High Baroque and Modernist. Prague played a prominent role in medieval Central Europe, attracting people from all over Europe who turned it into the intellectual and cultural centre of its region.

Community Perspective: “Prague is Europe in a nutshell and on a budget,” wrote Nan - but despite the tourist crowds, even repeat visits are worthwhile as there is so much to explore. Some ideas can be gathered from the reviews of Matejicek, Ian and Els.

Cesky Krumlov

The Historic Centre of Český Krumlov is best known for its remaining medieval urban layout and fine architecture of the old town and Krumlov Castle.

Construction of the town and castle began in the late 13th century at a ford in the Vltava River, which was important in trade routes in Bohemia. The town became the seat of the Duchy of Krumlov and underwent Renaissance and Baroque transformations.  It has a picturesque setting in the bend of the river with a dominating position of the castle.

Community Perspective: “A highlight of central Europe”. The Baroque theatre at the Castle, as well as its grounds, a walk along the river and St. Vitus church are recommended things to do. A very popular site with Asian tourists!

Telc

The Historic Centre of Telč is a medieval planned town that has preserved its original layout and the castle-settlement relationship.

Telč was created in the 14th century to expand into areas that were up to then covered by virgin forest. The triangular marketplace, with its variety of facades, and the castle are great works of Renaissance architecture.

Community Perspective: It has one of the prettiest town squares in Europe with an overall architectural coherence, although some find it a sterilized façade.

Pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk

The Pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora is a masterpiece of the Gothic and Baroque architectural traditions.

The church was the first major shrine to St. John (Jan) of Nepomuk, a local martyr who had died in 1393. Already from its beginnings (1727) the church was meant as a place of pilgrimage. It is a highly original work with constant references to the number 5 (the 5 virtues of the saint). The cloister, which encircles the chapel and is based on a ten-point-star ground plan, was completed later.

Community Perspective: It’s “quite impressive for its uniformity”, although the unusual ground plan would be best viewed from the air. The church interior has little decoration except for some stained glass windows.

Kutna Hora

Kutna Hora: Historical Town Centre with the Church of Saint Barbara and the Cathedral of our Lady at Sedlec symbolize the wealth this city derived from silver mining since the 13th century.

Kutná Hora has several interesting late medieval buildings built in Gothic style, such as the Italian Court and Saint Barbara Church. The Cathedral of Our Lady in the nearby town of Sedlec was rebuilt by Jan Blazej Santini in the Gothicizing Baroque style (early 18th century).

Community Perspective: Kutna Hora is a charming town, with the unique design of Saint Barbara Church as its highlight. It can be visited as a day trip from Prague.

Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape

Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape is an artificial landscape that evolved during the Enlightenment and the Romantic period under the guidance of the House of Liechtenstein.

This ducal family acquired and merged three estates, and transformed them using Baroque, Classical and Neo-Gothic architectural styles. Central to the property are two country houses, Lednice and Valtice. The surrounding area is covered with pines and ponds and holds numerous bigger or smaller pavilions, often serving as hunting lodges. A framework of avenues and paths providing vistas and rides also was developed.

Community Perspective: most enjoy the landscape that was created, with Frederik praising the Lednice gardens and Hubert happily exploring the area by bicycle. The Czech national wine institute at Valtice comes recommended too. Here you can also enjoy the classical European palace interior tour (Ian was exceptionally happy to find a locked door to the ticket hall). Els hated the place, but Matejicek points out its meaning for the Czechs: “In times before 1989, this place was one of the few, where one could feel an aristocratic flair of former Habsburg Empire.”

Gardens and Castle at Kromeríz

The Gardens and Castle at Kroměříž comprise a Baroque aristocratic ensemble of residence and pleasure garden.

The Pleasure Garden is a rare and complete example of a Baroque garden of Italian origin, of which the design has been influential across Central Europe. It stands out for its sculptures and use of water. The monumental Castle used to be the principal residence of the (arch)bishops of Olomouc. It houses a splendid art collection and richly decorated interiors. The adjacent Castle Garden, restyled in the Romantic landscape style, has exotic trees and architectural elements.

Community Perspective: It's best to walk through both gardens, with the Pleasure or Flower Garden and its loggia as the true highlight. You can skip the Castle interior at this “tiny poor version of Schönbrunn”, but Matejicek advises not to do so.

Holasovice

Holašovice Historic Village is a traditional central European village that has preserved its typical vernacular architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The village consists of 23 similar farmsteads, arranged around a rectangular village green with a chapel and a fish pond. The farms are decorated with stucco and painted in different colours in a style known as South Bohemian “Folk Baroque”.

Community Perspective: An hour is more than enough to take it all in. The farmhouses look pretty (even prettier in the snow) and are well-maintained. There is a visitor center and Farmhouse number 6 holds a small museum.

Litomysl Castle

Litomyšl Castle is a monumental Renaissance castle dating from the late 16th century.

This aristocratic country residence was built as an Italian-style arcade castle. Despite later reconstructions of interiors especially at the end of the 18th century, including the addition of a fine neoclassical theatre, the appearance of the castle remained almost intact including the unique sgraffito exterior decoration.

Community Perspective: The rectangular blocks of sgraffiti are the most outstanding part of the exterior. For the interior, try to get on a tour that takes you to the theater.

Tugendhat Villa

The Tugendhat Villa in Brno is a masterpiece of the 20th-century Modern Movement in architecture.

It was created by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1930 for Fritz Tugendhat, owner of a Brno textile factory. Exquisite materials and modern technologies such as central heating and air conditioning were used in the construction of this house, with a base structure of reinforced concrete slabs supported by steel beams. The adjacent garden and original furniture were also designed by Mies van der Rohe.

Community Perspective: “If you have an interest in modernist architecture this is a must see”. It’s very popular to visit, so you must reserve months ahead of time especially if you want to join a tour given in English. Their customer service overall could be improved (e.g.: basic tours are only available in Czech, the need to purchase a costly separate photo ticket, and what happened to Clyde).

Trebic

The Jewish Quarter and St. Procopius’ Basilica in Třebíč bear witness to the coexistence of and interchange of values between the Jewish and Christian cultures from the Middle Ages until the Second World War.

The 13th-century St. Procopius Basilica has both Romanesque and early Gothic features. The existence of the Abbey at this site stimulated the development of a marketplace, which attracted among others, Jewish merchants. Třebíč 's Jewish Quarter is the most representative of its kind in Central Europe. It is considered the most complete, including workshop-houses, synagogues, Jewish schools, a cemetery, a hospital and a factory.

Community Perspective: The peaceful Jewish cemetery and the uniform Jewish quarter (with the Rear Synagogue recommended for a visit) are the soul of this site. Matejicek makes a case for the Basilica as well. Třebíč furthermore stands out for its excellent signage and interpretation of the sights.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan, Adrian; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar, Adrian; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp, Adrian; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Mining Cultural Landscape Erzgebirge

Erzgebirge / Krušnohoří Mining Region comprises a mining landscape that has been used from the Middle Ages onwards.

These Saxon-Bohemian Ore Mountains were mined over centuries for the metals silver, tin, zinc, cobalt, nickel, copper and lead; but anthracite and uranium were also extracted into the 20th century. They have produced technological and scientific innovations, such as the introduction of early modern monetary systems and the founding of the first mining high school. Its miners spread their knowledge across the world by means of emigration.

Community Perspective: This site is hard to grasp as there are so many elements. You need to see a few of them, which is much easier when you have a car. Overall the ones in Czechia seem to be the most authentic: Jachymov and the traces of tin mining in Abretamy-Horní Blatná-Boží Dar are recommended among others. Mohboh made it to the uranium ore plant Red Tower of Death.

Žatec – Landscape of Hops

Žatec and the Landscape of Saaz Hops covers an agricultural and industrial landscape processing the key ingredient for beer.

These rural hop fields have been in use for 700 years. The town has facilities for the drying, packaging and trading of the product. Žatec developed into a global center for the hops trade in the 19th century.

Community Perspective: the older reviews deal with the unremarkable town of Žatec, which was the original focus of the tentative site. The surrounding Saaz Hops cultural landscape has been added at a later stage and is well-described by Matejicek.

Côte d'Ivoire
Mount Nimba

Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve comprises montane forests with a high number of endemic plant and animal species.

These species include multiple types of duikers, big cats, civets, and several types of viviparous toads. It also has a population of chimpanzees using stones as tools. The Nature Reserve consists of high-altitude grassland, plains savannah and primary forest including rain forest. Its diversity is supported by the occurrence of a variety of microclimates.

Community Perspective: Iain visited the Guinean part in 1995 and witnessed a landscape with “a number of tumbling sparkling rivers and waterfalls, several natural bridges and possibly the biggest bamboo I've ever seen”.

Taï National Park

Taï National Park contains one of the last areas of primary tropical forest in West Africa.

The vegetation is mainly characterized by tall trees with massive trunks. A large number of epiphytes and lianas can be found. The humid forest is home to a breadth of flora and fauna: it holds about 150 endemic flora species, 250 bird species and endangered mammal species such as the pygmy hippotamus, bongo, chimpanzee, pangolin (three species) and forest elephant.

Community Perspective: this site so far has been unreviewed.

Comoé National Park

Comoé National Park centered around the Comoé River has a high diversity of plant and bird life.

The park is one of the largest protected areas in West Africa and covers a transitional zone between the forest and the savanna, with habitats such as fluvial forests and riparian grasslands. It is home to a wide diversity of wildlife, including 500 bird species, three species of crocodiles, plus chimpanzee, African wild dog and elephant.

Community Perspective: “a site only for the very committed wild-life fan (or the WHS completist)”. Iain visited in 1995 and found neither the landscape nor the vegetation particularly attractive. Anthony had a disappointing visit in 2017: he found a shut-down ranger station and swarms of tse tse flies, and the chimps hadn’t been seen in a decade.

Grand-Bassam

The historic town of Grand-Bassam is an example of rational town planning from the colonial period.

Built in the 19th century, this seaport was the French colonial capital of Cote d'Ivoire. Europeans and Africans lived divided into separate residential quarters. It had commercial and administrative zones, in which historic buildings in a sober and functional colonial style have been preserved. The indigenous N’zima village and its vernacular architecture already existed before colonization and were later incorporated into the urban plan.

Community Perspective: Lauren visited in 2019, and found it easily accessible though without tourist infrastructure.

Sudanese style mosques

The Sudanese style mosques in northern Côte d’Ivoire is a group of eight mosques erected since the 17th century.

They were constructed when Islam spread southwards from North Africa and the Middle East along these trade towns. Their distinct adaption of Sudanese architecture lies in the use of mud brick masonry, with façades reinforced with buttresses and strands, pyramidal towers and cone-shaped minarets. The mosques are still in use.

Community Perspective: Thomas reports on his visit to the mosque of Kong. The other 7 mosques remain unreviewed.

Denmark
Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle is a Renaissance castle built at a strategic position between the North Sea and the Baltic.

Located at a narrow stretch of water called the Sound, it allowed Denmark to control the passage into the Baltic Sea and extract a toll from the passing ships. Kronborg was a combination of a fortress and a richly decorated palace-castle. The current castle dates from 1574, but had to be almost fully reconstructed due to a fire in 1629.

Community Perspective: To most reviewers, it is “fairly typical of European palaces”. Solivagant zooms in on the castle’s Shakespearean links and Astraftis highlights its Renaissance features.

Roskilde Cathedral

Roskilde Cathedral is a brick Gothic cathedral that serves as the mausoleum of the Danish Royal Family.

Originally dating from 1170, it was the earliest large church in Northern Europe made out of brick. In the centuries afterward extensions such as chapels were added in the current styles of their time and in 1536 its use (and therefore its interior setting) changed from Catholic to Protestant. The Danish royals are buried here in monumental tombs.

Community Perspective: “Another cathedral”, but a quite unique one with special features such as the somewhat austere Protestant interior, the Chapel of the Magi from 1463, the elegant tombs and it being a brick building. Also in Roskilde lies the recommended Viking Museum. Astraftis did an extensive review including practical information and history.

Jelling

Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church comprise outstanding examples of the pagan Nordic culture and its transition into Christianity.

The archeological site consists of two pagan royal burial mounds and two stones with runic inscriptions in between them. The large runic stone commemorates the unity of Denmark and the conversion to Christianity by Harald Bluetooth around the year 965. He also built the first wooden church on site, which has since been replaced by the current stone one.

Community Perspective: “one of those places whose significance is perhaps greater and more interesting than the site itself might indicate”. You can be done here in less than half an hour, but Clyde recommends re-visiting at night as the engravings are better visible then. The free on-site museum gets favourable opinions as well.

Ilulissat Icefjord

The Ilulissat Icefjord is the outlet of the pre-eminent glacier in the northern hemisphere, globally only surpassed by Antarctica in terms of size and calving.

The site consists of Sermeq Kujalleq, the most productive glacier draining the inland icecap on Greenland, and the iceberg-filled tidal fjord named Kangia. The glacier has been a long-time object of scientific study and has significantly added to the understanding of ice-cap glaciology, climate change and related geomorphic processes.

Community Perspective: this stunningly beautiful area can be explored on foot, by boat or by helicopter, and it takes several days to take in its many features. Be aware that this destination doesn’t come cheap. And that the spectacularly calving Eqi glacier mentioned in some of the reviews is outside of the core zone.

Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands, rich in biological diversity

The area is typified by extensive tidal mud flats, deeper tidal creeks and the transitional zones between the sea, the freshwater environment and the surrounding (is)lands. Its coastal wetlands are considered one of the most important areas for migratory birds in the world, with an average of 10-12 million passing through it each year. 

Community Perspective: the site comprises 7 components and different national parks (the bigger islands mostly aren’t included). Reviews are available for places in the Netherlands (John, Clyde, Chris, Els), Germany (John, Ian, Michael, Nan) and Denmark (John). The ‘proper’ way of exploring the Wadden is via a mud hike like the ones Kbecq, Assif and Nan reported on.

Stevns Klint

Stevns Klint illustrates the impact of an asteroid that created the global mass extinction of species some 67 million years ago, known as the Chicxulub event.

These cliffs show high-quality exposure of the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T) boundary section: the border is visible as a reddish layer in the strata. Scientists here developed a new theory that the mass extinction that ended the Age of Dinosaurs wasn’t caused by extensive volcanism in India, but was due to the impact of a giant asteroid. The cliffs of Stevns Klint are also rich in fossils from before and after the K/T boundary layer.

Community Perspective: Only die-hard WHS collectors come here for anything else than the coastal panoramas and ice cream: it is to look at that one narrow sediment layer. The Kalklandet app is needed to help ‘see’ it. Ian and Clyde managed to find some fossils too. Claire reports that the small onsite museum now has been closed (2019) and it seems that “whoever is in charge of managing this site has lost interest in it”.

Christiansfeld

Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement, is a townscape that resulted from a planned idealized Protestant colony.

The town was founded in 1773 by the Moravian Church, following a strict plan with homogenous and unornamented buildings. It reflects the Church’s principles such as including buildings for the common welfare. From the German village of Herrnhut, the first Moravian missions were directed to northern Europe and Christiansfeld is the best-preserved example of such settlements.

Community Perspective: there is a heritage trail with 27 locations that you can follow around town, but it still covers two streets only. The church and the cemetery are worth a visit, as is the Christinero which lies a bit further away in the buffer zone. Caspar stayed overnight and Jay compares Christiansfeld with a visit to Moravian Bethlehem.

Par force hunting landscape

The par force hunting landscape in North Zealand is an intentionally designed landscape used for hunting by the Danish kings in the 17th and 18th centuries.

‘Par force’ stands for ‘by force (of dogs)’, the noblest form of hunting where a specific animal was run down and exhausted by mounted hunters and dogs before the kill was made. This technique was developed in France and adopted widely across Europe by the royalty and nobility to display their power. The landscape consists of man-made forests and ride systems in a rigid orthogonal grid pattern.

Community Perspective: the easiest to visit component is Jægersborg Dyrehave just outside of Copenhagen, but read Ian’s review on why you shouldn’t. Clyde visited Gribskov Forest (“can only be really appreciated using drone photography”) and Store Dyrehave (like a treasure hunt), as did Els.

Kujataa

Kujataa Greenland: Norse and Inuit Farming at the Edge of the Ice Cap represents farming and marine hunting cultures adapted to life in the Arctic.

The cultural landscape has features such as archaeological sites, agricultural lands and sheep farms. They include elements belonging to the Norse Greenlandic culture, the first emigrants from Europe to settle here and introduce farming, and to the Thule Inuit culture.

Community Perspective: both reviewers so far described a visit to the “beefed up” former Norse settlements Bratthalid and Gardar, located not far from the international airport of Narsarsuaq.

Aasivissuit - Nipisat

Aasivissuit-Nipisat, Inuit Hunting Ground between Ice and Sea, is a cultural landscape shaped by the seasonal migration of the Inuit.

This Arctic landscape holds key locations along routes that were used from coast to inland in summer and then back again in late autumn. They are archaeological sites and settlements that are still in use. This landscape was settled about 4,200 years ago, with (Palaeo-)Inuit sustaining themselves by marine and terrestrial hunting.

Community Perspective: to put your feet in the area, it only needs participation in a trip to the glacier from Kangerlussuaq – “you drive past/through them but you don't really see anything spectacular” as Zoë sums it up. Michael explored the area on his bike and managed to find a WHS information plaque. The 7 named key locations (settlements, summer camps) so far have been unreviewed.

Viking Age Ring Fortresses

The Viking-Age Ring Fortresses are the remains of five monumental defense works that represent the stage of centralization of power in the kingdom of Denmark under King Harald.

The fortresses of Aggersborg, Fyrkat, Nonnebakken, Trelleborg and Borgring were constructed at strategic positions near important sea and land routes. The large infrastructure projects were executed within a short period in a precise and similar manner. The forts were only used for a few decades.

Community Perspective: Astraftis has provided the ultimate review for this site, covering all locations in detail. Other reviewers are less enthusiastic about these ring fortresses, of which Trelleborg is the easiest one to access.

Dominica
Morne Trois Pitons

Morne Trois Pitons National Park covers a volcanic landscape that has one of the rare largely intact forest areas remaining in the Insular Caribbean.

The park is centered around the 1,342m high volcano Morne Trois Pitons ("mountain of three peaks"). Geomorphologic features as a result of a series of volcanic eruptions include the Valley of Desolation, a region of boiling mud ponds and small geysers; the Boiling Lake, Titou Gorge, and Emerald Pool. The forests are home to many endemic vascular plant species and endemic bird species.

Community Perspective: visitors recommend a tour of the breathtaking Titou Gorge, which requires a combination of hiking and swimming.

Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo

The Colonial City of Santo Domingo was an early colonial settlement in the New World, that strongly influenced the development of other cities in the Americas.

Santo Domingo was founded in 1498, and its monumental buildings include the Western Hemisphere's first cathedral, its first monastery, its first hospital, its first university, and its first court of law. The city is laid out in a grid pattern adapted to the geographical circumstances.

Community Perspective: The Colonial Zone is not very big, and can easily be explored on foot. The star attraction is the well-preserved Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor,  and the Parque Colón, a beautiful tree-covered plaza, also comes recommended.

Ecuador
Galapagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands comprise an archipelago and marine reserve known for their vast number of endemic species and the studies by Charles Darwin that led to his theory of evolution by natural selection.

The islands are relatively young and of volcanic origin. Together with their isolated position, this has led to a highly unique flora and fauna which inspired Charles Darwin following his visit in 1835. The marine life is especially rich due to the reserve’s location at the confluence of three ocean currents.

Community Perspective: “A great thing about the Galapagos is that the animals WILL turn up on cue. And on top of that of course they are incredibly tame.”, Solivagant sums up the experience well. The choice to make here is visiting on a multi-day boat tour (Travel Addicts) or organizing it all by yourself from a base (Tonisan, Jay, Els, and, thorough as always, Clyde and Fréderic).

Quito

The City of Quito has a well-preserved historic centre coloured by the art and architecture of the Baroque School of Quito.

The historic centre has conserved its original configuration, built to fit the topographical challenges of the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano. Its religious buildings show the architecture, sculpture and painting of the so-called ‘Quito School’, a product of cultural syncretism between indigenous and European features that became influential across the Spanish colonies.

Community Perspective: The ‘best’ Andean capital, in a wonderful setting nestled among green mountains. The complex of the San Francisco church-square-convent and the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus are the most impressive among its monuments.

Sangay National Park

Sangay National Park contains two active volcanoes (Tungurahua and Sangay) and ecosystems ranging from tropical rainforests to glaciers.

Volcanic ash has created fertile soil, which has led to over 3,000 species of flowering plants in the park. It also contains one of the largest areas of páramo (alpine tundra) occurring in Ecuador, with plant species adapted to the cold climatic circumstances. Over 400 bird species inhabit the Park, and it comprises two Endemic Bird Areas. It is also home to the endangered spectacled bear and mountain tapir (both only found in the Northern Andes).

Community Perspective: the best way to see it is by driving down the controversial Guamote-Macas road. Be aware that it can be cold, wet and cloudy out there.

Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca

The Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca is an example of an inland colonial town, founded by the Spanish in 1577.

The town was established to support the agricultural development of the area. It is located in the Andean highlands at about 2500m above sea level, in a strategic position between Quito and Lima. Cuenca was laid out according to a strict grid. Notable monuments include the New Cathedral, Old Cathedral, Carmelite Monastery, and Church of Santo Domingo. In the outskirts lies the archaeological site of Pumapungo, built in the 15th century by the native Inca-Canari community.

Community Perspective: The New Cathedral is the city’s main landmark, and it is worth going out to the ruins of Pumapungo. The center is easily walkable.

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, is the communication and trade network developed by the Inca Empire.

The infrastructure needed exceptional technological and engineering skills in a difficult geographical setting in rural and remote parts of the Andes. The network supported the Inca Empire’s integration and was a symbol of its strength.

Community Perspective: As a serial transnational site comprising over 720km of road and 273 archaeological sites, it is hard to determine whether you have 'seen' it. Even more so as it is unclear whether the so-called Associated sites are inscribed as well. The latter include sites that are also WHS in their own right (Cusco, Tiwanaku). The main approach chosen is checking out a few locations near Lima or Cuzco and looking for traces of infrastructure (described well in Clyde’s review). Additionally, Allan has visited locations in Chile, and Els Ingapirca in Ecuador.

Egypt
Pyramids (Memphis)

Memphis and its Necropolis - the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur hold the first complex monumental stone buildings in Egypt and show the development of tombs to pyramidal shape.

These archeological sites date from the Old Kingdom to the Ptolemaic period, when Memphis was the administrative capital and was associated with the belief in the god Ptah. Its masterpieces include the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only surviving wonder of the ancient world, and the Pyramid Complex of Saqqara with the step pyramid of Djoser, the oldest pyramid to be constructed.

Community Perspective: Solivagant describes a visit from 1975, when he was still able to climb the Pyramid of Giza in full sight (Jaz did so much more clandestinely in 2000). Clyde and GabLabCebu went inside, while Els provided some public transport tips for Giza.

Ancient Thebes

Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis is an archaeological site that testifies to Egyptian civilization from the Middle Kingdom to the beginning of the Christian era.

Thebes was its capital and a religious center centered around the god Amun. The remains include temples, tombs, royal palaces, villages of artisans and artists, inscriptions and sculptured figures. Most notable are the two colossal temples of Karnak and Luxor on the east bank of the Nile, and the Necropolis with the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and the Temple of Hatshepsut on the west bank.

Community Perspective: now known as Luxor, this is considered “one of the world´s greatest archaeological sites” and “the Egyptian authorities could've even divided the site into several WHS”. Spending at least 2 days here is recommended. The Necropolis is the most cumbersome component to visit; Els, Zoë and GabLabCebu have shared some experiences on that.

Nubian Monuments

The Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae cover a string of ancient archaeological sites in southern Egypt.

Extending from Aswan to the Sudanese border, they were built by various pharaohs from the 2nd millennium BCE onwards in their attempt to gain or retain dominance over the Nubian kingdom and its natural assets such as gold, copper and ivory. The monuments date from the New Kingdom to the Ptolemaic, Roman and early Christian periods. After an international safeguarding campaign, two of its masterpieces (the temples of Abu Simbel and the sanctuary at Philae) were moved in their entirety to a nearby location due to the creation of the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser.

Community Perspective: Abu Simbel is the crowd magnet, but Philae comes especially recommended for its delightful setting and detailed hieroglyphs and carvings. Els describes an overnight visit to Abu Simbel, while Nan gives practical info on getting around Aswan and Philae.

Historic Cairo

Historic Cairo encompasses the historic centre on the eastern bank of the Nile, which includes over 600 classified monuments dating from the 7th to 20th centuries.

Cairo was the dominant political, cultural and religious center of the Islamic world from the 7th to the 14th century. Its monuments include necropolises, the Citadel, bazaars, mosques, and palaces, some considered masterpieces of Islamic architecture such as the mosque Ibn-Tulm and the mosque of Qait Bey. The historic centre also comprises Coptic Cairo and its many old churches, and the ruins of Roman fortifications.

Community Perspective: it doesn’t attract as many tourists as Egypt’s classic sites, and it feeling “incredibly crowded, dirty, smoggy” doesn’t help. You can spend one day in the Islamic section and one day in the Coptic one, as described by Jay, Frederik (who visited during Ramadan), Els (who details the Islamic monuments) and GabLabCebu.

Abu Mena

Abu Mena is the archeological site of an early Christian pilgrimage center.

The monastic complex, which is still of significance to the Coptic community, developed around the tomb of the martyr Menas of Alexandria, who died in 296 CE. A large basilica church, an adjacent church that had probably housed the Saint's remains, a baptistery, a large dormitory for poor pilgrims, and Roman baths have been uncovered, but there are very few standing remains.

Community Perspective: there’s a New Church that attracts all the Coptic pilgrims nowadays, but the archeological site lies a few km away. Stanislaw has an overview of the practicalities. Its condition is very poor, expect to see “flooded crypts with sludge and trash inside”.

Saint Catherine Area

The Saint Catherine Area holds the holy mountain of Mount Sinaï, home to one of the oldest continuously functioning Christian monasteries.

The remote monastery, located in a rugged landscape at the foot of the mountain, is an ancient example of ascetic monasticism. It was built in the 6th century at the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the burning bush. The mountain is sacred to three major world religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Community Perspective: Be prepared for “an hour-long visit to a small courtyard, a church, and a very historic, though unimpressive, bush“. The monastery can be hard to enter because of the observance of many religious holidays and the site can get very crowded with bus tours from the Red Sea coast. Most people also do the 3hr hike to the top of the mountain, or even longer hikes. Philipp has tested that you can also do it as a DIY trip by rental car from the coastal resorts.

Wadi Al-Hitan

Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley) is the largest and most important site in the world for whale fossils.

These fossils belong to a now-extinct subspecies of whales, which show their transition from land animals to marine mammals: they still have hind legs. The fossils have been found on the surface of the now completely dry landscape of the Western Desert, which was part of the enormous Tethys Ocean 40 million years ago. They comprise many complete skeletons and have been well-preserved in high numbers.

Community Perspective: it can be hard to reach as it is off-the-beaten-track and there may be police checkpoints along the way, but all reviewers managed to without issue (see Nan’s review for public transport options). Once on site, the fossils can be visited by following a signposted trail from the orderly visitor center.

El Salvador
Joya de Ceren

The Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site is a pre-Columbian Maya farming village that has been preserved after it was destroyed by volcanic ash around 600 CE.

It provides an excellent testimony of the daily lives of ordinary people, as they left behind utensils, ceramics, furniture, and even half-eaten food in their haste to escape the eruption of the Loma Caldera volcano. The remains of the earthen architecture have also been preserved.

Community Perspective: the site is easily reached by public bus, either from Santa Ana or San Salvador. Visiting the on-site museum with original excavated items is recommended to do first. The earthen buildings are very much intact, but do not expect grand stone buildings like in other Maya sites.

Eritrea
Asmara

Asmara: A Modernist African City is an Italian-planned colonial city based on early modernist and rationalist architecture.

The urban ensemble was designed during several stages of development on an orthogonal grid plan with diagonal axes. The city was divided into quarters following the principles of racial segregation. During the short fascist period of 1935-1941 the city received its distinct public buildings, which mostly have survived intact since then and keep being part of the Eritrean identity.

Community Perspective: both reviewers so far enjoyed the overall atmosphere of Asmara, but while the freedom of movement for the foreign tourist seems to have improved since 2006, the 2020 review reports that the state of repair of the Art Deco buildings is worsening.

Estonia
Tallinn

The Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn is a late medieval urban landscape shaped by both the Teutonic Order and the Hanseatic League.

The Teutonic Knights built a castle here in the 13th century and turned it into one of the best fortified cities in Europe with 66 towers adorning the city wall. Its history as a Hanseatic trading town can still be seen in the wealth of its private and public buildings in the Lower Town.

Community Perspective: small, but one of Europe's best preserved medieval cities and almost completely devoid of modern buildings and real tourist traps.

Struve Geodetic Arc

The Struve Geodetic Arc is a technological ensemble that played an important role in the development of earth sciences.

This chain of survey triangulations, stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, was established to measure the exact size and shape of the earth. It was developed and used by the German-born Russian scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve in the years 1816 to 1855.

Community Perspective: with its 34 remaining stations, spanning 10 countries and over 2,800 km, this has become a real Community Cult Classic, representing the “reductio ad absurdum” of the scheme. To the uninitiated: you may expect to see a slab of concrete with a small concrete fence around it; Ian describes the cult appeal well in his review. Many are located in remote rural areas, often on hilltops. The best among them is the Tartu old observatory, which has an exhibition inside. The ones in Belarus are covered by Jarek and Zoe, the one in Moldavia by History Fangirl, Michael ‘did’ Ukraine, and Els Latvia, while Svein and Solivagant described Norway. Others in the Baltic States, Sweden and Finland have been regularly reviewed as well.

Ethiopia
Simien National Park

Simien National Park covers a spectacular landscape of cliffs and gorges, created by erosion, which is also recognized for its high biodiversity.

The park comprises one of the principal mountain massifs of Africa, with peaks rising above 4000m. Its Afromontane and Afroalpine ecosystems are home to three of Ethiopia's larger endemic mammals: the Walia ibex, the more common Gelada baboons, and the very rarely seen Ethiopian wolves.

Community Perspective: best explored on foot, with incredible views, impressive canyons and of course the wonderful gelada baboons.

Bale Mountains National Park

Bale Mountains National Park covers a variety of landscapes, most notably Africa’s largest area of afro-alpine habitat above 3,000m with glacial lakes and volcanic peaks.

The park has several distinct and unique habitats, such as the Northern Grasslands (Gaysay Valley), Northern Woodlands (Park Headquarters), Afro-alpine Meadows (Sanetti Plateau), Erica Moorlands, and the Harenna Forest (a moist tropical rainforest). It holds endemic mammals such as Mountain Nyala and Bale Monkey, and has the most important remaining population of Ethiopian Wolf. The area serves also as a genetic reservoir for Wild Forest Coffee.

Community Perspective: Wojciech enjoyed the diversity of the landscapes on offer and recommends spending a day or two.

Lower Valley of the Awash

The Lower Valley of the Awash is one of the most important palaeontological sites on the African continent, providing evidence of human evolution.

In this valley in Ethiopia's Afar Depression, numerous pre-human hominid and animal fossils have been found, dating back to over 4 million years ago. It is also here that in 1974 'Lucy' was found, bone fragments representing about 40% of the skeleton of an individual Australopithecus afarensis.

Community Perspective: Wojciech undertook the effort to reach this rarely visited, unspectacular place in an inhospitable area. 

Tiya

Tiya is an archaeological site renowned for its decorated stelae.

These megaliths are marking a large, prehistoric burial complex of an ancient Ethiopian culture. The standing stones are decorated with symbols, some of them sword-like. These two groups of in total 36 stelae date from between the 10th and 15th centuries AD. They are seen as the best examples of a larger tradition of megalithic pillar sites in the region.

Community Perspective: “Enigmatic”, but Solivagant and Astraftis made an effort to interpret the site. Tiya can be visited on a (long) day trip from Addis Abeba. It is a very small site and a visit is likely to be underwhelming to the general audience.

Aksum

Aksum is an archaeological site that covers the remains of an influential city of ancient Ethiopia.

It was the capital of the powerful Axumite Kingdom (1st-8th centuries CE), which played an important role at the crossroads of Africa, Arabia and the Greco-Roman World. The site is especially known for its large monolithic carved stelae and obelisks. Furthermore, it is believed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church that the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Aksum houses the Biblical Ark of the Covenant.

Community Perspective: The stelae park is well worth the visit, while the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion gets mixed reviews. Females are forbidden to enter the latter.

Lower Valley of the Omo

The Lower Valley of the Omo is a prehistoric site where many hominid fossils have been found that contribute to the study of human evolution.

They were located in up to 3.5 million-year-old sedimentary deposits. Fossils belonging to the genera Australopithecus and Homo sapiens have been found at several archaeological sites, as well as tools made from quartzite, the oldest of which date back to about 2.4 million years ago.

Community Perspective: there never has been an official map that shows the inscribed area, so ‘visiting’ this site is problematic. The more so because its OUV lies with the hominid remains and people mostly go to the Omo region to see its contemporary tribes, as is reflected in the reviews below.

Lalibela

The Rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are unique works that had considerable influence on Ethiopian Christianity.

After the decline of the Kingdom of Axum, a new Christian dynasty emerged in the 12th century. King Lalibela created this new Christian pilgrimage center, which became a substitute for the holy places of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It holds 11 churches hewn from monolithic blocks, spread across two groups north and south of the river Jordan. Several of the interiors are decorated with mural paintings.

Community Perspective: very impressive for its construction and it still is an active place of pilgrimage. Some perceive the cost and hassle factor as (too) high.

Fasil Ghebbi

Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region, covers the remains of a fortress-city that represents Ethiopian civilization on the highlands and influenced Ethiopian architecture.

Fasil Ghebbi was the residence of the Ethiopian emperor Fasilides and his successors in the 17th century. The walled compound functioned as the centre of the Ethiopian government until 1864. Its architecture was inspired by the Baroque style that was introduced by Jesuit missionaries. The site comprises the buildings within the fortress and also seven further Ethiopian-Orthodox monasteries and palaces in and around the city of Gondar.

Community Perspective: It’s an amazing place to discover, with its Medieval European/Moghul-like buildings. Wojciech recommends visiting the Gemja Ber Marjam (or Debre Birhan Selassje) church for its paintings.

Harar Jugol

Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town, represents a major trade center that linked African and Islamic trade routes.

The urban plan of this traditional Islamic town is characterized by a maze of narrow alleyways and townhouses with imposing facades. It is considered "the fourth holiest city of Islam", with 82 mosques and 102 shrines. As the only Islamic city within a Christian region, it has distinct cultural traditions that continue until this day.

Community Perspective: Solivagant describes the city's history and recommends a visit to a traditional Harari house. Wojciech managed to stay overnight in one and also tried some black kite feeding at the butchers' section of the market. And, although touristy, both enjoyed the nightly hyena feeding.

Konso

Konso Cultural Landscape represents a traditional way of living known for its construction of dry stone terraces and fortified towns.

The Konso people migrated to these highlands, where they constructed terraces to support agricultural fields. Their cultural tradition has existed for over 400 years in a hostile, dry environment. The area has 12 stone-walled settlements with thatch-roofed public structures and domestic buildings. The Konso are noted for their erection of memorial stelae called waka.

Community Perspective: Solivagant describes the history of its WH inscription and his visit to a village in 2007, while Wojciech visited Gamole village in 2022.

Gedeo Cultural landscape

The Gedeo cultural landscape represents the traditional agroforestry practices of the indigenous Gedeo community.

The Gedeo have used the forests for millennia for the cultivation of enset (a plant that is the ingredient for a staple flatbread) and later coffee. They developed a system of customary laws and norms to use the forests sustainably. The area also includes ritual sites such as megalithic clusters of steles.

Community Perspective: Wojciech visited 3 places of interest in early 2024.

Fiji
Levuka

Levuka Historical Port Town is a Pacific urban landscape that represents the effects of 19th-century British colonisation based on maritime extraction and export.

This port on Ovalau Island was developed by colonisers and became the first colonial capital of Fiji. The town generally consists of single or two-storied wooden buildings, merging local traditions with colonial standards. The preserved monuments include the former Cakobau Parliament House site, the Sacred Heart Cathedral, residential and commercial buildings, churches, schools and constructions related to port activities.

Community Perspective: Getting to Levuka from Nandi, Fiji (where most international flights land) is quite an effort. The place seems abandoned but still has charm. Anthony describes what you may expect from a visit, while Shandos has shared the practicalities.

Finland
High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago

The High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago shows outstanding examples of geological processes caused by glaciation.

Historical Ice Ages have shaped the landscape of these two components on opposite sides of the Gulf of Bothnia. The High Coast is important for research on isostasy, in which the land rises as the weight of the melting glaciers is lifted. This is a still continuing process that leads to the emergence of new islands and lakes. Kvarken features unusual moraine ridges (“De Geer moraines") that were formed when boulders and stones were pushed to the edge of the melting continental ice sheet.

Community Perspective: the site provides excellent views if you get to a higher viewpoint and enjoyable hiking. The area is good for birding as well. Finnish Kvarken has been covered by John (cruising) and Els (driving+hiking), while the Swedish High Coast was done by John (cruising), Clyde (driving+hiking) and Nan (public transport+hiking).

Sammallahdenmäki

The Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki is an outstanding example of Scandinavia’s Bronze Age society and its funerary practices.

The site consists of 33 stone cairns in several clusters. They were made of granite boulders that were quarried locally. It dates from ca. 1500-500 BCE. Two of the most spectacular burial cairns are the quadrangular "Church Floor" and the dike-like "Long Ruin of Huilu". The cairns may relate to rituals of sun worship.

Community Perspective: “just piles of stones” to some, but they lie in a quiet and atmospheric spot and you’ll find yourself traipsing through a moss-covered forest floor. It needs a 4km walk to reach by public transport. There are also guided tours on Thursdays in the short summer season.

Old Rauma

Old Rauma is an outstanding example of traditional Nordic wooden town architecture.

The irregular town plan dates from the Middle Ages, while the commercial and residential buildings are from the 18th and 19th centuries. Rauma developed as a port city, although the coastline is now some 1.5km away due to land uplift. Landmarks at the Market Square include the medieval church and former Town Hall.

Community Perspective: Delightful town to visit, touristy but not too much. There are several homes that have been converted into museums and many lace shops.

Fortress of Suomenlinna

The Fortress of Suomenlinna comprises military fortifications built on six islands to guard the entrance to Helsinki's harbour.

Suomenlinna was originally built in 1748 to withstand the Russians at a time when Finland was part of Sweden. It was designed by the Swedish Admiral Eherensvärd, who adapted Vauban’s theories to this specific terrain and built a fortress from local rock, fortified with a system of bastions. The Russians however managed to take over the fortress in 1808 and added their own constructions. Finally, in 1918 the Fortress became Finnish and in 1973 it ceased to have a military purpose.

Community Perspective: easily reached by a short ferry ride from Helsinki, nowadays Suomenlinna mostly means a relaxed day out for city dwellers. As people still live on the islands, it is not too open-air museum-ish.

Petäjävesi Old Church

Petäjävesi Old Church exemplifies the long tradition of wooden church architecture in Scandinavia.

It was built entirely of pine wood by a local master in 1763 and the interior holds elaborately carved elements by local craftsmen. The design was influenced by European architectural trends such as Renaissance and Gothic, which were combined with the vernacular technique of log jointing. The bell tower was added in 1821.

Community Perspective: a wonderful small work of vernacular art in a fitting natural environment. Don’t miss the interior with its wooden pulpit and somewhat eccentric carvings. It is still an active church but has regular opening hours for tourists.

Verla Groundwood and Board Mill

The Verla Groundwood and Board Mill is a well-preserved rural industrial settlement that was used for pulp, paper, and board production.

The ca. 50 buildings consist of the wood-processing mill, board-drying plant, storehouses, workers' houses and the owner's residence. The separate production area held water power plants. It has a forest setting where wood as a raw material and water as a source of energy were easily at hand. The mill was founded in 1882 and continued to operate until 1964. It produced mainly (paper)board for export to Russia, Europe and the USA.

Community Perspective: Join a tour of the interior as it explains the story of how the factory was run. Nan and Tsunami have described how to reach the site by public transport; unfortunately, the bus hours do not correspond well with the timing of the tours.

Struve Geodetic Arc

The Struve Geodetic Arc is a technological ensemble that played an important role in the development of earth sciences.

This chain of survey triangulations, stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, was established to measure the exact size and shape of the earth. It was developed and used by the German-born Russian scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve in the years 1816 to 1855.

Community Perspective: with its 34 remaining stations, spanning 10 countries and over 2,800 km, this has become a real Community Cult Classic, representing the “reductio ad absurdum” of the scheme. To the uninitiated: you may expect to see a slab of concrete with a small concrete fence around it; Ian describes the cult appeal well in his review. Many are located in remote rural areas, often on hilltops. The best among them is the Tartu old observatory, which has an exhibition inside. The ones in Belarus are covered by Jarek and Zoe, the one in Moldavia by History Fangirl, Michael ‘did’ Ukraine, and Els Latvia, while Svein and Solivagant described Norway. Others in the Baltic States, Sweden and Finland have been regularly reviewed as well.

France
Belfries

The Belfries of Belgium and France symbolize the growing independence of cities from the feudal system in the Middle Ages.

The site comprises 56 bell towers that were built between the 11th and 20th centuries. The towers are mostly found in town centers, and connected to the local town hall or church. They were used as watch towers but also as meeting places for the city councils.

Community Perspective: “They’re all different” – so you have to visit a couple of them to get the idea. Fortunately, they are often located in towns that are also part of the Flemish Beguinages WHS, or are WHS in their own right – Nan has provided a list of possible combinations.

Loire Valley

The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes is a cultural landscape symbolic of human interaction with a major river.

It comprises historic towns and villages, great castles and cultivated lands, on a 200km long thin stretch along the river. The manmade features mainly trace back to the Renaissance and the Age of the Enlightenment. They include historic towns such as Blois, Orléans and Tours, and the Castle of Chambord, one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world.

Community Perspective: The area can be best explored by (rental) car, though John and Nan found buses and trains to several of its sights as well. The castles of Chenonceaux, Amboise and Chambord and the Fontevraud Abbey are among the highlights.  

French Austral Lands and Seas

The French Austral Lands and Seas is a group of extremely isolated volcanic islands in the sub-Antarctic region.

As one of the largest marine protected areas in the world, it covers the Crozet Archipelago, Kerguelen Islands, Amsterdam and St Paul Islands, and surrounding parts of the Southern Ocean. This true wilderness is known for its marine birds (especially the world’s largest colony of King Penguins) and mammals such as Elephant Seals and Commerson’s Dolphins.

Community Perspective: This site has been unreviewed so far.

Great Spa Towns of Europe

The Great Spa Towns of Europe represent the development of a specialized urban landscape that combined medical aspects, physical exercise and leisure.

These eleven Spa Towns are centered on natural mineral springs, which waters were used for bathing and drinking. The towns were expanded with important examples of  ‘spa architecture’, such as the ‘kurhaus’, drinking halls, theaters and casinos. They flourished from around 1700 to the 1930s.

Community Perspective: expect to find some fine Art Nouveau buildings, do some hiking, taste the water and most of the towns have modern spa facilities as well. Reviews of all inscribed towns are available: in Austria, Baden (Tsunami), in Belgium, Spa (Els, Clyde), in the UK, Bath (a double entry), in Italy, Montecatini Terme (Marian), in France, Vichy (Tsunami), in Germany, Baden-Baden (Caspar, Hubert), Bad Kissingen (Hubert), Bad Ems (Els), and in Czechia: Karlovy Vary (Matejicek, Hubert, Nan), Mariánské Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert), and Františkovy Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert).

Pyrénées - Mont Perdu

Pyrénées - Mont Perdu is a visually dramatic mountain landscape shaped by a pastoral transhumance system.

The protected area centered around the peak of Mont Perdu lies at the tectonic collision point of the Iberian and West European plates. The calcareous massif has several important geological, scenic and botanical values. A centuries-old transhumant system of grazing also continues within the area with frequent movement of herds across the French-Spanish border.

Community Perspective: On the Spanish side, the Ordesa Valley is the best suited for a visit and offers good hiking. The French side offers the Cirque de Gavarnie (you can even ski here!).

Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay is characterized by the rocky tidal island that holds an 11th-century Benedictine abbey and a fortified medieval village.

The abbey, dedicated to the Archangel Michel, was an important place of pilgrimage in medieval Christianity and was deliberately placed in a difficult place of access. The Gothic builders made the best of the natural setting, overcoming the problems that come with it, and created a sharp silhouette against the sky.

Community Perspective: It’s worth watching the island from a distance or walking a loop around it if the tides allow – the first sight of this ‘pyramid’ has a real wow effect and it “must have been even more awe-inspiring for the people in the Middle Ages”. The roads leading up to the Abbey nowadays “are cluttered with overpriced restaurants and purveyors of tourist tat”, though things seem to improve if you stay overnight and the crowds are gone. By public transport, the site can be reached by taking a bus from Rennes long-distance bus station.

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral is an influential example of Gothic art and architecture.

It stands out for the unity of its architecture and decoration (stained glass windows, statues, paintings). The Cathedral is in an exceptional state of preservation: the majority of the original stained glass windows survive intact, while the architecture has seen only minor changes since the early 13th century.

Community Perspective: The size is still impressive (it dominates the town and can be seen from far away), but reviewers have mixed feelings about the effect of the renovations and regret that the original 13th-century labyrinth is usually covered by chairs.

Versailles

The Palace and Park of Versailles have had a large influence on the artistic form of other royal palaces and gardens in Europe.

Versailles is a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy and its court life of the Ancien Régime. From 1661 onward, King Louis XIV expanded into one of the largest palaces in the world and moved his court and government to Versailles. For more than a century it was further embellished by his successors and functioned as a crucible for French court life.

Community Perspective: The Hall of Mirrors and the Gardens are the most memorable parts of a visit. Els has provided tips on how to beat the crowds, Roel has added a ‘skip-the-line’-option and Daniel found an alternative access gate.

Vézelay

Vézelay, Church and Hill, is renowned for the church of St Mary Magdalene, which is an important place of pilgrimage and a masterpiece of Burgundian Romanesque art.

The church was an attraction for medieval pilgrims as it kept relics of Mary Magdalene. It also is strongly connected to the history of the Crusades. In 1840 Eugène Viollet-le-Duc restored the Romanesque church to its former glory after centuries of neglect had left it to ruins. The central nave with its carved portal is seen as one of the major monuments of Western Romanesque art.

Community Perspective: This hill with the church on top is a landmark visible from afar. The town is nothing special and a bit of a tourist trap. The former Abbey is its only highlight – reviewers have enjoyed its collection of wooden crosses and the last review (2022) reports that the building looks amazingly clean and new.

Vézère Valley

The Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley comprise a complex of caves and other archaeological sites that bear witness to long-extinct civilizations.

The sites include the finding places of skeletons of early modern people such as the Cro-Magnon man and of their utensils. Most characteristic are the caves, such as those of Lascaux, which were painted during the Upper Paleolithic. They consist mostly of realistic images of hunting scenes of large animals, including aurochs.

Community Perspective: The 15 locations are notoriously hard to visit because of their access policies and/or popularity such that they require pre-booking. All accessible ones now offer booking online. The ones that are worth planning for (as you can see original paintings) are Rouffignac and Font de Gaume. Cap Blanc has good reliefs.

Fontainebleau

The Palace and Park of Fontainebleau has been influential on French Renaissance art for its architecture and interior decor made by Italian artists.

Transforming a royal hunting lodge, 16th century King Francis I brought in painters, sculptors and architects from Italy to ornate his palace with new constructions, gardens, many frescoes and sculptures. It was further embellished by subsequent French monarchs, from Henri IV to Louis XVI and Napoleon.

Community Perspective: You really need to visit the interior here, which holds several great rooms, including the Throne Room of Napoleon, and beautiful frescoes. An additional bonus is that it is far less visited than Versailles.

Amiens Cathedral

Amiens Cathedral has played an important role in the development of Gothic architecture, paving the way for the Flamboyant style.

The early 13th-century Cathedral has well-preserved its original features. It’s a very large church but with a lightness of structure. Its interior is rich in sculpted decoration and stained glass.

Community Perspective: It nowadays mostly stands out for its interior, which is like a religious art museum with fine sculptures, a floor labyrinth and religious relics such as the “head” of John the Baptist.

Orange

The Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the "Triumphal Arch" of Orange comprise two of the best remaining examples of Roman theatres and arches.

Roman Orange was founded in 35 BCE and was the capital of a wide area of northern Provence. The Theatre was one of the first Roman public buildings in this region; it is well-preserved and is renowned for its imposing stage wall. The Triumphal Arch was a commemorative provincial arch, noted for its low reliefs depicting the establishment of the Pax Romana.

Community Perspective: The theatre stands out for its intactness, as do the friezes on the arch. The city itself doesn’t invite you to linger after you’ve seen the WHS.

Arles

Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments, represents the evolution of a classical Roman settlement into an important medieval city.

It has retained impressive Roman monuments dating back to the first century BCE, such as the Arena, the Theater and the Cryptoporticus. A second flowering period was in the fourth century CE, when the Thermae of Constantine and the Alyscamps necropolis were added. The Alyscamps stayed in use til the 13th century when the town blossomed again and gained fine Romanesque monuments such as the Church of St. Trophime.

Community Perspective: The city overall is nice to visit and the major sights are the Amphitheatre, the Alyscamps and the Church of St. Trophime. Hubert has written a comprehensive overview.

Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay

The Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay is an early Cistercian monastery based on the ideal of self-sufficiency.

The Abbey of Fontenay was founded by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in 1118 and it achieved great prosperity in the 12th and 13th centuries. The church of the Abbey was built in the prevalent Romanesque style, and marked by the austerity typical of Cistercian architecture. The Abbey retains almost all of its original buildings, all in Romanesque style.

Community Perspective: This might not be one of the most famous French WHS, but it is really worth a detour as it is so well-preserved. The Abbey Church and the early iron works are the highlights. Nan has provided tips on how to reach it by public transport.

Strasbourg

Strasbourg, Grande-île and Neustadt comprise the medieval historic centre of Strasbourg including its Cathedral and its German-built New Town.

The free city of Strasbourg was an important commercial centre in the Middle Ages. Its urban landscape is typical of the Rhineland and shows both French and Germanic influences. The Gothic Cathedral is the center of this city organized around rivers and canals, with an additional network of (post-)medieval streets adorned by timber-framed buildings.

Community Perspective: You’d best spend your time here just wandering around. The German-developed, late 19th century New Town, located across the river from the medieval city, sharply contrasts with the rest of the core zone and divides opinions.

Paris, Banks of the Seine

Paris, Banks of the Seine, comprises many of the main treasures of the French capital from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.

The area stretches from Saint-Chapelle and Notre Dame Cathedral in the east to the Eiffel Tower in the west. Along this kilometers-long route, one can find monuments such as the Notre Dame, Saint-Chapelle, the Louvre, the Gare d'Orsay and the Place de la Concorde. It also shows Haussmann’s urban planning, which inspired the construction of the great cities in Latin America.

Community Perspective: All these monuments are tempting of course (Hubert has provided an overview), but it is already worthwhile to take a boat trip or walk the whole included stretch along the Banks of the Seine. Be aware that a relatively small part of Paris is covered by the core zone of this WHS. And it’s not all rosy either: there are crowds and Parisian rudeness, and Ian hates the lanes of heavy traffic that cross the area.

Reims

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Remi and Palace of Tau, Reims are renowned for their Gothic art and direct links to the history of the French monarchy.

The cathedral is one of the great French Gothic cathedrals of the 13th century and is known for its sculptured ornamentation. The Palace of Tau played an important role in the coronation ceremony of the French monarchy, as did the Former Abbey of Saint-Remi. It also was at Saint-Remi that Clovis, King of the Franks, was christened.

Community Perspective: The cathedral seems to be undergoing perpetual restoration, but it has to be visited for its striking sculptures and stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. Saint-Remi also is a fine church.

Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans

"From the Great Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains to the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans, the production of open-pan salt" represents the extraction and production of salt from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.

The Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans was an early Enlightenment architectural project to rationalize industrial buildings and processes. They were connected by a pipeline to the older saltworks of Salins-les-Bains, where salt was retrieved from deep underground.

Community Perspective: This is one of the more imaginative WHS of France. At Salins-les-Bains you can do an underground visit to the mines, while at Arc-et-Senans a Utopian work of architecture awaits (you can also stay overnight here in one of the original buildings that has been turned into a hotel).

Avignon

The Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge comprise a group of late medieval buildings linked to the Papacy.

It was here that the Popes and Antipopes lived from 1309 to 1432 during the Catholic schism, when the seat of the Church left Rome. The ecclesiastical, administrative and military medieval buildings are a homogenous group. The massive Papal Palace shows the ambitions of the papal court.

Community Perspective: You can see here what the Vatican would have been like if it had been built in a Gothic style. Avignon overall is a great base for viewing Provence and its WHS.

Nancy

Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière, and Place d'Alliance in Nancy are 18th-century works of urban planning ordered by an enlightened monarch.

The three squares and the surrounding monuments were developed under the patronage of the Duke of Lorraine, Stanislaw Leszczynsk. The richly decorated squares held a public function: the Opera, the Town Hall, Courts of Law, a library and a botanical garden can be accessed from here.

Community Perspective: Maybe not a world-class sight, but the place has charm. Place Stanislas is the highlight of the three squares.

Saint-Savin sur Gartempe

The Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe is an 11th-century Romanesque church noted for its well-preserved mural paintings.

These painted biblical narratives date from the late 11th, and early 12th centuries, and have given the church the nickname of "Romanesque Sistine Chapel". Below the church is the Crypt of the legendary martyr brothers St Savin and St Cyprian, also painted with murals about the lives of these two saints.

Community Perspective: The murals are the clear highlight (although the pastel-coloured columns are noteworthy as well), and they have been very well preserved, cleaned and restored. The comparison with the Sistine Chapel seems overblown, reviewers find the murals more like those at Reichenau or the Vall de Boi.

Gulf of Porto

Gulf of Porto: Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata, Scandola Reserve is a natural area with dramatic geological landforms and wealthy undersea life.

The coastline is noted for its red cliffs, some 900 metres high, sand beaches, and headlands. The sheer cliffs of the Gulf contain many grottos and are flanked by numerous stacks and almost inaccessible islets and coves. It is the habitat of the rare osprey, peregrine falcons and bearded vultures.

Community Perspective: This coastal area of Corsica is best seen from the sea, see Els’s review of what you may expect from such a boat tour. Jay visited the terrestrial part of the Calanche of Piana on foot.

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct) is one of the oldest and most remarkable Roman hydraulic works.

It’s an aqueduct bridge, the major remaining element of a 50km long aqueduct that supplied the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nimes) with water. It spans the river Gardon. The bridge is 48.77m high, has three levels and was built in the 1st century AD.

Community Perspective: It's an impressive structure. Nowadays you have to pay at the ticket booths to even see it from the river banks or the stone footbridge next to it. It is recommended to join a guided tour of the aqueduct channel on the top level of the bridge, which is offered in summer.

Fortified City of Carcassonne

The Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne is a medieval town whose structure has evolved since the Late Roman period.

The site consists of 3km long fortifications in two lines of walls, which enclose the castle, medieval town and cathedral. The fortress was thoroughly restored from 1853-1909 by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. His work had a profound influence on subsequent developments in conservation principles and practice, although his work on Carcassonne has been controversial for not being overly authentic.

Community Perspective: The fortifications are the city’s main strength: “The sight of.. all those turrets and towers (45 of them) is surely one to behold”. But it’s also an empty shell and a tourist trap, some even call it a “A pseudo mediaeval theme park”. At least visit out of season as it can be heaving with people in the summer months.

Bourges Cathedral

Bourges Cathedral is considered a beautifully decorated masterpiece of Gothic architecture.

Its construction began at the end of the 12th century, following the plan of the ambitious archbishop Henri de Sully who had brought "modern" ideas from Paris. He wanted to create a large and tall building, with three rows of stained-glass windows above each other so that there was a lot of light. The sculptures on the doors and in the interior are great Gothic works of art. Most stained glass windows were added in the 14th-16th centuries.

Community Perspective: “just another nice cathedral”, and another French Gothic one as well. It’s worth a visit for its atmospheric interior and the sculptures at the western entrance.

Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi, built for a strategic political objective, is a 240 km long canal that was a great engineering achievement.

The Canal is one of the technologically most significant canals in the world: it uses lock staircases, reservoirs, aqueducts, dams, bridges, and tunnels to connect the Garonne River at Toulouse to the Étang de Thau on the Mediterranean. The original purpose of the Canal du Midi was to provide a shortcut between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, avoiding the long sea voyage around hostile Spain, Barbary pirates, and a trip that in the 17th century required a full month of sailing.

Community Perspective: Navigating the Canal by boat seems to evoke the most positive reviews. For the casual visitor, Toulouse provides easy access. Hubert followed the course of the Canal by car and provided tips for short stops to take in the scenery.

Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France

The Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France represent the routes and conditions of the pilgrimage and the cultural exchange it stimulated.

Four main routes were followed through France by pilgrims since the late Middle Ages to get to Spain and eventually Santiago de Compostela. The associated buildings that catered to the spiritual and physical well-being of the pilgrims comprise churches, bridges, hospitals and other wayside constructions.

Community Perspective: Comprising 71 sites (of which 7 are already inscribed separately) plus 7 stretches of the route of the Chemin du Puy, this format for a WHS has raised eyebrows (see Solivagant’s review). It does contain many fine buildings though (see the reviews by Hubert, Thibault, Tsunami and Ilya for some ideas), with the Tour Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie in Paris maybe the most symbolic as it’s the starting point.

Lyon

The Historic Site of Lyon, a flourishing trading city since Roman times, has preserved its architecture and urban planning over many centuries.

Lyon owes its continuous prosperity to its strategic location at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. The city was known especially for the silk trade, but it also held important financial institutions and an early printing industry. Over time, its urban plan expanded but without destroying earlier areas or buildings.

Community Perspective: A lovely city that gives a great impression of French culture (it has great restaurants too!), so a perfect destination for a weekend trip. Instead of great monumental buildings, the highlight here is the urban plan itself with the traboules, the secret passageways, as particularly characteristic.

Saint-Emilion

The Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion is a historic vineyard landscape that is still in use.

The Romans introduced viticulture here, and the industry further developed during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. From the latter period, impressive “chateaux” remained as well as villages with modest stone houses for the workers. Further historic monuments included the Pierrefitte menhir and the Monolithic Church and the Collegiate Church of Saint-Emillion.

Community Perspective: St. Emilion is a pleasant town to visit, however very touristy. They even have a small tourist train that provides a glimpse of the vineyard landscape. Ian checked out some of its vineyards that produce high-quality red wines and their chateaux.

Provins

Provins, Town of Medieval Fairs, is the best-preserved example of a town developed for great annual trading fairs.

The Counts of Champagne organized these fairs from 1120 onwards. They linked merchants and traders from northern Europe with the Mediterranean world and served as a model for later fair traditions in for example Brugge and the Hanseatic cities. The fortified town provided supporting services such as banking and warehouses.

Community Perspective: You’d be hard-pressed to find a trace of medieval fairs here: it is in essence a town with medieval origins and a lot of timber-framed housing. The Caesar Tower and the Church of Saint Quiriace are its major landmarks.

Le Havre

Le Havre, the city rebuilt by Auguste Perret, is an outstanding post-war example of urban planning and architecture.

As a result of numerous air raids during World War Two, the port of Le Havre lost most of its city center buildings. Reconstruction planning began in 1945 with Auguste Perret as chief architect and city planner. Historical patterns like streets and squares were preserved, as well as the 16th-century cathedral that survived the bombings. Modernist buildings based on reinforced concrete were added and prefabrication was used, in order to create a homogenous ensemble.

Community Perspective: Dull and uninteresting to some, but the wide boulevards, the spacious squares, the straight lines and the plain forms do hold an appeal to others. You can visit the interior of the tower of Saint Joseph and a reconstructed show flat designed by Perrett’s studio. Ian has explained that it is even fun for kids.

Bordeaux

Bordeaux, Port of the Moon, is an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble created in the Age of Enlightenment.

A bend in the river Garonne has created a natural harbour here, and because of its shape, it's called Port of the Moon. The site encompasses the historic centre of Bordeaux, known for its wine production and commercial port. Its urban transformation from the 1730s onwards had a focus on neoclassical architecture.

Community Perspective: Bordeaux is a fine city to visit, with its riverside setting and it all looks neat and well-preserved. It has some lovely buildings though none stand out.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan, Adrian; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar, Adrian; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp, Adrian; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Fortifications of Vauban

The Fortifications of Vauban have been a significant contribution to universal military architecture.

The twelve groups of fortified buildings formed a defensive ring around France. The remaining sites include both fortifications and various kinds of military buildings. They were constructed by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707), a military engineer of King Louis XIV. He was influential far beyond the French borders through his theoretical thinking. 

Community Perspective: the star review here is by Hubert, who has visited all 12 selected components and ranked them!

Lagoons of New Caledonia

The Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems contain coral reef ecosystems with great species diversity and a high level of endemism.

The six tropical lagoons and reefs show a wide range of coral diversity and reef forms, with additional features from mangroves to seagrasses. They are home to a large population of endangered dugongs and are an important nesting site for the Green Sea Turtle.

Community Perspective: Clyde visited 4 out of 6 locations in 10 days, and enjoyed the coral rock islands, the aerial views and the crystal clear lagoons.

Albi

The Episcopal City of Albi comprises an urban landscape with outstanding medieval architecture.

The city was built around the original Cathedral and episcopal group of buildings after the Albigensian Crusade. Fired brick and tiles are the main features of most of the edifices. The Sainte Cécile Cathedral, built as a statement of the Christian faith after the upheavals of the 13th-century Cathar heresy, is considered a masterpiece of the Gothic style of Southern France.

Community Perspective: More interesting than it seems at first sight. The red brick Cathedral is huge and peculiar, with amazing interior decoration. Together with the former Archbishop's palace next door, which houses a museum of the favorite local son Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, it forms a harmonious ensemble.

Pitons of Reunion

The 'Pitons, cirques and remparts' of Reunion Island are renowned for their visually striking landscape and remaining high numbers of endemic plant species.

The site consists of two adjoining volcanic massifs, with remparts (steep rock walls) and the three cirques (imposing natural amphitheaters) of Salazie, Mafate et Cilaos that evolved due to erosion and volcanism. The Pitons are covered with subtropical rainforests and cloud forests.

Community Perspective: Kbecq has described the four tough hikes he did here on volcanic terrain, while Els hiked into the Cirque de Mafate.

Prehistoric Pile Dwellings

The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps are the remains of prehistoric agrarian lake shore communities.

Rising water levels since prehistory led to the abandonment of these stilt house settlements. Covered by lake and river sediments, organic materials such as wooden structures have been preserved. Archeological findings further include the oldest textiles discovered in Europe, dugout canoes and wooden wheels. About 30 different cultural groups were responsible for creating these pile dwellings.

Community Perspective: only at very few of the 111 locations can original remains be seen, at the others, you will be staring “intently at the water trying to spot the merest hint of some buried rotten wood”. Molina di Ledro and Fiave in Italy are your best bets. Solivagant contemplates what a visit to the Pile Dwellings entails, and Hubert has visited multiple locations.

Causses and Cévennes

The Causses and the Cévennes, Mediterranean agro-pastoral Cultural Landscape has evolved over three millennia due to farming and breeding of sheep.

It is located in the higher regions of the Massif Central, in an area of granite and limestone slopes and deep valleys. It is known for its chestnut farming and mulberry cultivation. Local breeds of sheep graze on open common land.

Community Perspective: The natural aspects of this area are much more appealing (and easier to recognize) than the agro-pastoral. See the reviews by Els, Hubert and Frederik for some ideas on what to see and do.

Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

The Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin is a mining and industrial cultural landscape along a 120km long coal seam in the far north of France.

It represents the large-scale coal mining of the 19th and 20th centuries, and its associated social developments such as the occurrence of major disasters, international migration and worker unionism. Preserved elements include pits, slag heaps, railway stations and mining villages with schools, religious and community buildings.

Community Perspective: Don’t expect anything as grandiose as the Ruhrgebiet in Germany. The Historic Mining Center in Lewarde (location #22, Fosse Delloye) is a good place to start. Nan and Claire have reported on some locations (there are 109 in total!)  in Lens and Liberville.

Decorated cave of Pont d'Arc

The Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc, Ardèche is an underground cave covered with the oldest known pictorial drawings in the world.

They date back to as early as the Aurignacian period (30,000 to 32,000 BP). Over 1,000 drawings have been found in a pristine state, which often are of high artistic and aesthetic quality. They display anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs, featuring many predatory animals. Other human evidence, fossilized remains, prints, and markings from a variety of animals, some of which are now extinct, were discovered in the cave as well.

Community Perspective: There’s a replica cave (the original has never been open to the general public), which most find well done although it’s not an exact replica. It’s also possible to walk up to the original cave entrance (see instructions in the reviews by Solivagant and Kbecq).

Burgundy

The Climats, terroirs of Burgundy comprise a vineyard historic landscape organized around delimited parcels.

The 1,247 vineyards are distinct from one another due to their specific natural conditions such as soil and microclimate, resulting in many vintages. The commercial town of Beaune and the political and regulatory center of Dijon complemented the system. The Ducal Palace of Dijon, the Hospices of Beaune and the Clos de Vougeot Chateau represent the tangible trace of these viticultural actors.

Community Perspective: For those tired of vineyards, this site also includes two historic towns. The historic Duchy of Burgundy left a splendid highlight in the Hospices of Beaune (it could/should have been a WHS in its own right). In Dijon, the Ducal Palace and the Place de La Liberation stand out.

Champagne

'Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars' is a cultural landscape shaped by the production of sparkling wines since the 17th century.

This is a living and working environment, with trade towns, prestigious commerce houses and the underground heritage of the wine cellars in former chalk quarries. The agro-industrial part includes the vineyards and the processing sites.

Community Perspective: This site focuses more on the industrial and commercial process of champagne production than on vineyards, so it’s appropriate to visit one of the Champagne Houses, that’s also the way to get into one of the chalk cellars. All major brands (Pommery’s, Taittinger) offer popular tours.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier comprises 17 of his works across the world.

The renowned French-Swiss architect is seen as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. The series shows the dissemination of his ideas over the world during a period of 50 years, spanning seven countries on three continents. Many of the sites reflect new architectural concepts, principles, and technical features.  All were innovative and had a significant influence over wide geographical areas They also contributed to the birth of three major trends in modern architecture: Purism, Brutalism and sculptural architecture.

Community Perspective: Hubert has become our expert on this subject, having visited 14 of the 17 components. Reviews that include the interior are available of Casa Curutchet (Serianne, Nan, Michael, Timonator), Villa Savoye (Ian, Els, Ilya), Weißenhofsiedlung  (Solivagant), Sainte Marie de La Tourette in Éveux (Hubert), Firminy-Vert (Hubert), the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille (Hubert, Jakob), Maison La Roche (Hubert), Molitor (Hubert), National Museum of Western Art (Frederik), Chandigarh (Solivagant), Notre Dame du Haut Chapel (Clyde), Cité Frugès (Hubert).

Chaîne des Puys

The Chaîne des Puys - Limagne fault tectonic arena shows a number of geological features caused by a continental break-up.

This about 40km long segment of the West European Rift shows the effects of continental break-up on the landscape, such as the Chaîne des Puys volcanoes and the inverted relief of the Montagne de la Serre. The site has been an important place for studying classical geological processes since the 18th century.

Community Perspective: The Puy de Dôme is an easily accessible part of this site, with good overlooks over the landscape dotted with some 80 small dormant volcanoes. Hubert did his best to cover some additional noteworthy components.

Taputapuātea

Taputapuātea is a sacral site and cultural land- and seascape on Ra’iatea Island, part of the Society Islands.

The site consists of several archaeological sites and marae (temples). Its main feature is the Taputapuātea marae complex, constructed in the 14th -18th centuries, which is considered the central temple of Eastern Polynesia and has a strong oral tradition connected with it. It was built between land and sea at the end of a peninsula. The marae are of continuing importance to living Polynesian culture.

Community Perspective: Dennis visited already in 1991 and advised coming with a knowledgeable guide.

Maison Carrée of Nîmes

The Maison Carrée in Nîmes is a well-preserved Ancient Roman temple that signifies the impact of the imperial cult in the Roman provinces.

It stood among other religious and political institutions at the heart of the forum of the Roman colony of Nemausus, at a time when Rome focused on consolidating its empire. This first-century building in the classic Vitruvian architectural style has survived in excellent condition.

Community Perspective:  the reviews still reflect that this once was part of a wider nomination of the city of Nîmes; all agreed though that the Maison Carrée is its outstanding monument. The stylistic contrast with the surrounding, later (= very modern) architecture raised eyebrows.

Cordouan Lighthouse

The Cordouan Lighthouse is a monumental lighthouse dedicated to the affirmation of the king’s power.

The 67-metre-high tower stands on a rocky plateau in the Gironde estuary on the French Atlantic coast, about seven kilometres from the mainland. It is still used for maritime signalling. It was built in the 16th century and remodelled in the 18th century, and is considered a masterpiece of the Renaissance and neoclassicist styles. The interior also has apartments for the king and a chapel, and was decorated to impress.

Community Perspective: You get there on a boat tour; there are several operators in the towns of Royan, Le Verdon-sur-mer and Meschers-sur-Gironde that have scheduled departures in April-October. The best parts of the lighthouse are inside. Standing around on the sandbar adds a bit of fun (depending on the tide, you may get wet feet).

Northern Martinique

The Volcanoes and Forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique comprise internationally renowned examples of volcanic morphologies and processes.

The Pitons du Carbet count 12 peaks and are shaped by lava domes. Mount Pelée (which is only partly included) is an iconic volcano, remarkable for its fierce eruptive style. It has produced a high number of eruptions, such as the deadly one in 1902-1905 which led to the construction of one of the first volcanological observatories in the world. The site further has the most diverse biodiversity in the Lesser Antilles (forest, plants).

Community Perspective: you can hike up Mount Pelée in a couple of hours, but it can be a wet experience and you may find the top covered in clouds.

Nice

Nice, Winter Resort Town of the Riviera, is a product of the European tourist industry.

In the 18th century, Nice became a popular winter destination for British aristocrats. At the end of the 19th century, tourism expanded to all wealthy classes and finally became a mass phenomenon in the 20th century. The earliest architectural evidence is found at the Vila Nova, including the Promenade de Anglais. The city then further expanded westwards and onto the hills, where villa quarters and luxury hotels were built in a fusion of cultural influences and a variety of styles.

Community Perspective: Nice is “nice”, but hardly World Heritage-worthy. Els has provided a comprehensive overview of the main sights.

Funerary and memory sites of the First World War

The Funerary and memory sites of the First World War (Western Front) testify to the unprecedented scale of a global war and mark the start of a new tradition of remembering the war dead.

After this war, for the first time, the individual victim was remembered. This resulted in military cemeteries and war memorials of diverse typologies where attention was paid to aesthetics. These sites still are visited by millions.

Community Perspective: The sites comprise 139 locations in Belgium and northern France. Notable is that the"commemoration of all victims is equal irrespective of nation, race, creed or military rank, the graves and engravings of names are uniform". Especially recommended to visit is the area around Verdun, which "is basically one whole cultural/memorial landscape shaped by World War I".

Gabon
Lopé-Okanda

The Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lopé-Okanda are rich in plant life and have seen over 400.000 years of almost continuous human settlement.

The area is located where the tropical rainforest meets the savannah ecosystems. It holds a high plant diversity with over 1,550 species recorded. Its archaeological sites show evidence of ironworking and some 1,800 petroglyphs have been found. In the Neolithic and Iron Age, it seems to have been on a major migration route of people from West to Central and Southern Africa.

Community Perspective: “an expensive site to reach/visit and an uncomfortable one to travel in” - Solivagant visited in 2001 and tried to find a western gorilla which proved to be much more difficult than tracking its relatives in Rwanda and Uganda.

Ivindo National Park

Ivindo National Park encompasses an intact forest ecosystem with wetland clearings.

Its old-growth forests are home to exceptional biodiversity (birds, monkeys, other mammals) with species that are specific to the Gabonese interior highlands. It constitutes a laboratory for the study of speciation processes, particularly concerning insects and fish. The rainforests are home to the largest concentration of forest elephants and western gorillas in Gabon. The park also holds spectacular waterfalls.

Community Perspective: this site has been unreviewed so far.

Gambia
Kunta Kinteh Island

Kunta Kinteh Island and Related sites represent the first African-European trade route to the inland of Africa and the beginning and the conclusion of the West African slave trade.

The Portuguese built a fort here at the mouth of the River Gambia in 1456 to control the hinterland and exploit its riches. The designated area consists of 7 separate locations: James Island, Six-Gun Battery, Fort Bullen, Ruins of San Domingo, Remains of Portuguese Chapel, CFAO Building, Maurel Frères Building.

Community Perspective: widely available as a set day trip by river cruise from Banjul. The tours capitalize on the (fictional) story of the ‘Roots’ book and mini-series. Ian found most of the related sites in ruins; “however the Manuel Ferres building contains a good small museum about the history of the transatlantic slave trade”. Squiffy remarks on the only tenuous link with the slave trade some of the buildings have, “but it is still a story that needs to be told to underline the human impact. “

Stone Circles of Senegambia

The Stone Circles of Senegambia is a prehistoric archeological site comprising four large groups of megalithic monuments and associated burial sites

Over 1,000 stone circles can be found here along the River Gambia. The standing stones were extracted from nearby laterite quarries using iron tools. Their quality suggests sophisticated stone-working traditions. Four separate locations were chosen to represent the complex: Kerbatch Central River Division (Gambia), Wassu Central River Division (Gambia), Sine Ngayène Kaolack (Senegal), and Wanar Kaolack (Senegal).

Community Perspective: Solivagant describes a visit by bush taxis to Wassu in 1984, while Ian visited Sine Ngayène some 25 years later and found it almost overgrown.

Georgia
Mtskheta

The Historical Monuments of Mtskheta are medieval religious buildings that express the introduction and diffusion of Christianity to the Caucasus region.

Here Georgians accepted Christianity in 317 and Mtskheta still remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church. The three included monuments are the Jvari Monastery: a sixth-century Georgian Orthodox monastery, Svetitstkhoveli Cathedral: the principal Georgian church and seat of the archbishop, and Samtavro Monastery: an 11th-century church and nunnery.

Community Perspective: all three are easily reached as they are just outside Tbilisi city limits, although Jvari requires an additional short taxi ride. They will give you a glimpse into the mysterious world of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Upper Svaneti

Upper Svaneti is a mountainous region known for its unique medieval defensive tower houses.

The region is inhabited by the Svan people. Their villages have retained their medieval appearance and traditional land use. They hold small Georgian Orthodox churches and various fortified buildings. The core zone is limited to the village of Chazhashi in the Ushguli community.

Community Perspective: located in a remote and dramatic landscape, the site is still only possible to reach by 4WD. Walter remembers the risk of kidnapping that deterred tourists from this region in the past. The tiny core zone raises questions, it seems to have made more sense to include all the villages and the mountains surrounding them.

Gelati Monastery

Gelati Monastery is a medieval Orthodox monastery that is considered the masterpiece of the architecture of the “Golden Age” of Georgia.

The architecture is characterized by large blocks and the use of blind arches. In the monastery and its churches, great numbers of medieval mosaics, murals and manuscripts have been preserved. The complex was also one of the country’s main cultural and educational centers.

Community Perspective: the earlier reviews still mention the Bagrati Cathedral, with which Gelati shared its inscription until the former was delisted in 2017. Els did the most recent comprehensive review of a visit to the Gelati Monastery from Kutaisi.

Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands

The Colchic Wetlands and Forests comprise two warm-temperate humid ecosystems: ancient Colchic rainforests and wetlands with bogs and mire.

The seven parks consist of low-altitude wetlands, close to the Black Sea on one side, and higher-altitude ancient deciduous rainforests enclosed by mountain ranges on the other side. Their very wet conditions have led to high levels of endemism and intra-species diversity. The ancient forests are among the most important survivors of the glacial cycles of the Tertiary.

Community Perspective: not all components can be (easily) visited. Mahuhe describes a trip to Mtirala National Park from Batumi, while Stanislaw covered Kintrishi-Mtirala and Pitshora and gave some hints about the illegal entry of two others. Nan added more practical information.

Germany
Aachen Cathedral

The Aachen Cathedral with its Palatine Chapel is an exceptional example of religious architecture north of the Alps.

It dates from about 800 CE and was created by Emperor Charlemagne – originally as his palace, of which now only the church remains (he is buried here as well). The Cathedral continued to play an important role in the West and the German emperors were crowned here. Numerous parts were added and changes made over the subsequent centuries, which has led to a mixture of visible styles.

Community Perspective: Historically very significant and one of the best sites in Germany. It looks fairly small from the outside but the interior is stunning. Echwel elaborates on the symbolism, while Els provides the most recent visitor perspective and Nan adds tips for other things to see and do in Aachen.

Speyer Cathedral

Speyer Cathedral is the largest and one of the most important Romanesque monuments from the time of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Emperors Konrad II and Henry IV stood at the beginning of what was the biggest church of its time. Besides its size, the richness of its sculptures stands out. After a fire in 1689, part of the nave had to be reconstructed; this led to what is seen as the first great achievement of monument preservation in Europe. The Crypt is still the original and harbors the graves of no less than eight medieval German emperors and kings.

Community Perspective: It’s just so … Romanesque! The exterior is more impressive than the inside, except for the unmissable Crypt.

Würzburg Residence

The Würzburg Residence with the Court Gardens and Residence Square represents a highlight in 18th-century Baroque palace architecture.

Two successive Prince-Bishops of the Würzburg ecclesiastical principality hired prominent international architects (from Vienna, Venice, Paris), painters, sculptors, and stucco workers to create a splendid residence with 300 rooms. The ceiling over the broad staircase, the walls of the Imperial Hall and the church altar are decorated with frescoes made by the Venetian master Tiepolo.

Community Perspective: A must-visit for its Tiepolo frescoes, but there is also the route around the palace “with the usual array of ornate bedchambers, wardrobes and halls”. Caspar and Jay have described what you may expect from the guided tour.

Cologne Cathedral

The Cologne Cathedral is the highest expression of the Gothic Cathedral architectonic form that developed over the 12th and 13th centuries in Europe.

Started in 1248, it took over six centuries to complete – which shows the continuity and persistence of the Christian belief in this region. The work was finished in the same uniform Gothic style. The interior still holds many of its original, mostly 14th-century components and works of art.

Community Perspective: It stands out for its huge, enormous, monstrous size – the best views are from the opposite side of the Rhine. And it’s “Gothic to the very core and everything points upwards”. The interior is less remarkable and lacks a religious feel due to the many tourists that visit it (on a guided tour you may be able to forget that).

Water Management System of Augsburg

The Water Management System of Augsburg has produced various technological innovations in the areas of waterways and drinking water supply.

The system consists of 22 different components, varying from hydroelectric power stations to fountains. It has its origins in the Middle Ages when canals were built to bring water to mills, tanneries, textile producers and goldsmiths. From 1545 there was a strict separation between drinking water and water for industry use.

Community Perspective: the site includes a bunch of different components scattered in and around town, which cover a period of almost five centuries of water management. The interpretation of the site is quite poor and most components are inaccessible (historic interiors often not having been preserved). The water towers at the Red Gate may be the most memorable components. Hubert and Solivagant have incorporated a bunch of others as well in their reviews.

Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust

The Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust at Brühl are considered masterpieces of the rococo.

They were developed in the 18th century as the residence and hunting lodge for Clemens August, the archbishop and worldly ruler of Cologne. Augustusburg was created with a lot of help from artists like Balthasar Neumann who is responsible for the magnificent marble staircase. Falkenlust was used for the sport of falconry. Both are surrounded by French formal gardens.

Community Perspective: The staircase at Augustusburg is the must-see here, and you’ll have to join a tour for that.

Lübeck

The Hanseatic City of Lübeck represents the heritage of a leading player in the medieval Hanseatic League.

This league of merchant cities held a monopoly over the trade of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Lübeck’s town plan shows the strict socio-economic organization of that period. Despite serious damage during World War II, a large number of historic monuments remain such as religious buildings, salt storehouses and patrician residences.

Community Perspective: Some find that Old and New live in harmony here, while others lament the “ugly modern constructions, parked cars, cheap shops and eateries”. It’s essentially “a relatively modern city with a few patches of history still within it”. The Holstentor is its most iconic sight.

Pilgrimage Church of Wies

The Pilgrimage Church of Wies is considered a masterpiece of Bavarian Rococo.

In 1738 a miracle appeared in this Alpine valley: tears were seen on a dilapidated wooden figure of Christ. Pilgrims became so numerous that a proper sanctuary was needed. The oval church was decorated with exuberant stucco work and frescoes in lively colours by the brothers Johann Baptist and Dominikus Zimmermann.

Community Perspective: The interior is in a very fine condition and may be awe-inspiring or not (depending on how much you enjoy rococo). Be prepared to wait (church services of all kinds take precedence over tourists) and take your time inside. The church lies in a remote location in the Bavarian countryside, but visitors arrive here by the busload.

Hildesheim Cathedral and Church

St. Mary's Cathedral and St. Michael's Church at Hildesheim are exceptional testimonies to the religious art of the Holy Roman Empire.

St. Michael’s is considered a masterpiece of medieval architecture which has escaped substantial alterations in later years. Both churches were built in the 11th century in the Romanesque style. They hold artistic treasures such as the Bernward bronzes and the painted ceiling at St Michael's Church.

Community Perspective: Pristine or sterile? “It's almost too good to be true”: what you see today is two churches that were almost completely destroyed and rebuilt in the 1950s plus the result of recent renovations. But the late medieval art treasures are the originals, they were brought to safety during World War II (even the wooden ceiling).

Trier

The Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier are the testimonies of a Roman colony and its recognition of Christianity.

Trier became a Roman colony in the first century CE and until now holds the best remaining collection of Roman monuments north of the Alps, such as the Porta Nigra. It was a large city, at the trading crossroads between major towns in France and along the Rhine, and the seat of prefects and during the reign of Constantine even the vice-emperor (Caesar) of the Western Empire. He also introduced Christianity. The Cathedral of St. Peter and the Church of Our Lady are both early church buildings.

Community Perspective: It’s a magnificent place and it can keep you occupied for a day as there is so much to see. This site is a bit under-reviewed, although the regional museum (Rheinische Landesmuseum Trier) and the birthplace of Karl Marx are recommended in addition to the Roman monuments.

Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch

The Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch are rare surviving monuments of the era of Charlemagne.

The Abbey, its gatehouse and the Altenmünster date from about 764 CE. Its “Königshalle” became the burial place for the Carolingian kings of the Eastern part of the Frankish Realm. The monastery also holds sculptures and paintings from the Carolingian era.

Community Perspective: The Königshalle (better known as Torhalle: gatehouse) is its most notable monument as it has been preserved above ground in the best condition. Hubert has described it well. After 2014, the surrounding landscape has been turned into a garden so there are no obstructing views.

Potsdam

The Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin comprise an eclectic ensemble of architectural and landscaping masterpieces.

Potsdam was the residence of the Prussian kings until 1918; its majestic buildings were built mainly during the reign of Frederick II the Great (1740-1786) and according to designs of Peter Joseph Lenné. He incorporated influences from Italy, England, France, Flanders, Paris and Dresden.

Community Perspective: the Potsdam gardens are good for walking and an easy day trip from Berlin. The Sanssouci Palace is its main attraction, but it cannot be recommended to those with an allergy to “Stately Homes”. We can count on Hubert to perfectly describe a site like this!

Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is a series of landscape parks developed in the spirit of the Age of the Enlightenment.

Inspired by trips abroad (Italy, England), Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau and his friend Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff were the first to introduce landscape gardening to continental Europe. It took 40 years to complete the extensive landscape. The result served not only aesthetic purposes but also educational and economic goals.

Community Perspective: Wörlitz Park is considered the best among the inscribed series of gardens and landscape features. FK has provided a nice overview of all components. Overall, urban sprawling and the Autobahn distract a lot from what might have existed in the past.

Quedlinburg

The Collegiate Church, Castle and Old Town of Quedlinburg comprise a medieval townscape with a large number of high-quality timber-framed buildings.

Quedlinburg has been a prosperous trading town since the Middle Ages. Its architectural richness is connected to the Saxonian-Ottonian dynasty of the first German state, for whom this was their capital. Its layout is typical for a medieval town, having started as a castle village and later incorporating other neighbourhoods. The timber-framed houses mainly date from an economic boom between 1620 and 1720.

Community Perspective: The market square, with the Roland statue, and the Church of St. Servatius are its highlights.

Maulbronn Monastery

Maulbronn Monastery Complex is the most complete surviving Cistercian monastic structure in Northern and Central Europe.

The main church was built in a transitional style from Romanesque to Gothic. The complex also includes an extensive water-management system, consisting of a network of natural and artificial lakes and ponds over several terraces that interconnected by trenches and canals. After the Reformation in the 16th century, it was converted into a Protestant seminary.

Community Perspective: The whole ensemble including administrative and farm buildings has been preserved, so “it still looks today like a small medieval village grouped around its church”. Hubert also recognized the standardized Cistercian architectural concept that was used.

Rammelsberg and Goslar

The Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System constitute of one of the largest mining and metallurgical complexes for non-ferrous metals in Europe.

The Rammelsberg mining complex has an over 1,000 years long, continuous history of mining and metal production. The technological ensemble includes both surface and underground remains, including those for the management of water for drainage and power. The nearby town of Goslar achieved great prosperity in the late Middle Ages thanks to the revenues from mining, metal production and trade. It also played an important role in the Hanseatic League.

Community Perspective: Ian enjoyed a Christmassy Goslar, while Hubert has focused his review on the later addition of the Upper Harz Water Management system. The Rammelsberg mines can be visited by guided tours, of which Kbecq took two.

Bamberg

The Town of Bamberg represents a medieval town in Central Europe.

Bamberg has kept its early medieval town plan and many buildings from that period have survived. From the 10th century onwards, its layout and architecture have been a great influence in Poland, northern Germany and Hungary.

Community Perspective: Bamberg has a pretty riverine setting, cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses and the fine Town Hall (Altes Rathaus). It’s quite a pleasant town that will hold the attention of beer lovers for even longer.

Völklingen Ironworks

The Völklingen Ironworks represent a modern ironmaking plant from the 19th and 20th centuries.

At Völklingen Ironworks, several important technological innovations in the production of pig-iron were developed or first applied successfully on an industrial scale. The entire process of pig iron production was executed here. Most of the installations,  including blast furnaces, coke ovens, and gas-blowing engines, have been authentically preserved.

Community Perspective: It’s fairly pricey (17 EUR in 2023, without a guided tour), but it is fun to explore the site freely and it easily takes 2 hours. Solivagant has lovingly described the site's Blast Furnace.

Messel Pit

The Messel Pit Fossil contains unique remains from the Eocene, 47-48 million years ago when the first modern mammals appeared.

The Messel Pit is a disused quarry, in an ancient lake bed, in which bituminous shale was mined. It has produced well-preserved fossils of over 1,000 species of plants and animals.  Scientific excavation started in the 1970s and has produced remains of species such as fish, bats, birds, turtles and crocodiles.

Community Perspective: A friendly site that is now open to visitors all year round – see their website for the timing of the tours. It’s not worth it to only do the Visitor Center and Viewing Platform, especially considering the fee.

Bauhaus Sites

Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau represent the most prominent examples of the Bauhaus architectural school, which was the birthplace of Classical Modernism.

The "Staatliche Bauhaus" was responsible for the radical renewal of architecture and design. These seven (groups of) buildings represent both their initial phase in Weimar under Walter Gropius, and the second (and more successful) phase out of Dessau (with Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe). The Bauhaus building, made out of concrete, glass and steel, is a landmark in 20th-century architecture. 

Community Perspective: This has received glowing reviews from the modern architecture-loving part of the WH community (Ian even wrote 3 reviews!). Taking a guided tour of the Bauhaus building is a good start to understanding their ideas.

Luther Memorials

The Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg bear testimony to the Protestant Reformation.

These two towns are closely related to the lives of Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. The Memorials include sites associated with their lives as well as 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.

Community Perspective: “an odd inscription, it is more of interest for what happened here than what still exists”. And “it isn’t actually “that door” but a 19th century bronze replacement which doesn’t attempt any authenticity”. The famous Schlosskirche in Wittenberg is still an interesting place to visit, especially for the tombs of Luther and Melanchthon.

Classical Weimar

Classical Weimar reflects a period in history when this East German town was the cultural heart of Europe.

The creation of this ensemble of public and private buildings and parks was made possible by the Enlightened patronage of Duchess Anna Amalia and Duke Carl August. It attracted many leading writers and thinkers: Goethe made Weimar his home in 1775, and Herder and Schiller followed his example.

Community Perspective: It’s a small city with a lot to offer. All the buildings that are part of this WHS are within walking distance except for the Belvedere Castle. Try to get into the splendid Amalia Library as well.

Museumsinsel (Museum Island)

Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin, comprises an ensemble of museum buildings that show the evolution of modern museum design.

Between 1824 and 1830, five museums were built by the most renowned Prussian architects as part of a visionary project. Part of the Spreeinsel was allocated to this purpose, choosing a central urban setting to extend access to all people. The museums cannot be seen separate from their important collections.

Community Perspective: Major building works have been going on for a long time in the area and at least one of the five museums seems always to be closed, although Hubert made use of a small window of opportunity in 2009-2012 and Els saw it more or less 'finished' in 2023. Schinkel’s Altes Museum architecturally is probably the most interesting, while the Pergamon Museum is a favourite for its collection. The view of the Museuminsel from the boat trips on the Spree River is also recommended.

Wartburg Castle

Wartburg Castle represents the feudal period in Central Europe and is associated with a number of historic events.

Located on a hilltop and surrounded by forests, this “ideal castle” took shape in the late 12th century but was transformed to the current layout during 19th-century reconstructions. The Castle's history has been coloured by theological and artistic highlights rather than for military reasons. It was the home of St. Elisabeth of Hungary, the place where Martin Luther translated the New Testament of the Bible into German, and the site of the Wartburg festival of 1817.

Community Perspective: The impressive exterior stands out for its use of different styles and materials. A guided tour of the interior is worthwhile too, especially to see the ornate Festival Hall, the Ladies' Chamber and Martin Luther’s room. Brush up on your German because English and self-guided audio tours are not frequently available.

Reichenau

The Monastic Island of Reichenau developed around an influential Benedictine Abbey from the Early Middle Ages.

The island holds a group of medieval churches that retain elements of Carolingian, Ottonian, and Salian architecture. The Abbey housed a school, and a scriptorium and an artists' workshop. It reached its apex in the 10th and 11th centuries; with its monumental wall paintings and its production of lavishly illuminated manuscripts, it made a significant contribution to European art of that period.

Community Perspective: You actually have to go and look at three churches (St Mary and Marcus, St Peter and St Paul, and St George), that’s where the 10th-century murals are. St. George (the best) has very limited opening hours and needs a guided visit, so plan your visit accordingly.

Frontiers of the Roman Empire

The Frontiers of the Roman Empire comprise significant remains of the Limes Romanus, a border defense or delimiting system of Ancient Rome.

It includes the Upper German-Raetian Limes, Hadrian’s Wall, and Antonine Wall, all built in the 2nd century CE in the northwestern part of the Empire. The Romans constructed military installations (forts, barriers, watchtowers, ditches) and related civilian settlements, linked by roads, to separate their citizens from the “barbarians”.

Community Perspective: The Roman Fort of Saalburg is the most visited part of the German component. The remains of Hadrian’s Wall can be admired on a hike (Ian), by the AD 122 bus, or by some selective exploration (James). A part of the (less well-preserved) Antonine Wall has been covered by Jay and Allan.

Great Spa Towns of Europe

The Great Spa Towns of Europe represent the development of a specialized urban landscape that combined medical aspects, physical exercise and leisure.

These eleven Spa Towns are centered on natural mineral springs, which waters were used for bathing and drinking. The towns were expanded with important examples of  ‘spa architecture’, such as the ‘kurhaus’, drinking halls, theaters and casinos. They flourished from around 1700 to the 1930s.

Community Perspective: expect to find some fine Art Nouveau buildings, do some hiking, taste the water and most of the towns have modern spa facilities as well. Reviews of all inscribed towns are available: in Austria, Baden (Tsunami), in Belgium, Spa (Els, Clyde), in the UK, Bath (a double entry), in Italy, Montecatini Terme (Marian), in France, Vichy (Tsunami), in Germany, Baden-Baden (Caspar, Hubert), Bad Kissingen (Hubert), Bad Ems (Els), and in Czechia: Karlovy Vary (Matejicek, Hubert, Nan), Mariánské Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert), and Františkovy Lázně (Matejicek, Hubert).

Lower German Limes

The Lower German Limes formed the north-eastern border of the Roman province Germania Inferior along the Rhine between the North Sea coast in the Netherlands and the Rhine south of Bonn where the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes starts.

They include the traces of military fortifications, roads, settlements, an aqueduct and canals, often now buried in wetland. The long linear frontier made the Roman army adapt to the use of smaller military installations instead of big operational bases. The frontier was far from impregnable and allowed for trade and cultural exchange.

Community Perspective: Most of the structures only have been preserved underground. Original remains are visible at the Archaeological Park Xanten (“Roman Disneyland”: “It's a bit strange to reconstruct a temple as a ruin, isn't it?”), the Haus Bürgel in Monheim, the Cologne Praetorium, and in Iversheim. In the Netherlands, you can visit some remains under the Dom Square in Utrecht.

ShUM Sites

The ShUM cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz refer to the cluster of three Jewish communities from the High Middle Ages: Shpira (Sh), Warmaisa (W=U), and Magenza (M).

They were centres of Jewish scholarship and of great importance for Ashkenazic Judaism, which developed here in the diaspora. The form of the synagogues, baths and cemeteries influenced Jewish architectural design, ritual buildings and burial culture across Western Europe, and their specific customs and legal principles are still effective for Orthodox Judaism today.

Community Perspective: The two parts where there is the most to see are the ‘Judenhof’ in Speyer – not to be missed there is its mikveh – and the ‘Heiliger Sand’ cemetery in Worms, which has survived WWII and holds very old Jewish tombstones. The latter is now open daily (except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays) without a guided tour.

Zollverein

The Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen represents the development of traditional heavy industries in Europe and the innovative architecture that was used.

Mining here started in the mid-19th century, along the major railway to Cologne. Its complete installations (including pits, coking plants, pit heaps and miner’s housing) have been preserved. Zollverein XII (shaft no. 12) from 1930 is especially noteworthy for its modernist architecture, where both functionality and aesthetic qualities counted.

Community Perspective: The site is very large and a guided tour is recommended. Many of the buildings nowadays are used for art exhibitions; the Red Dot Design Museum for example is worth looking inside. Hubert has provided an excellent overview of what’s to see. For an opposite view, read Solivagant’s ‘rant’.

Stralsund and Wismar

The Historic Centres of Stralsund and Wismar represent Hanseatic trading towns and influential examples of brick construction.

The two coastal cities were the leading centers of the Wendish section of the Hanseatic League from the 13th to the 15th centuries. Several churches and residential and commercial buildings were built in fired brick in the elaborate architectural style of Brick Gothic. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the cities were fortified and further developed under Swedish rule.

Community Perspective: The medieval townscape has been well-preserved in these two smallish cities. The main highlights of both are the gothic red-brick churches.

Upper Middle Rhine Valley

The Upper Middle Rhine Valley is a cultural landscape that has been formed by the transport of means and ideas for over 2,000 years.

This area between Bingen and Koblenz is covered in ruined medieval castles, historic towns and vineyards. The rocky Rhine Valley was already a major traffic route in Roman times. During the Middle Ages, many castles were built and their owners levied tolls in return for protection against robbers. The dramatic natural scenery combined with the castle ruins inspired the 19th-century Romantic movement in art.

Community Perspective: Ian enjoyed the southern half of the Valley around Bacharach, Els recommends Marksburg Castle, and Hubert describes what a boat tour here involves.

Town Hall and Roland, Bremen

The Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen represent the civic autonomy and market freedom during the Holy Roman Empire.

The Town Hall and statue of Roland are prominently placed on the market square of the Hanzestadt Bremen. Roland statues can be found in a number of German towns, they represent market rights and freedom. The Old Town Hall was built in 1409 in Gothic and was renovated in the 17th century in the Weser Renaissance style. It was specially designed to act as a Town Hall and was used until the early 20th century.

Community Perspective: Bremen overall comes out as quite pleasant (the Böttcherstrasse is recommended), but you wouldn’t go there only for its Town Hall (of a type common in the Low Lands) and heavily reconstructed Roland. Do take a guided tour of the interior of the Town Hall.

Muskauer Park

Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski is a 19th-century landscape park that has been influential in landscape architecture.

The founder of the park was Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, who developed the park initially on the grounds of its estate and then extended it to reach the town of Bad Muskau. He incorporated human-made architectural elements into a network of vistas along with natural components.

Community Perspective: The park now lies on both sides of the German/Polish border at the river Neisse in a fairly remote location. It requires a lot of walking to see it all, so it’s better to rent a bike. The buildings (Old and New Castle) are not that impressive. Pückler was a very avid early traveller, and he even has his own connection!

Regensburg

The Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof has an almost intact late medieval city center with many Romanesque and Gothic buildings.

Regensburg was an important trading centre along the Danube from the 11th to the 14th centuries. Also, the Imperial Assemblies of the Holy Roman Empire were held here. Its roots lie in the Roman town of Castra Regina.

Community Perspective: The town has a fascinating history, but some find its current townscape dull while others are quite smitten with it. Have a look at its old tower houses, the Alte Kapelle or Romanesque Scottish Portal at St Jakob's church. And then there’s always beer and sausages. The Stadtamhof in the title is the name of a district on the opposite side of the river from the center.

Primeval Beech Forests

The Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe show the expansion and genetic adaptability of the European beech since the last Ice Age.

They comprise the largest remaining forests of the European beech ('Fagus sylvatica') across 18 countries. They also hold the largest and tallest beech specimens in the world. The European beech is a very adaptable species and it is spread across areas of different altitudinal zones, with different climatic and geological conditions.

Community Perspective: “I would like this beech forest madness to stop.” – this cry from Philipp seems to sum up the verdict on this WHS nicely; Caspar also shares some philosophical insights on the matter. But reviewers keep being drawn to its many locations. An inventory of the reviews results in 14 parks ‘ticked’: Vihorlat (Slova) – Els, John, Petteri, Matejicek; Stuzica (Slova) – Jarek, John; Hainich (Ger) – Hubert, John, Ian, Nan, Adrian; Kellerwald (Ger) – Peter, Clyde, Solivagant, John, Nan, Adrian; Grumsin (Ger) – Boj, Tsunami, Adrian; Jasmund (Ger) – Thijs, John, Michael, Matejicek, Nan, Tsunami, Adrian; Serrahn (Ger) – Adrian; Sonian Forest (Bel) – Els, Caspar, Adrian; Monte Cimino (Ita) – Matejicek; Foresta Umbra (Ita) – Matejicek; Bieszcziady (Pol) – Matejicek; Jizera (Cz) - Matejicek; Bettlachberg (Swi) – Philipp, Adrian; Mavrovo (NMac) – Chris.

Berlin Modernism Housing Estates

The Berlin Modernism Housing Estates represent low-income housing architecture from the early 20th century.

The six estates were urban and architectural innovations in search of improved housing and living conditions. The prominent architects Bruno Taut, Martin Wagner and Walter Gropius contributed to these projects, which also included garden design.

Community Perspective: Ian has perfectly described the mixed emotions this site evokes. Hubert visited all 6 components in one day on public transport. The Hufeisensiedlung may be the most exceptional; Elena has revealed a tip to view this like a resident.

Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands, rich in biological diversity

The area is typified by extensive tidal mud flats, deeper tidal creeks and the transitional zones between the sea, the freshwater environment and the surrounding (is)lands. Its coastal wetlands are considered one of the most important areas for migratory birds in the world, with an average of 10-12 million passing through it each year. 

Community Perspective: the site comprises 7 components and different national parks (the bigger islands mostly aren’t included). Reviews are available for places in the Netherlands (John, Clyde, Chris, Els), Germany (John, Ian, Michael, Nan) and Denmark (John). The ‘proper’ way of exploring the Wadden is via a mud hike like the ones Kbecq, Assif and Nan reported on.

Fagus Factory

The Fagus Factory in Alfeld, an operational factory producing shoe lasts, is an important example of early modern architecture.

The group of buildings was built in 1911 by the architect Walter Gropius. Light was required for work purposes: this led to an almost entirely glazed building, via the innovative use of "curtain walls" (vast glass panels). The functionalist approach was a major break with the existing architectural and decorative values of the time and it is considered the starting point of the Bauhaus movement.

Community Perspective: Access to the main factory buildings is possible only on weekends by guided tour (though Ian got some VIP access!) – on other days you have to make do with the interesting exhibition in the former storehouse and the outside views of the glass panels.

Prehistoric Pile Dwellings

The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps are the remains of prehistoric agrarian lake shore communities.

Rising water levels since prehistory led to the abandonment of these stilt house settlements. Covered by lake and river sediments, organic materials such as wooden structures have been preserved. Archeological findings further include the oldest textiles discovered in Europe, dugout canoes and wooden wheels. About 30 different cultural groups were responsible for creating these pile dwellings.

Community Perspective: only at very few of the 111 locations can original remains be seen, at the others, you will be staring “intently at the water trying to spot the merest hint of some buried rotten wood”. Molina di Ledro and Fiave in Italy are your best bets. Solivagant contemplates what a visit to the Pile Dwellings entails, and Hubert has visited multiple locations.

Margravial Opera House

The Margravial Opera House Bayreuth is an 18th-century Court Opera House that is considered a masterwork of Baroque theatre architecture.

It is the sole surviving example of a Court Opera House in the world, and its layout, design and materials have been preserved mostly unchanged. As it is located in a public urban space instead of within the walls of a private residence, the Margravial Opera House can be seen as a precursor to the later great public opera houses.

Community Perspective: It’s the site that closed its doors almost right after becoming a WHS! Its interior has been inaccessible between 2012 and 2018, and you really needn’t go there for the exterior. Hubert was the first one to review it after the reopening and described the visitor experience.

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is a monumental Baroque and Romantic garden landscape renowned for its monumental water structures.

The dramatic water displays were laid out by Landgrave Carl of Hesse-Kassel in 1689 to display his power as an absolute ruler. He derived his ideas from Italian, French and English examples of garden art. Water descends from the Giant statue of Hercules, passing a water-wheel-powered organ, various fountains, waterfalls, basins and grottoes.

Community Perspective: Be sure to visit on a “Fountain Day” – the waterworks are only on display on Wednesday and Sunday. It’s quite a hike (5km) to get to the Hercules at the top of the hill, so park near the top if you want to save some energy. Els spent a full day at the site and her review gives an idea of what there is to see and do.

Corvey

The Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey comprise an early medieval Christian monastic complex.

The monastery has the oldest surviving example of a Westwerk, a massive, tower-like western front typical of Carolingian churches. It holds a rare cycle of mural paintings depicting classic mythological subjects applied to a religious building.

Community Perspective: Be aware that only the Westwerk is inscribed – this is just part of the current monastic complex; you may see all other visitors heading for the ‘Schloss’ but as a WH Traveller you need to go around the corner. The interior is only accessible from April – October and joining a tour is recommended. Els has elaborated somewhat on what a 'Westwerk' actually is.

Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District

The Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus represent the warehouse-office district of the port city of Hamburg.

The warehouses and offices, together with their connecting network of streets, canals and bridges, date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The iconic Chilehaus, a ten-story office building, is an exceptional example of the 1920s Modernist architecture (in the Brick Expressionism style) that defines this district.

Community Perspective: Nan has provided a local perspective, while Assif shares some insights on its architectural history. The Chilehaus is considered the area’s highlight.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier comprises 17 of his works across the world.

The renowned French-Swiss architect is seen as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. The series shows the dissemination of his ideas over the world during a period of 50 years, spanning seven countries on three continents. Many of the sites reflect new architectural concepts, principles, and technical features.  All were innovative and had a significant influence over wide geographical areas They also contributed to the birth of three major trends in modern architecture: Purism, Brutalism and sculptural architecture.

Community Perspective: Hubert has become our expert on this subject, having visited 14 of the 17 components. Reviews that include the interior are available of Casa Curutchet (Serianne, Nan, Michael, Timonator), Villa Savoye (Ian, Els, Ilya), Weißenhofsiedlung  (Solivagant), Sainte Marie de La Tourette in Éveux (Hubert), Firminy-Vert (Hubert), the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille (Hubert, Jakob), Maison La Roche (Hubert), Molitor (Hubert), National Museum of Western Art (Frederik), Chandigarh (Solivagant), Notre Dame du Haut Chapel (Clyde), Cité Frugès (Hubert).

Mining Cultural Landscape Erzgebirge

Erzgebirge / Krušnohoří Mining Region comprises a mining landscape that has been used from the Middle Ages onwards.

These Saxon-Bohemian Ore Mountains were mined over centuries for the metals silver, tin, zinc, cobalt, nickel, copper and lead; but anthracite and uranium were also extracted into the 20th century. They have produced technological and scientific innovations, such as the introduction of early modern monetary systems and the founding of the first mining high school. Its miners spread their knowledge across the world by means of emigration.

Community Perspective: This site is hard to grasp as there are so many elements. You need to see a few of them, which is much easier when you have a car. Overall the ones in Czechia seem to be the most authentic: Jachymov and the traces of tin mining in Abretamy-Horní Blatná-Boží Dar are recommended among others. Mohboh made it to the uranium ore plant Red Tower of Death.

Caves and Ice Age Art

The Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura comprise archaeological sites from the Aurignacian period where stone tools, figurative art and early musical instruments have been found.

These six caves in the Ach Valley and along the Lone River have produced evidence of the presence of modern humans who arrived in Europe some 43,000 years ago. The discovered objects were carved from various materials, including mammoth ivory. They include the figurines of the ‘Venus of Hohle Fels’ and the ‘Lion Man’.

Community Perspective: The findings were amazing, but unfortunately they are moveable and have been shipped to museums long ago. A visit won’t be complete without a visit to one of those – the Urgeschichtliches Museum in Blaubeuren is recommended. Among the actual caves, Hohle Fels is the most impressive; Hubert gives a good overview of them all. Nan has described how to get around the area on public transport and Clyde provided an itinerary by car.

Naumburg Cathedral

The Naumburg Cathedral contains artistic masterpieces of a medieval sculptor and his workshop, known as ‘the Naumburg Master’.

The 13th-century Cathedral shows a combination of architecture, sculptures and painted glass windows. It’s especially renowned for its lifesize polychrome sculptures of the twelve cathedral founders, all created by the Naumburg Master.

Community Perspective:  Its scope has been severely limited on the road to the inscription (this was an especially painful one as after 3 times ICOMOS effectively gave up), until only the Cathedral remained. Overall, the reviewers find it worth visiting; it’s a niche site that has been ‘hidden’ for too long in the countryside of the GDR.

Hedeby and Danevirke

The Archaeological Border Complex of Hedeby and the Danevirke comprises the archeological site of a medieval trading network that existed between Western and Northern Europe.

The Danevirke was a 33km long fortified wall that marked the border between the emerging Danish kingdom and the Frankish Empire. Hedeby was a market town that expanded due to the growing economic power of the Danish Vikings.

Community Perspective: the Viking Museum at Haithabu provides the most comprehensive overview, although its structures are mostly reconstructions as not much of the originals are left beyond the earthworks. Nan provides a local perspective, and Clyde describes a full visit including the Dannewerk museum.

Danube Limes

Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Danube Limes (Western Segment) comprises the remains of the Roman border along the Danube River.

This 600km stretch of military installations was linked by a military road parallel to the river. The Pannonian fleet patrolled the river. A series of legionary fortresses, with thousands of soldiers each, formed its backbone. Civilian towns developed around them, and their Roman citizens introduced Roman culture (such as baths, shrines and an amphitheatre) to their surroundings.

Community Perspective: among its 75 locations, the most accessible ones are Vindobona in the center of Vienna and Porta Praetoria in Regensburg. Hubert provides a comprehensive overview of locations with visible remains in Germany, Austria and Slovakia.

Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt

Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt represents the architectural and artistical transition from Art Noveau to Modernism.

Founded by the Grand Duke of Hesse, Mathildenhöhe evolved as a semi-utopian community with innovative artists’ houses and studio buildings (1899-1914). The cityscape was further embellished via four pioneering international building exhibitions, and their permanent buildings have resulted in a “Gesamtkunstwerk”.

Community Perspective: This occupies a relatively small area within Darmstadt. Visit the Museum “Künstlerkolonie”, the best introduction to the works of interior decoration of this group of artists and about the only place you can enter except for the Wedding Tower.

Jewish-Medieval heritage of Erfurt

The Jewish-Medieval Heritage of Erfurt comprises three medieval Jewish buildings from the heydays of Jewish life in Central Europe.

The Old Synagogue, the Mikveh and the Stone House were embedded within the architecture of their Christian surroundings. The authentically preserved buildings are among the rare remaining examples from this period before the pogroms of the 14th century started.

Community Perspective: the synagogue has now opened as a museum and includes the display of the "Erfurt treasure". The mikveh can be visited by guided tour only (Saturday) and the (difficult to identify) stone house is closed to visitors.

Ghana
Forts and Castles Gold Coast

"Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions" comprises the remains of trading posts along the Gold Coast from the colonial period, which shaped the world’s history for centuries.

These Western-style fortifications and outposts (mostly Portuguese, Dutch and British) were constructed to support the trade in gold and later slaves. The most notable is Elmina Castle, one of the oldest European buildings outside Europe, built in 1482.

Community Perspective: Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle are the most visited components and are in good condition. Chris managed to take in 11 castles on a road trip, and Richard dwells upon the fate of the slaves held captive here.

Asante Traditional Buildings

The Asante Traditional Buildings are the only surviving examples of traditional Asante architecture.

They are shrines/fetish houses decorated with symbolic bas-reliefs. The buildings traditionally have steep thatched roofs on top of a timber framework filled up with clay. Each building consists of four rooms around a quadrangular courtyard. Some of the enlisted buildings still have priests, some don't.

Community Perspective: it has taken a lot of research to find out which buildings are part of this WHS as it lacks an official map; the opinion at the moment is that there are 10 of them, but not all coordinates and names are known. Els and Solivagant both visited Besease shrine, the easiest to reach from Kumasi. Jarek additionally covered Aduko Jachie and Kentikrono in his review.

Greece
Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae

The Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae comprises the remains of a rural temple with outstanding architectural features.

The classical Greek columned temple was built from 420 to 400 BCE and was dedicated to the god of healing. It survived largely intact. Its originality lies in the use of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian elements, including the earliest surviving Corinthian column capital. A 31-meter-long frieze (now in the British Museum) covered the interior on all four sides.

Community Perspective: The temple has been covered by some kind of tent since 1987, which “both help and hinder your ability to appreciate it” as explained by Michael. Solivagant shines a light on its Architectural significance. Those on public transport will need a taxi ride from the closest town, Andritsaina.

Archaeological Site of Delphi

The Archaeological Site of Delphi comprises the remains of a sanctuary in a magnificent natural setting that was the "navel of the universe" and had a huge impact on the ancient world.

Delphi reached its height in the 4th century BCE, when large numbers of pilgrims came to ask advice of its oracle who was believed to be Apollo's mouthpiece. In return, the pilgrims from all across Greece and abroad brought votive gifts to the temple. Delphi’s Theatre and Stadium, where the Pythian Games took place every four years, were also important attractions. 

Community Perspective: "Its remaining monuments don´t quite reflect its extreme significance in ancient Greece" - Squiffy thinks it could have done with more reconstruction, while Astraftis begs to differ. Don't miss the theatre and the stadium high above the photogenic Temple of Apollo, and the museum is recommended too. The site can be reached by bus from Athens, but it is better to stay overnight nearby.

Acropolis

The Acropolis, Athens holds a group of monuments that have been influential from Antiquity to Neo-Classicism.

The striking complex of monuments is situated on a hill that dominates Athens. Starting as a fortress, it gradually became a cult site for the city goddess Athena. A building programme in the 5th century BCE resulted in the architectural masterpieces of the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion.

Community Perspective: Classical Greece at its best. The lower slopes and the New Acropolis Museum are outside the core zone, but well worth additions to a visit.

Mount Athos

Mount Athos is a holy mountain that has been the spiritual centre of the Orthodox world since 1054.

The forest-clad slopes of Mount Athos lie on a peninsula in the Aegean Sea. This self-administered area, which is forbidden to women and children, includes 20 monasteries that have been influential on religious architecture and iconographic painting. Mount Athos is also home to 12 "sketes", communities of Christian hermits.

Community Perspective: Several male community members have succeeded in entering: Solivagant (in 1965!), Bojan (a Serbian perspective), Tsunami (at Orthodox Easter), Nan (has well-described the practicalities involved), Alexander (comes with some warnings). For the females, only a sightseeing boat trip is available as detailed by Els.

Meteora

Meteora comprises a landscape filled with monasteries built on high rock pillars.

The monasteries were founded in the 14th and 15th centuries as an expression of life in solitude and offered protection in times of political instability. Some hold fine post-Byzantine frescoes. The iconic sandstone rock pillars were created about 60 million years ago by the effects of rivers and earthquakes.

Community Perspective: Set in a stunning landscape, some of the monasteries can only be reached on foot via many steps. They all close on certain days of the week and may have a long lunch break (see the schedule in Daniel’s review). Els has described how to visit on public transport and solved the mystery of the 7th monastery.

Thessalonika

The Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika comprise a series of mostly religious monuments known for their mosaics and distinct architectural typology.

Thessalonika was the Byzantine Empire's second city (to Constantinople) and an important artistic centre. These monuments were constructed from the 4th to the 15th century. They contain masterpieces from Early Christian art (such as the mosaics in the Rotunda), as well as subsequent periods, culminating in the churches of the late Byzantine Period.

Community Perspective: Thessaloniki is a convenient hub to explore the WHS of northern Greece. Allow one day in the city itself to check out the 15 components, and be aware that some have very limited opening hours. Assif has provided a good summary, while Hubert additionally recommends the Museum of Byzantine Culture.

Epidaurus

The Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus is renowned for its influential healing cult and Hellenic architecture, especially its Theatre.

From the 4th century BCE, Epidaurus became widely known as a sanctuary to Asclepius, the God of Medicine. There were temples, baths and a hospital here, and people from as far as Rome came to be healed. The Theatre of Epidaurus is an architectural masterpiece because of the perfection of its proportions and acoustics.

Community Perspective: There is not much to see of the original buildings from the place of healing, but the theater with a seating capacity of 14,000 is a highlight. Tsunami was able to attend a performance in the theater at night.

Rhodes

The Medieval City of Rhodes, built by the Christian military order Knights Hospitalers, is a historic town in the eastern Mediterranean.

The fortified city center is located within a 4km long wall. It has numerous fine Frankish (Gothic) and Ottoman buildings. The high town is where the buildings from the Knights remain, such as the Grand Masters' Palace and the inns. In the lower town, built when the city was expanding, Byzantine and Islamic monuments can be found.

Community Perspective: Usually “stuffed with visitors from cruise ships and the nearby party destinations”, the site best is explored off-season. The Palace of the Grand Master and the Street of the Knights are the highlights from the period of the Knights.

Mystras

The Archaeological Site of Mystras is a relict townscape from the late medieval period.

Mystras was created as a castle, but the inhabitants of nearby Sparta fled to this safe place and developed it into a city. At the end of the 14th century, Mystras was the centre of Byzantine power in the Peloponnesus, became a bishopric and gained numerous monasteries and churches. The remains of palaces, mansions and urban residences also demonstrate its former importance and wealth.

Community Perspective: Walk its cobbled streets and “beautiful frescos and excellent Byzantine architecture will make your day”.

Olympia

The Archaeological Site of Olympia holds several masterpieces from the Ancient Greek world and was the site of the original Olympic Games.

Already in the 10th century BCE, Olympia became a center of worship of Zeus. It flourished until 426 CE and was adorned with many great pieces of art (mostly sculptures such as the giant Olympia Zeus) and architecture. Olympia now is mainly remembered for the games that were held here every 4 years, which got their Pan-Hellenic character in 776 BCE. A stadium, hippodrome and associated training structures remain.

Community Perspective: The stadium and the museum are the parts not to be missed.

Delos

Delos is a small island that holds the archaeological site of one of the greatest Hellenistic sanctuaries.

The island was considered sacred in ancient Greek culture as it was the mythological birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. The feast of the Delians, which was celebrated every four years, was one of the major events in the Greek world. Later Delos began to prosper as a cosmopolitan Mediterranean port, which can be seen in the rich public and residential buildings at the site.

Community Perspective: Delos can easily be reached by one of the daily ferries from Mykonos. It’s a vast and unshaded site. The green walking trail (to the upper area with the foreign-influenced buildings) and the museum are recommended.

Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios

The Monasteries of Daphni, Hossios Luckas and Nea Moni of Chios are masterpieces of the second golden age of Byzantine art.

The three geographically distant monasteries date from the 11th and 12th centuries. They have the same typology and aesthetic features, with a large dome and marble and mosaic decorations on a gold background.

Community Perspective: most people visited Daphni as it is conveniently close to Athens, although a visit never was satisfying as it has been under construction for ages - the first review after fully reopening is from Bergecn. Hosios Loukas (near Delphi) has been covered by Ilya, Clyde and David, while John and Tsunami reported on Nea Moni on the island of Chios.

Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos

Pythagoreion and the Heraion of Samos hold the remains of two influential classical architectural structures.

Pythagoreion was an ancient fortified port with Greek and Roman monuments. In it lies the Tunnel of Eupalinos, 1,036 m in length and built in the 6th century BCE, excavated from both ends with a methodical approach in doing so. The Heraion of Samos was an 8th-century BCE sanctuary, the first of the gigantic Ionic temples, and after its destruction by an earthquake an even larger one was built with the largest known floor plan of any Greek temple.

Community Perspective: Pythagoreio (yes, named after the mathematician) is a town of scattered remains, but hiking in the area is pleasant and you can do so between the Heraion and the Tunnel. Els has described a visit to the interior of the Tunnel.

Archaeological Site of Aigai

The Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina) holds the remains of Macedonia's first capital, Aegae.

It was the seat of the royal family of Philip II and Alexander the Great. Aegae flourished chiefly in the second half of the 4th century BCE. From this period, the palace, theatre and the necropolis remain. The royal tombs, with burials spanning a longer period, were decorated with wall paintings and held rich grave goods.

Community Perspective: The focus of the site is the great museum that is cut into Philip´s tumulus. The palace area has been closed for restoration for ages and stays unreviewed. Hubert has provided the most up-to-date info (September 2023).

Mycenae and Tiryns

The Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns comprise the remains of the two greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilisation.

Between 1600 and 1200 BCE, the Mycenean kingdom was the most powerful in Greece. It served as an inspiration for the Homeric epics and tablets written with the earliest examples of the Greek language, linear B, have been found here. Among the remaining monuments are the massive defensive walls of both cities and the Lions Gate.

Community Perspective: Mycenae’s highlights include the Lions Gate and its on-site museum, while at the less-crowded Tiryns mostly the walls remain.

Island of Patmos

The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint John "the Theologian" and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos represent a traditional Greek Orthodox pilgrimage centre.

The Cave of the Apocalypse is venerated by both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as the place where St. John the Apostle had his visions around 95 CE. A fortified monastery dedicated to him was added in 1088. The associated settlement of Chorá dates from late medieval times and includes mostly 17th-century small churches and residential houses.

Community Perspective: Patmos Island is reachable by ferries from Rhodes, Mykonos and Samos, and a bus awaits for the uphill transfer to Chora. The sites can even be covered on a day trip, but when you stay overnight you can enjoy the rest of this pretty island.

Corfu

The Old Town of Corfu is noted for its defence system dating from the Venetian period.

The Venetians built two fortresses, the Old and the New Fortress, to withstand the Ottoman army. The British demolished most of them in the 19th century, during the period when Corfu was a British protectorate, but the overall form of the fortifications has been retained. The town also has preserved its remarkable British Neoclassical housing of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Community Perspective: The imposing New Fortress lies on a hill and provides panoramic views over the city, while the Old Fortress seems to be in better shape and has some Venetian traces and a lot of British Neoclassical buildings including the Anglican Church of St. George. Hubert has described the approach from Ioannina.

Archaeological site of Philippi

The Archaeological Site of Philippi comprises the ruins of a city that saw its heyday in Roman and Early Christian times.

Philippi was founded in 356 BCE by the Macedon King Phillip II on a strategic location on the east-west route through his empire (later this became the Via Egnatia). When it became a Roman colony, the Hellenistic city was transformed by adding Roman public buildings. The city later became a Christian pilgrimage site, because it had been visited by the Apostle Paul around 49 or 50 CE, and was extended with Early Christian architecture such as the Basilica.

Community Perspective: With its Roman and Christian roots it differs greatly from other Greek WHS from Antiquity – although it needs “a lot of faith and/or imagination to breathe life into its dead stones”. The site can be visited as a day trip from Thessaloniki (take a bus to Krinides), and expect to spend around 2 hours at the site.

Zagori Cultural Landscape

Zagori Cultural Landscape covers an agro-pastoral landscape with numerous traditional villages.

It lies in Epirus, a mountain region in north-western Greece near the Albanian border. Most of the villages were founded in the 15th century and are examples of vernacular stone architecture adapted to the conditions of a mountain region. Besides buildings like schools and churches in the villages, they include stone bridges, stone paths, and stone staircases.

Community Perspective: best to be explored over 2 to 3 days by rental car and on foot, with the target to see Gorges, Bridges and Villages.

Guatemala
Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park comprises the remains of a major center of the Maya civilization, located within a forest that is rich in animal and plant diversity.

Tikal was one of the most important political, economic and military centres of the Ancient Maya, who reigned over large parts of the region during its heydays between 200 and 900. The site shows different stages of their evolution, resulting in monumental structures such as pyramids, temples, ball courts, stone stelae, water reservoirs and a network of causeways (sacbe). Animals include jaguar, puma, tapir, howler monkeys, anteaters, crocodiles, and more than 300 bird species.

Community Perspective: "You get it all at Tikal": the main ruins are spectacular and its rainforest environment is still intact. Allow at least 2 days. It is also directly accessible by public transport.

Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala is a Spanish-colonial urban landscape filled with baroque architecture.

Antigua was the capital of the Spanish colonial government in Central America. The catholic church played an important role in daily life, which resulted in numerous churches, monasteries and examples of religious imagery. The 16th-century basic grid town plan has been preserved. The baroque building style was adapted to better withstand earthquakes.

Community Perspective: Unequalled among the colonial towns in Central America, beautifully preserved, and in its tourist approach geared towards a boutiquey international lifestyle. Els gives an overview of the main sights.

Quirigua

The Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua comprise an ancient Maya site renowned for its outstanding carved stone stelae.

The monuments centered around the Great Plaza are remarkable for their complexity and the artistic skill shown in the sculptures. Their hieroglyphic texts and sculpted calendars are an essential source for the study of Mayan history and culture. Quirigua in the 8th century was an administrative center and monuments were erected marking the end of five-year periods.

Community Perspective: a small site, but the stelae and sculptures are in exquisite condition. The surroundings with numerous birds and working banana plantations are pleasant as well.

Tak'alik Ab'aj

The National Archaeological Park Tak’alik Ab’aj comprises remains that show the transition from the Olmec to the Early Mayan culture.

Tak’alik Ab’aj flourished from the 9th century BCE through to at least the 10th century CE as an important centre of commerce. The site comprises four groups of in total some 240 monuments, including ball courts, hydraulic systems, petroglyphs, a royal tomb, Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions and what is possibly an Olmec colossal head. It is renowned for the diversity of styles of sculptures from different cultures that congregated there.

Community Perspective: it needs a significant detour from the standard Guatemalan itinerary and the site lacks decent signposting to what can be found where. The ruins are mostly overgrown, but provide a worthwhile insight into this ancient city.

Guinea
Mount Nimba

Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve comprises montane forests with a high number of endemic plant and animal species.

These species include multiple types of duikers, big cats, civets, and several types of viviparous toads. It also has a population of chimpanzees using stones as tools. The Nature Reserve consists of high-altitude grassland, plains savannah and primary forest including rain forest. Its diversity is supported by the occurrence of a variety of microclimates.

Community Perspective: Iain visited the Guinean part in 1995 and witnessed a landscape with “a number of tumbling sparkling rivers and waterfalls, several natural bridges and possibly the biggest bamboo I've ever seen”.

Haiti
National History Park

National History Park - Citadel, Sans-Souci, Ramiers comprises an immense fortress and a palace that symbolize Haïti’s independence and the end of slavery.

The massive stone structure was built by up to 20,000 workers between 1805 and 1820 as part of a system of fortifications designed to keep the newly-independent nation of Haiti safe from French incursions. The Sans-Souci Palace, which stands at the foot of the road to the Citadel, was the residence of King Henri Christophe, a key leader during the Haitian slave rebellion.

Community Perspective: reviewers recall adventures from the past while describing a visit to this site, though even after Haïti became less and less safe, it still could be fairly easily visited from the Dominican Republic. Jacob has provided the most recent insights, reaching it by using a flight between Fort Lauderdale and Cap Haitien.

Holy See
Vatican City

Vatican City is an important site in the history of Christianity that is also known for its Renaissance and Baroque artistic creations.

Since the foundation of Saint Peter’s Basilica by Constantine (4th century), the Vatican has been a main pilgrimage center and later became the permanent seat of the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church. It holds many important examples of sacred architecture and art created since the 16th century, including the Sistine Chapel.

Community Perspective: Even if you are not Christian or not a believer, you can´t fail to be impressed by these monuments. The best attractions are the Vatican Museums (where the Sistine Chapel also can be found) and the Dome of St. Peter's Basilica. Both are always crowded, so pre-book what you can.

Rome

The Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura comprise major monuments of Roman Antiquity and the Christian faith.

An extraordinary number of monumental remains of Ancient Rome have been preserved here and have always been visible in its streets. Christian Rome was built on top of that, adding Renaissance and Baroque monuments that were created by some of the most renowned artists of all time. Its influence around the world has been both secular (eg. in law, and language) and religious (eg. the goal of pilgrimages, and the presence of the Pope).

Community Perspective: No city “comes close to Rome in terms of history, culture, architecture, and influence on the rest of the world”. It needs several visits of multiple days, also over time as they keep on discovering and opening up things to the public.

Honduras
Copán

The Maya Site of Copán is renowned for the number and artistic quality of its remaining stelae, sculptures, and altars from the Classic Maya Period.

Copán was a political, civil, and religious centre for the southeast of the Maya area. The main complex consists of the Acropolis and five plazas, with ball courts, temples, and altar complexes. The highlight is the inscription on the Hieroglyphic Stairway, the longest known Maya hieroglyphic text which describes the most important rulers in the dynastic history of the site.

Community Perspective: though not as huge as Tikal, the site is worth a couple of hours. Unfortunately, two or three of the most beautiful stelae and sacrificial altars are represented by reproductions, the originals having been moved to the nearby museum. It is easily accessible both from the Guatemala border or by staying overnight in the town of Copan Ruinas. They have a system of separate fees for all the components, which makes it one of the more expensive Mayan WHS to see. Also, be aware of days when it is closed for maintenance, Frederic even had to resort to a clandestine tour on one of those.

Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve

The Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve encompasses both mountainous and lowland tropical rainforest, as well as savannahs and coastal plains, full of diverse wildlife and plants.

The river basin holds spectacular lagoons, namely Laguna Brus and Laguna Ibans, many rivers and waterfalls. Endangered mammals like the critically endangered Mexican Spider Monkey, the Giant Anteater, Ocelot and Jaguar can be found in this Reserve, as well as an impressive 411 documented species of birds.

Community Perspective: the few reviewers that have visited it praise the amazing wildlife and the indigenous culture. The truly adventurous have reported on a full descent of the river from the headwaters to the coast.

Hungary
Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs

The Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs (Sopianae) shows distinctive architecture and impressive murals depicting Christian themes.

These funerary monuments date from the Late Roman Empire when Pécs (then named Sopianae) was an important city in the Roman province of Pannonia. Among them are burial chambers, chapels and a mausoleum. Typical for the site is the two-storey building, with an above-ground chapel and a subterranean burial chamber. Some of these include murals.

Community Perspective: Pecs is a worthwhile destination in itself, and one can easily spend an hour or two checking out t