Thirteen new sites inscribed on World Heritage ListSuzhou (China) - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea had its first site inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List today with the addition of a complex of Koguryo tombs. Andorra also entered the List with the cultural landscape of Madriu-Claror-Perafita Valley. They were among 13 cultural sites listed in Suzhou today.
Below are the new sites inscribed on July 1 at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Suzhou, along with three extensions to existing sites:
Andorra - Madriu-Claror-PerafitaValley. The cultural landscape of Madriu-Claror-PerafitaValley offers a microcosmic perspective of the way people have harvested the resources of the high Pyrenees over millennia. Its dramatic glacial landscapes of craggy cliffs and glaciers, with high open pastures and steep wooded valleys covers an area of 4,247-ha., nine percent of the total area of the Principality. It reflects past changes in climate, economic fortune and social systems, as well as the persistence of pastoralism and a strong mountain culture, notably the survival of a communal land ownership system dating back to the 13th century. The valley, the last in the country to have no roads, features houses, notably summer settlements, terraced fields, stone tracks, and evidence of iron smelting.
Australia - Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. The Royal Exhibition Building and its surrounding Carlton Gardens were designed for the great international exhibitions of 1880 and 1888 in Melbourne. The building and grounds were designed by Joseph Reed. The building is constructed of brick and timber, steel and slate. It combines elements from the Byzantine, Romanesque, Lombardic and Italian Renaissance styles. The property is typical of the international exhibition movement which saw over 50 exhibitions staged between 1851 and 1915 in venues including Paris, New York, Vienna, Calcutta, Kingston (Jamaica) and Santiago (Chile). All shared a common theme and aims: to chart material and moral progress through displays of industry from all nations.
China - Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom. The site includes archaeological remains of three cities and 40 tombs: Wunu Mountain City, Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City, 14 tombs are imperial, 26 of nobles. All belong to the Koguryo culture, named after the dynasty that ruled over parts of northern China and the northern half of the Korean Peninsula from 277 BC to 668 AD. Wunu Mountain City is only partly excavated. Guonei City, within the modern city of Ji’an, played the role of a “supporting capital” after the main Koguryo capital moved to Pyongyang. Wandu Mountain City, one of the capitals of the Koguryo Kingdom, contains many vestiges including a large palace and 37 tombs. Some of the tombs show great ingenuity in their elaborate ceilings, designed to roof wide spaces without columns and carry the heavy load of a stone or earth tumulus (mound), which was placed above them.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea - Complex of Koguryo Tombs. The property includes several groups and individual tombs - totalling about 30 individual tombs - from the later period of the Koguryo Kingdom. The tombs, many with beautiful wall paintings, are almost the only remains of this culture. Only about 90 out of more than 10,000 Koguryo tombs discovered in China and Korea so far, have wall paintings. Almost half of these tombs are located on this site and they are thought to have been made for the burial of kings, members of the royal family and the aristocracy. These paintings offer a unique testimony to daily life of this period.
India - Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park. A concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties cradled in an impressive landscape which includes prehistoric (chalcolithic) sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th century capital of the state of Gujarat. The site also includes, among other vestiges, fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential precincts, and water installations, from the 8th to the 14th centuries. The Kalikamata Temple on top of the Pavagadh Hill is considered to be an important shrine, attracting large numbers of pilgrims throughout the year. The site is the only complete and unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city.
India - Chhatrapati Shivaji Station (formerly Victoria Terminus). The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, in Mumbai, is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. The building, designed by the British architect F.W. Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay as the ‘Gothic City’ and the major international mercantile port of India. The terminal was built over ten years starting in 1878 according to a High Victorian Gothic design based on late medieval Italian models. Its remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches, and eccentric ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture. It is an outstanding example of the meeting of two cultures as British architects worked with Indian craftsmen to include Indian architectural tradition and idioms forging a new style unique to Bombay.
Islamic Republic of Iran - Pasargadae. The first dynastic capital of the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus II, the Great, in Pars, homeland of the Persians, in the 6th century BC. Its palaces, gardens, and the mausoleum of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture and exceptional testimonies of Persian civilization. Particularly noteworthy vestiges in the 160-ha site include: the Mausoleum of Cyrus II; Tall-e Takht, a fortified terrace; and a royal ensemble of gatehouse, audience hall, residential palace, and gardens. Pasaragadae was the capital of the first great multicultural empire in Western Asia. Spanning the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt to the Hindus River, it is considered to be the first empire that respected the cultural diversity of its different peoples. This was reflected in Achaemenid architecture, a synthetic representation of different cultures.
Japan - Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range. Set in the dense forests of the Kii Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean, three sacred sites - Yoshino and Omine, Kumano Sanzan, and Koyasan - linked by pilgrimage routes to the ancient capital cities of Nara and Kyoto, reflect the fusion of Shinto, rooted in the ancient tradition of nature worship in Japan, and Buddhism, which was introduced to Japan from China and the Korean peninsula. The sites (495.3-ha) and their surrounding forest landscape reflect a persistent and extraordinarily well-documented tradition of sacred mountains over 1,200 years. The area, with its abundance of streams, rivers and waterfalls, is still part of the living culture of Japan and is much visited for ritual purposes and hiking, with up to 15 million visitors annually. Each of the three sites contains shrines, some of which were founded as early as the 9th century.
Jordan - Um er-Rasas (Kastron Mefa’a). Most of this archaeological site, which started as a Roman military camp and grew to become a town as of the 5th century, has not been excavated. It contains remains from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Moslem periods (end of 3rd to 9th century AD) and a fortified Roman military camp, ca 150-m by 150-m. The site also has 16 churches, some with well-preserved mosaic floors. Particularly noteworthy is the mosaic floor of the Church of Saint Stephen with its representation of towns in the region. Two square towers are probably the only remains of the practice, well known in this part of the world, of the stylite monks (i.e. ascetic monks who spent time in isolation atop a column or tower). Um er-Rasas is surrounded by, and dotted with, remains of ancient agricultural cultivation in an arid area. It is here that the Prophet Mohamed, travelling as a tradesman, met a monk who convinced him of the virtue of monotheism.
Kazakhstan - Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly. Set around the lush Tamgaly Gorge, amidst the vast, arid Chu-Ili mountains, is a remarkable concentration of some 5,000 petroglyphs (rock carvings) dating from the second half of the second millennium BC to the beginning of the 20th century. Distributed among 48 complexes with associated settlements and burial grounds, they are testimonies to the husbandry, social organization and rituals of pastoral peoples. Human settlements in the site are often multi-layered and show occupation through the ages. A huge number of ancient tombs are also to be found including stone enclosures with boxes and cists (middle and late Bronze Age), and mounds (kurgans) of stone and earth (early Iron Age to the present). The central canyon contains the densest concentration of engravings and what are believed to be altars, suggesting that these places were used for sacrificial offerings.
Mongolia - Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape. The 121,967-ha Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape encompasses an extensive area of pastureland on both banks of the Orkhon River and includes numerous archaeological remains dating back to the 6th century. The site also includes Kharkhorum, the 13th and 14th century capital of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan’s vast Empire. Collectively the remains in the site reflect the symbiotic links between nomadic, pastoral societies and their administrative and religious centres, and the importance of the Orkhon valley in the history of central Asia. The grassland is still grazed by Mongolian nomadic pastoralists.
Norway - Vega°yan - the Vega Archipelago. A cluster of dozens of islands centred on Vega, just south of the Arctic Circle, forms a cultural landscape of 103,710-ha, of which 6,930 is land. The islands bear testimony to a distinctive frugal way of life based on fishing and the harvesting of the down of eider ducks, in an inhospitable environment. There are fishing villages, quays, warehouses, eider houses (built for eider ducks to nest in), farming landscapes, lighthouses and beacons. There is evidence of human settlement from the Stone Age on. By the 9th century, the islands had become an important centre for the supply of down which appears to have accounted for around a third of the islanders’ income. The Vega Archipelago reflects the way fishermen/farmers have, over the past 1,500 years, maintained a sustainable living and the contribution of women to eiderdown harvesting.
The Russian Federation - Ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent. The Novodevichy Convent, in south-western Moscow, built in the 16th and 17th centuries, in the so-called Moscow Baroque style, was part of a chain of monastic ensembles that were integrated into the defence system of the city. The Convent was directly associated with the political, cultural and religious history of Russia, and closely linked to the Moscow Kremlin. It was used by women of the Tsar’s family and of the aristocracy. Members of the Tsar’s family and entourage were also buried in its cemetery. The Convent provides an example of the highest accomplishments of Russian architecture with rich interiors and an important collection of paintings and artefacts.
The extensions to existing sites concern:
China - Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty in Shenyang has been inscribed as an extension of the Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties inscribed in 1987. The property is now to be known as the Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang. The Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty in Shenyang consists of 114 buildings, constructed between 1625-26 and 1783. It contains an important library and testifies to the foundation of the last dynasty that ruled China, before it expanded its power to the centre of the country and moved the capital to Beijing. This palace then became auxiliary to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. This remarkable architectural edifice offers important historical testimony to the history of the Qing Dynasty and to the cultural traditions of the Manchu and other tribes in the north of China.
China - Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, represents the addition of three Imperial Tombs of the Qing Dynasty in Liaoning to the Ming tombs inscribed in 2000 and 2003. The Three Imperial Tombs of the Qing Dynasty in Liaoning Province include the Yongling Tomb, the Fuling Tomb, and the Zhaoling Tomb, all built in the 17th century. Constructed for the founding emperors of the Qing Dynasty and their ancestors, the tombs follow the precepts of traditional Chinese geomancy and fengshui theory. They feature rich decoration of stone statues and carvings and tiles with dragon motifs, illustrating the development of the funerary architecture of the Qing Dynasty. The three tomb complexes, and their numerous edifices, combine traditions inherited from previous dynasties and new features of Manchu civilization.
India - Two great Chola Temples of the 11th and 12th centuries have been added to the 11th century Brihadisvara temple of Thanjavur, inscribed in 1987. The Great Living Chola Temples were built by kings of the Chola Empire, which stretched over all of South India and the neighbouring islands. The site now includes the three great 11th and 12th century Chola Temples: the Brihadisvara temple of Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram. The Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram, built by Rajendra I, was completed in 1035. Its 53-m vimana has recessed corners and a graceful upward curving movement, contrasting with the straight and severe tower at Thanjavur. It has six pairs of massive, monolithic dvarapalas statues guarding the entrances and bronzes of remarkable beauty inside. The Airavatesvara temple complex, built by Rajaraja II, at Darasuram features a 24-m vimana and a stone image of Shiva. The temples testify to the Cholas brilliant achievements in architecture, sculpture, painting, and bronze casting.
The Committee will continue reviewing sites submitted by States Parties to the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger over the coming days and is expected to finalize inscriptions by Friday. The session, chaired by Zhang Xinsheng, Vice Minister of Education of China and Chairperson of China’s National Commission for UNESCO, will continue until July 7, notably to discuss important matters such as the state of conservation of World Heritage sites. The Chairperson, accompanied by UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, Mounir Bouchenaki and by Francesco Bandarin, Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre will give a press conference at the close of inscriptions, at the Suzhou Town Planning Conference Centre.
The following natural sites have been inscribed by the Committee yesterday : Denmark - Ilulissat Icefjord; Indonesia - Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra ; Russian Federation - Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve; Saint Lucia - Pitons Management Area; South Africa - Cape Floral Region Protected Areas. This brings to 154 the number of natural sites inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The cultural sites inscribed yesterday are: Mali - Tomb of Askia; Morocco - Portuguese City of Mazagan (El Jadida); and Togo - Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba.*
*For more information and descriptions, including the list of World Heritage sites and the work of the World Heritage Committee and Centre see: http://whc.unesco.org and, during the meeting, http://portal.unesco.org/dossiers/suzhou