Humanity has a long and rocky history, which dates back to at least 6 million years ago. During its long history humanity has created precious and mind blowing sites, some of which have been erased away by time and conditions, yet others succeeded to preserve their existence. Nowadays these sites present a huge importance to the generations that will come, to recognize their history and ancestors. That’s why people create organizations, which tend to hold their existence as long as possible. One of such organizations is UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the purpose of which is to maintain the existence of world sites, that present cultural, educational or natural value to the world. Today about 1121 sites are involved in the list of UNESCO Heritage, 53 of which are in danger. I would like us to cover some sites, their geographical position and importance.
- Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) – The cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley represent the artistic and religious developments which from the 1st to the 13th centuries characterized ancient Bakhtria, integrating various cultural influences into the Gandhara school of Buddhist art. The area contains numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries, as well as fortified edifices from the Islamic period. The heritage resources in Bamiyan Valley have suffered from various disasters and some parts are in a fragile state. A major loss to the integrity of the site was the destruction of the large Buddha statues in 2001. However, a significant proportion of all the attributes that express the Outstanding Universal Value of the site, such as Buddhist and Islamic architectural forms and their setting in the Bamiyan landscape, remain intact at all 8 sites within the boundaries. Since 2003, UNESCO has been leading a three-phase safe-guarding plan for the property. Its focus has been to consolidate the Buddha niches, to safeguard the artefacts that survived the destruction of the Buddha statues and to render the site safe, notably by pursuing the complex de-mining operations at the site.
2. Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians (Albania) - This is a serial transboundary site comprised of 77 components located in 12 countries – Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine. While the values of the site have so far been relatively well preserved, the external pressures are high for some components. The small size and isolation of the components do not necessarily guarantee the integrity of the property in the long term and preservation of ongoing natural processes which are the essential part of the site’s Outstanding Universal Value. The components of the property are influenced by increasing development pressures, of which the forest resource exploitation in the Poloniny national park in Slovakia is of particular concern.
3. Iguazu National Park (Argentina) – This is a national park of Argentina, located in the Iguazú Department, in the north of the province of Misiones, Argentine Mesopotamia. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1984. The falls are located at the confluence of the rivers Iguazú and Paraná. The falls, which are 80 metres high and 2,700 metres long, can be accessed by boat, but special walkways allow you to get even closer. The site is surrounded by a rainforest containing more than 2,000 species of plants and a wealth of local wildlife: tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, and alligators.
4. Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin (Armenia) – The jewels of the Debed Monasteries Haghpat and Sanahin were among the largest of their kind, and once greatest centers of learning. The two rival monasteries are preserved much as they were in their glory days of the 12th and 13th centuries. The location of Haghpat Monastery was chosen so that it overlooks the Debed River in northern Armenia’s Lori region. It was built, not on a peak, but halfway up a hillside on a site chosen to afford protection and concealment from prying eyes and also in response to a kind of monastic humility. The name Sanahin literally translates from Armenian as “this one is older than that one”, presumably representing a claim to having an older monastery than the neighbouring Haghpat Monastery. The two villages and their monasteries are similar in many ways, and lie in plain view of each other on a dissected plateau formation, separated by a deep “crack” formed by a small river flowing into the Debed river. These monasteries were inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.
5. Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace (Azerbaijan) – Azerbaijan`s historic centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace has been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1998. Located along important historic trade routes, the city’s architecture is influenced by Safavid, Qadjar and Russian building traditions. The Khan Palace, in the northeast of the city, and a number of merchant houses, reflect the wealth generated by silkworm breeding.
These are only a few examples from each country, but I will continue the list representing at least one site from each country enrolled…