UNESCO have announced 14 new additions to their list of World Heritage Sites at this year’s conference, including the first to be inscribed for Qatar and Fiji.
Ranging from palaces and port towns to Tuscan villas and ancient shrines, this brings the total to 759 protected cultural sites in 160 countries.
This is the 37th annual meeting of the committee, this time held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Deliberations will continue until 27 June.
The new entries are:
Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (Canada)
Established by Basque mariners in the 16th century at the north-eastern tip of Canada, this archaeological site provides the earliest and best preserved testimony of the European whaling tradition. Known as Gran Baya to its founders, the station was used for 70 years as a summer base for coastal hunting, and became a major source of whale oil which was shipped to Europe for lighting. The site includes rendering ovens, cooperages, wharves, temporary living quarters and a cemetery, together with the underwater remains of ships and whale bone deposits.
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (Germany)
Boasting elaborate waterfalls, channels, and rapids, dominated by a giant statue of Hercules, these water displays were begun in 1689 and developed into the 19th century. They are deemed to be an exceptional example of the aesthetics of the Baroque and Romantic periods.
Historic Centre of Agadez (Niger)
Known as the ‘Gateway to the Desert’, Agadez developed on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert in the 15th and 16th centuries as an important crossroads for caravan traderoutes. Its street plan is divided into 11 irregularly-shaped quarters, containing numerous earthen dwellings and well-preserved palatial and religious buildings – including a 27m high minaret made entirely of mud brick, the highest such structure in the world.
Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces (China)
Covering 16,603ha in Southern Yunnan, this site is marked by dramatic terraces supplied by a complex series of channels developed by the Hani people over 1,300 years. Their integrated farming system involves buffalo, cattle, ducks, fish, and eels, and supports the production of red rice, the area’s primary crop, and, UNESCO says, demonstrates extraordinary visual and ecological harmony between people and their environment.
Golestan Palace (Iran)
This lavish palace, one of the oldest building complexes in Tehran, was the seat of government of the Qajar family, who came into power in 1779 and made Tehran the capital city. Its architecture embodies the successful integration of earlier Persian crafts and architecture with Western influences, and has remained a source of inspiration for Iranian artists and architects to this day.
Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)
This site comprises 12 separate components in Kaesong city, representing the history and culture of the Koryo Dynasty from the 10th to 14th centuries. These include palaces, tombs, defensive structures, an astronomical and meteorological observatory, schools, and commemorative steles, and demonstrate a range of Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist styles.
University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia (Portugal)
The University of Coimbra grew and evolved over more than seven centuries, with notable elements including the 12th century Cathedral of Santa Cruz; several 16th century colleges; the Royal Palace of Alcáçova, which has housed the University since 1537; the Joanine Library, elaborately decorated in Baroque style; the 18th century Botanical Garden and University Press, and the large ‘University City’ created in the 1940s.
Hill Forts of Rajashtan (India)
Six majestic forts built in an ecclectic range of architectural styles and measuring up to 20km (12 miles) in circumference, make up this site. They stand in Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Sawai Madhopur, Jhalawar, Jaipur, and Jaisalmer and the urban centres, palaces, trading sites and temples enclosed within their walls bear witness to the power of the Rajput princely states that flourished in the region from the 8th to the 18th centuries.
Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany (Italy)
The listing includes 12 villas and 2 pleasure gardens built between the 15th and 17th centuries. they bear witness to the power and influence of the Medici family over early modern Europe through their patronage of the arts.
Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora (Ukraine)
On the northern shore of the Black Sea stand the remains of a city founded by Dorian Greeks in the 5th century BC. Several hundred chora,rectangular plots of equal size, once supported vineyards whose produce made this the most productive wine centre of the Black Sea by the 3rd century AD. The settlement remained a hub of exchange between the Greek, Roman and Byzantine Empires and populations north of the Black Sea, thriving until the 15th century. The remains of its public buildings and residential neighbourhoods, as well as early Christian monuments, and Roman and Medieval fortifications, can still be seen.
Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration (Japan)
Mount Fuji’s representation in Japanese art goes back to the 11th century, and the volcano has been a centre of pilgrimage for hundreds of years. This listing includes 25 sites thought to reflect the essence of this sacred landscape, including pilgrim routes, crater shrines, and lodging houses.
Levuka Historical Port Town (Fiji)
This waterside town was the first colonial capital of Fiji, ceded to the British in 1874. In the early 19th century it was developed by Americans and Europeans into a busy commercial centre, with warehouses, port facilities, residences, and religious, educational and social institutions springing up around the villages of the South Pacific island’s indigenous population. Native inhabitants continued to outnumber European settlers, making this a rare example of a late colonial port town that was influenced in its development by the indigenous community.
Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine (Poland / Ukraine)
This transnational property includes 16 tserkvas - churches made of horizontal logs that were built by Eastern Orthodox and Greek Catholic communities between the 16th and 19th centuries. Topped with open quadrilateral or octagonal domes and cupolas, they feature wooden bell towers, screens, and colourful interior decorations,as well as gatehouses and graveyards.
Al Zubarah Archaeological Site (Qatar)
This walled coastal town was founded by merchants from Kuwait, and flourished as a pearling and trading centre in the late 18th to early 19th century before it was abandoned in the early 1900s. Once home to trade links across the Indian Ocean, Arabia, and Western Asia the site’s palaces, mosques, streets, courtyard houses, and fishermen’s huts have been rediscovered, preserved under a layer of sand. Archaeological work – which has so far only investigated a small part of the town – has also revealed its harbour, double defensive walls, and cemeteries.
This year’s convention also saw the extension of an existing site, with protected status given to Bochnia Royal salt mines in Poland as a new component of the Polish Wieliczka Salt mine. Originally listed in 1978, this huge industrial complex – and site of pilgrimage – has been in use mining rock salt for some 700 years. It is the earliest site of its kind in Europe, and comprises 300km (186 miles) of underground galleries, storerooms, and even chapels complete with altars and statues carved from salt. The amended listing now includes the castle used to manage the estate,
Other changes to the registry saw Bam and its cultural landscape in Iran (CWA 3), an important trading centre known for the production of silk and cotton garments that flourished in the 7th to 11th centuries, removed from UNESCO’s list of World Heritage in Danger. The ancient citadel had been added to this list following a major earthquake in 2003, but has now been taken off after concerted international efforts are mobilized to salvage its cultural heritage.
All six of Syria’s World Heritage Sites have been added to the list of at-risk monuments, however. Comprising Damascus, Palmyra, Bosra (once the capital of the Roman province of Arabia and an important stopover on the ancient caravan route to Mecca), Aleppo, the ancient villages of Northern Syria, and the crusader castles of Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din, this move is intended to draw international attention to the danger posed to the sites by ongoing political conflict in the region.