UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee held its 2019 annual meeting in Baku. It promoted 29 sites to the rank of World Heritage. The List now includes 1121 sites of a cultural, natural or mixed character.
This article provides an edited abstract from UNESCO’s justification including direct links to the inscriptions. Seek more information about the work of the Committee on the WHC website. Read Sandalsand’s main story about World Heritage Sites and the task of visiting the ever-growing number of new sites. Sandalsand has visited some of the 29 sites previously, so hit the provided links and read up on my entries.
Also, read the article about the new entries in 2018. Here are the new World Heritage Sites of 2019.
24 new cultural sites
278 Babylon (Iraq)
Situated 85 km south of Baghdad, the property includes the ruins of the city of Babylon. Between 626 and 539 BCE, it was the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It includes villages and agricultural areas surrounding the ancient city. Babylon’s remains, outer and inner-city walls, gates, palaces and temples, are a unique testimony to one of the most influential empires of the ancient world. Seat of successive empires; under rulers such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar; Babylon represents the expression of the creativity of the Neo-Babylonian Empire at its height. The city’s association with one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the Hanging Gardens—has also inspired artistic, popular and religious culture on a global scale.
1478 Erzgebirge/Krušnohorí Mining Region (Czechia,Germany)
Erzgebirge/Krušnohorí (Ore Mountains) spans a region in south-eastern Germany (Saxony) and north-western Czechia. It contains a wealth of several metals exploited through mining from the Middle Ages onwards. The region became the most important source of silver ore in Europe from 1460 to 1560 and was the trigger for technological innovations. Tin was historically the second metal to be extracted and processed at the site. At the end of the 19th century, the region became a major global producer of uranium. The cultural landscape of the Ore Mountains is shaped by 800 years of almost continuous mining, from the 12th to the 20th century. It associates with mining, pioneering water management systems, innovative mineral processing and smelting sites, and also mining cities.
1496 The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (United States of America)
The property consists of eight buildings in the United States designed by the architect during the first half of the 20th century. These include the Fallingwater (Mill Run, Pennsylvania), the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House (Madison, Wisconsin); and the Guggenheim Museum (New York). These buildings reflect the “organic architecture” developed by Wright. This includes an open plan, a blurring of the boundaries between exterior and interior and the unprecedented use of materials such as steel and concrete. Each of these buildings offers innovative solutions to the needs for housing, worship, work or leisure. Wright’s work from this period had a strong impact on the development of modern architecture in Europe.
1498 Seowon, Korean Neo-Confucian Academies (Republic of Korea)
This site, located in central and southern parts of the Republic of Korea, comprises nine seowon. This represents a type of Neo-Confucian academy of the Joseon dynasty (15th—19th centuries CE). Learning, veneration of scholars and interaction with the environment were the essential functions of the seowons, expressed in their design. Situated near mountains and water sources, they favoured the appreciation of nature and cultivation of mind and body. The pavilion-style buildings facilitated connections to the landscape. The seowons illustrate an historical process in which Neo-Confucianism from China adapted to Korean conditions.
1523 Churches of the Pskov School of Architecture (Russian Federation)
Churches, cathedrals, monasteries, fortification towers and administrative buildings make up the site. This is a group of monuments in the historic city of Pskov, on the banks of the Velikaya River in the northwest of Russia. Characteristics of these buildings; produced by the Pskov School of Architecture; include cubic volumes, domes, porches and belfries, with the oldest elements dating back to the 12th century. Churches and cathedrals integrate into the natural environment through gardens, perimeter walls and fences. Inspired by the Byzantine and Novgorod traditions, the school reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. It informed the evolution of Russian architecture over five centuries.
1542 Dilmun Burial Mounds (Bahrain)
The Dilmun Burial Mounds, built between 2050 and 1750 BCE, span over 21 archaeological sites in the western part of the island. Six of these sites are burial mound fields consisting of a few dozen to several thousand tumuli. In all there are about 11,774 burial mounds, originally in the form of cylindrical low towers. The other 15 sites include 17 royal mounds, constructed as two-storeyed sepulchral towers. The burial mounds are evidence of the Early Dilmun civilization; around the 2nd millennium BCE; during which Bahrain became a trade hub, whose prosperity enabled the inhabitants to develop an elaborate burial tradition applicable to the entire population. These tombs illustrate globally unique characteristics; not only in terms of their number, density and scale; but also in terms of details such as burial chambers equipped with alcoves.
1549 Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace (Azerbaijan)
The historic city of Sheki is located at the foot of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. It is divided in two by the Gurjana River. While the older northern part is on the mountain, its southern part extends into the river valley. Its historic centre was rebuilt after the destruction of an earlier town by mudflows in the 18th century. It is characterized by a traditional architectural ensemble of houses with high gabled roofs. 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 and the trade in silk cocoons from the late 18th to the 19th centuries.
Located in north-eastern Italy, the site includes part of the vinegrowing landscape of the Prosecco wine production area. The landscape is characterized by ‘hogback’ hills, ciglioni – small plots of vines on narrow grassy terraces – forests, small villages and farmland. For centuries, this rugged terrain has been shaped and adapted by man. Since the 17th century, the use of ciglioni has created a particular chequerboard landscape. It consists of rows of vines parallel and vertical to the slopes. In the 19th century, the bellussera technique of training the vines contributed to the aesthetic characteristics of the landscape.
1573 Royal Building of Mafra – Palace, Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden and Hunting Park (Tapada) (Portugal)
The site is located 30 km northwest of Lisbon. It was conceived by King João V in 1711 as a tangible representation of his conception of the monarchy and the State. This imposing quadrangular building houses the king’s and queen’s palaces, the royal chapel, shaped like a Roman baroque basilica. In addition, there is a Franciscan monastery and a library containing 36,000 volumes. The complex is completed by the Cerco garden, with its geometric layout, and the royal hunting park (Tapada). The Royal Mafra Building is one of the most remarkable works by King João V. It illustrates the power and reach of the Portuguese Empire. João V adopted Roman and Italian baroque architectural and artistic models. He commissioned works of art that make Mafra an exceptional example of Italian Baroque.
1577 Budj Bim Cultural Landscape (Australia)
The property is located within the Country of the Gunditjmara, an Aboriginal nation in the southwest of Australia. It includes the Budj Bim Volcano and Tae Rak (Lake Condah), as well as the Kurtonitj component, characterized by wetland swamps; and Tyrendarra in the south, an area of rocky ridges and large marshes. The Budj Bim lava flows connect these three components. This has enabled the Gunditjmara to develop one of the largest and oldest aquaculture networks in the world. They used channels, dams and weirs, to contain floodwaters and create basins to trap, store and harvest the kooyang eel (Anguilla australis). This provided the population with an economic and social base for six millennia.
Located in a vast mountainous area in the centre of Gran Canaria, Risco Caído comprises cliffs, ravines and volcanic formations in a landscape of rich biodiversity. The landscape includes a large number of troglodyte settlements — habitats, granaries and cisterns. Their age is proof of the presence of a pre-Hispanic culture on the island; which has evolved in isolation, from the arrival of North African Berbers; around the beginning of our era, until the first Spanish settlers in the 15th century. The troglodyte complex also includes cult cavities and two sacred temples, or almogarenes — Risco Caído and Roque Bentayga — where they held seasonal ceremonies. These temples link to a possible cult of the stars and “Mother Earth.”
1580 Water Management System of Augsburg (Germany)
The water management system of the city of Augsburg has evolved in successive phases from the 14th century to the present day. It includes a network of canals, water towers dating from the 15th to 17th centuries, which housed pumping machinery, a water-cooled butchers’ hall, a system of three monumental fountains and hydroelectric power stations, which continue to provide sustainable energy today. The technological innovations generated by this water management system have helped establish Augsburg as a pioneer in hydraulic engineering.
1587 Megalithic Jar Sites in Xiengkhuang – Plain of Jars (Lao People’s Democratic Republic)
The Plain of Jars, located on a plateau in central Laos, gets its name from more than 2,100 tubular-shaped megalithic stone jars used for funerary practices in the Iron Age. This serial site of 15 components contains large carved stone jars, stone discs, secondary burials, tombstones, quarries and funerary objects dating from 500 BCE to 500 CE. The jars and associated elements are the most prominent evidence of the Iron Age civilization that made and used them until it disappeared, around 500 CE.
1588 Bagan (Myanmar)
Lying on a bend of the Ayeyarwady River in the central plain of Myanmar; Bagan is a sacred landscape, featuring an exceptional range of Buddhist art and architecture. The site’s eight components include numerous temples, stupas, monasteries and places of pilgrimage; as well as archaeological remains, frescoes and sculptures. The property bears spectacular testimony to the peak of Bagan civilization (11th–13th centuries CE); when the site was the capital of a regional empire. This ensemble of monumental architecture reflects the strength of religious devotion of an early Buddhist empire.
1589 Landscape for Breeding and Training of Ceremonial Carriage Horses at Kladruby nad Labem (Czechia)
Situated in the Elbe plain, the site consists of flat, sandy soils and includes fields, fenced pastures, a forested area and buildings, all designed with the main objective of breeding and training kladruber horses; a type of draft horse used in ceremonies by the Habsburg imperial court. They established an imperial stud farm in 1579 and dedicated themselves to this task since then. It is one of Europe’s leading horse-breeding institutions, developed at a time when horses played vital roles in transport, agriculture, military support and aristocratic representation.
1590 Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga (Portugal)
The site, a cultural landscape located on the slopes of Mount Espinho, overlooking the city of Braga in the north of Portugal, evokes Christian Jerusalem; recreating a sacred mount crowned with a church. The sanctuary developed over a period of more than 600 years, primarily in a Baroque style and illustrates a European tradition of creating Sacri Monti (sacred mountains); promoted by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in the 16th century, in reaction to the Protestant Reformation.
The Bom Jesus ensemble centres on a Via Crucis that leads up the western slope of the mount. It includes a series of chapels that house sculptures evoking the Passion of Christ, as well as fountains, allegorical sculptures and formal gardens. The Via Crucis culminates at the church, dating back to 1784 and 1811. The granite buildings have whitewashed plaster façades, framed by exposed stonework. The celebrated Stairway of the Five Senses, with its walls, steps, fountains, statues and also other ornamental elements, is the most emblematic Baroque work within the property.
1592 Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City (China)
Located in the Yangtze River Basin on the south-eastern coast of the country, the archaeological ruins of Liangzhu (about 3300-2300 BCE) reveal an early regional state with a unified belief system based on rice cultivation in Late Neolithic China. The property has four areas – the Area of Yaoshan Site, the Area of High-dam at the Mouth of the Valley, the Area of Low-dam on the Plain and the Area of City Site. These ruins are an outstanding example of early urban civilization expressed in earthen monuments, urban planning, a water conservation system; and a social hierarchy expressed in differentiated burials in cemeteries within the property.
Located on a plateau above the Osaka Plain, this property includes 49 kofun (old mounds in Japanese). Burial mounds of various sizes, kofun can take the form of key holes, scallops, squares or circles. These tombs were for members of the elite, containing a range of funerary objects (such as weapons, armour and ornaments). They decorated the objects with clay figures, known as haniwa, which can take the form of cylinders or representations of houses, tools, weapons and human silhouettes. These kofun representant selection from a total of 160,000 in Japan. They form the richest material representation of the Kofun period, from the 3rd to the 6th century CE. They demonstrate the differences in social classes of that period and reflect a highly sophisticated funerary system.
1594 Jodrell Bank Observatory (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
Located in a rural area of northwest England, free from radio interference, Jodrell Bank is one of the world’s leading radio astronomy observatories. At the beginning of its use, in 1945, the site housed research on cosmic rays detected by radar echoes. This observatory, which is still in operation, includes several radio telescopes and working buildings, including engineering sheds and the Control Building. Jodrell Bank has had substantial scientific impact in fields such as the study of meteors and the moon, the discovery of quasars, quantum optics, and the tracking of spacecraft. This exceptional technological ensemble illustrates the transition from traditional optical astronomy to radio astronomy (1940s to 1960s); which led to radical changes in the understanding of the universe.
1597 Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi (Canada)
This site is located on the northern edge of the semi-arid Great Plains of North America, on the border between Canada and the United States of America. The Milk River Valley dominates the topography of this cultural landscape; which is characterized by a concentration of pillars or hoodoos – columns of rock sculpted by erosion into spectacular shapes. The Blackfoot (Siksikáíítsitapi) people left engravings and paintings on the sandstone walls of the Milk River Valley, bearing testimony to messages from Sacred Beings. The archaeological remains date from 1800 BCE to the beginning of the post-contact period. This landscape is considered sacred to the Blackfoot people, and their centuries-old traditions are perpetuated through ceremonies and in enduring respect for the places.
1599 Krzemionki Prehistoric Striped Flint Mining Region (Poland)
Located in the mountain region of Swietokrzyskie, Krzemionki is an ensemble of four mining sites, dating from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age (about 3900 to 1600 BCE). It was dedicated to the extraction and processing of striped flint, which was mainly used for axe-making. With its underground mining structures, flint workshops and some 4,000 shafts and pits, the site features one of the most comprehensive prehistoric underground flint extraction and processing systems identified to date. The site provides information about life and work in prehistoric settlements and bears witness to an extinct cultural tradition. It is an exceptional testimony of the importance of the prehistoric period and of flint mining for tool production in human history.
1602 Ancient ferrous metallurgy sites of Burkina Faso (Burkina Faso)
This property has five elements in different provinces of the country. It includes about fifteen standing, natural-draught furnaces, several other furnace structures, mines and traces of dwellings. Douroula, which dates back to the 8th century BCE, is the oldest evidence of the development of iron production found in Burkina Faso. The other components of the property; Tiwêga, Yamané, Kindibo and Békuy; illustrate the intensification of iron production during the second millennium CE. Iron ore reduction – obtaining iron from ore – is no longer practiced today. Village blacksmiths still play a major role in supplying tools, while taking part in various rituals.
1605 Jaipur City, Rajasthan (India)
The fortified city of Jaipur, in India’s northwestern state of Rajasthan was founded in 1727 by Sawai Jai Singh II. Unlike other cities in the region located in hilly terrain, Jaipur was established on the plain and built according to a grid plan interpreted in the light of Vedic architecture. The streets feature continuous colonnaded businesses that intersect in the centre, creating large public squares called chaupars. Markets, stalls, residences as well as temples built along the main streets have uniform facades. The city’s urban planning shows an exchange of ideas from ancient Hindu and modern Mughal as well as Western cultures. The grid plan is a model that prevails in the West, while the organization of the different districts refers to traditional Hindu concepts. Designed to be a commercial capital, the city has maintained its local commercial, artisanal and cooperative traditions to this day.
1610 Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto (Indonesia)
Built for the extraction, processing and transport of high-quality coal in an inaccessible region of Sumatra; this industrial site was developed by the Netherlands’ colonial government from the late 19th to the beginning of the 20th century. It had a workforce recruited from the local population and supplemented by convict labour from Dutch-controlled areas. It comprises the mining site and company town, coal storage facilities at the port of Emmahaven and also the railway network linking the mines to the coastal facilities. The Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage was an integrated system that enabled the efficient deep-bore extraction, processing, transport and shipment of coal.
1 new mixed site
1308 Paraty and Ilha Grande – Culture and Biodiversity (Brazil)
Located between the Serra da Bocaina mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean, this cultural landscape includes the historic centre of Paraty. It is one of Brazil’s best-preserved coastal towns. In addition it includes four protected natural areas of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one of the world’s five key biodiversity hotspots. Paraty is home to an impressive diversity of species, some of which are threatened; such as the jaguar (Panthera onca), the white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) and several primate species, including the woolly spider monkey (Brachyteles arachnoides), which are emblematic of the site.
In the late 17th century, Paraty was the end-point of the Caminho do Ouro (Gold Route), along which gold was shipped to Europe. Its port was also an entry point for tools and African slaves, sent to work in the mines. A defence system was built to protect the wealth of the port and the town. The historic centre of Paraty has retained its 18th century plan and much of its colonial architecture dating from the 18th and early 19th centuries.
4 new natural sites
1584 Hyrcanian Forests (Islamic Republic of Iran)
Hyrcanian forests form a unique forested massif that stretches 850 km along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. The history of these broad-leaved forests dates back 25 to 50 million years, when they covered most of this Northern Temperate region. These ancient forest areas retreated during the Quaternary glaciations and then expanded again as the climate became milder. Their floristic biodiversity is remarkable; 44% of the vascular plants known in Iran are found in the Hyrcanian region. It only covers 7% of the country. To date, 180 species of birds typical of broad-leaved temperate forests and 58 mammal species have been recorded, including the iconic Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus tulliana).
1603 French Austral Lands and Seas (France)
The French Austral Lands and Seas comprise the largest of the rare emerged land masses in the southern Indian Ocean: the Crozet Archipelago, the Kerguelen Islands, Saint-Paul and Amsterdam Islands as well as 60 small sub-Antarctic islands. This “oasis” in the middle of the Southern Ocean covers an area of more than 67 million ha and supports one of the highest concentrations of birds and marine mammals in the world. In particular, it has the largest population of King Penguins and Yellow-nosed albatrosses in the world. The remoteness of these islands from centres of human activity makes them extremely well-preserved showcases of biological evolution and a unique terrain for scientific research.
1604 Vatnajökull National Park – dynamic nature of fire and ice (Iceland)
This iconic volcanic region covers an area of over 1,400,000 ha, nearly 14% of Iceland’s territory. It numbers ten central volcanoes, eight of which are subglacial. Two of these are among the most active in Iceland. The interaction between volcanoes and the rifts that underlie the Vatnajökull ice cap takes many forms, the most spectacular of which is the jökulhlaup – a sudden flood caused by the breach of the margin of a glacier during an eruption. This recurrent phenomenon has led to the emergence of unique sandur plains, river systems and rapidly evolving canyons. Volcanic areas are home to endemic groundwater fauna that has survived the Ice Age.
The site features an intertidal mudflat system considered to be the largest in the world. These mudflats, as well as marshes and shoals, are exceptionally productive and serve as growth areas for many species of fish and crustaceans. The intertidal areas of the Yellow Sea/Gulf of Bohai are of global importance for the gathering of many migratory bird species that use the East Asian-Australasian flyway. Large gatherings of birds, including some of the world’s most endangered species, depend on the coastline as a stopover to moult, rest, winter or nest.
I wrote last year that the List grows with many new sites each year. It would be almost impossible to visit all sites in a lifetime. Luckily I do not lie sleepless at night for this particular reason. Anyway, I am happy that I have actually been to a couple of the new World Heritage Sites of 2019. I’m looking forward to new additions to the List, some time in June 2020.
Later remark: There were no additions in 2020 because of the pandemic. However, a new meeting in 2021 came up with a long list of new sites. Read about it here.