Tag Archives: UNESCO

Russia – UNESCO – Struve Geodetic Arc

Russia-UNESCO-Struve Geodedic Arc

 

Struve Geodetic Arc

The Struve Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through 10 countries and over 2,820 km. These are points of a survey, carried out between 1816 and 1855 by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which represented the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian. This helped to establish the exact size and shape of the planet and marked an important step in the development of earth sciences and topographic mapping. It is an extraordinary example of scientific collaboration among scientists from different countries, and of collaboration between monarchs for a scientific cause. The original arc consisted of 258 main triangles with 265 main station points. The listed site includes 34 of the original station points, with different markings, i.e. a drilled hole in rock, iron cross, cairns, or built obelisks.

http://whc.unesco.org

USA-UNESCO-Taos Pueblo

USA-UNESCO-Taos Pueblo

Situated in the valley of a small tributary of the Rio Grande, this Pueblo Indian settlement, consisting of adobe dwellings and ceremonial buildings, exemplifies the enduring culture of a group of the present-day Pueblo Indians. It is one of a group of settlements established in the late 13th and early 14th centuries in the valleys of the Rio Grande and its tributaries that have survived to the present day and constitutes a significant stage in the history of urban, community and cultural life and development in this region. Pueblo de Taos is similar to the settlements in the Four Corners area of the Anasazi, or ancient Pueblo people at such places as Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde, and continues to be a thriving community with a living culture.

http://whc.unesco.org

Brasil-UNESCO-SERRA DA CAPIVARA

Brasil-UNESCO-SERRA DA CAPIVARA

Many of the numerous rock shelters in the Serra da Capivara National Park are decorated with cave paintings, some more than 25,000 years old. They are an outstanding testimony to one of the oldest human communities of South America.

Established in 1979, the Serra da Capivara National Park stretched across the municipalities of São Raimundo Nonato, São João do Piauí, and Canto do Buriti in the south-eastern section of Piauí state in Brazil’s Northeast Region. In 1994, the municipality of Brejo do Piauí and, in 1995 the municipality of João Costa were dismembered   of São João do Piauí. The municipality of Coronel José Dias was dismembered of São Raimundo Nonato in 1992. These three municipalities, plus São Raimundo Nonato, are partially located in the area of the Serra da Capivara National Park.

The Park covers nearly 129, 140 hectares and has a circumference of 214 kilometres. It is situated in the morphoclimatic zone of the Brazilian Caatinga, distinguished by the multiplicity of plant formations typical of the semi-arid regions of Northeast Brazil. The region’s plant species are primarily characterized by the loss of most of their leaves during the dry season, extending from May to December, serving to lend the landscape its silver hue. The region borders two major geological formations – the Maranhão-Piauí sediment basin and the peripheral depression of the São Francisco River – and is endowed with a diversity of relief vegetation and landscapes of breathtaking beauty and dotted with exceptional vistas of the surrounding valleys, mountains, and plains.

The area houses one of the most important archaeological sites in the Americas containing evidence and artefacts that have forced a sweeping re-evaluation of the fundamental traditional theories underpinning the origins of human settlement in the Americas.

Over 300 archaeological sites have been found within the park, the majority consisting of rock and wall paintings dating from 50,000-30,000 years Before Present. Many of the numerous rock shelters in the Serra da Capivara National Park are decorated with rock paintings, some more than 25,000 years old. The analyses and dating of the evidence and artefacts found in the Serra da Capivara National Park serve to confirm the millennial presence of human beings on the American continent and the importance of the heritage. The ensemble of archaeological sites contains dating evidence that has thoroughly revolutionized classical theories regarding the entry route into the Americas by human populations along the Bering Strait. According to studies, the area encompassing the Serra da Capivara National Park was occupied by hunters and gatherers, followed by ceramic-farming societies. Discoveries at the Boqueirão da Pedra Furada archaeological site suggest that human beings may have settled the region as far back as 50,000 years ago, while the oldest remaining archaeological site with surviving rock  art dates back 10,530 years Before Present. In the light of these new findings, the region represents one of the most significant archaeological sites in the world and the property is an outstanding testimony to one of the oldest human communities of South America

http://whc.unesco.org

South Africa – Robben Island

 

South Africa-UNESCO-Robben Island

 

People lived on Robben Island many thousands of years ago, when the sea channel between the Island and the Cape mainland was not covered with water. Since the Dutch settled at the Cape in the mid-1600s, Robben Island has been used primarily as a prison.

Indigenous African leaders, Muslim leaders from the East Indies, Dutch and British soldiers and civilians, women, and anti-apartheid activists, including South Africa’s first democratic President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and the founding leader of the Pan Africanist Congress, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, were all imprisoned on the Island.

Robben Island has not only been used as a prison. It was a training and defence station in World War II (1939-1945) and a hospital for people with leprosy, and the mentally and chronically ill (1846-1931). In the 1840s, Robben Island was chosen for a hospital because it was regarded as both secure (isolating dangerous cases) and healthy (providing a good environment for cure). During this time, political and common-law prisoners were still kept on the Island. As there was no cure and little effective treatment available for leprosy, mental illness and other chronic illnesses in the 1800s, Robben Island was a kind of prison for the hospital patients too.

Since 1997 it has been a museum and a heritage site. The museum is a dynamic institution, which acts as a focal point of South African heritage. It runs educational programmes for schools, youths and adults, facilitates tourism development, conducts ongoing research related to the Island and fulfils an archiving function.

South Africa-UNESCO-Robben Island-02

Belgium – Victor Horta architecture

Belgium-Bruxelles-Hotel Tassel-Victor Horta

Hotel Tassel – arch. Victor Horta

Victor Horta

(b. Ghent, Belgium 1861; d. Brussels, Belgium 1947)

Victor Horta was born in Ghent, Belgium in 1861. After studying drawing, textiles and architecture at the Ghent Academie des Beaux Arts, he worked in Paris. He returned to Belgium and worked for the classical architect Alphons Balat, before he started his own practice.

Victor Horta created buildings which rejected historical styles and marked the beginning of modern architecture. He conceived modern architecture as an abstract principle derived from relations to the environment, rather than on the imitation of forms. Although the organic forms of Art Nouveau architecture as established by Horta do not meet our standard ideas of modern architecture, Horta generated ideas which became predecessors to the ideas of many modernist.

Horta was a leading Belgium Art Nouveau architect until Art Nouveau lost public favor. At this time he easily assumed the role of a neoclassical designer. Although many of Horta’s buildings have been needlessly destroyed, his former assistant Jean Delhaye has worked to preserve what remains of his work. Delhaye has also secured the Horta residence as a permanent museum.

Horta died in Brussels in 1947.

References
Dennis Sharp. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Architects and Architecture. New York: Quatro Publishing, 1991

http://www.greatbuildings.com

Belgium-Bruxelles-Maison Frison-Victor Horta

Maison Frison – arch. Victor Horta

Belgium-Bruxelles-Victor Horta-Maison personelle

Maison personelle – arch. Victor Horta

Belgium-Bruxelles-Victor Horta-Maison personelle-01

Maison personelle – arch. Victor Horta

India – UNESCO – Hampi

The austere, grandiose site of Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Its fabulously rich princes built Dravidian temples and palaces which won the admiration of travellers between the 14th and 16th centuries. Conquered by the Deccan Muslim confederacy in 1565, the city was pillaged over a period of six months before being abandoned.

The city of Hampi bears exceptional testimony to the vanished civilization of the kingdom of Vijayanagar, which reached its apogee under the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-30). It offers an outstanding example of a type of structure that illustrates a significant historical situation: that of the kingdoms of South India which, menaced by the Muslims, were occasionally allied with the Portuguese of Goa.

The austere, grandiose site of Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Its fabulously rich princes built Dravidian temples and palaces which won the admiration of travellers between the 14th and 16th centuries. Conquered by the Deccan Muslim confederacy in 1565, the city was pillaged over a period of six months before being abandoned.

As the final capital of the last of the great kingdom of South India, that of the Vijayanagar, Hampi, enriched by the cotton and the spice trade was one of the most beautiful cities of the medieval world. Its palaces and Dravidian temples were much admired by travellers, be they Arab (Abdul Razaak), Portuguese (Domingo Paes) or Italian (Nicolò dei Conti).

Conquered by the Muslims after the battle of Talikota in 1565, it was plundered over six months and then abandoned. Imposing monumental vestiges, partially disengaged and reclaimed, make of Hampi today one of the most striking ruins of the world.

The temples of Ramachandra (1513) and Hazara Rama (1520), with their sophisticated structure, where each supporting element is scanned by bundles of pilasters or colonnettes which project from the richly sculpted walls, may be counted among the most extraordinary constructions of India. In one of the interior courtyards of the temple of Vitthala, a small monument of a chariot which two elephants, sculpted in the round, struggle to drag along is one of the unusual creations, the favourite of tourists today as well as travellers of the past.

Besides the temples, the impressive complex of civil, princely or public buildings (elephant stables, Queen’s Bath, Lotus Mahal, bazaars, markets) are enclosed in the massive fortifications which, however, were unable to repulse the assault of the five sultans of Deccan in 1565.

(www.whc.unesco.org)

China – UNESCO – Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven, founded in the first half of the 15th century, is a dignified complex of fine cult buildings set in gardens and surrounded by historic pine woods. In its overall layout and that of its individual buildings, it symbolizes the relationship between earth and heaven – the human world and God’s world – which stands at the heart of Chinese cosmogony, and also the special role played by the emperors within that relationship.

 

The Altar of Heaven and Earth, together with the wall surrounding the garden, was completed in 1420, the eighteenth year of the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle. The central building was a large rectangular sacrificial hall, where sacrifices were offered to heaven and earth, with the Fasting Palace to the south-west. Pines were planted in the precinct of the Temple to emphasize the relationship between humankind and nature.

In the ninth year of the reign of Emperor Jiajing (1530) the decision was taken to offer separate sacrifices to heaven and to earth, and so the Circular Mound Altar was built to the south of the main hall, for sacrifices to heaven. The Altar of Heaven and Earth was renamed the Temple of Heaven. Concurrently, temples to the earth, the sun, and the moon were built in the north, east, and west of the city respectively.

The large sacrificial hall was dismantled fifteen years later and replaced by the round Hall of Daxiang, used for offering prayers for abundant harvests. In 1553 an outer city, which included the Temple of Heaven, was created around Beijing.

In 1749, the fourteenth year of the reign of the Qing Emperor Qianlong, the Circular Mound was enlarged, the original blue-glazed tiles being replaced with white marble. Two years later renovation work took place at the Hall of Daxiang, and it was given the new name of the Hall of Prayers for Abundant Harvests. This was the heyday of the Temple of Heaven, when it covered 273ha.

Ceremonial sacrifices to heaven were banned by the government of the Republic of China in 1911. By that date, 490 years after its foundation, the Temple of Heaven had witnessed 654 acts of worship to heaven by 22 Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It was opened as a public park in 1918 and has been so ever since.

(www.whc.unesco.org)

China – UNESCO – Mpunt Song

Mount Song, known in Chinese as Song Shan, is one of the Five Great Mountains and is located in Henan province on the south bank of the Yellow River in China. Its summit is 1,500 meters above sea level.

The mountain is one of the sacred Taoist mountains of China, and contains important Taoist temples such as the Zhongyue Temple; however the mountain also features a significant Buddhist presence. It is home to the Shaolin Temple, traditionally considered the birthplace of Zen Buddhism, and the temple’s collection of pagoda forest is the largest in China. The Zhongyue Temple is also located here, one of the earliest Taoist temples in the country. The Songyang Academy nearby was one of the four great academies of ancient China. The mountain and its vicinity are populated with Taoist and especially Buddhist monasteries. The 6th century Songyue Pagoda is also located here, as well as Tang Dynasty (618–907) pagodas within the Fawang Temple. Eight locations at the foot of the mountain in Dengfeng have been a World Heritage Site since 2010.

China – UNESCO – Magao Caves

 

Situated at a strategic point along the Silk Route, at the crossroads of trade as well as religious, cultural and intellectual influences, the 492 cells and cave sanctuaries in Mogao are famous for their statues and wall paintings, spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art.

 

Buddhist cave art originated in the second century B.C.E. in Maharashtra, India – an area of commercial importance for trade flows between north and south India. Between the inception at the older site at Ajanta and the completion of further ones at a nearby site at Ellora in the eighth century, some 63 caves were excavated and painted.

The Mogao Caves, begun six centuries later in the fourth century, were positioned on the more prosperous international trading network, known as the Silk Road. With 492 painted grottoes, the Mogao Caves have more than eight times as many grottoes as those at India’s primary two sites. That said, the Mogao Caves should not be understood as an isolated endeavor within China. They are merely the best example of an astonishingly widespread Buddhist cave movement in this nation. Apart from the UNESCO-registered grottoes at Dazu, Longmen & Yungang, prominent Buddhist grottoes on the Silk Road are the Kizil Caves near Kuqa, on which much of the content if not style of the earliest Mogao Caves are based, and the Bezeklik Caves near Turpan in China’s western Xinjiang province. Within their home province of Gansu, the Mogao Caves are but one of several painted cave complexes with nearby grottoes at Yulin, the Western Thousand Buddha Caves and Eastern Thousand Buddha Caves, as well as further afield, notably at Maijishan, Binglingsi and Laoshansi.

Indian in origin, Buddhist cave art was soon wholeheartedly promoted in many cultural centers throughout China both on the Silk Road network and off.