WHC Session Day #6: First Inscriptions
For the first time Jamaica contributed to the list with its newly added both natural and cultural site of the Blue and John Crow Mountains. Moreover the natural heritage sites of Cape Floral Region Protected Areas in South Africa and Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park in Viet Nam were expanded. During the next days WHC will discuss further nominations for the World Heritage List. This year 36 sites have been proposed.
Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale (Italy)
Located on the northern coast of Sicily, Arab-Norman Palermo includes a series of nine civil and religious structures dating from the era of the Norman kingdom of Sicily (1130-1194): two palaces, three churches, a cathedral, a bridge, as well as the cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale. Collectively, they are an example of a social-cultural syncretism between Western, Islamic and Byzantine cultures on the island which gave rise to new concepts of space, structure and decoration. They also bear testimony to the fruitful coexistence of people of different origins and religions (Muslim, Byzantine, Latin, Jewish, Lombard and French).
Baptism Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (Al-Maghtas) (Jordan)
Situated on the eastern bank of the River Jordan, nine kilometres north of the Dead Sea, the archaeological site consists of two distinct areas: Tell Al-Kharrar, also known as Jabal Mar-Elias (Elijah’s Hill) and the area of the churches of Saint John the Baptist near the river. Situated in a pristine natural environment the site is believed to be the location where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist. It features Roman and Byzantine remains including churches and chapels, a monastery, caves that have been used by hermits and pools in which baptisms were celebrated, testifying to the religious character of the place. The site is a Christian place of pilgrimage.
Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia
This site includes two components situated in a desert landscape: Jabel Umm Sinman at Jubbah and the Jabal al-Manjor and Raat at Shuwaymis. A lake once situated at the foot of the Umm Sinman hill range that has now disappeared used to be a source of fresh water for people and animals in the southern part of the Great Narfoud Desert. The ancestors of today’s Arab populations have left traces of their passages in numerous petroglyphs and inscriptions on the rock face. Jabal al-Manjor and Raat form the rocky escarpment of a wadi now covered in sand. They show numerous representations of human and animal figures covering 10,000 years of history.
Blue and John Crow Mountains (Jamaica)
The site encompasses a rugged and extensively forested mountainous region in the south-east of Jamaica, which provided refuge first for the indigenous Tainos fleeing slavery and then for Maroons (escaped African slaves). They resisted the European colonial system in this isolated region by establishing a network of trails, hiding places and settlements, which form the Nanny Town Heritage Route. The forests offered the Maroons everything they needed for their survival. They developed strong spiritual connections with the mountains, still manifest through the intangible cultural legacy of, for example, religious rites, traditional medicine and dances. The site is also a biodiversity hotspot for the Caribbean Islands with a high proportion of endemic plant species, especially lichens, mosses and certain flowering plants.
Cape Floral Region Protected Areas [Extension of the property “Cape Floral region protected Areas”] (South Africa)
Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004, the property is located at the south-western extremity of South Africa. It is one of the world’s great centres of terrestrial biodiversity. The extended property includes national parks, nature reserves, wilderness areas, State forests and mountain catchment areas. These elements add a significant number of endemic species associated with the Fynbos vegetation, a fine-leaved sclerophyllic shrubland adapted to both a Mediterranean climate and periodic fires, which is unique to the Cape Floral Region.
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park [a new proposal reflecting new criteria that is also an extension to the “Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park] (Viet Nam)
The Phong Nha−Ke Bang National Park, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2003, covered 85,754 hectares. With this extension, the site covers a total surface area of 126,236 hectares (a 46 % increase) and shares a boundary with the Hin Namno Nature Reserve in the Peoples Democratic Republic of Laos. The Park’s landscape is formed by limestone plateaux and tropical forests. It features great geological diversity and offers spectacular phenomena, including a large number of caves and underground rivers. The site harbours a high level of biodiversity and many endemic species. The extension ensures a more coherent ecosystem while providing additional protection to the catchment areas that are of vital importance for the integrity of limestone landscapes.