WHC Session Day #8: Modern Heritage
Notably the Committee included three places of industrial heritage: The sites of the Meiji Industrial Revolution in Japan, hydropower sites in Norway and the industrial landscape of Fray Bentos in Uruguay are now part of the list. The already inscribed “Routes of Santiago de Compostela” in Spain have been extended by four more routes.
This year the World Heritage Committee added a total of 24 new sites to the List. It now includes 1,031 sites in 163 countries around the globe. Among them are 802 cultural heritage sites, 197 natural sites and 32 mixed sites including both cultural and natural heritage.
Find the whole World Heritage List on the Website of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Germany: Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus
Speicherstadt and the adjacent Kontorhaus district are two densely built urban areas in the centre of the port city of Hamburg. Speicherstadt, originally developed on a group of narrow islands in the Elbe River between 1885 and 1927, was partly rebuilt from 1949 to 1967. It is one of the largest coherent historic ensembles of port warehouses in the world (300,000 m2). It includes 15 very large warehouse blocks as well as six ancillary buildings and a connecting network of short canals. Adjacent to the modernist Chilehaus office building, the Kontorhaus district is an area of over five hectares featuring six very large office complexes built from the 1920s to the 1940s to house port-related businesses. The complex exemplifies the effects of the rapid growth in international trade in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Israel: Necropolis of Beth She’arim—a Landmark of Jewish Revival
Consisting of a series of catacombs, the necropolis developed from the 2nd century BCE as the primary Jewish burial place outside Jerusalem following the failure of the second Jewish revolt against Roman rule. Located southeast of the city of Haifa, these catacombs are a treasury of artworks and inscriptions in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. Beth She’arim bears unique testimony to ancient Judaism under the leadership of Rabbi Judah the Patriarch, who is credited with Jewish renewal after 135 CE.
Japan: Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining
The site encompasses a series of eleven properties, mainly located in the southwest of Japan. It bears testimony to the rapid industrialization of the country from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century, through the development of the steel industry, shipbuilding and coal mining. The site illustrates the process by which feudal Japan sought technology transfer from Europe and America from the middle of the 19th century and how this technology was adapted to the country’s needs and social traditions. The site testifies to what is considered to be the first successful transfer of Western industrialization to a non-Western nation.
Mexico: Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System
This 16th century aqueduct is located between the states of Mexico and Hidalgo, on the Central Mexican Plateau. This heritage canal system encompasses a water catchment area, springs, canals, distribution tanks and arcaded aqueduct bridges. The site incorporates the highest single-level arcade ever built in an aqueduct. Initiated by the Franciscan friar, Padre Tembleque, and built with support from the local indigenous communities, this hydraulic system is an example of the exchange of influences between the European tradition of Roman hydraulics and traditional Mesoamerican construction techniques, including the use of adobe.
Norway: Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site
Located in a dramatic landscape of mountains, waterfalls and river valleys, the site comprises hydroelectric power plants, transmission lines, factories, transport systems and towns. The complex was established by the Norsk-Hydro Company to manufacture artificial fertilizer from nitrogen in the air. It was built to meet the Western world’s growing demand for agricultural production in the early 20th century. The company towns of Rjukan and Notodden show workers’ accommodation and social institutions linked by rail and ferry to ports where the fertilizer was loaded. The Rjukan-Notodden site manifests an exceptional combination of industrial assets and themes associated to the natural landscape. It stands out as an example of a new global industry in the early 20th century.
Located within what was once the estuary of the River Kaystros, Ephesus comprises successive Hellenistic and Roman settlements founded on new locations, which followed the coastline as it retreated westward. Excavations have revealed grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period including the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the “Seven Wonders of the World,” which drew pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean. Since the 5th century, the House of the Virgin Mary, a domed cruciform chapel seven kilometres from Ephesus, became a major place of Christian pilgrimage. The Ancient City of Ephesus is an outstanding example of a Roman port city, with sea channel and harbour basin.
United Kingdom: The Forth Bridge
This railway bridge spanning the estuary of the Forth River in Scotland is the world’s longest multi-span cantilever bridge. It opened in 1890 and continues to carry passengers and freight. Its distinctive industrial aesthetic is the result of a forthright and unadorned display of its structural components. Innovative in style, materials and scale, the Forth Bridge is an important milestone in bridge design and construction during the period when railways came to dominate long-distance land travel.
United States of America: Missions of San Antonio
The site encompasses a group of five frontier mission complexes situated along a stretch of the San Antonio River basin in southern Texas, as well as a ranch located 37 kilometres to the south. It includes architectural and archaeological structures, farmlands, residencies, churches and granaries, as well as water distribution systems. The complexes were built by Franciscan missionaries in the 18th century and illustrate the Spanish Crown’s efforts to colonize, evangelize and defend the northern frontier of New Spain. The San Antonio Missions are also an example of the interweaving of Spanish and Coahuiltecan cultures, illustrated by a variety of features, including the decorative elements of churches, which combine Catholic symbols with indigenous designs inspired by nature.
Uruguay: Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape
Located on land projecting into the Uruguay River west of the town of Fray Bentos, the industrial complex was built following the development of a factory founded in 1859 to process meat produced on the vast prairies nearby. The site illustrates the whole process of meat sourcing, processing, packing and dispatching. It includes buildings and equipment of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, which exported meat extract and corned-beef to the European market from 1865 and the Anglo Meat Packing Plant, which exported frozen meat from 1924. Through its physical location, industrial and residential buildings as well as social institutions, the site presents an illustration of the entire process of meat production on a global scale.
Extension of cultural sites
Spain: Routes of Santiago de Compostela: Camino Francés and Routes of Northern Spain [an extension of the “Routes of Santiago de Compostela”]
A network of four Christian pilgrimage routes in northern Spain, the site is an extension of the Route of Santiago de Compostela, a serial site inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993. The extension represents a network of almost 1,500 km: coastal, interior of the Basque Country–La Rioja, Liébana and primitive routes. It includes a built heritage of historical importance created to meet the needs of pilgrims, including cathedrals, churches, hospitals, hostels and even bridges. The extension encompasses some of the earliest pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, following the discovery in the 9th century of a tomb believed to be that of St. James the Greater.