My Favorite World Heritage Sites Vol. 4.

June 28, 2017 Global Heritage Comments (0) 316

So, more favorite World Heritage sites I have visited.  And before you get too jealous, look at some of the places I have NEVER been and think how many World Heritage sites are there:

Egypt

Greece

Turkey

Denmark

Belgium

Brazil

Almost all of Africa and the Middle East

I still kick myself that I didn’t make it to Borobodur in ’86, and I was only 90 minutes (but no car) away from the most excellently named World Heritage Site of all in 2015:

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.  That’s in Alberta, Canada and it was inscribed way back in 1981.

I haven’t even seen the Grand Canyon, but I have been to:

My first night in K’yiv we took a bus down to the Maidan and saw St. Sophia’s – I think it is even more exciting lit at night than during the day.  This cathedral complex is inscribed as World Heritage and includes the plazas around.

I like the way they detail the walls in Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe – it reveals the layers of history and construction.

The Lavra in K’yiv is a monastic complex with a series of churches, monasteries and other site, including a museum that was displaying an unforgettable collection of Scythian gold when we were there in 2006.

Photographs copyright 2006 Felicity Rich.

That same trip we saw L’viv, a wonderful historic city whose center ensemble of buildings, street and plazas was inscribed as World Heritage in 1998.

Detail from facade of late medieval church in the center of L’viv.  Copyright 2006 Felicity Rich

L’viv.  Copyright 2006 Felicity Rich.

I like to travel.  I like it so much I will travel a long way to see or do something, and while I prefer to spend some time in a place, I will strike quickly if I don’t have a lot of time.  One of the most absurd of these trips took place about three years ago when I was living in California.  I worked all day Monday and all day Friday.  In between Monday and Friday, I went here:

St. Basil’s, Red Square, Moscow.  I never noticed the ExxonMobil sign before…

It is Red Square because of red buildings, not because it is in a red state.

That was a crazy trip – about 36 hours of travel, about 30 hours there.  Love it!

 

In 2001 I first visited Vietnam, and did go to Hoi An, which is a World Heritage site thanks to its historic port town.  This is the only photo I have handy of that visit.

We also sailed through the magical Ha Long Bay, a natural World Heritage site and clearly evocative of its eponymous dragon.

You might recall that in Volume 1 I described my trip to India in 1986, which continued into Thailand, where I truly enjoyed the earliest Thai capital of Sukhothai, now a monument site with a whole series of fascinating temples.  The capital later moved to Ayutthaya (also a World Heritage site today) before it settled in Krung Thep (Bangkok).

Sukhothai.

Chedi in Sukhothai.

This was a cool site – Wat Chang Lom – basically a giant statue of the Buddha with a structure barely containing him – you climb stairs and I would look small in his hand.

There are people on the left side of the photo – check out the scale!

Here is Ayutthaya – the later capital – strong Khmer influence in planning and architecture.  This is basically when Thailand is able to separate itself from the crumbling Khmer Empire.

Sighisoara.  The birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, remembered as Dracula.  This stepping stone to the stunning Carpathian villages of Transylvania is quite scenic, although the actual one-time Saxon villages of the Siebenbirgen area are even more evocative.  Still Sighisoara has the medieval and early Renaissance charms that make it one of my favorite World Heritage sites.

I was there in May, 2015.

31 years ago I learned to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Natural site in Australia.  13 years ago I first visited Japan, and I was able to return last year to again see the Great Temple at Nara, the world’s largest wooden building and one of my all-time favorite World Heritage sites.

The nice thing about returning to a place is you see more details the second time, like the feet of the Unkei guards in the gate before the temple.

Or the Buddha in the Todai-ji itself.

Or the models, since the temple has been rebuilt three times and is smaller than the original…

There are multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites in Nara, including Kofuku-ji, which we visited in 2004.

Nara’s deer walk among the World Heritage with impunity.

A highlight in Japan is Kyoto, and the Golden Temple, Kinkaku-ji is the highlight of them all:

It was very nearly destroyed by fire around 1950 but has been restored using ancient techniques.

 

Oh!  I almost forgot about Myanmar, which was Burma when I visited in 1986.  We made the trip to Bagan (also Pagan) a massive place of 5000 Buddhist temple shrines on the great Irrawaddy river, abandoned at the time of the Mongol conquest and sometimes thuggishly restored since my visit.

And the stunning golden Shwedagon pagoda in Rangoon, now Yangon.

I am sure I will remember a few more sites in the coming weeks….

 

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