800-year-old Afghan minaret heads 9 properties named to UN World Heritage List

800-year-old Afghan minaret heads 9 properties named to UN World Heritage List

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An 800-year-old minaret in Afghanistan, threatened by erosion and vandalism, heads a register of nine natural and cultural properties named to the World Heritage List today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

An 800-year-old minaret in Afghanistan, threatened by erosion and vandalism, heads a register of nine natural and cultural properties named to the World Heritage List today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The 65-metre Minaret of Jam, in west-central Afghanistan, was among the sites designated of "outstanding universal value" by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, which is meeting in Budapest for its 26th session.

The second tallest minaret in the world, and the first in Afghanistan to be named to the List, was built in 1194 with elaborate brickwork and geometric and floral motifs representing the high point of the artistic and architectural tradition of the Ghurid dynasty that ruled Afghanistan and northern India in the 12th and early 13th centuries.

Because of the damage to the structure, it was also placed on UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger.

The other sites designated today include the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and the historic centres of Stralsund and Wismar in Germany, the Saint Catherine area in Egypt and the Tokaji wine region cultural landscape in Hungary.

India's Mahabodhi Temple complex at Bodhgaya and Italy's late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto were also placed on the UNESCO List, along with the ancient Maya city of Calakmul (Campeche) in Mexico and the historic inner city of Paramaribo in Suriname.

The World Heritage List was established under terms of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted in November 1972 at the 17th General Conference of UNESCO. That pact states that a World Heritage Committee "will establish, keep up-to-date and publish" a World Heritage List of cultural and natural properties, submitted by the States Parties and considered to be of outstanding universal value.