UNESCO expands seven existing World Heritage sites

3 August 2010

Extensions to several World Heritage sites in Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, Austria and other countries have been approved by the United Nations agency tasked with preserving humanity’s cultural heritage.

The World Heritage Committee of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) wrapped up its annual meeting today, having inscribed 21 new sites and adding four sites to the List of World Heritage in Danger during its 34th session held in Brasilia, Brazil.

It also approved expansions for seven existing World Heritage sites, including Pirin National Park in southwest Bulgaria. The site is spread over 27,000 hectares in the Pirin Mountains and comprises limestone landscapes with glacial lakes, waterfalls, caves and mostly coniferous forests.

The extension covers an area of some 40,000 hectares in the same mountains, and is mostly in high mountain territory that is more than 2,000 metres in altitude.

Monte San Giorgio in Italy and Switzerland is a pyramid-shaped, wooded mountain rising to an altitude of nearly 1,100 metres above sea level. Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2003, it is regarded as the best fossil record of marine life from the Triassic period, which took place more than 200 million years ago. The Committee approved extensions which are contiguous to the existing site on the Italian side of the border.

The body also approved adding of an additional church to a site known as the Church of the Resurrection of Sucevita Monastery in Romania’s northern Moldavia region. The church, the only one to show a representation of the ladder of St. John Climacus, joined six others whose exterior walls are entirely covered in 15th and 16th century fresco paintings inscribed in 1993.

In the City of Graz, the extension concerns Schloss Eggenberg, a castle three kilometres from the historic city centre. Built in the 17th century as the State residence of Duke Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg, the extension is an “exceptionally well-preserved example which bears witness, through its architecture and external decoration, to the influence of the late Italian Renaissance and the Baroque period,” according to UNESCO.

The Committee added Siega Verde, Spain, to the Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley in neighbouring Portugal. They are home to rock carvings from the Upper Palaeolithic era of 22,000-10,000 B.C. The 645 engravings in Siega Verde were made on a cliff, the result of erosion by the river and are mostly figurative, representing animals. UNESCO said the sites of the Côa Valley and Siega Verde represent the most remarkable open-air ensemble of Palaeolithic art on the Iberian Peninsula.

Rounding out the list of World Heritage sites with new additions are mining areas in Germany and Norway.

A mining water management system was added to the Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar site in Germany. The system was developed over a period of some 800 years to assist in extracting ore to produce non-ferrous metals. Its construction was started by Cistercian monks in the Middle Ages before being developed on a vast scale from the end of the 16th century until the 19th century.

The Committee approved extensions to the Røros Mining Town and the Circumference in Norway, where copper mines established in the 17th century were exploited until 1977 and were completely rebuilt after its destruction by Swedish troops in 1679.

The next session of the 21-member Committee will be held next June in Bahrain.


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