Today is UNESCO World Heritage Day

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Palmyra, Syria as it once was

Today is UNESCO World Heritage Day, yet another one of those days, probably conceived by a public relations person who decided it was the only way to get more publicity about something. As you will guess from my tone, I am not the biggest fan of such enterprises but given the destruction by ISIS at Palmyra and other Middle Eastern sites it is important to remember what we have lost and give thanks for what we still have and still have to discover.

A large part of Palymyra, the shrine of the prophet Jonah in the Iraqi city of Mosul, Jobar Synagogue in Damascus and much of Aleppo are all been extensively damaged in the last few years either deliberately or as a by-product of war. These were not just sites significant to the region but of significance to world history. Like the library at Alexandria in Egypt, once gone, a little bit of what helped explained the development of mankind is gone as well.

On the bright side, and despite the fact that you would be forgiven for thinking that all that had been available to be find would have been, new finds in Egypt suggest that there are still things to discover. New mummy finds at Luxor and Tuna al-Gabal will only enhance UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the future.

Gaining the status adds to the tourism potential for both the destination and the country. Egypt has repeatedly said that it believes the new finds will stimulate us to visit the country which is why so many sites are put forward each year by governments anxious to add to their tourism potential.

Next month, the annual get-together will be held in the Polish city of Kraków, and there, amongst discussions on existing sites, new sites will be designated and join the select group of World Heritage Sites. Menorca, for example, has put forward 25 archaeological sites that are representative of the Talayotic culture of Menorca. Representing the prehistoric past of the island, there are in total 1,574 archaeological sites on the island. The Talayotic period began around 1400 BC and this ancient civilisation built 12 villages on the south side of the island. The name Talayotic derives from dry stone megalithic structures called Talayots.

The UK has nominated the Lake District for status this year and all successful applicants should be known in mid-July. Just about Travel will bring you the news as soon as the announcements are made.

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