4 August 2010

5 new cities on the UNESCO List in 2010

Québec, Canada, August 2, 2010. Gathered in Brasilia, (Brasil) from July 25 to August 2, the World Heritage Committee inscribed 5 new cities on the UNESCO List, which have within their boundaries listed Word Heritage Sites. “It is a great honour as well as a great privilege to welcome new members in the large family of World Heritage Cities; each and every one of those cities and towns bear such an exceptional value that its preservation is now a matter of concern to the whole world; they are treasures that enrich our collective memory and new places for everyone to visit and discover” said Mr. Denis Ricard, Secretary General of the Organization.

The new members are:

Albi, Episcopal City of Albi (France)


On the banks of the Tarn river in south-west France, the old city of Albi reflects the culmination of a medieval architectural and urban ensemble. Today the Old Bridge (Pont-Vieux), the Saint-Salvi quarter and its church are testimony to its initial development (10th -11th centuries). Following the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathar heretics (13th century) it became a powerful episcopal city. Built in a unique southern French Gothic style from local brick in characteristic red and orange colours, the lofty fortified Cathedral (late 13th century) dominates the city, demonstrating the power regained by the Roman Catholic clergy. Alongside the Cathedral is the vast bishop’s Palais de la Berbie, overlooking the river and surrounded by residential quarters that date back to the Middle Ages. The Episcopal City of Albi forms a coherent and homogeneous ensemble of monuments and quarters that has remained largely unchanged over the centuries.



Amsterdam, Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht (Netherlands)


The historic urban ensemble of the canal district of Amsterdam was a project for a new ‘port city’ built at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries. It comprises a network of canals to the west and south of the historic old town and the medieval port that encircled the old town and was accompanied by the repositioning inland of the city’s fortified boundaries, the Singelgracht. This was a long-term programme that involved extending the city by draining the swampland, using a system of canals in concentric arcs and filling in the intermediate spaces. These spaces allowed the development of a homogeneous urban ensemble including gabled houses and numerous monuments. This urban extension was the largest and most homogeneous of its time. It was a model of large-scale town planning, and served as a reference throughout the world until the 19th century.



Ardabil, Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil Iran (Islamic Republic of)


Built between the beginning of the 16th century and the end of the 18th century, this Sufi spiritual retreat location uses traditional Iranian architectural designs. The builders made the best of the reduced space to ensure multiple functions, in particular a library, a mosque, a school, a mausoleum, a tank, a hospital, kitchens, a bakery and a few offices. The site comprises a pathway leading to the Sheikh’s sanctuary articulated in seven steps that reflect the seven stages of the Sufi mysticism, separated by eight doors representing the eight attitudes of Sufism.  The site also includes façades and richly ornamented interiors as well as a remarkable collection of antiques. It forms a rare ensemble of medieval Islamic architectural elements.



Hahoe / Yangdong, Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong (Republic of Korea)


Founded in the 14th-15th centuries, Hahoe and Yangdong are seen as the two most representative historic clan villages in the Republic of Korea. Their layout and location – sheltered by forested mountains and facing out onto a river and open agricultural fields – reflect the distinctive aristocratic Confucian culture of the early part of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The villages were located to provide both physical and spiritual nourishment from their surrounding landscapes. They include residences of the head families, together with substantial timber framed houses of other clan members, also pavilions, study halls, Confucian academies for learning, and clusters of one story mud-walled, thatched-roofed houses, formerly for commoners. The landscapes of mountains, trees and water around the village, framed in views from pavilions and retreats, were celebrated for their beauty by 17th and 18th century poets.