Zimbabwe might not be on the top of your list of places to visit in Africa, many years political turmoil under it’s president Robert Mugabe have dissuaded many tourists from visiting the country. Mark Sissons for the Edmonton Journal writes about his experiences traveling to Zimbabwe and its incredible beauty. As far as I found (as of November 13th, 2011), there are no official warnings about Zimbabwe, but many countries recommend exercising a high degree of caution when visiting. Great Zimbabwe was the large capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe from around 1100 to 1450, the ruined remains of the city are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and at its height was believed to have a population just under 20,000.
“Where else can you have a UNESCO World Heritage Site virtually to yourself?” asks my Zimbabwean guide, Mr. Lovemore.
The man has a point. On this misty morning I’m one of only a handful of visitors exploring the exquisitely constructed stone ruins of Great Zimbabwe, legendary capital of the Queen of Sheba, and one of the most extraordinary man-made complexes ever built in Africa.
“We only get about 150 visitors a month here,” says Lovemore as he leads me around the remains of the once imperial capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, from which the modern nation takes its name. Occupied between AD 1100 to 1450, this incredible artistic achievement has captured the imaginations of African and European travellers since the Middle Ages, when the whole kingdom was mysteriously abandoned.
“Please ask your friends to visit my beautiful country,” Lovemore urges as we navigate the thick granite block walls of the Great Enclosure – the largest single ancient structure south of the Sahara. “Things are changing here,” he adds.
Read More of the article at The heart of Africa.
Photo by Mark Abel
The Great Wall of China began in the 5th Century BC during the Warring States Period at the end of the Zhou Dynasty. At that time the wall consisted mostly on packed dirt. It was not after 221 BC with the emergence of the Qin Dynasty that new walls made out of stone were constructed. The majority of the wall seen today was constructed during the Ming Dynasty starting in the 14th Century. As reported by Xinhua News, unauthorized mining in the Hebei province is causing rapid deterioration of the Wall in the surrounding area.
The damaged portion of the Great Wall is located in a remote area near the county of Laiyuan in Hebei Province, about 200 kilometers southwest of Beijing. The area is home to a dozen small mines, with some operating as close as 100 meters to the centuries-old wall.
Villagers and local cultural heritage protection officials told Xinhua that about 700 meters of the wall, which was built during the reign of Emperor Wanli during the Ming Dynasty (1573-1620), had already collapsed, and more walls and even towers are likely to collapse if the mining continues unchecked.
Read more of the article at Alarm raised as part of Great Wall collapses amid mining.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site had been operating since the 13th century. It is one of the most popular tourist sites in Poland with over 1.6 million visitors a year. With the numerous chambers throughout the salt mine, it is virtually an underground town. Philipp Laage of Monsters & Critics writes about his journey into the mines.
Salt was mined at Wieliczka from the 13th until the end of the 20th century and is easily reached from the city of Krakow in southern Poland.
Rock salt is no longer extracted in one of Europe’s oldest salt mines, which has developed into a huge tourist attraction, drawing around one million visitors a year to its hundreds of kilometres of labyrinthine underground tunnels spread over nine levels.
The mine is home to a large collection of original tools and mining equipment, which have been perfectly preserved and outline the development of mining technology from the Middle Ages to the present day.
There are also altars and statues sculpted in the salt, which appear almost transparent in the dusky light.
‘I believed we would be preserved here if we stayed for longer than two hours,’ says 53-year-old Stanislav Dzidek, who leads daily tours through the mines 15 km from Krakow.
Mining began in Wieliczka in 1275 and was open to view as early as 1718. Famous visitors to the mine included French novelist Honore de Balzac, Polish composer Frederic Chopin and German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was fascinated by mineralogy.
Up to 6,000 visitors a day tour the mine, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
Read the rest of the article at Experience centuries of mining history in Wieliczka salt mines – Monsters and Critics.
Photo by Zsolt Bugarszki
One of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and one of Lebanon’s most important tourist destinations, Jbeil, is set to become a War Free World Heritage Listed City, a status that would outlaw the use and targeting of the site in times of conflict.
In a wide-ranging meeting in Jbeil Wednesday, civil and military representatives discussed the establishment of a national focus group to adopt risk mitigation measures and prepare the city to become compliant with the Second Protocol of The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Properties in times of armed conflicts.
Story by Van Meguerditchian – The Daily Star
Along with the Canal de Garonne, it forms the Canal des Deux Mers, which joins the Atlantic near Bordeaux to the Mediterranean.
Running from the city of Toulouse down to the Mediterranean port of Sète, the Canal du Midi is considered an extraordinary 17th century feat of engineering and has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1996.
The idea of building a waterway joining the Atlantic to the Med was voiced by the Romans and again by Charlemagne but it took one of Louis XIV’s tax inspectors to realise it.
Pierre-Paul Riquet, who designed and built the Canal du Midi, was a local farmer with intimate knowledge of the rivers of southwestern France, in particular the Montage Noire (Black Mountain) and its abundant springs.
Story by Henry Samuel