Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region

Situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid, the town of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. Built mainly between the 7th and 19th centuries, it has the oldest Slav monastery (St Pantelejmon) and more than 800 Byzantine-style icons dating from the 11th to the end of the 14th century. After those of the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow, this is considered to be the most important collection of icons in the world.

Writing, education and Slavonic culture – all spread out from Ohrid in the 7th to 19th centuries. It is a cultural centre of great importance for the history not only of this part of the Balkan Peninsula, but also for all nations of the Slavonic tongue and for world history and literature, with precious manuscripts and other rarities. This city and its historic-cultural region are located in a natural setting of exceptional beauty, while its architecture represents the best preserved and most complete ensemble of ancient urban architecture of the Slavic lands.

Since 1979 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Anita for the postcard.



La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia

Built between 1482 and 1533, this group of buildings was originally used for trading in silkย and it has always been a centre for commerce. It is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The grandiose Sala de Contrataciรณn (Contract or Trading Hall), in particular, illustrates the power and wealth of a major Mediterranean mercantile city in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Its original function was as a trading exchange for oil. It developed into the main maritime trading centre and the silk exchange, and housed the commercial institution known as the “Consolat de Mar,” which was founded in 1283, and the Taula de Convis i Deposits, a banking institution established in 1408 and named after the table (taula) over which its transactions took place. At the present time it is still a major trading exchange, now dealing primarily in agricultural products.

Since 1996 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Giuan for the postcard.



The Dolomites

The site of the Dolomites comprises a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps, numbering 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 metres and cover 141,903 ha. It features some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys. A serial property of nine areas that present a diversity of spectacular landscapes of international significance for geomorphology marked by steeples, pinnacles and rock walls, the site also contains glacial landforms and karst systems. It is characterized by dynamic processes with frequent landslides, floods and avalanches. The property also features one of the best examples of the preservation of Mesozoic carbonate platform systems, with fossil records.

Since 2009 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Rossana for the postcard.


Group of Monuments at Pattadakal

Pattadakal, in Karnataka, represents the high point of an eclectic art which, in the 7th and 8th centuries under the Chalukya dynasty, achieved a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India. An impressive series of nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain sanctuary, can be seen there. One masterpiece from the group stands out โ€“ the Temple of Virupaksha, built c. 740 by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband’s victory over the kings from the South.

Situated between the Malaprabha River to the north, and a minuscule village to the south, Pattadakal possesses a sort of holy city comprised of an impressive series of eight Hindu temples dedicated to Siva. Somewhat off to the side, towards the village, is the ninth Sivaite sanctuary, the Temple of Papanatha, as well as a Jain temple. In the monumental complex of the central zone are structures whose design was strongly influenced by the architecture of northern India: the temples of Galaganatha and of Kashi Vishveshvara, which are noteworthy for their square-shaped shikharas with curved edges. They stand along with other temples of a pure Dravidian style – Sangameshvara, built between 696 and 733, and Mallikarjuna, built consecutively from 733-44. Cornices decorate the walls of these temples and the roofs are the complex, storeyed type found in southern architecture.

Since 1987 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Nagi for the postcard.



Historic Town of Vigan

Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia.

The town is located in the delta of the Abra River, off the coastal plain of the China Sea, close to the north-east tip of the island of Luzon. The present-day municipality divided into nine urban districts and thirty rural villages. Almost half the total area is still in use for agriculture. The Historic Core Zone is defined on two sides by the Govantes and Mestizo rivers.

Since 1999 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Jan for the postcard.



Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point

Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point owes its name to a 19th-century plantation close to the site, which is in the Lower Mississippi Valley on a slightly elevated and narrow landform. The complex comprises five mounds, six concentric semi-elliptical ridges separated by shallow depressions and a central plaza. It was created and used for residential and ceremonial purposes by a society of hunter fisher-gatherers between 3700 and 3100ย BP. Research has not yet clarified whether the complex had a steady residential function or was a campground occupied temporarily during ceremonies or trading fairs. It is a remarkable achievement in earthen construction in North America that was unsurpassed for at least 2,000 years.

Since 2014 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Judy for the postcard.


Tugendhat Villa in Brno

The Tugendhat Villa in Brno, designed by the architect Mies van der Rohe, is an outstanding example of the international style in the modern movement in architecture as it developed in Europe in the 1920s. Its particular value lies in the application of innovative spatial and aesthetic concepts that aim to satisfy new lifestyle needs by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by modern industrial production.

The villa was designed by van der Rohe for Grete Weiss and her husband Fritz Tugendhat, members of wealthy industrial families in the city of Brno in former Czechoslovakia. The architect accepted the commission in 1927 and the villa was completed by the end of 1930. The architect took charge of the project down to the smallest detail, also designing all the furniture of the house, designs that have become world-renowned.

During the German occupation, the Tugendhat family left Czechoslovakia and the Villa was taken over by the German State in 1939. It lost most of its original furniture, and was subject to some alterations and damage – eg that caused by a bomb explosion in the neighbourhood in 1944. After the war, the building was taken over by the State of Czechoslovakia; it served a nearby children’s hospital and then the national health institute of Brno, becoming the property of the City of Brno. In 1962 the Villa was protected as a national monument. There was increasing interest in restoring it, and the first study to this effect was made in 1971, leading to a restoration campaign in 1981-85, which guaranteed the continuation of the use of the building on a provisional basis. The Tugendhat Villa Fund was established in 1993, followed by the decision of the Friends of the Tugendhat Fund to undertake a scientific restoration of the building. This work took place beginning in 1994 and funds were raised to furnish the building with replicas of the original designs by Mies van der Rohe.

Since 2001 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Kevan for the postcard.