Six thousand years separate the Sydney Opera House from Twyfelfontein. These two sites just inscribed on the World Heritage List add to its extraordinary richness, which the UNESCO Courier aims to illustrate. Among the twenty-two new sites, the Courier focuses on five that reflect the diversity of world heritage down through the ages.
© UNESCO/Stefan Hoeh
The Sydney Opera House in Australia
Twyfelfontein has 5,000 petroglyphs, revealing Namibian ancestors’ vision of the cosmos. The South African archaeologist Thomas A. Dowson provides us with the code needed to decipher this 6000-year-old alphabet.
Then Greek artist Katerina Zacharopoulou walks us through the tiny streets of a city dating back to antiquity and the Renaissance, the Venice of Greece, or, as the author puts it, “a cosmopolitan aristocrat who suffers from plastic chairs”, which are proliferating in the tourist-crammed cafés: Corfou.
Then we enter “Paradise on earth”, New Delhi’s Red Fort, built in the 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan, to whom we owe that other jewel of Mughal architecture, the legendary Taj Mahal in Agra. Indian linguist Appasamy Murugaiyan opens the doors to this paradise, which became hell for its builder.
Closer to our own times, the diaolous built in the 19th century in Chinese-Western style by the Chinese in Kaiping attracted the attention of Patricia Batto, French expert on China. She has chosen a few of these 1,800 fortified tower residences to explain the role of these unique constructions in times when law and order did not prevail.
Finally, Mexican journalist Gerardo Tena shows us around a masterpiece of 20th century architecture, the Ciudad Universitaria in Mexico. This university campus represents a harmonious melding of modernism and local tradition, imbued with the spirit of personalities like Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Octavio Paz.
These guided tours are preceded by an interview with Tumu Te Heuheu, Paramount Chief of the Central North Island Tuwharetoa Tribe (New Zealand) and Chairperson of the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee, which just ended in Christchurch, in his country. He underlines the crucial role of communities in the preservation of world heritage.