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  • Date :
  • 6/30/2007

Samarra Added to UN Heritage Sites


Twenty-two sites have been granted the coveted World Heritage status by UNESCO, the UN's culture organization.

They rangefrom a Roman palace to a modernist university campus to the embattled Iraqi city of Samarra.

UNESCO also took the unprecedented step of removing a site from its list, punishing the government of Oman for failing to protect the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary.

The oryx population has dropped from several hundred to a few dozen in a decade and now faces extinction.

The final list of sites was announced after a week of deliberations by a UNESCO committee meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The body says the prestige of being added to the list helps raise awareness of the importance of protecting and conserving heritage sites.

The Iraqi shrine city of Samarra, once a powerful Islamic capital and today the repeated target of terrorists' bombings, was both listed as a World Heritage site and as a site in danger.

A bombing in 2006 destroyed the shrine's golden dome which sparked Muslims' anger. A follow-up attack earlier this month destroyed the shrine's two gold-covered minarets.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia's iconic Sydney Opera House got the listing 34 years after it was built by Danish architect Jorn Utzon.

The committee described it as "a great urban sculpture set in a remarkable waterscape" with "an enduring influence on architecture".

India got a new listing with its Red Fort complex, built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad, the new capital of Shahjahan, the fifth Mughal Emperor of India who reigned from 1628 to 1658.

China's Kaiping site in Guangdong Province features 1,800 multi-storied defensive village houses displaying a flamboyant fusion of Chinese and Western forms built in response to banditry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the committee said.

In Europe, the 3rd century Roman fortified palace of Galerius or Gamzigrad-Romuliana, in eastern Serbia, joined the list of international treasures.

The French port city of Bordeaux was listed as an "outstanding urban and architectural ensemble of the Age of Enlightenment".

Teide National Park, on the Spanish island of Tenerife, was named as a natural World Heritage site. The primeval beech forests of the Carpathians in eastern Europe were also named on the natural list.

In the Americas, the committee added the Central University City Campus in Mexico City, built from 1949 to 1952 by more than 60 architects, engineers and artists.

"Universally recognized, the campus is one of the most significant icons of modernity in Latin America," the committee said.

Canada's Rideau Canal was listed as the best preserved canal in North America from the great canal-building era of the 19th century to remain operational along its original line with most of its original structures intact.


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