Photos: UNESCO adds 21 sites to its World Heritage List; Michelle Robertson; SFGate

China – Kulangsu, a Historic International Settlement

Craggy mountaintops trimmed in snow, temples battered by desert sand and modernity, farmlands carved from arctic glaciers — the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites is diverse and plentiful.

The global body met in Krakow, Poland in June to add an additional 21 sites to the robust list — “A lot more than one might have expected,” said Jacek Purchla, chair of the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee, in a statement.

Indeed. The list now contains a total of 1,073 sites, forged both by man and nature.

UNESCO’s World Heritage List was established by treaty in 1972 to highlight and preserve cultural and natural heritage around the world. A committee of 21 elected representatives meets yearly to define new sites or modify existing ones. Conservation is a continual theme of the annual proceedings.

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Bring on Valhalla: on the Viking trail in Denmark; Kari Herbert; The Guardian

Denmark – Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church

West Jutland is bringing old Norse culture to life with interactive attractions alongside historic sites and nature trails. Mother and daughter immerse themselves in a land of legend.

The longhouse is warm and dark. Embers smoulder in a fire-pit in the centre of the hall; above it hang blackened joints of meat. The air is thick with wood smoke. As our eyes adjust to the gloom, we make out the wide seating platforms, strewn with sheepskins on one side, and heavy chairs on the other. Shields and tapestries line the walls and carved wooden figures stand guard.

My daughter Nell and I have come to West Jutland to join a “Viking trail” and to visit some of the area’s historic sites and new attractions.

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Your Complete Guide Of Things To See, Do And Eat in Bali; Hand Luggage Only; Yaya & Lloyd

Indonesia – Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy

Bali is one of those islands that that conjures up thoughts of beautiful beaches, tropical forests, historic temples and incredible volcanic vistas… and rightly so, it’s gorgeous!

For so many reasons, Bali really surprised me. For the longest time, I thought of Bali just as a beach holiday, not that there’s anything wrong with that but my assumption was based solely around it being a place to chill out and sip some fruity cocktails while enjoying some well-earned rest and recuperation… but Bali is so much more. There’s never anything wrong with a nice chilled holiday at the beach but after a few days, I’m always itching to explore… and guess what, Bali is the perfect island for this!

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Temple of Love – Khajuraho: The world heritage site; Sonam Singh; Tripoto

India – Khajuraho Group of Monuments

We reached Khajuraho in evening around 6 pm after Sanchi visit. Please read my Sanchi trip blog here to know about my journey so far.

The condition of the roads were horrible from Sanchi to Khajuraho which easily added an hour to our travel time for nothing good .I was carrying at that time and was badly exhausted . Moreover we didnt book any hotel room in advance,so after reaching Khajuraho we went on hotel hunt,saw Radisson,Clarks,Ramada and even Lalit the most expensive one. Here in Khajuraho you will find all India’s best hotel chains. Well we finalized with Ramada which met our expectation and budget.In this we wasted almost 1.5 hrs. Just a piece of advice ,book your rooms in advance.

After check in to our rooms, quickly freshened up and went for dinner.

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‘Once visitors arrive, it’s easy to seduce them’: Le Havre celebrates its 500th year; Mary Winston Nicklin; The Washington Post

France – Le Havre, the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret

When Julia Child arrived in Le Havre in 1948, disembarking the oceanliner America for a new life in France, she described the port: “giant cranes, piles of brick, bombed-out empty spaces, and rusting half-sunk hulks left over from the war.”

Nearly 70 years later, my young daughters are riveted to a trottinette (scooter) competition at the beachfront skate park, swaying to the music that has drawn young and old alike to bask in the spring sunshine on the promenade. Dogs are pulling at their leashes; hand-holding couples gaze at the marina yachts; a retiree plays with his new drone on the beach.

On the occasion of the city’s 500th anniversary, we’re on a spring weekend getaway from our Paris home. Behind us, St. Joseph’s Church lords over the bustling port, the busiest in France for shipping-container traffic.

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Qara Kelisa holds Badarak ceremony; Iran Daily

Iran – Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran

Some 14 billion rials ($466,666) has been allocated for renovating globally registered churches across Iran, said deputy head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

Speaking during the annual Armenian religious ceremony, known as ‘Badarak’ at Qara Kelisa Church (meaning Black Church) in Chaldoran, West Azarbaijan Province, Mohammad-Hassan Talebian further said that the identity of historical churches should be safeguarded.

He said Chaldoran has good cultural and historical potentials.

Talebian added that Qara Kelisa is the ninth Iranian monument registered on UNESCO World Heritage List.

Holding rituals in churches is indicative of the attention given by Islamic Republic of Iran to various religious and ethnic groups, he said.

Iran has an amicable and peaceful attitude toward other religious and ethnic groups, he added.


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Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, cozy and symmetrical; Tehran Times

Iran – Meidan Emam, Esfahan

TEHRAN – The 17th century Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, central Iran, is one of the architectural masterpieces of Iranian architecture.

In comparison to many mosques scattered across the country, it appears to be relatively unusual, having neither a minaret nor a courtyard probably because the mosque was never intended for public use, but rather served as a worship place for women.

The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque punctuates the middle of two-story arcades that are encircling the enormous Emam Square, itself a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Inside the sanctuary, there are thousands of mosaics that adorn the walls and its extraordinarily gorgeous ceiling that features a series of shrinking, yellow motifs, itself a masterpiece of design. Photography is allowed but using a flash is not.

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The heritage of a divided city; Daoud Kuttab; The Statesman

Palestine – Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town

As a young boy growing up in Bethlehem, I was often excited when our family had company. My dad, a Christian clergyman, loved to take us and the guests to Hebron.

Dad would take us to the Cave of the Machpela, situated within the Ibrahimi Mosque, where Abraham and his family are buried and would tell the story of how Abraham obeyed God’s calling even when it came to the request to sacrifice his own son. He would also tell us that the son in the Biblical story was Isaac, son of Sarah, while in the Koran the story refers to Ishmael, son of Hagar.

For us kids, the visit to Hebron, or alKhalil in Arabic (the Arabic name means “companion”, in reference to Abraham being God’s companion), was never complete without purchasing some of the amazing grape products.

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A Wheelchair Accessible Guide to San Antonio: What to Do, How to Get Around, and Where to Stay; Cory Lee; Curb Free

USA – San Antonio Missions

San Antonio, Texas is a popular tourist destination, known as the home of the Alamo, the famous Emily Morgan Hotel and the scenic River Walk. I visited San Antonio for the first time this summer and learned firsthand that it is an excellent destination for those with mobility impairments. The city began greatly increasing its wheelchair accessibility during the 1980s, and continues to make upgrades such as building more accessible pathways and eliminating barriers. Over the years, San Antonio has upgraded forty locations with new ramps, pathways, and elevators. I highly recommend a visit to this colorful and historic city, which offers many options for wheelchair users. Here’s what you need to know before visiting San Antonio

Best Things to Do in San Antonio

1. The Alamo

Founded in 1793 as a Catholic mission and fortress, this was the location of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo.

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Viking Christmas River Cruises: The Rhine Getaway; Howard Blount; Backroad Planet

Netherlands – Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout

Viking’s Christmas river cruises offer the best of Europe’s medieval castles, cathedrals, and storybook towns, with festive Christmas markets in every port.

I was a guest of Viking River Cruises, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.


NOTE: This is a long form, photo-intensive post intended for readers who want to cruise vicariously, as well as travelers seeking detailed information before booking a Viking Christmas river cruise of their own.

It is no secret that I love Viking river cruises.

Our Viking content on Backroad Planet includes some of our most popular posts, especially our 24 Viking River Cruise Insider Tips and Top 11 Viking River Cruise Ship Amenities posts.

As a Viking fan, I heard about their European Christmas river cruises long before I had the privilege of doing one.

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