The UNESCO World Heritage Committee met again, at the end of June, in New Zealand.
I looked into this whole business of UNESCO World Heritage sites and was surprised to find that in Spain alone, there is this very impressive list of World Heritage locations:
• Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada
• Burgos Cathedral
• Doñana National Park
• Historic Centre of Cordoba
• Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid
• Works of Antoni Gaudí
• Altamira Cave
• Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias
• Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches
• Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct
• Santiago de Compostela (Old Town)
• Garajonay National Park
• Historic City of Toledo
• Mudejar Architecture of Aragon
• Old Town of Cáceres
• Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville
• Old City of Salamanca
• Poblet Monastery
• Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida
• Route of Santiago de Compostela
• Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe
• Historic Walled Town of Cuenca
• La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia
• Las Médulas
• Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona
• Pyrénées – Mont Perdu
• San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries
• Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula
• University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares
• Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture
• San Cristóbal de La Laguna
• Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco
• Archaeological Site of Atapuerca
• Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí
• Palmeral of Elche
• Roman Walls of Lugo
• Aranjuez Cultural Landscape
• Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza
• Vizcaya Bridge
• Teide National Park
On this blog, I have looked into topics like the Alhambra, Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia and the Route of Santiago de Compostela already, and I am planning to cover other sites from the impressive UNESCO list in due course. Provided that you want to know about these things, that is.
UNESCO say that Heritage is our legacy from the past, that we live with today, and that we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America, make up the world’s heritage.
What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.
That’s why today, I want to tell you about a UNESCO site not in Spain, but in Morocco. Spain’s neighboring country which at times seems so far away from us, and the site of Ksar Aït Ben-Haddou, have deserved a little attention.
Ksar of Aït Ben-Haddou (see photo above), along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh, is situated in southern Morocco in the Ouarzazate province. The ksar, a group of earthen buildings surrounded by high walls, is a traditional pre-Saharan habitat. The houses crowd together within the defensive walls, which are reinforced by corner towers. Aït Ben-Haddou is a striking example of this type of architecture of southern Morocco.
Aït Ben-Haddou and the Ouarzazate part of Morocco are famous for being the film locations in a number of Hollywood epics, and non-Hollywood as well.
Mohamed Belghimi, in 1983, opened Morocco’s first film studios at the edge of Ouarzazate. And ever since, business has been booming. Michael Douglas’ “The Jewel of the Nile”, Martin Scorsese’s “Kundun”, Russell Crowe’s “Gladiator” – were all filmed here, at the Atlas Film Studios. As were Gerard Depardieu in “Asterix and Cleopatra” and Brad Pitt in “Babel”, all filmed in the south of Morocco.
What makes Ouarzazate particularly funny is that this Moroccan Hollywood does not have a single cinema. Apparently. But you would not come to Aït Ben-Haddou and go to the movies, would you?