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World Heritage Site Confirmed Filming Location for Stars Wars VIII

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DubrovnikIt looks like that another World heritage site has been confirmed as a filming location for Hollywood. The filming of the next Star Wars: Episode VIII is reported to begin soon and the beautiful city of Dubrovnik, Croatia is one of the filming locations. Star Wars VIII is expected to hit the big screens in December 2017.

A number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites have been chosen locations for the film Industry. Another World Heritage site, Skellig Michael, the remote Irish island recently captivated audiences in the final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Another factor that draws film studios to these locations is tax incentives in European countries that have been major boost local economies.

The walled city of Dubrovnik, overlooking the cobalt waters of the Adriatic Sea on the Dalmatian coast now joins the fast-growing ranks of World Heritage Sites that have played scenic roles in major movies. Often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, the old city of Dubrovnik was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1979.

It is important to note that that Dubrovnik is hardly a stranger to the film and entertainment industry. The old town of the Croatian city was also a key filming site for the scenes of the King’s Landing, the fictitious capital of the Seven Kingdoms in HBO’s medieval fantasy drama series Game of Thrones.

The city was a Mediterranean sea power in the 13th century. Historically the capital of Republic of Ragusa, the origins of Dubrovnik is disputed to this day. However, it is traditionally said to have sprung in the 7th century on the then Laus Island as a shelter for refugees from the nearby Greek colony of Epidaurum. In 1997, the city suffered major damage from an earthquake, but thankfully some of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture of the time did not suffer any damage. In the 1970s, and in the 1990s, the city was devastated by extensive armed conflict following the fall of Yugoslavia.

Italy Creates a UNESCO Emergency Task Force

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palmirIt was reported yesterday that UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Paolo Gentiloni, will sign an agreement on the establishment of a Task Force of cultural heritage experts in the framework of UNESCO’s global coalition Unite for Heritage on 16 February in Rome.

The task force will create a list of experts who could be deployed for the conservation of cultural heritage affected by crises. It has been reported that this agreement is a landmark in the development of UNESCO’s global coalition Unite for Heritage, which was launched in June 2015 during the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn (Germany). UNESCO hopes that other countries will take similar steps to reinforce the international community’s ability to respond to the growing threats facing cultural heritage in different parts of the world.

UNESCO states that the establishment of a Task Force bringing together cultural heritage experts and the Italian Carabinieri (Italian Paramilitary) force specialized in the fight against the illicit trafficking in cultural property will enhance UNESCO’s capacity to respond to future emergencies. The establishment of this Task Force by the Italian Government directly implements the Strategy adopted by Member States at UNESCO’s General Conference last November.

The Strategy also sets out to reinforce UNESCO’s action for the protection of cultural heritage and the promotion of cultural diversity and pluralism. It calls on Member States to Contribute to the Strategy, notably through mechanisms for the rapid deployment of national expertise in emergency situations under UNESCO’s overall coordination. The reinforcement of UNESCO’s capacity to respond to current challenges builds on existing international legal instruments, notably the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and enhances the scope of their application.

World Heritage Sites Under Threat Around the World

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damage-2As reported recently, there are now 48 sites on the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in Danger.

One of these sites is Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. The coastal area of Belize is an outstanding and remarkable natural system consisting of the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and estuaries. The system’s seven sites illustrate the evolutionary history of reef development and are a significant habitat for threatened species, including marine turtles, manatees and the American marine crocodile.

damage-1Another one of these sites is Rainforests of the Atsinanana. The Rainforests of the Atsinanana comprise six national parks distributed along the eastern part of the island. These relic forests are critically important for maintaining ongoing ecological processes. These relict forests are critically important for maintaining ongoing ecological processes necessary for the survival of Madagascar’s unique biodiversity, which reflects the island’s geological history. Having completed its separation from all other land masses more than 60 million years ago, Madagascar’s plant and animal life evolved in isolation. The rainforests are inscribed for their importance in both ecological and biological processes as well as their biodiversity and the threatened species they support. Many species are rare and threatened especially primates and lemurs.

One of the most remarkable archaeological sits in South America, is Chan Chan Archaeological Zone. The Chimu Kingdom, with Chan Chan as its capital, reached its apogee in the 15th century, not long before falling to the Incas. The planning of this huge city, the largest in pre-Columbian America, reflects a strict political and social strategy, marked by the city’s divides into nine ‘citadels’ or palaces’ forming autonomous units. The archaeologists believe that the environmental conditions including extreme climatic conditions like El Nino phenomenon is causing the site’s decay and deterioration. However ongoing maintenance using earthen materials has mitigated the degree of physical impact.

Narcissus Festival 2016

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Farzad-Arian flower festival(5)

For centuries, in the month of February, local people of Kazerun celebrate the Festival of Narcissus. Kazerun is situated in Fars province (with Shiraz as its capital) and has 140 acres of land dedicated to the cultivation of Narcissus flower, being considered as the main locality for such production in Iran.

The festival covers the operation of cutting the flowers and preparing them to be exported to the other parts of Iran and its neighboring  countries.


Farzad-Arian flower festival(2) Farzad-Arianflower festival (6) Farzad-Arian flower festival(3)(1)

Will Kremlin and Red Square Lose World Heritage Status?

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800px-St_Basile_in_Red_Square_(Kremlin)_Moscow,_1993According to several different reports, there have been several confrontations between the Kremlin and Heritage experts in the last few years and a UNESCO experts’ commission is currently contemplating the possibility of taking the Kremlin and Red Square off the UNESCO world heritage list.

These recent developments have been created by two major recent events. First, President Putin suggested the removal of the building number 14 on the historic site, and then he wants to erect a monument to Prince Vladimir, celebrated founder of the Russian state. The statue has been suggested to stand on Borowizki plaza, 500 meters from the main visitors’ entrance. However, the alterations proposed by Mr. Putin for the area around the Kremlin, could cost Moscow its status as a UNESCO world heritage site.

The history of conflict between the experts and the Kremlin goes back a few years. The historical experts in Russia threatened to sue when the administration at the historic Kutafja gate erected two visitor pavilions with turnstiles. However, the big escalation happened in 2013, when Putin ordered the construction of a helipad. Thousands of cubic meters of ground were excavated and trees relocated.

The conservator Todor Krestew working with the Kremlin ensures that everything has been discussed with the respective authorities and international experts and he has confirmed that the Building No. 14 is of no historical architectural value. The monument seems to be a bigger concern, as the highest part of the Kremlin’s wall is only nineteen meters high. However, the 300-ton heavy statue is planned to reach 24 meters.

Interestingly, in September last year, the Moscow city council assembly based their decision on the location for the monument on an Internet poll, and sixty two percent had voted for Borowizki plaza, which is close to the Kremlin. The suggestion came from the Russian military history society, who initiated the voting. However, many historical experts believe that the statue would destroy the historically grown city core, and this led to the first warning by UNESCO in late September.