tasmanian wilderness, no.181 [australia #11]

tasmanian wilderness, australia’s largest conservation zone, satisfies all four natural criteria for world natural site. its rocks represent every geological period, the wide range of plants are unique to the area and it is home to some of the oldest trees and the longest caves in the world. one fifth of the island is designated as a unesco heritage site; it has been on the list since 1982.

the insularity of tasmania has contributed to the uniqueness of the region. tasmania was cut off from the mainland australia by the flooding of the bass strait more than 8000 years ago, causing isolation not only of the aboriginal inhabitants, but also of its flora and fauna.  the vegetation has as much in common with cool, temperate regions of south america and new zealand as with the rest of australia. in addition to climatic factors, the vegetation has developed in response to fire. the fauna is of world importance because it includes an unusually high proportion of endemic species, the most famous being the tasmanian devil (whom we didn’t get to see!)

tasmanian wilderness covers the area of the cradle mountain, lake st clair, franklin-gordon wild rivers national park and many more. on our week-long trip to tasmania, we managed to see the cradle mountain only.. nevertheless, we captured some examples of tasmanian wilderness..






the next entry will focus on the cradle mountain only.. our ascent and some of the breathtaking views..


royal exhibition building and carlton gardens, no.1131 [australia #5]

the royal exhibition building and the surrounding carlton gardens were designed and built for the 1880 and 1888 international exhibitions. in 2004 they were inscribed to unesco heritage sites’ list, as the representative of the largest events staged in colonial australia, which helped to introduce the world to australian industry and technology. the royal exhibition building is one of the very few remaining buildings from XIX century world exhibitions.


the royal exhibition building is constructed of brick and timber, steel and slate and it combines elements from the byzantine, romanesque, lombardic and italian renaissance styles. like the majority of exhibition buildings from that period, its aim was to present material and moral progress through displays of industry from all nations.

the building itself is in the northern part of melbourne, away form the CBD and crowded city spaces. it is also close to brunswick street and fitzroy – former student quarters, now up & coming neighborhoods. while we were in the area, we took a walk and checked out numerous cafés & bars, artisans’ workshops and alternative fashion shops. in this neighborhood you can see melbourne in its true colors.


while i was admiring the building itself, i couldn’t help thinking how the focus of the world’s interest changed with respect to the XIX century and especially in the last decades. the focus of the world’s exhibitions at that time was mainly achievements related to the industrialization, along with art, science and education.

this year, almost 150 years after the melbourne international exhibition, universal exposition (expo 2015) will be hosted by milan, the city i have been living in for seven years. expo 2015 will be held under the theme “feeding the planet, energy for life”. even though i will not be living in milan during the expo, i plan on visiting it. aside from wanting to see what’s new out there, i would like to explore the link between technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity with food and diet. i can say for sure that i would be wondering how these events used to look like in the past, when the focus was totally different. and of course, i will be asking myself what what will be the focus of future world exhibitions.

sydney opera house, no. 166 [australia #2]

the sydney opera house has been on the unesco heritage sites list since 2007. the main criterion for its nomination was the fact that it brings together multiple strands of creativity and innovation in both its architectural form and structural design. it is often identified as one of the 20th century’s most distinctive buildings and one of the most famous performing arts centers in the world.

it was inaugurated in 1973, after being awarded by an international jury to danish architect jørn utzon in 1957. utzon’s original design concept boosted a collective creativity of architects, engineers and builders. ove arup’s engineering achievements helped make utzon’s vision a reality.

the sydney opera house comprises three groups of interlocking vaulted ‘shells’ which roof two main performance halls and a restaurant. these shell-structures are set upon a vast platform.

sydney opera 1

the sydney opera house was for us the first glimpse of australia. we arrived in sydney on december 8th around 10pm, after a 24h-flight. we were exhausted + our luggage got lost on the way there, so we had the feeling that our trip didn’t have the best start. however, one look at sydney harbor managed to change our feelings. we fell in love with it immediately.

sydney opera 2

it was raining right before we arrived (in fact, rainy weather would continue for the next couple of days) and it was still a bit foggy. since we were staying at neutral bay, which is on the other side of the harbor, we were to take a ferry from sydney harbor. while waiting for our ferry, we decided to go for a short walk..

we walked around like hypnotized. whether it was it for our long journey & general tiredness, or because of the rain, but everything seemed somehow surreal.. one thing was sure: it felt truly great to be on the other side of the world.

(rainy) venice and its lagoon, no. 394 / moment of happiness #2

venice and its lagoon have been on the unesco heritage site list since 1987. criteria behind its nomination are many, the most important one being the fact that it is a unique artistic achievement. the city is laid out onto 118 small islands and seems to float on the water’s surface. furthermore, the entire city is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world’s greatest artists such as titian, tintoretto, veronese and many others. the city itself also symbolizes the struggle of its people against the elements of nature.


i have visited venice several times and on different occasions, the last time was last saturday with my husband. having bought our tickets well in advance, we had no other choice than to “enjoy” venice under the heavy rain. we sure did our best – during the massive showers we went for lunch, for a coffee, and so on. however, our feet were still wet all day.


i have to admit, i was not a huge fan of venice at first. in my view, it was too crowded and too touristy, especially if you went to piazza san marco and ponte rialto. this time though, we decided to take some of the back routes, carefully avoiding people (the rain helped with that, as well!) and finally managed to see venice the way it was supposed to be seen: unique, artistic, but also decadent.



the above picture shows a view of the santa maria della salute from the ponte dell’accademia. after enjoying the view, we crossed the bridge and went to the island of santa maria della salute to get a closer view.


we spent the remaining part of the afternoon on that island, walking around and enjoying the views of the islands of san giorgio maggiore and la giudecca, as well as the company of very few people who decided to follow the same route. we also took a few pictures of some of the details we had found in this part of town.


we truly enjoyed ourselves.
even though it was raining almost all day long, and we missed the train on the way back (so we had to spend another hour at the train station), it was really one of those days we will remember for a long time. the following photo shows the most sincere smiles we are able to give.


historic centre of avignon, no. 228

historic centre of avignon: papal palace, episcopal ensemble and avignon bridge have been on the unesco heritage sites’ list since 1995. as it is known to many, in the 14th century this city was the seat of the papacy.

the palais des papes, an austere-looking fortress, dominates the city and the remains of a 12th-century bridge over the rhône. beneath this marvelous example of gothic architecture, the petit palais and the romanesque cathedral of notre-dame-des-doms complete an exceptional group of monuments that testify to the leading role played by avignon in 14th-century christian europe.

in 1309 the frenchman bertrand de got, who had been elected and crowned supreme pontiff in 1305, refused to go to rome, choosing instead to install himself temporarily in the dominican convent at avignon. seven popes were to reign there until the election of martin v in 1417 and the return of the seat of the papacy to rome.

With 15,000 m2 of floor space, the palais is the biggest gothic palace in all of europe and, due to its many architectural merits, one of the most important in the world.


saint bénézed bridge, most comonly known as the pont d’avignon, was originally built in the 12th century. it is spanned 900m over the river rhône but it suffered several collapses in the following centuries. a flood in 1668 swept much of it away, and since it was not rebuilt since, only four arches (out of the original twenty-two) remain.


we have visited avignon two weeks ago. even if unable to appreciate deeper meaning of the papal palace, we were impressed by its architecture and position. the deep-green color of river rhône & surrounding trees was natural complement to yellowish shade of palace and buildings of avignon. when talking a walk around the town, we got to admire charming medieval town and its atmosphere.


paris, banks of the seine, no.600

after dedicating my last post to several highlights of paris, i have decided to dedicate this post to highlights of “classical” paris, the unesco heritage site no.600.

in 1991. some of the most significant architectural masterpieces realized on the banks of the seine were added on the unesco heritage sites list, such as notre dame and the sainte chapelle, louvre, palais de l’institut, les invalides, place de la concorde, école militaire, la monnaie, grand palais des champs elysées, eiffel tower and palais de chaillot.

i have spent an entire day walking down the river seine, enjoying the sunshine & brisk breeze, and taking pictures.

eiffel tower & bridges on the seine

banks of seine & île de la cité

Notre Dame_3
notre dame de paris

musée du louvre after the rain

while walking down the river seine, i remembered what i’ve read in the unesco website, while reading about this heritage site: “paris is a river town. ever since the first human settlements, from the prehistoric days and the village of the parisii tribes, the seine has played both a defensive and an economic role. the present historic city, which developed between the 16th (and particularly the 17th) centuries and the 20th century, translates the evolution of the relationship between the river and the people: defence, trade, promenades, etc.”

river seine was the heart of paris through history, and it still is. there are 37 bridges within paris and dozens more outside the city. throughout the history it played an important role: the ashes of joan of arc were thrown in the river seine in 1431; at the 1900 summer olympics it hosted the rowing, swimming, and water polo events; it was one of the original objectives of operation overlord in 1944; and during the 19th and the 20th centuries the seine inspired many artists, such as henry matisse, camille pissarro, etc.

i have enjoyed my walk along seine. i think it is the best way to see and appreciate the splendor of paris.

mount etna, no.1427 (NOT visited)

mount etna, the highest mediterranean island mountain and the most active stratovolcano in the world, entered unesco heritage sites’ list just last year. it is site on the eastern coast of sicily, which i visited in july 2011.

at the time i did not want to visit mount etna, even though the other party (i.e. my hubby) was highly interested to pay a visit to this extraordinary site. do i have to say how much i regret for not going?

however, we did manage to see it – from the airplane, from the city of taormina, and even to feel its dust on us, in catania. we took a lot of pictures (whew!), and now i think it’s time to share them, in order to celebrate mount etna’s entering on unesco heritage sites’ list.

our first stop was catania, the city so close to the mount etna that made volcano omnipresent in the city, its dust is all over this quite grey city, whose buildings are mainly lava-built. also, the main street is called via etnea and on piazza del duomo (or the main square) there was a statue of an elephant carrying an egyptian obelisk. according to the legend, the elephant is city’s protection from volcano eruptions.


the second place where we’ve got the opportunity to enjoy the view of mount etna was the lovely city of taormina, famed for its splendid scenery, beautiful beaches and historic sites. the most important historic site in taormina is teatro greco (or greek theatre), built in the 3rd century AD, by the island’s first occupiers, the greeks. the view from the greek theatre was particularly beautiful.


the last photo was taken as the airplane was taking off. we know taking photos is forbidden during the take-off, but we simply couldn’t resist.


i guess we should consider going again to this region & visiting mount etna, right?

ps. all the photos were taken by tarik (of course!)

ancient thebes, no.87

ancient thebes with its necropolis has been on the unesco heritage list since 1979. thebes was the capital of egypt at the height of its greatest power and magnificence, the middle and new kingdoms that lasted over a thousand years (from 2130 to 1070 bc). it contains the finest examples of ancient egyptian history, art and religion.

it includes two temples, of karnak and luxor, as well as valley of kings and valley of queens. throughout the years hundreds of rulers glorified the city of thebes with architecture, obelisks and temples. thebes of the living took place on the right bank of nile, with temples of karnak and luxor as the finest example of egyptian culture. death took celebration on the left bank of the river nile.

i have visited ancient thebes in august last year. it was one of those places where i could feel the history. unfortunately, we did not get to visit the temple of luxor, but we did see the valley of the kings, the temple of the queen hatshepsut and temple of karnak.

our first stop was the valley of the kings, the necropolis of the pharaohs of the new kingdom. the valley stands on the west bank of the nile, opposite thebes (modern luxor), within the heart of the theban necropolis. from the 1500 bc the tombs of the pharaohs were carved deep into the hills in thebes; however that did not stop the thieves to steal the treasures kept in them. nevertheless, the structures remain, with spectacular corridors and rooms beautifully decorated with funeral symbols of the journey to the underworld, with images and rituals intended to assist the pharaohs in the afterlife. we have paid a visit to three tombs, and we weren’t deceived. the only flaw in the plan was that we couldn’t take pictures.

quite close to the valley of the kings is site mortuary temple of the queen hatshepsut, beneath the cliffs at deir el bahari on the west bank of the nile. it is widely considered to be one of the “incomparable monuments of ancient egypt”, as well as the only example of the classical architecture in egypt.


in the temple itself, one may find column of the divine birth of hatshepsut, as well as various sculptures of the queen, where she gets represented very masculine, even with the beard.

the last stop in our journey through ancient thebes was the temple of karnak, a vast open-air museum and the largest ancient religious site in the world. unlike the valley of the kings and the temple of hatshepsut, it is site on the right bank of the river nile, so called “thebes of the living”. the karnak complex is composed of three temples: one consecrated to mut (mother goddess of egypt and wife of amon), one to warrior god montu and one to amon.


i have to say that among the 42 unesco heritage sites i have visited so far (yes, now there is 42 of them!), none impressed me as much as ancient thebes, not even the pyramids i visited a couple of days before. it is one of those places where you could let your mind wander through the past centuries, or even better, past millenniums. i hope i’ll have the honour to visit this heritage site one more time before i die.

of course, we couldn’t go to ancient thebes dressed in our everyday clothes. firstly, we had to wear a light & cotton dresses and preferably to cover our heads. so we decided to make the best out of it.


ps. all the pictures were taken by tarik&me in august 2012.

now and then.. la grand-place, no. 857

la grand-place in brussels has been on the unesco heritage list since 1998. it is on the list thanks to the architecture itself, which provides a vivid illustration of the level of social and cultural life of one particular period in this important political and commercial centre. most of the buildings on la grand-place (eng. the main square) are dating mainly from the late 17th century. la grand-place also shows the evolution and achievements of a mercantile city of northern europe at the height of its prosperity.

la grand-place 1

i have been to brussels (and on la grand-place) twice; the first time in november 2005. and now, after almost eight years. what can i say, the place itself did not change a bit.. but i sure have.

when i came to brussels for the first time, i was only 21 years old. i was living in kuala lumpur, malaysia, and decided to spend my semester break with my sister, who at the time lived in stockholm. she treated me with the weekend trip to brussels.

we had a great time! since it was the second half of november, it was already snowing in stockholm, but in brussels it was still autumn.. with golden leafs around&all. i also remember how i felt completely dependent on my sister. she got the tickets, found the place where we could spend the night and finally, she was my guide brussels since she’s already been there. when i came for the second time all those feelings came back. i remembered how i used to be back then.

so, what happened in the meantime.. i became an aerospace engineer and came back from malaysia, afterwards i moved to milan, where i discovered the world of oil&gas pipelines.. and became fluent in italian. for a long time i had to juggle between my work & master’s (which was not particularly fun).. however, i’ve travelled a lot (& seen a lot of unesco heritage sites!). i got to meet a lot of fascinating individuals.. and one in particular.. i got married to a wonderful man (whom with i came to brussels & la grand-place for the second time).

finally, here are the pics of me on la grand-place; one from november 2005. and the other from may 2013.


major town houses of the architect victor horta, no. 1005

the four major town houses – hôtel tassel, hôtel solvay, hôtel van eetvelde, and maison & atelier horta – designed by the architect victor horta, one of the earliest initiators of art nouveau, are some of the most remarkable pioneering works of architecture of the end of the 19th century. these four beautiful buildings have found their way to the unesco heritage list in the year 2000, and therefore they have found their place on my list-of-unesco-sites-to-see.

art nouveau appeared in the closing years of the 19th century and initiated an evolution of architecture, making possible following developments, and the town houses of victor horta witness to this transition from the 19th to the 20th centuries in art, thought and society.

the hotel we we’re staying at was quite close to one of houses of victor horta, so we decided to take a look at it.


this is hôtel solvay; it was initially commissioned by armand solvay, the son of the wealthy belgian chemist and industrialist, and therefore victor horta was allowed to spend a fortune on expensive materials and details. it is known that horta designed every single detail; furniture, carpets, tableware and even the door bell. also, he used expensive materials such as marble, onyx, bronze, tropic woods, etc.

the house is still private property and since it can only be visited by appointment, we took several photos and then decided to search for maison & atelier horta, architect’s former house and now a museum.


the maison & atelier horta have been designed to satisfy the professional and family needs of the architect, and were built in 1898-1901. the maison is in a fashionable district of brussels, sant-gilles, where one may find other examples of art nouveu style. for that reason (and also due to the long queue in front of horta’s house), we decided not to go in, but to enjoy lovely spring day in gorgeous sant-gilles.

while taking a walk in the area, we came across one of the most beautiful buildings and examples of art nouveau in sant-gilles, hôtel hanon. even if not on the unesco heritage list, in my view, it is as good as, and therefore it should not be treated differently.


ps. all the photos were taken by me (may 2013).