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Europe’s culture moguls will have their eyes on Brasilia over the next fortnight, as UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meets in the Brazilian capital to review applications for a new round of World Heritage Sites.
Candidates for the 2010 UNESCO List
The historic center of Amsterdam is in the running this year for one of the cherished spots on the UNESCO List. Heritage is of course more than merely Gothic cathedrals and Tuscan gardens and this year’s applications from Europe include a pitch from Slovenia that focuses on the history and legacy of the mercury industry around Idrija. Belgium also picks up a mining theme with a plea for a new UNESCO designation for old mining communities in Wallonia. Other candidates for 2010 are the old Episcopal city of Albi in southwest France and the Augustów Canal that spans the border of Poland and Belarus.
Downe: Evolution in the spotlight
Our favorite bid in this year’s palette of applications is that from the UK. The Brits are plugging Downe, a nomination that seems a little improbable at first sight. But Downe, on London’s southern boundary, is more than just one more anonymous community on the rural-urban fringe. Charles Darwin lived in Downe for forty years and the country immediately around Downe was the setting for many of Darwin’s investigations into evolution. The UK proposal for Charles Darwin’s Living Landscape Laboratory must surely be a front runner for 2010.
When things go wrong
Getting a place on the UNESCO list is not easy, and once secured means that the city or site stays in the limelight, as the Taliban found to their cost when they dynamited the famous Afghan buddhas that had long featured on the list.
The German city of Dresden fell from favour as city officials pushed ahead with plans for a new road bridge over the Elbe, so slicing through a World Heritage Site. UNESCO was not amused and last year stripped Dresden of its World Heritage status. The Elbe valley at Dresden is the only World Heritage Site in Europe ever to have been delisted.