UNESCO Heritage Site

weekly photo challenge: gone but not forgotten

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is dedicated to the first city in the world to experience a nuclear attack. 

As with all memorials, it serves as a reminder. Although all those lives are gone, they are not forgotten. The war is also gone, but will not be forgotten.

Towards the centre of the park is a monument that holds the names of all the people killed by the bomb.

The monument is aligned in such a way that when we look through the arch, we see the Peace Flame and theHiroshima Peace Memorial (i.e. Genbaku Dome or A-Bomb Dome).

The dome marks where the first atomic bomb exploded on the morning of August 6, 1945.  It is the skeleton of the actual building that was there that day. What we see is what remained and has been preserved.

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See the Weekly Photo Challenge for other bloggers’ interpretation of gone, but not forgotten.

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watchmaking town planning: one of the unesco heritage sites in switzerland

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Switzerland is famous for a few things; cheese, chocolate and watches! Let’s just say, we are no experts on cheese or chocolate but we certainly know how to enjoy and appreciate them. What we don’t know too much about: watch-making.

IMG_4199While we were in Switzerland, we visited two neighbouring towns that are key to the Swiss watch-making industry.

La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle exist because of watches and they owe it probably to some clever town planning from the 19th Century.

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Up in the Espacite Tower (which the locals deem an eye-sore – it is rather out of place), we get an almost 360-degree view over the Old Town of La Chaux-de-Fonds and what we see resembles almost a life-sized Lego town (or a row of houses on a Monopoly board). This is how architects turned the art of watch-making into an industry.

The buildings are neatly lined up in parallel rows in a grid formation with wide streets between each row. If you look carefully, there are unusually a lot of windows on the sides of the buildings, spaced quite closely together.

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And what was the purpose for this design?

To allow maximum natural light to flood through the windows, especially into the top floors of the buildings so watch-makers could work with the tiny mechanics of watches. Light is of the essence here!

Each building would have watch-makers who specialise in a particular component of the watch and when the part was assembled, there would be young runners that would take that part to the next appropriate building for the subsequent part to be assembled/added. This process continued until the watch was complete.

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And why the wider streets?

During winter, being 1000 metres up in the Jura mountains, it snowed a lot. To ensure the continuity of watch manufacturing, historically, the streets needed to be manually shovelled so that the runners could continue to access all the buildings.

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After exploring the town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, we had the time (no pun intended) to visit Le Locle Watchmaking Museum, which is in Chateau des Monts. The museum has on display an extraordinary collection of clocks, mechanics and exhibits of the art and science of time, in particular, time-keeping!

The collection was so extensive, we were just in awe. To see all the different devices from around the world through history that essentially do what our wristwatches do every second, every minute of every day. We surprised ourselves with how fascinated we found time-keeping, we even wanted to buy a grandfather clock for our apartment 🙂 .

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After this unique visit to the two towns, we certainly will be looking at clocks and watches in a different light. This is one of the reasons we love travelling so much, it is these types of places that we get to visit that enlightens us, resulting in us having a greater appreciation for the little things in life we sometimes take for granted.

La Chaux-de-Fonds/Le Locle, watchmaking town

planning was listed as a

UNESCO Heritage site in 2009.

To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited,

visit our unofficial bucket list

Your comments are always welcomed.

weekend walks: wielickza salt mines

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Wielickza Salt Mines is about 10km south of Krakow, Poland. It was built in the 13th century and is one of the world’s oldest salt mines. But… it’s not just any mine. It is filled with dozens of statues, three chapels and a cathedral.

To enter the mine, we needed to take a three-storey lift to head down the mine shaft to about 60-odd metres underground. Each of the lift capsules could hold about 9 people, so it was a tight squeeze.

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But once down there, it was FAR from “squeezy” anymore. Some parts had ceilings as high as 30 metres. There was a room where the horses working in the mines were kept, so you can imagine the size.

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For about 3km, escorted by a guide, we followed the “Tourist Route” which covered about 20 chambers, 2 chapels and a cathedral. What we saw was so unique. Miners throughout the history of the mines carved the statues (out of rock salt) in the different chambers. There really was salt everywhere.

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We head down some stairs to reach the lowest point of the mines accessible by visitors on this tour (about 100 metres below surface) and there we saw the manmade lake.

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Without a doubt, the most astounding thing we saw was the cathedral, Chapel of St Kinga! The entire cathedral was carved by miners out of the rock salt, including the statues and images on the walls. The Last Supper was the only one carved out by a professional artist and not by the miners.

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It was a wonderful way to spend a hot summer’s day because underground it was a pleasant 15° Celsius! And down this far, there are an eatery, toilets, souvenirs shops and historically, visitors could bungee jump or go up on a balloon ride!

The Salt Mines are a must if you ever find yourself in Poland.

Tip: Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring warm clothing. And can you photograph inside the mines? Yep, but you will need to pay a small fee in addition to your entrance ticket.

Wielickza Salt Mines was listed as a UNESCO Heritage site in 1978.

To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited, click here

 

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vietnam’s third unesco site: my son sanctuary

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An hour drive out of Hoi An is My Son Sanctuary. It was a political and religious capital of the Champa Kingdom. The Cham people belonged to an ethnic group in South East Asia.We were told the Sanctuary was built around the 9th Century, with the dynasty lasting between the 4th Century to 13th Century.

Before exploring the site, visitors can enjoy a performance in the open theatre. The traditional Cham performance included folk music and dancing. It was all quite exquisite.

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We were extremely fascinated with the Hindu-influenced temple ruins, the statues and the site itself. As we explored the remains, we could climb into some of the temples and were able to get close to the relics. It is mind-blowing admiring the architecture of the temples and workmanship of the statues.

Although, it was teeming with tourists at My Son, the overall feeling in the air was tranquil and leisurely. It was a shame though, to see some of the site damaged due to bombings that occurred during the Vietnam War (once again reminding us how destructive war can be).

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The walk out of the Sanctuary is a peaceful tree-lined path back to the car park. We had spent easily a couple of hours here.

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Although we have never been to Angkor Wat in Cambodia or Bagan in Myanmar, we felt like this would be similar to what we would see there. It actually made us want to see those countries even more.

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My Son Sanctuary was listed as a

UNESCO Heritage site in 1999.

To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited,

visit our unofficial bucket list