World Heritage
World Heritage

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World Heritage

2.4.4 Other heritage categories

Other items from the growing World Heritage portfolio merit brief discussion. Diversification beyond major cultural and natural sites has resulted in some interesting permutations, such as linear features or ensembles of sites linked in different ways. Best known perhaps is the Camino de Santiago, the Pilgrim Way to Santiago de Campostela in Galicia, north-west Spain. The old city itself is a remarkable ensemble of Baroque cathedral, churches and civic buildings, designated a World Heritage site in 1985 and the object of a major conservation effort since (Figure 5). Described as ‘a journey of the soul and spirit’, the Pilgrim Way, also known as St James’s Way, is in fact several different trails along ancient route ways in France and Spain that all lead to the supposed shrine of St James in Santiago. Here the body of the fisherman and apostle is believed to have been laid to rest in the eighth century. The origins of the route date back to the time when Christian pilgrims, some from distant parts of Europe, would set off to visit and pray at the saint’s final resting place. It is one of the most important pilgrimages beyond those of Rome and Jerusalem and still attracts thousands each year to add to recreational walkers. The route is marked with a scallop shell, the symbol of the saint, and the way was declared a European Cultural Route in 1987 and a World Heritage site in 1993.

Figure 5 The cathedral, Santiago de Compostela. Photographed by David A. Barnes. Photo: © David A. Barnes/Alamy. The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a massive exercise in various architectural styles and forms the focus of the World Heritage site.

In sharp contrast perhaps, railways also fall into this category, prime examples being the mountain railways of India, first designated in 1999 and by extension again in 2005. The ‘site’ includes the famous Darjeeling mountain railway and now incorporates the Nilgiri line in Tamil Nadu state, another remarkable legacy of the colonial era constructed 1891–1908 and still fully operational.

A sub-set is what one consultant planner has described as ‘boundaries heritage’, which might be linked to cultural or historical landscapes encroached on by others, say through invasion. An interesting example is the initiative by the World Heritage Centre to define and promote the frontiers of the Roman empire transnationally across the Upper German-Raetian Limes and, in the UK, Hadrian’s Wall in northern England and the Antonine Wall (listed 2008), linking the Forth and Clyde in Central Scotland. Making excellent walking routes, all three incorporate important archaeological features such as forts, camps and civil settlements (often themselves linked by Roman roads or other historic routes).


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