African heritage sites – UNESCO

The UNESCO World Heritage List spotlights the planet’s most fascinating—and sometimes most threatened—places and customs. Africa has of course many heritage sites. Take a look of the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in Africa: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/ and http://whc.unesco.org/en/africa/. From the ca. 100 UNESCO heritage sites in Africa, no less than 17 are labelled by UNESCO as to be “in danger” (of which 5 parks in DR Congo).

A few fascinating examples of Africa heritage:

The Stone Circles of Senegambia in Gambia

This site consists of four large groups of stone circles that represent an extraordinary concentration of over 1,000 monuments in a band 100 km wide along some 350 km of the River Gambia.

Stone circles of Senegambia. Photo by Peter van der Sluijs (Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

 

 

The Royal Palaces of Abomey in Benin

From 1625 to 1900, 12 kings succeeded one another at the head of the powerful Kingdom of Abomey. With the exception of King Akaba, who had his own separate enclosure, they all had their palaces built within the same cob-wall area, in keeping with previous palaces as regards the use of space and materials. The royal palaces of Abomey are a unique reminder of this vanished kingdom.

The Royal Palaces of Abomey in Benin. Photo by Willem Heerbaart (Wikimedia Commons)

 

Robben Island, South Africa

Robben Island was used at various times between the 17th and 20th centuries as a prison, a hospital for socially unacceptable groups and a military base. Its buildings, particularly those of the late 20th century such as the maximum security prison for political prisoners, witness the triumph of democracy and freedom over oppression and racism.

Robben Island prison. Photo by Harvey Barrison (Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

 

Virunga National Park in DR Congo

One of the UNESCO heritage sites “in danger” is the Virunga National Park. This park (covering an area of 790,000 ha) comprises an outstanding diversity of habitats, ranging from swamps and steppes to the snowfields of Rwenzori at an altitude of over 5,000 m, and from lava plains to the savannahs on the slopes of volcanoes. Mountain gorillas are found in the park, some 20,000 hippopotamuses live in the rivers and birds from Siberia spend the winter there.

Lava Lake of the Nyiragongo Volcano in Virunga National Park in Eastern DRC. Photo by Cai Tjeenk Willink (Wikimedia Commons)

 

Texts taken from whc.unesco.org