Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites Every Month
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention last year, the 2013 Travel Notes Calendar is a photographic collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites from the previous 12 months.
Last December we visited Vezelay, France; Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic; the Palace of Schönbrunn in Vienna, Austria; and the Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma, in Hungary.
If I have to pick a solitary image for the month of December, I’ll choose one from Pannonhalma.
When we think of December as a time of giving it’s fitting to show St Martin, then a Roman officer, on horseback cutting his cloak in two to share with a scantily-clad beggar he came across while stationed in Amiens, France.
This moving fresco can be found above the curved entrance – Porta Speciosa – to St Martin’s Basilica in Pannonhalma. The Benedictine abbey is located 21km south-east of Győr.
In January, we stayed a few days in the Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg. Although cold, we were thankful that the weather remained dry. It had been snowing in the mountains with rain and sleet forecast for much of lowland Austria.
A visit to Mozart’s birthplace is something of a must; although trying to find a different angle to the facade in a narrow street is quite a challenge. Avoiding other people’s heads is made easier if you make it out of the hotel early in the morning.
Sometimes having people in the picture adds to the atmosphere of the setting and so it was for my choice of an early January evening in Salzburg. We had driven through and around Salzburg on a number of occassions but this was the first time we finally made it up to Hohensalzburg Castle. I was surprised that this wasn’t one of the many Habsburg residences around Austria but a fortress built by and for the Salzburg Archbishops.
In late February, I drove across northen Italy to Modena and Cinque Terra. While it’s the Cathedral, Torre Civica and Piazza Grande that interest UNESCO a visit to Modena wouldn’t be complete without purchasing some Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and other regional products.
In early March, the Three Castles, Defensive Wall and Ramparts of Bellinzona, Switzerland came in to focus. I was lucky again with the weather; climbing up on to the ramparts just as the golden glow of the setting sun painted a beautiful picture for the handful of photographers gathered to capture the image, while a young couple gazed lovingly the other way.
For the month of April, it’s a visit to the Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy. We made it to these historical sites just before Easter. Some of the access roads are so narrow that I can imagine it would be horrendous to visit these sacred places when the pilgrim crowds do. Some of the uphill walking involved wouldn’t be so idyllic in the summer months either.
May is an ideal time to visit the Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps. These re-constructed buildings in Wauwil, Switzerland give an idea of how Prehistoric man might have lived around the Alpine lakes.
In early summer we visited the Watchmaking Towns of La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle. Not the most beautiful place on the planet, Karl Marx described La Chaux-de-Fonds as a ‘huge factory-town’ in Das Kapital.
Just across the border in France one of the examples of the Fortifications of Vauban can be found in Besançon.
From there it’s just a short drive to the Great Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains and the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans. Formerly used as a factory for salt production, the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans is now more famous for its architecture. The salt was produced from brine transported through underground pipes from Salins-les-Bains.
In late summer we drove along the Mosel on our way up to Aachen Cathedral then returned to the Lavaux Wine Terraces in time for the vendages in Autumn.
Before the winter snow closed the mountain passes we drove from Davos, over the scenic Flüelapass, to Müstair.
Deep in the Swiss Canton of Graubünden, close to the Italian border, the Benedictine Convent of St John is an architectural treasure from the Carolingian period.
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