The theme for 2015 is UNESCO world heritage sites.
Fujian Tulou, or Earthen Fortress, China
Fujian Tulou is a type of Chinese rural dwelling of the Hakka in the mountainous areas in southeastern Fujian, China. They were mostly built between the 12th and the 20th centuries. A tulou is usually a large, enclosed and fortified earth building, most commonly rectangular or circular in configuration, with very thick load-bearing rammed earth walls between three and five stories high and housing up to 80 families. Smaller interior buildings are often enclosed by these huge peripheral walls which can contain halls, storehouses, wells and living areas, the whole structure resembling a small fortified city.
The fortified outer structures are formed by compacting earth, mixed with stone, bamboo, wood and other readily available materials, to form walls up to 1.8 m thick. Branches, strips of wood and bamboo chips are often laid in the wall as additional reinforcement. The result is a well-lit, well-ventilated, windproof and earthquake-proof building that is warm in winter and cool in summer. Tulous usually have only one main gate, guarded by 100–130 mm thick wooden doors reinforced with an outer shell of iron plate. The top level of these earth buildings has gun holes for defensive purposes.
A total of 46 Fujian Tulou sites have been inscribed in 2008 by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
Borobudur Temple Compounds refers to the area containing three Buddhist temples in Central Java, Indonesia. It comprises Borobudur, Mendut, and Pawon. These three temples are located in a straight line, and have been considered as being built during the Sailendra dynasty circa 8th–9th centuries.
The positioning of these three temples along a straight line might be accidental, but this alignment is in conjunction with a native folk tale that a long time ago, there was a brick-paved road from Borobudur to Mendut with walls on both sides. The three temples have similar architecture and ornamentation derived from the same time period, which suggests that ritual relationship between the three temples, in order to have formed a sacred unity, must have existed, although exact ritual process is yet unknown.
Canaima National Park, Venezuela
Canaima National Park is a 30,000 km2 park in south-eastern Venezuela that borders Brazil and Guyana. It is the sixth biggest national park in the world, the size of Belgium.
About 65% of the park is occupied by plateaus of rock called tepuis, which are a kind of plateau of millions of years old, with vertical walls and almost flat tops. These constitute a unique biological environment and are also of great geological interest. Their sheer cliffs and waterfalls (including Angel Falls, which is the highest waterfall in the world, at 1,002 metres) create spectacular landscapes.
The most famous tepuis in the park are Mount Roraima, the tallest and easiest to climb, and Auyantepui, the site of Angel Falls. The tepuis are sandstone and date back to a time when South America and Africa were part of a super-continent.
The park is home to indigenous Pemon Indians, part of the Carib linguistic group. The Pemon have an intimate relationship with the tepuis, and believe they are the home of the 'Mawari' spirits. The park is relatively remote, with only a few roads connecting towns. Most transport within the park is done by light plane from the airstrips built by various Capuchin missions, or by foot and canoe.
The history of Djenné is closely linked with that of Timbuktu. Between the 15th and 17th centuries much of the trans-Saharan trade in goods such as salt, gold and slaves that moved in and out of Timbuktu passed through Djenné. Both towns became centres of Islamic scholarship. Djenné's prosperity depended on this trade and when the Portuguese established trading posts on the African coast, the importance of the trans-Saharan trade and thus of Djenné declined.
The town is famous for its distinctive adobe architecture, most notably the Great Mosque which was built in 1907 on the site of an earlier mosque. To the south of the town is Djenné-Jéno, the site of one of the oldest known towns in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt
The Giza Plateau is located on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. Among the original Seven Wonders of the World listed by Antipater of Sidon, the Great Pyramid (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops) is by far the oldest and is the only one still standing today. It was completed around 2560 BC. Originally, the Great Pyramid was covered by casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface; what is seen today is the underlying core structure.
The sides of all three pyramids at Giza are closely aligned to north-south and east-west. Some believe they were deliberately positioned as a representation of the Orion constellation.
The face of the Sphinx is believed to be that of Pharaoh Khafra, the son of Khufu. He built the second largest pyramid at Giza.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Hạ Long Bay (literally: "descending dragon bay") features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. It has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high density of 775 islets. The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate.
Wudang Mountains, China
The Wudang Mountains consist of a small mountain range in the northwestern part of Hubei, China. They are home to a famous complex of Taoist temples and monasteries associated with the god Beidi, Xuan Wu. The Wudang Mountains are renowned for the practice of Chinese martial arts as the Taoist counterpart to the Shaolin Monastery, which is affiliated with Chinese Chán Buddhism.
A sprawling ancient building complex in the Wudang Mountain was founded in the heyday of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), but reached its zenith during the Ming Dynasty, when Emperor Zhu Di sent some 300,000 workers in 1412 who spent 12 years to finish the sacred site.
Wudang kungfu contains profound Chinese philosophical theories combined with the traditional notions of Taiji (shadow boxing), Eight-diagram and Xingyi, converted into boxing theories and skills. Influenced by the Taoist idea of “self-protection and self-cultivation in isolation”, the skills of Wudang kungfu are characterized by not taking the initiative in an attack, as “removing is fighting, and fighting is removing”. It is said that the father of Wudang Internal Kungfu is Zhang Sanfeng. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), he created the Wudang Sector on the basis of the theory of alchemy. According to legend, Zhang Sanfeng was inspired by a fight he witnessed between a pied magpie and a snake.
Miagao Church, the Philippines
The Miagao Church also known as the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church is a Roman catholic church located in Miagao, Iloilo, Philippines. It was also called the Miagao Fortress Church since it served as defensive tower of the town against Muslim raids.
Miagao was formerly a visita of Oton until 1580, Tigbauan until 1592, San Joaquin until 1703 and Guimbal until 1731. It became an independent parish of the Augustinians in 1731 under the advocacy of Saint Thomas of Villanova. With the establishment of the parish, a church and convento was built in a land near the sea called Ubos. Fr. Fernando Camporredondo served as the town's first parish priest in 1734. When the town experienced frequent Moro invasion in 1741 and 1754, the town moved to a more secure place. From there, a new church was constructed in 1787 through forced labor. It was built on the highest point of the town to guard from invaders called Tacas. After ten years, the church was completed in 1797. It was designed to have thick walls to serve as protection from invaders. It was severely damaged during the Spanish revolution in 1898 but was later rebuilt. It suffered a fire in 1910, the second World War and an earthquake in 1948. The present day Miagao church is the third church built since its establishment in 1731. To preserve the church, it underwent restoration from 1960 to 1962.