China's ancient port of Quanzhou added to Unesco World Heritage List

Saudi Arabia's Hima Cultural Area and four European sites also made it on to the list this week

The latest site to be added to Unesco's World Heritage List is China's ancient port of Quanzhou.

The proposal, titled Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China, is a serial inscription of 22 sites, including temples, port ruins, ancient bridges and kilns. This includes Dacheng Palace Hall, Qingjing Mosque, Islamic Tombs, Liusheng Pagoda, Meishan Dock, Kaiyuan Temple and more.

Quanzhou was an important Chinese port along the Silk Roads, known historically by traders from the Arab world as Zayton, or Zaitun, linking other ports such as Madras in India, Muscat in Oman and Siraf in Iran.

During the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD) and Yuan dynasty (1271-1368 AD) it became the largest port in eastern China, as sailors and travellers from across the world arrived there, bringing with them new cultural and commercial interactions. During the Song dynasty, it was also a centre for shipbuilding and the development of navigation technologies.

Famous medieval explorers known to have visited the port include Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo.

Quanzhou now sits about 180 kilometres away from Fuzhou, the city where the World Heritage Committee is hosting its two-week session, during which the body is assessing the condition and management of more than 1,100 existing sites, as well as accepting nominations from countries for new World Heritage Sites.

This year, 39 nominations proposed in 2020 and 2021 are being examined, split between cultural, natural and mixed sites.

On Saturday, a total of five sites were inscribed, including Saudi Arabia's Hima Cultural Area, as well as four European properties, such as the Great Spa Towns of Europe, Cordouan Lighthouse in France and Mathildenhohe Darmstadt in Germany.

Last week, Liverpool's waterfront was removed from Unesco's list after concerns about overdevelopment, including plans for a new football stadium. Liverpool had been on Unesco's "in danger" list since 2012 owing to development in the city's north docks.

China is now home to more than 50 Unesco World Heritage Sites, with others including Lushan National Park (1996), Site of Xanadu (2012) and The Great Wall (1987).

Updated: July 26th 2021, 5:47 AM
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