Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Director's Notes - September 2011

Monthly update from EWH Director Adam Wilkinson.

Sep 21, 2011

I had the privilege of visiting Kosovo a few weeks ago on behalf of Europa Nostra with a view to understanding the situation the area’s heritage faces, with a particular eye on an eventual pull-out by the UN of both the armed KFOR and the civilian UNMIK.

After a visit to of the Patriarchate of Pec Monastery and the Decani Monastery we joined the evening service in the Decan monastic church, a wonderful 14th century building containing the most astounding frescoes, only just visible in the flickering candlelight. Both are part of the Mediaeval Monuments in Kosovo World Heritage Site. A local Serbian gentleman asked where I was from. “Aaah” he responded, “the most beautiful city in the world”. We often worry about the problems our World Heritage Site, this beautiful city, faces. Both the Decani Monastery and the Patriarchate of Pec Monastery are surrounded by razor wire and have a tank parked at the entrance gate, accompanied by the heavily armed soldiers of KFOR.

In spite of all this grand cultural exploration in exotic, yet somehow familiar, climes, there is much exploration to be done at home. Jungle City has unleashed a series of beasties across the World Heritage Site, and we have been pleased to support this initiative as a means to encourage the exploration of the World Heritage Site. We’ve created six podcasts with them relating to parts of the World Heritage Site with historic links to the Jungle. We have also teamed up with The George Hotel  to produce a short booklet about the building for the benefit of their guests, as a trial to understand how we can use World Heritage status to help businesses within the World Heritage Site, while also highlighting some of the history of the hotel.

On top of this, our latest trail – Athens of the North – is now available online and in hard copy from the EWH office. It offers an interpretation of a range of buildings around the city that are related to the Greek Revival, as well as other elements of classical architecture.

The trail leaflet includes our first use of a QR code (for those, who like me, had not a clue what one of these was, there is a concise explanation here). We are going to use these more and more frequently, and if you find yourself sauntering down Thistle Street, you might well find one attached to a building. These clever things point your mobile device to a certain website, in this case ours, where you can find out more information about the building. It is an enhanced version of a trail booklet, in that as and when we have time and money we can expand and translate the information there to other languages.

More conventionally, we are running traditional skills workshops under our energy efficiency programme. Sustaining the embodied energy of our built environment through repair and conservation is critical: building a new house uses the equivalent energy to drive to the moon and back. Or something akin to that. Please do come along.

Our survey of residents, visitors and business in the WHS to attitudes to World Heritage status and measure the economic impact of the Site and our work is going well. So far we have garnered over 700 responses. We’re hoping to end up with 1000 completed questionnaires or so to ensure a representative example. The work for this has been done jointly by volunteer Spiros Batas and intern Agnieszka Kowalczyk, with help in the face-to-face, on street survey from intern Astrid Dumas and volunteer Emma Bowie. If you have not yet completed the survey please do.

Finally, I leave you with this from Michael Turnbull’s recently published Edinburgh Book of Days….. you will find more of these on our website – they will be updated every month.

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