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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Spain : Tower of Hercules (2009)

 
The Tower of Hercules has served as a lighthouse and landmark at the entrance of La Coruña harbour in north-western Spain since the late 1st century A.D. when the Romans built the Farum Brigantium. The Tower, built on a 57 metre high rock, rises a further 55 metres, of which 34 metres correspond to the Roman masonry and 21 meters to the restoration directed by architect Eustaquio Giannini in the 18th century, who augmented the Roman core with two octagonal forms. Immediately adjacent to the base of the Tower, is a small rectangular Roman building. The site also features a sculpture park, the Monte dos Bicos rock carvings from the Iron Age and a Muslim cemetery. The Roman foundations of the building were revealed in excavations conducted in the 1990s. Many legends from the Middle Ages to the 19th century surround the Tower of Hercules, which is unique as it is the only lighthouse of Greco-Roman antiquity to have retained a measure of structural integrity and functional continuity.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Germany : Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen (2001)


 
The Zollverein industrial complex in Land Nordrhein-Westfalen consists of the complete infrastructure of a historical coal-mining site, with some 20th-century buildings of outstanding architectural merit. It constitutes remarkable material evidence of the evolution and decline of an essential industry over the past 150 years.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

France : Palace and Park of Versailles (1979)

 
The Palace of Versailles was the principal residence of the French kings from the time of Louis XIV to Louis XVI. Embellished by several generations of architects, sculptors, decorators and landscape architects, it provided Europe with a model of the ideal royal residence for over a century.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Belarus : Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh (2005)

 
The Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh is located in central Belarus. The Radziwill dynasty, who built and kept the ensemble from the 16th century until 1939, gave birth to some of the most important personalities in European history and culture. Due to their efforts, the town of Nesvizh came to exercise great influence in the sciences, arts, crafts and architecture. The complex consists of the residential castle and the mausoleum Church of Corpus Christi with their setting. The castle has ten interconnected buildings, which developed as an architectural whole around a six-sided courtyard. The palaces and church became important prototypes marking the development of architecture throughout Central Europe and Russia.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Belarus : Mir Castle Complex (2000)

 
The construction of this castle began at the end of the 15th century, in Gothic style. It was subsequently extended and reconstructed, first in the Renaissance and then in the Baroque style. After being abandoned for nearly a century and suffering severe damage during the Napoleonic period, the castle was restored at the end of the 19th century, with the addition of a number of other elements and the landscaping of the surrounding area as a park. Its present form is graphic testimony to its often turbulent history.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Visit to Al Ain : UNESCO World Heritage Site in UAE

 
 
The falaj irrigation system at Al Ain Oasis 
 

Al Ain Oasis
 


Al Ain Oasis is the largest oasis in the city of Al Ain, within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
It is located north of the Al Mutawa'a district and east of the Al Jhali district. The main central district of Al Ain is to the north, with the Oman border to the northwest.
Adjacent to the oasis are the Al Ain National Museum to the east and the Al Ain Palace Museum to the west. To south is the Al Ain Sports Club. To the southwest are the Al Ain Etisalat Building and the Oasis Hospital.
The oasis is known for its underground irrigation system "falaj" which brings water from boreholes to water farms and palm trees. The falaj irrigation is an ancient system dating back thousands of years and is used widely in Oman, UAE, China, Iran and other countries.
Al Ain has seven oases; the smallest is Al Jahili Oasis. The rest are Qattara, Al Mutaredh, Al Jimi, Al Muaiji, and Hili

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Bahrain : Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun (2005)

 
Qal’at al-Bahrain is a typical tell – an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation. The strata of the 300 × 600 m tell testify to continuous human presence from about 2300 BC to the 16th century AD. About 25% of the site has been excavated, revealing structures of different types: residential, public, commercial, religious and military. They testify to the importance of the site, a trading port, over the centuries. On the top of the 12 m mound there is the impressive Portuguese fort, which gave the whole site its name, qal’a (fort). The site was the capital of the Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilizations of the region. It contains the richest remains inventoried of this civilization, which was hitherto only known from written Sumerian references.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bulgaria : Rila Monastery (1983)


Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy site and were transformed into a monastic complex which played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862. A characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th–19th centuries), the monument symbolizes the awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bulgaria - Madara Rider (1979)


The Madara Rider, representing the figure of a knight triumphing over a lion, is carved into a 100-m-high cliff near the village of Madara in north-east Bulgaria. Madara was the principal sacred place of the First Bulgarian Empire before Bulgaria’s conversion to Christianity in the 9th century. The inscriptions beside the sculpture tell of events that occurred between AD 705 and 801.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Philippine : Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras


For 2,000 years, the high rice fields of the Ifugao have followed the contours of the mountains. The fruit of knowledge handed down from one generation to the next, and the expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance, they have helped to create a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Brazil : Pantanal Conservation Area (2000)


The Pantanal Conservation Complex consists of a cluster of four protected areas with a total area of 187,818 ha. Located in western central Brazil at the south-west corner of the State of Mato Grosso, the site represents 1.3% of Brazil's Pantanal region, one of the world's largest freshwater wetland ecosystems. The headwaters of the region's two major river systems, the Cuiabá and the Paraguay rivers, are located here, and the abundance and diversity of its vegetation and animal life are spectacular.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Twenty-six new sites inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List this year


The World Heritage Committee on Monday morning inscribed Lena Pillars Nature Park of the Russian Federation, the last site to be added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List during this year’s session. Chad, Congo, Palau and Palestine had World Heritage sites inscribed on the List for the first time.
Lena Pillars Nature Park is marked by spectacular rock pillars that reach a height of approximately 100 metres along the banks of the Lena River in the central part of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). They were produced by the region’s extreme continental climate with an annual temperature range of almost 100 degrees Centigrade (from -60°C in winter to +40°C in summer). The pillars form rocky buttresses isolated from each other by deep and steep gullies developed by frost shattering directed along intervening joints. Penetration of water from the surface has facilitated cryogenic processes (freeze-thaw action), which have widened gullies between pillars leading to their isolation. Fluvial processes are also critical to the pillars. The site also contains a wealth of Cambrian fossil remains of numerous species, some of them unique.
A total of five natural World Heritage Sites were inscribed during the present session of the World Heritage Committee:
  • Lakes of Ounianga (Chad);
  • Sangha Trinational (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo,);
  • Chengjiang Fossil Site (China);
  • Western Ghats (India);
  • Lena Pillars Nature Park (Russian Federation).
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (Palau) was inscribed as a mixed natural and cultural site.
A total of 20 cultural sites were inscribed during the session:
  • Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy (Bahrain); Major Mining Sites of Wallonia (Belgium);
  • Rio de Janeiro, Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea (Brazil);
  • The Landscape of Grand-Pré (Canada);
  • Site of Xanadu (China);
  • Historic Town Grand-Bassam (Côte d’Ivoire);
  • Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin (France);
  • Margravial Opera House Bayreuth (Germany);
  • Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy (Indonesia);
  • Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan (Islamic Republic of Iran),
  • Gonbad-e Qābus (Islamic Republic of Iran);
  • Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel : The Nahal Me’arot/Wadi el-Mughara Caves (Israel);
  • Archaelogical Heritage of the Lenggong Valley (Malaysia);
  • Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City: a Shared Heritage (Morocco);
  • Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine);
  • Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (Portugal);
  • Bassari Country: Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes (Senegal);
  • Heritage of Mercury Almadén and Idrija (Slovenia/Spain);
  • Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland (Sweden);
  • Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük (Turkey).
Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) was inscribed on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger, as it was added to the List of World Heritage. Two of Mali’s World Heritage sites, Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia, were also added to the List of World Heritage in Danger, as were Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City (UK) and the Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama).
Two conservation success stories were recognized by the World Heritage Committee allowing for them to be removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger: Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Pakistan) and the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Belgium / France : Belfries of Belgium and France



Twenty-three belfries in the north of France and the belfry of Gembloux in Belgium were inscribed as a group, an extension to the 32 Belgian belfries inscribed in 1999 as Belfries of Flanders and Wallonia. Built between the 11th and 17th centuries, they showcase the Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles of architecture. They are highly significant tokens of the winning of civil liberties. While Italian, German and English towns mainly opted to build town halls, in part of north-western Europe, greater emphasis was placed on building belfries. Compared with the keep (symbol of the seigneurs) and the bell-tower (symbol of the Church), the belfry, the third tower in the urban landscape, symbolizes the power of the aldermen. Over the centuries, they came to represent the influence and wealth of the towns.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Western Ghats is now a UN World Heritage Site

India's 1600-km long Western Ghats mountain chain, which has forests older than the Himalaya mountains, has been added to list of world heritage sites by the United Nations.
The Western Ghats mountain chain is recognised as one of the world's eight "hottest hotspots" of biological diversity.

The chain's forests, which are older than the Himalaya mountains influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern.

The ghats, which start at the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra and runs through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala ending at Kanyakumari, was added to the World Heritage list by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

A historic opera house in Germany, a border town and its fortifications in Portugal, and 18 interconnected lakes in Chad are some other sites that have been added to the list. The Margravial Opera House Bayreuth in Germany, which was built in the 18th century, is considered a masterpiece of Baroque theatre architecture. It is the only entirely preserved example of its type where an audience of 500 can experience Baroque court opera culture and acoustics authentically, as its auditorium retains its original materials.

The border town of Elvas and its fortifications in Portugal, was also added to the list, as the site represents the largest bulwarked dry ditch system in the world. While Elvas contains remains dating back to the 10th century, its fortification began when Portugal regained independence in 1640.

The World Heritage Committee meets once a year, and is responsible for the implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, which defines the kind of natural or cultural sites which can be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Uzbekistan : Itchan Kala


Itchan Kala is the inner town (protected by brick walls some 10 m high) of the old Khiva oasis, which was the last resting-place of caravans before crossing the desert to Iran. Although few very old monuments still remain, it is a coherent and well-preserved example of the Muslim architecture of Central Asia. There are several outstanding structures such as the Djuma Mosque, the mausoleums and the madrasas and the two magnificent palaces built at the beginning of the 19th century by Alla-Kulli-Khan.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Macedonia : Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region (2009)


Situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid, the town of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. Built mainly between the 7th and 19th centuries, it has the oldest Slav monastery (St Pantelejmon) and more than 800 Byzantine-style icons dating from the 11th to the end of the 14th century. After those of the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow, this is considered to be the most important collection of icons in the world

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

India : Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987)


Pattadakal, in Karnataka, represents the high point of an eclectic art which, in the 7th and 8th centuries under the Chalukya dynasty, achieved a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India. An impressive series of nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain sanctuary, can be seen there. One masterpiece from the group stands out – the Temple of Virupaksha, built c. 740 by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband's victory over the kings from the South.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bosnia and Herzegovina : Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar (2005)










The historic town of Mostar, spanning a deep valley of the Neretva River, developed in the 15th and 16th centuries as an Ottoman frontier town and during the Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mostar has long been known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, Stari Most, after which it is named. In the 1990s conflict, however, most of the historic town and the Old Bridge, designed by the renowned architect Sinan, was destroyed. The Old Bridge was recently rebuilt and many of the edifices in the Old Town have been restored or rebuilt with the contribution of an international scientific committee established by UNESCO. The Old Bridge area, with its pre-Ottoman, eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and western European architectural features, is an outstanding example of a multicultural urban settlement. The reconstructed Old Bridge and Old City of Mostar is a symbol of reconciliation, international co-operation and of the coexistence of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities.

Monday, June 25, 2012

India : Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984)


This group of sanctuaries, founded by the Pallava kings, was carved out of rock along the Coromandel coast in the 7th and 8th centuries. It is known especially for its rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), giant open-air reliefs such as the famous 'Descent of the Ganges', and the temple of Rivage, with thousands of sculptures to the glory of Shiva.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

World Heritage Committee to consider inscription of 36 sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List at forthcoming session (St Petersburg 22 June – 6 July)


The World Heritage Committee will consider the inscription of 36 sites on the World Heritage List during its next meeting from 24 June to 6 July, in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation

The forthcoming 36 th session of the Committee , an independent body of 21 States Parties to the 1972 World Heritage Convention , will be chaired by. Eleonora Mitrofanova, Ambassador Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO. For the first time in its 40-year history, members of the public and the media will be able to follow the debates of the Committee through live streaming on the internet.

Some of the working documents of the Committee are already available to the public online in English and French and the rest will be made available early next month.

Five natural sites are to be considered for inscription:

Chad, Lakes of Ounianga;

China, Chengjian Fossil Site;

Congo, Cameroon and Central African Republic, Sangha Trinational;

India, Western Ghats;

Russian Federation, Lena Pillars Nature Park.

India : Great Living Chola Temples



The Great Living Chola Temples were built by kings of the Chola Empire, which stretched over all of south India and the neighbouring islands. The site includes three great 11th- and 12th-century Temples: the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. The Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram, built by Rajendra I, was completed in 1035. Its 53-m vimana (sanctum tower) has recessed corners and a graceful upward curving movement, contrasting with the straight and severe tower at Thanjavur. The Airavatesvara temple complex, built by Rajaraja II, at Darasuram features a 24-m vimana and a stone image of Shiva. The temples testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Germany : Wartburg Castle (1999)


Wartburg Castle blends superbly into its forest surroundings and is in many ways 'the ideal castle'. Although it has retained some original sections from the feudal period, the form it acquired during the 19th-century reconstitution gives a good idea of what this fortress might have been at the height of its military and seigneurial power. It was during his exile at Wartburg Castle that Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Germany : Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier (1986)


Trier, which stands on the Moselle River, was a Roman colony from the 1st century AD and then a great trading centre beginning in the next century. It became one of the capitals of the Tetrarchy at the end of the 3rd century, when it was known as the ‘second Rome’. The number and quality of the surviving monuments are an outstanding testimony to Roman civilization.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Germany : Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz (2000)


The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is an exceptional example of landscape design and planning of the Age of the Enlightenment, the 18th century. Its diverse components - outstanding buildings, landscaped parks and gardens in the English style, and subtly modified expanses of agricultural land - serve aesthetic, educational, and economic purposes in an exemplary manner.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Germany : Fagus Factory in Alfeld (2011)


Fagus Factory in Alfeld is a 10-building complex - began around 1910 to the design of Walter Gropius, which is a landmark in the development of modern architecture and industrial design. Serving all stages of manufacture, storage and dispatch of lasts used by the shoe industry, the complex, which is still operational today, is situated in Alfeld an der Leine in Lower Saxony. With its groundbreaking vast expanses of glass panels and functionalist aesthetics, the complex foreshadowed the work of the Bauhaus school and is a landmark in the development of architecture in Europe and North America.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Russia : Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments (1990)


The 'Venice of the North', with its numerous canals and more than 400 bridges, is the result of a vast urban project begun in 1703 under Peter the Great. Later known as Leningrad (in the former USSR), the city is closely associated with the October Revolution. Its architectural heritage reconciles the very different Baroque and pure neoclassical styles, as can be seen in the Admiralty, the Winter Palace, the Marble Palace and the Hermitage.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Russia : Kizhi Pogost (1990)


The pogost of Kizhi (i.e. the Kizhi enclosure) is located on one of the many islands in Lake Onega, in Karelia. Two 18th-century wooden churches, and an octagonal clock tower, also in wood and built in 1862, can be seen there. These unusual constructions, in which carpenters created a bold visionary architecture, perpetuate an ancient model of parish space and are in harmony with the surrounding landscape.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Germany : St Mary's Cathedral and St Michael's Church at Hildesheim (1985)


St Michael's Church was built between 1010 and 1020 on a symmetrical plan with two apses that was characteristic of Ottonian Romanesque art in Old Saxony. Its interior, in particular the wooden ceiling and painted stucco-work, its famous bronze doors and the Bernward bronze column, are – together with the treasures of St Mary's Cathedral – of exceptional interest as examples of the Romanesque churches of the Holy Roman Empire.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Germany : Town of Bamberg (1993)


From the 10th century onwards, this town became an important link with the Slav peoples, especially those of Poland and Pomerania. During its period of greatest prosperity, from the 12th century onwards, the architecture of Bamberg strongly influenced northern Germany and Hungary. In the late 18th century it was the centre of the Enlightenment in southern Germany, with eminent philosophers and writers such as Hegel and Hoffmann living there.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Germany : Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps (2011)


This serial property of 111 small individual sites encompasses the remains of prehistoric pile-dwelling (or stilt house) settlements in and around the Alps built from around 5000 to 500 B.C. on the edges of lakes, rivers or wetlands. Excavations, only conducted in some of the sites, have yielded evidence that provides insight into life in prehistoric times during the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Alpine Europe and the way communities interacted with their environment. Fifty-six of the sites are located in Switzerland. The settlements are a unique group of exceptionally well-preserved and culturally rich archaeological sites, which constitute one of the most important sources for the study of early agrarian societies in the region.

Switzerland : Benedictine Convent of St John at Müstair (1983)


The Convent of Müstair, which stands in a valley in the Grisons, is a good example of Christian monastic renovation during the Carolingian period. It has Switzerland's greatest series of figurative murals, painted c. A.D. 800, along with Romanesque frescoes and stuccoes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Germany : Pilgrimage Church of Wies (1983)


Miraculously preserved in the beautiful setting of an Alpine valley, the Church of Wies (1745–54), the work of architect Dominikus Zimmermann, is a masterpiece of Bavarian Rococo – exuberant, colourful and joyful.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Germany : Old town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof (2006)


Located on the Danube River in Bavaria, this medieval town contains many buildings of exceptional quality that testify to its history as a trading centre and to its influence on the region from the 9th century. A notable number of historic structures span some two millennia and include ancient Roman, Romanesque and Gothic buildings. Regensburg’s 11th- to 13th-century architecture – including the market, city hall and cathedral – still defines the character of the town marked by tall buildings, dark and narrow lanes, and strong fortifications. The buildings include medieval patrician houses and towers, a large number of churches and monastic ensembles as well as the 12th-century Old Bridge. The town is also remarkable for the vestiges testifing to its rich history as one of the centres of the Holy Roman Empire that turned to Protestantism.

Germany : Speyer Cathedral (1981)


Speyer Cathedral, a basilica with four towers and two domes, was founded by Conrad II in 1030 and remodelled at the end of the 11th century. It is one of the most important Romanesque monuments from the time of the Holy Roman Empire. The cathedral was the burial place of the German emperors for almost 300 years.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Germany : Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg (1996)

These places in Saxony-Anhalt are all associated with the lives of Martin Luther and his fellow-reformer Melanchthon. They include Melanchthon's house in Wittenberg, the houses in Eisleben where Luther was born in 1483 and died in 1546, his room in Wittenberg, the local church and the castle church where, on 31 October 1517, Luther posted his famous '95 Theses', which launched the Reformation and a new era in the religious and political history of the Western world.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Switzerland : Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch (2001)





The extension of the natural World Heritage property of Jungfrau - Aletsch - Bietschhorn (first inscribed in 2001), expands the site to the east and west, bringing its surface area up to 82,400 ha., up from 53,900. The site provides an outstanding example of the formation of the High Alps, including the most glaciated part of the mountain range and the largest glacier in Eurasia. It features a wide diversity of ecosystems, including successional stages due particularly to the retreat of glaciers resulting from climate change. The site is of outstanding universal value both for its beauty and for the wealth of information it contains about the formation of mountains and glaciers, as well as ongoing climate change. It is also invaluable in terms of the ecological and biological processes it illustrates, notably through plan succession. Its impressive landscape has played an important role in European art, literature, mountaineering and alpine tourism.

Romania : Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania (1993)


These Transylvanian villages with their fortified churches provide a vivid picture of the cultural landscape of southern Transylvania. The seven villages inscribed, founded by the Transylvanian Saxons, are characterized by a specific land-use system, settlement pattern and organization of the family farmstead that have been preserved since the late Middle Ages. They are dominated by their fortified churches, which illustrate building styles from the 13th to the 16th century.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Korea (South) : Changdeokgung Palace Complex


In the early 15th century, the King Taejong ordered the construction of a new palace at an auspicious site. A Bureau of Palace Construction was set up to create the complex, consisting of a number of official and residential buildings set in a garden that was cleverly adapted to the uneven topography of the 58-ha site. The result is an exceptional example of Far Eastern palace architecture and design, blending harmoniously with the surrounding landscape.