"Treasures of the World - Heritage of Mankind" is a TV series which portrays those sites, monuments and national parks which have been appointed "World Heritage Sites" by UNESCO. The "Treasures" are artistic cineastic essays of 15 minutes length shot on 35mm film using elaborate techniques like craning and travelling camera. The series is produced by the Südwestrundfunk (SWR) for broadcast on a number of stations. In the course of the series the project under the patronage of the UNESCO targets to portray most of the World Heritage sites.

www.schaetze-der-welt.de

Music composed by Stefan Eichinger and Steffen Neuert www.achtspur.com
Camera: Donald Saischowa www.dosfilm.de

 

Tunesia, KAIROUAN – Holy City of the Maghreb

The ancient Arab medina of Kairouan in the hinterland of Tunesia remains an intact architectural and social ensemble until today. Its Sidi Oqba mosque was the first mosque on African soil. Kairouan was the first Arab settlement in North Africa and the starting point of the islamization of the entire Maghreb. It is considered the fourth holy site of Islam after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.

Libya, GHADAMES – The "Subterranean" Oasis

The famous oasis on the northern rim of the Sahara, where five caravan routes meet, was once a centre of cross desert trade. From here dynastic trader families controlled many of the big caravans. Ghadames has a unique architecture, a highly defensive, compact cluster of multi-storey clay-houses. Bridging the narrow alleys, these are pitch-dark. Ghadames appears almost subterraneous.

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Libya, LEPTIS MAGNA – Roman Metropolis in Africa

In ancient times olive oil and wheat from the Roman province "Africa" was shipped in vast quantities through its large harbour. Leptis Magna was a key trade centre of the Roman Empire, a rich metropolis on the African coast of the Mediterranean Sea - with broad avenues, opulent markets, splendid palaces, temples and baths. Leptis in today's Libya is rarely visited, but one of the most magnificent Roman sites.

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Uzbekistan, BUKHARA – Gem on the Silk Road

Of all the trading posts along the Silk Road it was one of the richest and most famous. Bukhara in today's Uzbekistan, with its numerous mosques, mausoleums and medresas, was also a centre of religion and scholarship. From here Islam spread all over Central Asia.

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Nepal, KATHAMANDU – Himalayan Pantheon

It is a place of gods and legends, situated in the fertile valley between Tibet and India. For centuries trade routes and pilgrim tracks crossed in the Kathmandu valley. Here Buddhism and Hinduism formed a unique synthesis. Until today thousands of stupas, temples and pagodas bear witness to the great culture of the valley's three most important settlements: the royal towns of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

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Laos, LUANG PRABANG – Royal City on the Mekong

Deep in the mountains of Laos lies Luang Prabang, blending into the green of the jungle, on the banks of the Mekong. Luang Prabang was the capital of Lane Xang, the mighty kingdom of a million elephants and the seat of the kings of Laos. To this day Luang Prabang is the centre of Laotian Buddhism. Religion still defines the rhythm of the city. The pagodas are the pulse of the community and every morning, before sunrise, the monks and novices make their way to ask the faithful to donate for their daily food.

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Vietnam, HALONG BAY – Bizarre Island World

Halong Bay in northern Vietnam: 2.000 islands, deep ravines, rough rocks and many caves. Numerous legends revolve around this bizarre and twisted landscape, the most prominent of which is about Ha-Long, the "Descending Dragon". According to the tradition, he was sent by the gods to defend the Vietnamese from their enemies. The film portrays one of the remaining 300 families living in floating houses and travelling troughout the bay to fish. There are more than 1.000 kinds of fish and 160 coral types. However, this diversity is endangered. Important shipping lines lead right through this island world, industrial centres line the shores of Halong Bay. The rapidly increasing tourism also brings along dangers.

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Vietnam, HUE – Where Sorrow Smiles and Joy Weeps ...

Vietnam's Imperial City Hué in Central Vietnam is situated beautifully between hillocks and rice fields by a bend in the Perfume River. The almost square citadel-city is surrounded by an eleven-kilometre wall, which contains the "Imperial City". Inside of this - once again walled in - one finds the "Forbidden Purple City" reserved for the emperor. For 143 years 13 emperors of the Nguyen dynasty ruled from here with a feudal court of Chinese influence. At first they reigned in glory and then in decadence and submission under the French colonial power. The emperors were great lovers and supporters of the fine arts; poetry especially. To this day, there is a certain state of rapture, a poetic air and melancholy mood over the city.

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Sultanate of Oman, THE INCENSE TRADE IN DHOFAR – "The Tears of the Gods"

The aromatic resin of the boswellia sacra was considered one of the most precious trading goods of the Ancient World. Incense was lit in Egypt as well as at the courts of Indian Maharajas. In Rome it was worth its weight in gold. It was traded over thousands of kilometres, along the "Incense Road". In the Dhofar region in the south of the Sultanate of Oman, incense is still produced. In the arid valleys the Bedouins cut the gnarled trees to sap the resin a few days later. Now only ruins are left of the golden age of the incense trade: Ports and caravan stops along the Omani Incense Road, which was now declared a World Heritage Site.

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Philippines, VIGAN – Colonial Heritage in the Philippines

In 1572 the Spanish landed in Vigan, a coastal city in the north-west of the island Luzon. They converted the population to Christianity and developed the small trading post into a town, following a pattern often tested in Mexico. The Chinese, who had settled in Vigan before the Spaniards, controlled the trade. Thus, in Vigan developed a unique cultural mix of Spanish, Mexican, Chinese and Philippine elements. The old town centre of Vigan with its cathedral, episcopal palace and feudal commercial buildings is still very much alive today.

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Philippines, The rice terraces of the IFUAGO – "Stairway to Heaven"

For 2.000 years irrigated rice has been cultivated in the rough mountainous terrain of the northern Philippines. To this day the rice terraces, clay dams and complex irrigation ditches are considered one of the wonders of the world. How long will they survive? Growing rice is no longer profitable, the young leave the villages and the terraces slowly go to ruin. The cultivation of rice was once regarded as a bond between the gods and the people, now it is slowly losing its significance in the northern Philippines.

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Tanzania, ZANZIBAR – The Stonetown

Zanzibar. Ships from all over the world have harboured in the wide bay of the island capital off the East African coast. Ivory, slaves and spices from Black Africa were brought to market here. Zanzibar developed into one of the most important trading centres of the Indian Ocean. Arab and Indian traders settled here and controlled busines. The architecture of Zanzibar's old town centre, the "Stonetown", to this day reflects this synthesis of Arabian, Indian and Black African influences; it is just as multicultural as its population. Mosques, churches and Hindu temples, African markets and British trading houses, Omani palaces and magnificently carved doors, that is Zanzibar's Swahili culture.

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Ghana, ACCRA – Where Gold and People Were Shipped

European fortresses with battlements and canons interspersed between the rows of corrugated-iron shacks line the beaches of Ghana. These alien seeming stone constructions are testament to the 500-year-old trade between Europe and West Africa. Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, Swedish, Danish and Prussian merchants wanted to profit from commerce in West Africa and erected bulwarks. Today the bastions are monsoon-weathered and threatened by decay, but one can still imagine how lucrative business once was. Even though the region received the moniker "Gold Coast", the main source of income was the slave trade. Nobody knows exact numbers, but an estimated 2,000,000 Africans were deported from the coastal forts of the Europeans as slaves.

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Ghana, ASHANTILAND – The Chief, the Gold and the King

In the 18th century in the woodlands of West Africa there blossomed the empire of the Ashanti. They were famous for their gold, the art of government and the art of war. Feared by the British colonial forces, it took 70 years and seven wars to submit the proud people in the hinterland of the former Gold Coast. In today's Ghana the Ashanti are a tribe amongst many others, but the legendary kingdom still lives on. It is a traditional and spiritual institution, led by the King of the Ashantis. Their traditional clay buildings with grass roofs and rich relief ornaments, among them the palaces, were destroyed in the colonial wars. Only ten village temples survived. The UNESCO has declared these a World Cultural Heritage: a mark of distinction for the pre-colonial culture of the Ashanti.

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Tunesia, Ramadan in the MEDINA OF TUNIS

Once it was one of the wealthiest towns of the Islamic world. Today the Medina of Tunis is the largest old town in Northern Africa. The film shows the course of one day in the month of Ramadan. During daytime life goes slow, the narrow lanes are nearly empty, a good time to study the Medina’s architecture. But when the sun goes down and fasting ends, people come out of their houses to stroll over the bazaar of the Medina and to meet in the cafés around the Zitouna mosque.

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Uzbekistan, SAMARKAND,

A city out 1001 Arabian Nights, it owes its heyday to the campaigns of a despotic ruler extending his reign from the Ganges to the Mediterranean. Samarkand was the center of this world empire, the residential capital for Timur Lenk, or Timur the Lame. During his campaigns to Europe and India Timur and his horde devastated towns and massacred the people. The finest craftsmen and artists however were abducted to Samarkand. Here they created that breathtaking architecture in the 14th century that gained Samarkand the reputation of being the “most beautiful city in the world”.

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Vietnam, Ancient HOI AN

Luckily the Vietnam War left this old riverside town in central Vietnam undamaged. More than 2,000 years old, it once was a station of the maritime Silk Road. In its heyday (16th until 19th centuries) Japanese and Chinese seafarers settled here to trade silk and porcelain. Dutch, Portuguese, Siamese, Chinese and other trading vessels called at this legendary port until the Thu Bon-river which links Hoi An with the sea silted up and became impassable. Hoi An became a Sleeping Beauty. Its hibernation endured the war and the hard times of socialism and lasted until the wake up-call of tourism brought a new era to this ancient town. (Today Hoi An is a picturesque showpiece of Vietnamese and Colonial architecture that retains a sense of history.)

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Italy, AMALFI COAST – Just Like a Picture Book

Eine vierzig Kilometer lange Küstenlandschaft in Süditalien: wild, zerklüftet, mit steilen Felsen und engen Buchten, malerischen Ortschaften mit großer Vergangenheit. Über Jahrhunderte lag sie vergessen von der Welt. Erst der Ausbau der „Amalfitana“, einer Traumstraße zwischen Himmel und Meer, beendete 1857 die Isolation der Region. Maler, Dichter und Schriftsteller aus ganz Europa ließen sich hier nieder und begründeten den Ruf, von dem die Küste heute noch zehrt. Giulio Cantarella fährt seit 20 Jahren Linienbusse auf der Amalfitana. Der Film begleitet ihn auf seiner Fahrt entlang einer Küste, die noch immer Sehnsüchte weckt.

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Kazakhstan, QUOZA AKHMED YASAUI MAUSOLEUM – Pilgrimage to Turkistan

At the edge of the vast steppe of Kazakhstan stands in splendid isolation the mausoleum of Qozha Akhmed Yasaui. The ascetic 12th century Sufi teacher and Turkic mystical man once made Islam accessible to the nomadic horseback peoples of the Eurasian steppe. The first great Turkic Muslim holy man taught most of his life in Turkistan, dying there in 1146. In the late 14th century
Timur ordered to build a huge majestic mausoleum (in his honour), with impressive domes and exquisite blue and turquoise tiling (on the outer walls). Until this day Qozha Akhmed Yasaui is revered as the holy man of the simple people and the founder of Sufism in Central Asia. His mausoleum is the most important site of pilgrimage in the entire region.

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North Korea, KOGURYO Tombs – Fierce and Fighting for All Eternity

Cairn frescos tell stories of one of the mightiest empires of East Asia, reigning from 37 B.C. until 668 A.D. and considered the cradle of Korean culture: the Koguryo. The images depict trade and cultural exchange with other East Asian empires, but most of all they show the bellicose and expansive nature of this empire.

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India, VICTORIA TERMINUS in Mumbai – Transit for Millions

After ten years of construction, it was completed in 1888. Monumental in size and at the same time lavishly ornamented the building combines Victorian Gothic Revival architecture with traditional elements of Indian palace architecture. 1,100 trains and almost three million passengers per day make Victoria Terminus the busiest railway station in the world. The film shows one day, 24 hours, in VT, a station that hardly ever sleeps.

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Mongolia,ORCHON VALLEY–Stones, Stupas, Cities

A holy river. Little explored and steeped in myths. Orchon River fords the heart of Mongolia. From time immemorial its valleys are nomads’ land. In the Orchon Valley the Uigurs built Karabalgas, a town of clay for more than 10.000 habitants that became an early centre of the trade on the Silkroad. In 1235 Genghis Khan chose the place as Mongolian capitol and gave order to build a gorgeous complex of paved streets and luxurious halls. The palace of the Great Khan is not yet located. An international research team is looking for it.

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Turkmenistan, MERV – Town in Ruins on the Silkroad

Deep in the Karakum desert the Murghab River is giving life to an oasis. In the 6th century a metropolis started to evolve there, that numbered hundred thousands of habitants in the Middle Ages: Merv. Being an important junction on the Silkroad the oasis town became tremendously rich and grew to an intellectual centre of the Islamic World. In the 11th and 12th century Merv was the eastern capitol of the Seljuq Empire – and on the top of its glory. A short time later the town perished. But parts of the architecture have resisted the extreme desert climate until today: the massive town walls, palaces, library buildings, water reservoirs and a mausoleum that is visited by pilgrims even today.

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China, MACAO – Island of Luck

The peninsula of Macao in the South China Sea is in the shape of a prawn. In Chinese symbolism, this clearly indicates good luck. As long as Macao existed, people have put their life and fortune on stake here. In the past seamen and adventurers, missionaries and businessmen, today the gamblers. The roulette wheel never stands still in Macao, the city is considered the Las Vegas of Asia. The gambling industry, that was legalised as early as 1847, contributed to preserve the prestigious past, the heritage of the seafarer’s empire Portugal: splendid houses of traders, magnificent ornate churches, an occidental culture and lifestyle.

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Morocco, ESSAOUIRA – Where Sand meets the Sea

In 1765 sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah gives order to build a town on the Moroccan coast of the Atlantic. The place is well chosen, the surrounding area has been populated for more than 2000 years. The fertile backcountry, cultivated by Berbers, guarantees supplies. Essaouira that was called Mogador until 1956 had been a cosmopolitan city, the most industrious harbour of Morocco. Up till it got outstripped by Casablanca. However, the Medinian architecture, a blend of Islamic, Hispanic and European style, remained – in beauty as well as in danger.

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Republic of Montenegro, DURMITOR NATIONAL PARK – Mountains of Many Waters

Abrupt peaks enhanced by glaciers and impressive karst formation, high pastures and primeval forests compose a unique mountain landscape in the North of Montenegro: the massive of Durmitor. Embed in the mountains lay glacial lakes and limestone gorges, springs and streams. Wild rivers roar in steep inaccessible valleys. Rivers like the Tara, its canyon up to 1,300 m deep, maybe Europe’s most secluded and untouched river valley and, after the Grand Canyon in Colorado, the second deepest canyon of the world.

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Malaysia, MELAKA and GEORGE TOWN– Center of Far East Trade

Two old seaport cities in Malaysia at one of the most heavily navigated waters in the world. They drew merchants, craftsmen, seefarers, pirates, and adventurers from the four corners of the globe for centuries . Both cities are shaped by a variety of ethnic and cultural influences, colonial rule and the handling of incomparable riches: Melaka and George Town.

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Sri Lanka – ANURADHAPURA, City of Faith

Anuradhapura, an ancient city in the jungle, for a long time lost and forgotten. Founded in 400B.C. the city developed into a religous and politcal mecca, and was the residence of Sri Lanka's kings for more than a thousand years . It is believed that over 100,000 highly cultivated and advanced people lived in Anuradhapura at that time, over an area encompassing more than 40 square kilometers. The ancient city ruins, monuments, and cloisters have been explored, cleared and restored for ages. However, these archeological ruins of an earlier Buddist civilzation provide a number of riddles to this day.

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