World Heritage Site: Trang An, Vietnam

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February 12, 2016.

The World Heritage Committee of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized officially Trang An Landscape Complex, Vietnam as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site based on three criteria: Culture, Aestheticism and Geology and Geomorphology. 

Trang An, Vietnam

Cultural value

This unique area of the world is prominent for several reasons: Exploration of caves at different altitudes in Trang An has revealed archaeological traces of human activity over a continuous period of more than 30,000 years. They illustrate the occupation of these mountains by seasonal hunter-gatherers and how they adapted to major climatic and environmental changes, especially the repeated inundation of the landscape by the sea after the last ice age. The story of human occupation continues through the Neolithic and Bronze Ages to the historical era. Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Viet Nam, was strategically established here in the 10th and 11th centuries AD.

Located in 55 miles southeast of Hanoi, Trang An contains abundant archaeological evidences preserved almost fully intact. Shells, animal bones, pottery, stone tools, kitchen floor and human remains. This is an extremely valuable documentary treasure demonstrating the way prehistoric humans interacted with natural landscape and adapted to major changes.

Aesthetic value

The karst tower landscape of Trang An is among the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places of its kind anywhere in the world. Dominating the landscape is a spectacular array of cone-shaped rock towers whose sheer vertical walls rise abruptly 200m above the surrounding land  and  water.  Narrow interconnecting ridges, which have been likened to mythical giant swords, enclose circular and linear depressions whose expansive waterways are linked by gently flowing streams winding through subterranean caverns up to one kilometer in length. Visitors, carried through these passages in small traditional sampans, can enjoy the multitude of fascinating carbonate stalactites, curtains and other decorations that adorn the ceilings. Dense rain forest covers the landscape, even clinging to the cliffs and peaks.

Blending naturally into the  forests  are extensive  rice  paddy  fields  bordering  the  rivers,  creating  a  picturesque patchwork of color, enlivened by the presence of local farmers and fisheries engaged in their traditional way of life. Several historic temples and pagodas, some perched high on the valley walls and peaks, signify the important spiritual and religious associations with the landscape. The countryside of the surrounding buffer zone presents a picture of traditional rural life with gardens and fields among small villages linked by simple tracks, narrow roads and a network of streams and canals.

Geological and Geomorphological value

Trang An displays the end stages of karst tower landscape evolution in a humid tropical environment. The product of deep dissection of an uplifted limestone massif over a period of millions years is a remarkable array of classical karst landforms, including cones and towers, depressions (cockpits), valleys, rockfall collapse structures and deposits, subterranean caverns and rivers, caves and speleothems. A network of cross-cutting parallel faults divides the area into cells and promotes the development of enclosed depressions. An altitudinal series of erosional notches in rock walls with associated caves, wave-cut platforms, beach deposits and marine shells is evidence of former stands of sea level.

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