UNESCO protects 17 more sites

Sunday, July 17, 2005

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- A war-wrecked bridge whose reconstruction raised hopes that Bosnia could rebuild a multiethnic society and biblical remains in Israel were among 17 cultural wonders added to the U.N. list of protected World Heritage Sites, officials said Saturday.

The additions were made at the 29th session of the U.N. Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage Committee taking place this week in Durban.

In Israel, three prehistoric settlement mounds contain the remains of cities with biblical connections. Four Israeli towns along the ancient incense route also were added to the list.

Also inscribed Friday was the historical Chinese center of Macao.

The only African cultural site added this year was Osun Sacred Grove, on the outskirts of the southern Nigerian city of Osogbo.

Other sites inscribed Friday include the French city of Le Havre, rebuilt by Auguste Perret after it was bombed in World War II, the Cuban colonial town of Cienfuegos, and the Iranian city of Soltaniyeh with its early 14th-century mausoleum.

Seven natural wonders were added Thursday. Friday's additions bring the total number of protected sites to 812. They include 628 cultural, 160 natural and 24 mixed sites in 137 countries.

The committee, which meets through today, is now reviewing the state of conservation of World Heritage Sites and could add some of them to its endangered list to help overcome obstacles to their conservation.

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