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Treasures of the World: Central and Eastern Europe
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1.

Wartburg Castle, Germany: Where Romanticism Dreams of the Middle Ages

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 seigniorial power. It was during his exile at Wartburg Castle that Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German.
Online
2017; 2001
2.

The Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland: The Long Recessional

This is the most glaciated part of the Alps, containing Europe's largest glacier and a range of classic glacial features such as U-shaped valleys, cirques, horn peaks and moraines. It provides an outstanding geological record of the uplift and compression that formed the High Alps. The diversity of flora and wildlife is represented in a range of Alpine and sub-Alpine habitats and plant colonization in the wake of retreating glaciers provides an outstanding example of plant succession. The impressive vista of the North Wall of the High Alps, centerd on the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks, has played an important role in European art and literature.
Online
2017; 2003
3.

Lake Neusiedel, Austria and Hungary: Nowhere Is the Sky Vaster

The Fertö/Neusiedler Lake area has been the meeting place of different cultures for 8 millennia. This is graphically demonstrated by its varied landscape, the result of an evolutionary symbiosis between human activity and the physical environment. The remarkable rural architecture of the villages surrounding the lake and several 18th- and 19th-century palaces adds to the area's considerable cultural interest.
Online
2017; 2004
4.

Budapest, Hungary: Danube Shore and Castle Hill

This site—with the remains of monuments such as the Roman city of Aquincum and the Gothic castle of Buda, which have exercised considerable architectural influence over various periods—is one of the world's outstanding urban landscapes and illustrates the great periods in the history of the Hungarian capital.
Online
2017; 1996
5.

Vienna, Austria: Death’s City

Vienna developed from early Celtic and Roman settlements into a Medieval and Baroque city, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It played an essential role as a leading European music center, from the great age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century. The historic center of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque castles and gardens, as well as the late-19th-century Ringstrasse lined with grand buildings, monuments and parks.
Online
2017; 2003
6.

Kraków, Poland: Poland’s Secret Capital

The Historic Center of Kraków, the former capital of Poland, is situated at the foot of the Royal Wawel Castle. The 13th-century merchants' town has Europe's largest market square and numerous historical houses, palaces and churches, with their magnificent interiors. Further evidence of the town's fascinating history is provided by the remnants of the 14th-century fortifications and the medieval site of Kazimierz, with its ancient synagogues in the southern part of town, Jagellonian University and the Gothic cathedral where the kings of Poland are buried.
Online
2017; 2000
7.

Prague, Czech Republic: A Journey Through History

Built between the 11th and 18th centuries, the Old Town, the Lesser Town and the New Town—with their magnificent monuments such as the Hradcany Castle, the St. Vitus Cathedral, the Charles Bridge, and numerous churches and palaces built mostly in the 14th century under the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV—speak of the great architectural and cultural influence this city has had since the Middle Ages.
Online
2017; 1996
8.

Wrangel Island, Russia: The Noah’s Ark of the Arctic

Located well above the Arctic Circle, the site includes the mountainous Wrangel Island (2,937 square miles), Herald Island (4 square miles) and surrounding waters. Wrangel was not glaciated during the Quaternary Ice Age, resulting in exceptionally high levels of biodiversity for this region. The island boasts the world’s largest population of Pacific walrus and the highest density of ancestral polar bear dens. It is a major feeding ground for the gray whale migrating from Mexico and the northernmost nesting ground for 100 migratory bird species, many endangered. Currently, 417 species and subspecies of vascular plants have been identified on the island, double that of any other Arctic tundra territory of comparable size and more than any other Arctic island. Some species are derivati [...]
Online
2017; 2011
9.

L'viv, Ukraine: Risen From Memories

The city of L'viv, founded in the late Middle Ages, was a flourishing administrative, religious and commercial center for several centuries. The medieval urban topography has been preserved virtually intact (in particular, there is evidence of the different ethnic communities who lived there), along with many fine Baroque Era and later buildings.
Online
2017; 2010
10.

St. Petersburg, Russia: The Venice of the North

The "Venice of the North," with its numerous canals and more than 400 bridges, is foremost the result of a vast urban project begun in 1703 under Peter the Great. Known later as Leningrad (in the former U.S.S.R.), it is closely associated with the October Revolution. Its architectural heritage reconciles the opposite styles of baroque and pure neo-classicism, as seen in the Admiralty, the Winter Palace, the Marble Palace and the Hermitage.
Online
2017; 1996
11.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland: Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp

The fortified walls, the barbed wire, the platforms, the barracks, the gallows, the gas chambers and the cremation ovens all bear witness to the conditions within which the Hitlerian genocide took place in the former concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most extensive of the Third Reich. Four million people, among them a great number of Jews, were systematically starved, tortured and murdered in this camp, symbol of the cruelty of man to his fellow men in the 20th century.
Online
2017; 2001
12.

Trier, Germany: The Oldest German City

A Roman colony since the 1st century A.D. and then a trading center beginning in the next century, Trier, along the Moselle River, became one of the capitals of the Tetrachy at the end of the 3rd century and was called the "second Rome." It is an excellent testimony to Roman civilization because of the density and quality of the preserved monuments.
Online
2017; 1998
13.

Riga, Latvia: Hanseatic League, Amber, and Art Nouveau

Riga was a major center of the Hanseatic League and prospered from its trade with central and eastern Europe in the 13th through 15th centuries. The urban fabric of its medieval center reflects this prosperity, although most of its earlier buildings have been destroyed by fire and war. In the 19th century it became a very important economic center, and the suburbs of the medieval town were built, first in imposing wooden buildings in classical style and then in Jugendstil. It is generally recognized that Riga contains the finest concentration of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe.
Online
2017; 1999
14.

Moscow, Russia: The Kremlin and Red Square

Inseparably linked to all of the most important historical and political events in Russia since the 13th century, the Kremlin, built between the 14th and 17th centuries by outstanding Russian and foreign architects, was the residence of the Great Prince and a religious center. At the foot of its ramparts, on Red Square, the Saint Basil Basilica is one of the most beautiful monuments of Russian Orthodox art.
Online
2017; 2000
15.

Warsaw's Old City, Poland

During the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, more than 85% of Warsaw's historic center was destroyed by Nazi troops. After the war, a 5-year reconstruction campaign by its citizens resulted in today's meticulous restoration of the Old Town, with its churches, palaces and marketplace. It is an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.
Online
2017; 1996
16.

The Danube Delta, Romania: Wilderness Between Sea and Steppe

The waters of the Danube River, which flow into the Black Sea, form the largest and best-preserved of Europe's deltas. The Danube delta hosts over 300 species of birds as well as 45 freshwater fish species in its numerous lakes and marshes.
Online
2017; 2010
17.

Old Bern, Switzerland

Founded in the 12th century on a hill site surrounded by the Aar River, Berne became the Swiss capital in 1848. The buildings in the old city, from a variety of periods, include 16th-century arcades and fountains. The major part of the medieval town was renovated in the 18th century, but its original character was preserved.
Online
2017; 1996
18.

Eisleben and Wittenberg, Germany: Commemorating Martin Luther

These places in Saxony-Anhalt illustrate the lives of Martin Luther and his disciple Melanchthon. They include Melanchthon's house in Wittenberg; the houses in Eisleben where Luther was born in 1483 and died in 1546; and his room in Wittenberg, the church in that town—and the castle church where, on October 31, 1517, Luther posted his famous "95 Theses," which launched the Reformation and a new era in the religious and political history of the world.
Online
2017; 1998
19.

Vlkolínec Slovakia: A Log Village in Slovakia

Vlkolínec, situated in the center of Slovakia, is a remarkably intact settlement of 45 buildings with the traditional features of a central European village. It is the region's most complete group of these kinds of traditional log houses often found in mountainous areas.
Online
2017; 2001
20.

Historic Tallinn, Estonia: The Old Hanseatic Port of Reval

The origins of Tallinn date back to the 13th century, when a castle was founded by the crusading knights of the Teutonic Order. It developed as a major center of the Hanseatic League, and its wealth is demonstrated by the opulence of the public buildings (its churches in particular) and the domestic architecture of the merchants' houses, which have survived to a remarkable degree despite the ravages of fire and war in the intervening centuries.
Online
2017; 1999