The Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk in Cambodia, and the island of Gulangyu in China were recently added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites
Taj Mahal, Ha Long Bay, Komodo National Park, Singapore Botanic Gardens – these are just some of Asia’s most famous UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) World Heritage Sites. Last July 8, 2017, the World Heritage Committee inscribed a few new cultural sites in Asia, including the Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk in Cambodia, as well as the tiny island of Kulangsu in Xiamen, China. Here’s what you need to know:
The Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk
Originally known as Isanapura, the archaeological site of Sambor Prei Kuk is one of the world’s oldest temple towns that features a marvellous range of pre-Angkorian monuments.
Here, history buffs will find a walled city centre and several temples (10 of which are octagonal – the shape is an ancient design motif that dates back centuries) tucked away in the lush forest. Sambor Prei Kuk once served as the capital of the Chenla Empire during the reign of the early 7th-century King Isanavarman, and protecting it as a World Heritage Site means visitors and researchers can continue to learn about Cambodia’s Angkorian era.
If you’re in Cambodia for the iconic Angkor Wat monument, you should definitely add Sambor Prei Kuk to the itinerary to dive deeper into the history of the country.
With a population of about 20,00 and over 3,000 years of rich history, the tiny but mighty island of Kulangsu – also known as Gulangyu – has come a long way.
According to UNESCO, Kulangsu became a frontier stronghold for many countries to further enter the mainland of China after the First Opium War that took place from 1840 to 1842. In 1903, it was also established as an international settlement to host foreigners. Thanks to globalisation and the integration of various cultures through a century, Kulangsu transformed from a small fishing village and now thrives as a world-famous place with a distinct cultural and communal environment that makes the island special.
Kulangsu’s diverse cultural influences from the world over are reflected in the island’s structures and their architecture – landmarks like Hai Tian Tang Gou Mansion and Anxian Hall feature an interesting combination of traditional Southern Fujian, Veranda Colonial, and Neoclassical styles. If you’ve got a thing for architecture and an eye for photography, Kulangsu is for you.
Gulangyu Island photos by Kulangsu Island Administrative Committee