China’s port city of Quanzhou won UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status

Southeast China’s port city of Quanzhou, once hailed as “the very great and noble city” by the Italian explorer Marco Polo, won UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status Sunday, bringing the total number of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage sites to 56.

UNESCO accepted “Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China” as a cultural property on its World Heritage List amid the ongoing 44th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Fuzhou, capital of east China’s Fujian Province.

Located on narrow plains along the coastline of Fujian, Quanzhou was one of the world’s largest ports along the historic Maritime Silk Road, particularly in ancient China’s Song Dynasty (960-1279) and Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

The serial property includes 22 sites of administrative buildings and structures, religious buildings, and statues.

The property witnessed multi-cultural communities, cultural memorial sites and monuments, the production of ceramics and iron, and a transportation network formed of bridges, docks, and pagodas that guided voyagers.

“Quanzhou in the Song and Yuan Dynasties was an outstanding example of the world’s ocean trade ports at that time. It boasts unique development wisdom and outstanding achievements, enabling it to become a common cultural relic and priceless fortune for all mankind,” said Li Qun, Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism, also director-general of the National Cultural Heritage Administration.

Since 2017, the Quanzhou municipal government has enacted three sets of local regulations, to define the leading parties responsible for the conservation of historical sites, a guarantee of funding for protection of historical sites and opening of them to the public in utilization, etc, in efforts to strengthen protection of the historical sites in the city.

It is the second time the city has applied for the prestigious title. In 2018, China’s nomination “Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)” was referred back for a second chance when the committee met in Bahrain in 2018. China made significant technical adjustments and resubmitted the application as “Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China,” with the former 16 sites included in the serial nomination expanded to 22 sites.


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