Thursday, December 08, 2011

World Heritage Update: Amsterdam

There is one World Heritage Site in Amsterdam -- the "Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht." It was inscribed in 2010, and it seems odd that one of the most important cities in Western Europe during the Renaissance took that long. I'm guessing because it didn't fit 100% UNESCO's notion of "site", so they had to come up with something. So I had dinner there at an Italian restaurant last Thursday night. What, that doesn't count? I think it does, although it would be one of my more tenuous claims. Not as bad as the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, where I merely stopped by and admired the architecture, but close.

Never fear, though. One sentence late in the citation mentions, "In World War II around 100,000 Amsterdam Jews were deported, the majority of whom lived in the canal districts." By far the most interesting site in the canal district seemed to me to be the Anne Frank House. So Friday night, I visited there.

I have actually never read her diary. Christina points out that I will have an unusual opportunity. Most people visited the house and pictured the events of the book. I will be able to read the book (the new, unexpurgated version) and see the setting in my mind's eye. I'm not sure when I will be able to get to the book. The house itself was very depressing. I know it's supposed to be uplifting -- her words lived on where she didn't, and are much more influential than anything her oppressors wrote. UNESCO runs a parallel list to the World Heritage List, intended for important "documentary heritage" -- the Memory of the World Register. Anne Frank's Diary is inscribed there. But I spent much of the visit just galled at what I knew the eventual ending would be. The museum does an excellent job at showing the entire sweep of her story, and it doesn't shy away from the death camps. There are graphic pictures, and a touching interview with her best friend, who tried to keep her alive until the liberation.

Anyway, on that cheery note, we mark the 51st World Heritage Site I visited.

On a somewhat lighter note, the museum had the Shelly Winters Oscar from the movie adaptation of the Diary. I recalled that entertainment awards on permanent public display constitute a waymarking category -- and a fairly rare one, at that. So I posted it as the 19th waymark in that category.
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