This World Heritage Week, Explore South African Heritage Sites Through Your Screen

Every nation, every culture in the world holds sacred what has been passed on for generations. Be it valuable traditions, art forms, culinary methods, or monuments that stand out and rightfully take their place in history books. 

In an effort to recognize, celebrate and preserve such monuments and sites across borders and cultures, the UNESCO recognizes November 19th to 25th each year as World Heritage Week. Defined as a “natural or man-made area or a structure that is of international importance, and space which requires special protection,” World Heritage Sites hold cultural and physical significance.

While India continues to face pandemic-induced travel restrictions and border closures, we can still celebrate these sites through our screens, until it is okay to physically pay homage to them once again! Cause no matter where they are, these sites are our shared responsibility after all.

Read on to find out where to participate in virtual tours of two such South African World Heritage Sites, and share in their rich culture – all from the comfort of your homes:

Robben Island, near Cape Town

Nelson Mandela spent 18 immensely challenging years in prison on this little island situated less than 5 miles off the coast of Cape Town and yet emerged from it filled with forgiveness instead of hatred. Robben Island is now a World Heritage site and museum. Although from the 17th to the 20th century the island was a place of imprisonment – today it is a beacon of hope and a place where visitors can gain some insight into the life and times of Nelson Mandela and fellow freedom fighters. 

Google offers a narrated tour – complete with a visit to Mandela’s 6.5 x 6.5 foot cell – led by Vusumsi Mcongo, an anti-Apartheid activist who was imprisoned on Robben Island from 1978-1990.

Link to tour: 

https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/robben-island-prison-tour/mQIim-e6wopSJw

Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng

 The Cradle of Humankind is one of the eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa. The landscape is dotted with subterranean limestone caves that have turned up a rich fossil record for human evolutionary studies, which lend credence to the ‘Out of Africa’ theory of where our ancestors came from. It is known as the birthplace of humankind, visit here is a history lesson not only for the kids but adults alike as well as an opportunity for animal watching, as it’s also home to diverse animal, plant and bird life. Aside from a visit to the Sterkfontein Caves and Maropeng, the official visitor centre of the Cradle of Humankind, ‘the Cradle’ as it is locally known, is also a playground for the people of Gauteng.  

360° interactive images of Sterkfontein Caves, created by South African photographer John Gore, consist of a number of individual photos stitched together. As you navigate them you can click on certain areas to view the images in more detail. 

Link to interactive images:

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