Burma Seeks World Heritage Status for Ancient Royal Capital

Bagan Skyline

As Myanmar opens up to tourism, the importance of protecting its monuments is greater than ever. Bagan, Burma’s ancient royal capital, has an enormous complex on the Irrawaddy River containing more than 3000 intricate monuments dating to the 10th century  It is believed to be the largest concentration of Buddhist monuments in the world.

Myanmar’s government wants it recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but some scholars say that would reward shoddy restorations that have damaged the monuments. But the designation would also bring more funding and expertise that supporters say would help better conserve a world treasure.

Burma’s past is Myanmar’s future and like Bagan’s famous handicrafts, critics worry the temple controversy will be lacquered over as the world rushes to embrace the new Burma.

If you go, trod respectfully.

Located in Myanmar’s central west, Bagan is serviced by flights, buses and trains from Yangon. It may be hard to get to, but harder to leave if you love antiquities and living history.

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