Heritage sites in times of coronavirus – 45 inspiring quotes on World Heritage Day 2020

By Madanmohan Rao|18th Apr 2020
Though the COVID-19 crisis has severely impacted the tourism industry, the fondness for heritage sites and the desire to visit them again remains as strong as ever.
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The COVID-19 crisis has dealt a body blow to the tourism industry, ranging from travel companies and hotels to tour operators and heritage site staff. But many monuments and wildlife parks now offer online viewing, ranging from photo galleries to interactive tours.


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During the extended lockdown, billions of citizens around the world are flocking online to share memories of their travels in better days, and making lists of ‘Top Three Places to Visit’ once the lockdown ends.


Every year, April 18 is designated as World Heritage Day, to increase awareness about cultural and natural diversity. It spans monuments, historical sites, and national parks. Broader interpretations also include other forms like handicrafts, music and cuisine.


World Heritage Day is ratified by UNESCO, and was first proposed by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). Objectives include preservation and promotion of sites of cultural importance, and appreciating their universal value.


Irrespective of our interpretation of history, it is vital that we preserve these symbols of our past. The theme this year is ‘Shared Cultures, Shared Heritage, Shared Responsibility.’


Earlier themes for World Heritage Day included Rural Landscapes, Heritage for Generations, Sustainable Tourism, Sacred Places, and The Heritages of Agriculture, Sport, Water, Education, and Commemoration.


Even during times of lockdown, a number of innovative initiatives are springing up. For example, Google Arts & Culture provides free online access to a number of cultural heritage sites around the world.


South Africa is promoting virtual tours of Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison). The city of Bath is offering online activities on its website. They include sharing family experiences with designing a mosaic, planning the town centre, and constructing a column.


The Archaeological Survey of India plans to have a special lighting of candles and lamps at Delhi monuments like Red Fort and Qutub Minar. The Bengaluru chapter of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) is organising a series of online talks on topics like documentation and conservation of performance spaces.


Others activities include quizzes on iconic landmarks, slideshows, and VR/AR games. Webinars are being conducted by the International Institute for the Inclusive Museum and the International Centre for Inclusive Cultural Leadership.


India has 38 designated heritage sites, the sixth largest number in the world. They include 30 cultural sites and seven natural sites (eg. Kaziranga National Park, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Sundarbans National Park).


The compilation of quotes in this column salutes the visionaries, architects, designers, engineers, labourers, and staff who built and maintain heritage sites and parks around the world. The quotes reflect gratitude to the artistic and humanistic spirit across all ages, and reinforce the importance of creativity, hope, and connectedness in these dark hours.


The quotes in this compilation are drawn from YourStory articles on art and heritage, as well as a range of online resources. The photographs are from our weekend PhotoSparks section on art. See also our compilations of quotes on the occasion of World Art Day, and Top Quotes of 2019 on Design and Art.


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A city is born from a tangle of monuments and infrastructures, culture and market, national history and everyday stories. - Renzo Piano


A concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational and economic legacies - all of the things that quite literally make us who we are. - Steve Berry


A contempt of the monuments and the wisdom of the past, may be justly reckoned one of the reigning follies of these days, to which pride and idleness have equally contributed. - Samuel Johnson


A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. - Marcus Garvey


Ancient monuments are full of wisdom, for they have been filled with what they have seen and heard for hundreds of years! - Mehmet Murat ildan


Culture consists of connections, not of separations: to specialise is to isolate. - Carlos Fuentes


Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Heritage does not equal destiny. - Cate Tiernan


History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are but, more importantly, what they must be. - John Henrik Clarke


History should belong to all of us, and it needs to include people from different cultural backgrounds. - Malorie Blackman


In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we came from. - Alex Haley



India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country, but rather, in the context of its history and cultural heritage, a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay. - Shashi Tharoor


Instead of causing us to remember the past like the old monuments, the new monuments seem to cause us to forget the future. - Robert Smithson


It is time that we start building living monuments to hope and possibility. - Majora Carter


Just as a tree without roots is dead, a people without history or cultural roots also becomes a dead people. - Malcolm X


Maintaining one’s culture, values and traditions is beyond price. - Getano Lui


Monuments and archaeological pieces serve as testimonies of man's greatness and establish a dialogue between civilisations showing the extent to which human beings are linked. - Vicente Fox


Monuments are for the living, not the dead. - Frank Wedekind


Monuments are the grappling-irons that bind one generation to another. - Joseph Joubert


Monuments differ in different periods. Each age has its own. - Philip Johnson


Our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our nation. - Nelson Mandela


Peace has its victories no less than war, but it doesn't have as many monuments to unveil. - Kin Hubbard


People tend to believe that to be modern you have to disengage from your heritage, but it's not true. - Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned


People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians. - George Lucas


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Profundity and daring attempts at it are what separate our cultural touchstones from the white noise of daily communication. - Stewart Stafford


So much of our future lies in preserving our past. - Peter Westbrook


Success follows those adept at preserving the substance of the past by clothing it in the forms of the future. - Dee Hock


The risk of the Holocaust is not that it will be forgotten, but that it will be embalmed and surrounded by monuments and used to absolve all future sins. - Zygmunt Bauman


The world may need fixing, but it's worth preserving. - Rick Riordan


To know nothing of what happened before you, is to forever remain a child. - Cicero


Tombs are the clothes of the dead and a grave is a plain suit; while an expensive monument is one with embroidery. - R Buckminster Fuller


We have been the benefactors of our cultural heritage and the victims of our cultural narrowness. - Stanley Krippner


When you think about your heritage, you think about toughness and hard work. - Jeff Garcia


Without an understanding of history, we are politically, culturally and socially impoverished. - Antony Beevor


You don't stumble upon your heritage. It's there, just waiting to be explored and shared. - Robbie Robertson





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Effective conservation happens through enlightenment. - Arun Kumar


Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. - John Muir


Great national symbols and our national park system belong to all of us, both legally and spiritually. - Edwin C Bearss


In wilderness, I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia. - Charles Lindbergh


If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning. - Lyndon B. Johnson


If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go.... This is the story of our past and it will be the story of our future. - Terry Tempest Williams


Mountains are earth's undecaying monuments. - Nathaniel Hawthorne


The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. - John Muir


The parks are the nation's pleasure grounds and the nation's restoring places. - J. Horace McFarland


The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit. - Joseph Wood Krutch


The wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned to ask. - Nancy Newhall


We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope. - Edward Abbey


YourStory has also published the pocketbook Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups, as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).

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Edited by Megha Reddy

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