Pyrénées, Gavarnie, Mont Perdu - Visit time : 1 to 3 days.
This site is an example of nature at its purest, immediately evident upon arrival at the Cirque de Gavarnie: spectacular rock formations, and abundant and varied wildlife and flora. Discovering these natural resources along the beaten trails is a true delight.
But this trans-border site, dominated by Mont Perdu that rises to 3,352 meters above sea level, is also classified as a World Heritage site for its cultural legacy. Since the 11th century, the inhabitants of these valleys have shaped the landscape, and the fusion between man and environment promoted exchanges between the French and Spanish communities. This classification thus confirms the tradition of pastoralism in the Pyrénées. Here, history, culture and nature combine to offer visitors a mix of intense emotions.
Mont Perdu was included on the World Heritage list in December 1997 on the basis of natural and cultural criteria.
In terms of natural criteria, the World Heritage Committee described this entry as follows: "The Committee included the site of Mont Perdu on the basis of natural criteria (i) and (iii). The calcareous mountain range that includes Mont Perdu displays classic geological formations such as deep canyons and spectacular cirque walls. This is also a unique landscape with meadows, lakes, caves, mountains and forests. Moreover, the region is of great interest for science and conservation."
With regard to cultural values, the Committee included the property on the basis of criteria (iii), (iv) and (v) : the Pyrénées-Mont Perdu area between France and Spain is an outstanding cultural landscape which combines scenic beauty with a socio-economic structure that has its roots in the past, and illustrates a mountain way of life that has become rare in Europe."
Criteria for selection
Criterion (i): extremely representative examples of the major stages of earth’s history, including the evidence of life, of geological processes in the development of landforms, or of significant geomorphic or physiographic elements.
Criterion (iii): natural phenomena or [...] areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
Criterion (iii): A unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization that is living or extinct.
Criterion (iv): outstanding example of a type of building or architectural ensemble or landscape that illustrates one or more significant stages in human history.
Criterion (v): outstanding example of human settlement or land use that is traditional and representative of a culture (or cultures), especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.
Source : UNESCO/ICOMOS