UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) aimed at unifying nations, offering justice and celebrating cultures. One important element of their work is the World Heritage List, which identifies sites that are important to all people, regardless of their race, religion or nationality. The List encourages the protection and preservation of natural and cultural sites across the world, which are “considered to be of outstanding value to humanity”. In July 2017, the 41st World Heritage Committee met in Krakow, to review the list, approve new entries, and identify sites that are at risk of being irreparably destroyed.
Of more than thirty nominated sites, 26 made it on UNESCO’s World Heritage List this year. Start planning your next holiday, because here are our favourites:
Ahmedabad, India. Gujarat’s largest city is a delicious blend of traffic, noise and remarkable architecture. The medieval part of city has earned Ahmedabad its World Heritage status; situated on the Sabarmati River’s eastern side, the city was founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah I. The city was once surrounded by a vast 6-mile-long wall and today the wall’s fifteen imposing gates remain as a reminder of the ancient grandeur of yesteryear.
Aphrodisias, Turkey. Situated in Anatolia, 100 miles north-east of Marmaris, this ancient Greek settlement was named in honour of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. The initial settlement dates back to the 3rd Century BC, although it has been redesigned many times over the centuries. The site pays homage to love and beauty, and despite the crumbling effect of the centuries, its sculptures and architecture are wonderful to behold.
Asmara, Eritrea. Eritrea’s capital city is quite simply delightful. Its combination of modernist and art deco architecture is the result of influences from the Italian occupation in the early 20th Century, and a feast for the eyes; there are countless authentic coffee shops where you can sit, admire your surroundings, and watch the world go by. Despite general travel restrictions throughout the country, Asmara has relative freedom; you can travel within a 15-mile radius of the city without a permit.
The Lake District, UK. England’s largest national park is also home to its highest peak – Scafell Pike, and its deepest lake – Wastwater. With broad, open spaces, beautiful scenery and quaint villages aplenty, the Lake District is a favourite spot for tourists from the UK and overseas, who want to explore and revel in the beauty of nature.
City of Yazd, Iran. Situated on a plain, surrounded by mountains, the ancient desert city of Yazd oozes Persian charm. With its mix of bud-brick houses and magnificent architecture, the winding lanes of Yazd City seem to glow with warmth, sunshine and beauty – so relax, slow down and take a step back in time in one of Iran’s oldest cities.
Los Alerces National Park, Argentina. Named for its trees – the alerce tree, which, with specimens of up to 4,000 years old, is one of the longest-living trees on the planet Los Alerces National Park is one of many reasons to visit South America. Tucked next to the Chilean border, the national park is a stunning collection of mountains, crystal clear lakes and babbling creeks – a hidden gem which is often overlooked by tourists.
Sambor Prei Kuk, Cambodia. Most temples around the globe fade in significance in comparison to the temple complex of Angkor Wat. Fortunately, the World Heritage Committee have acknowledged the significant historical and cultural value of Sambor Prei Kuk in in the Kampong Thom province. Surrounded by jungle Sambor Prei Kuk predates the Khmer Empire; it is easy to see how the temple influenced the incredible architecture of Angkor Wat, inspiring what would become the largest temple complex in the world.
Assumption Cathedral and Monastery, Sviyazhsk, Russia. In 1551, Tsar Ivan the Terrible built a fortress on a peninsular which stretched out into the Volga River. In 1555, the Uspensky (assumption) Monastery and cathedral were added to the site, and became a crucial part of spreading Orthodox Christianity to the surrounding regions. And so, the town of Sviyazhsk grew. When the Kuybyshev Reservoir was constructed in the 1950s, the peninsular was cut off, forming the town-island of Sviyazhsk. Today, the lone island stands proud, the magnificent architecture and divine frescoes gaining it World Heritage Status.
Ice Age Art and Caves, Swabian Jura, Germany. The ice age caves of Swabian Jura are believed to have been one of the first settlements of modern humans, who arrived in Europe 43,000 years ago during the ice age. The caves were discovered in the 1860s and since then, excavations have yielded musical instruments, carved figurines, jewellery and art dating back as far as 33,000 years. Coming face to face with history that dates so far back is truly humbling; a stark reminder of the magnitude of our pasts.
Kulangsu, China. Facing the city of Xiamen, Kulangsu is a tiny island on the estuary of the Chiu-lung River. In 1843, Xiamen opened a commercial port and in 1903, Kulangsu was established as an international island. Suddenly, the tiny island became a crucial part of commerce between China and the world. The result is a city built on myriad cultural influences: Southern Fujian, Classical Revival, Colonial and Sino. An architectural and aesthetic delight, the island’s “Amoy Deco” architectural style, which combines Art Deco and Modernist influences, is a testimony to the unique fusion and acceptance of different influences.
The world is packed with incredible things to see and do; modern sites that defy imagination and gravity, and ancient sites that fill us with awe. The world is just waiting to be discovered, so pack your bags and go explore! If you want travel inspiration, tips or advice, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.