A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place, be it a forest, mountain, lake, island, desert, monument, building, complex, or city, that is catalogued by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of site of physical importance or special cultural value. With around 1000 World Heritage Sites around the world, here we will explore 20 of the most beautiful ones worldwide!
1. Yellowstone National Park (United States)
Located in the North West region of the United States, Yellowstone National Park is the first National Park in the U.S and is widely held to be the first National Park in the world too. With an area of 2,219,791 acres, it is widely known for its wildlife, geothermal features and the many types of Eco systems. Visitors tend to drive through the park while camping on their way.
2. Venice and its Lagoon (Italy)
Venice and its lagoon, a World Heritage Site, is a city that is spread over 118 small islands separated by canals. The entire city is well known for its architectural value, where even modest buildings contain great works of famous artists.
3. Valletta (Malta)
The City of Valletta was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1980. The city comprises of buildings that date back as far as the 16th Century and predominantly contain Baroque Architecture, along with Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern architecture in selected areas.
4. Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia (Turkey)
Located in central Turkey, this Historical National Park is entirely sculpted by erosion and offers us a spectacular view of plateaus, plains, small mountain plants, high hills, alluvial streams, river valleys and much more. You can witness lodgings, underground towns, ancient troglodyte villages and an area where humans used to dwell that goes back to the 4th Century.
5. Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, and was added to the World Heritage Site list in 1981. Located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia, it is comprised of 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. The Great Barrier Reef is also the world’s largest structure made by living organisms and can be seen from outer space.
6. Machu Picchu (Peru)
Machu Picchu, a World Heritage Site in Peru, is perched 2,430m above sea level at the center of a tropical mountain forest. It is a 15th Century Inca Site that offers a breath taking view for its climbers. Strong landscaping engineering skills are evident here.
7. Rapa Nui (Chile)
Rapa Nui is a national park located in Easter Island, Chile. It is classified as a World Heritage Site due to the 887 stone statues known as “moai” which were created by the Rapa Nui people who lived on this island in 300 AD. The stone structures that are carved into head and torso figures, have an average height of 13 feet and weigh around 14 tons each.
8. Hampi (India)
Located in northern India, Hampi was one of the richest and largest cities in the world during its prime. It was the former capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom, Vijayanagara Empire. The village now continues to be a vital religious center that comprise of the Virupaksha Temple and several other monuments.
9. Bagan (Myanmar)
An ancient city located in central Myanmar, southwest of Mandalay. The site contains more than 2,500 Buddhist monuments, like temples, stupas, and monasteries which were built between the 10th and the 14th century. These monuments are of great importance and attract numerous pilgrims from around the world.
10. Sigiriya (Sri Lanka)
Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress that is located near Dambulla, in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. Built around 1600 years ago, Sigiriya represents ancient Sri Lankan art and culture.
11. Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)
Serengeti National Park, a UNESCO-inscribed World Heritage Site, is located in Tanzania. The national park is well known for the annual migration of over 1.5 million white bearded wildebeest, 250,000 zebras, gazelles, other herbivores, as well as, their predators.
12. Petra (Jordan)
Petra, also known as the Rose City due to the color of the stone structure, is an archaeological city situated in southern Jordan. Petra is half built and half carved into the rock and is a popular tourist destination in Jordan. UNESCO has stated that it is “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”
13. Tulum (Mexico)
Tulum, one of the last standing cities built by the Mayans, is established on a rocky cliff facing the sparkling waters of the Caribbean sea. The ruins are perched on cliffs that are 12 meters tall. The site may have been formerly known as Zama, or “the City of Dawn”, as it faces where the sun rises every morning.
14. Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, some 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian coast. It is considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for viewing wildlife. The 19 islands and the marine reserve that surrounds it, have been called a “unique living museum and showcase of evolution”.
15. Acropolis (Greece)
Acropolis is an ancient citadel located above the city of Athens on a high rocky outcrop.
16. Mont-Saint-Michel (France)
Mont-Saint-Michel, is an island commune in Normandy, France. The scenic village has survived since the 11th century despite its unstable sandbank foundations.
17. Iguazu National Park (Brazil and Argentina)
Iguazu National Park is located in Brazil and has a total area of 185,262.5 hectares. In the park are also two bodies of water, 420km and 300km in length. At the heart of this site, a semi circular waterfall is situated and is considered one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls.
18. Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)
Pyramids of Giza is an archaeological site on the Giza Plateau in Egypt. The Pyramids of Giza consist of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the somewhat smaller Pyramid of Khafre a few hundred meters to the south-west, and the relatively modest-sized Pyramid of Menkaure which is a few hundred meters farther south-west at the site.
19. Angkor (Cambodia)
Angkor, located in Cambodia, is one the most significant archaeological sites in South-East Asia which stretches over 400 km2. It was the capital city of Khmer Empire which thrived between the 9th and 15th centuries. The awe-inspiring Angkor Wat is located in this city, which is a popular tourist attraction.
20. Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina)
Los Glaciares National Park is located in Austral Andes in Argentina and is a federally protected site. The national park is around 726,927 ha, which makes it the second largest park in the country.
As of July 2017, there are a total of 1,073 World Heritage Sites. Of the 1,073 sites, 832 are cultural, 206 are natural and 35 are mixed properties. The countries have been divided by the World Heritage Committee into five geographic zones: Africa, Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The country with the most number of sites is Italy, with 53 entries. The country with the most number of sites by itself alone is China, with 51 entries.
We hope you liked reading our list of 20 of the Most Stunning World Heritage Sites!