The number of World Heritage Sites seems to be increasing, as UNESCO finds more places that brim over with natural and manmade wonders, structures, and landscapes. In the recent past, UNESCO has added 26 more such places to its list, thereby protecting many more places that have cultural, historical, and natural significance, and need to remain unblemished. This obviously means that these places are definitely worth a visit, and to ensure that you do not miss out, we have put together a list (not exhaustive) of some of these protected sites, which are definitely worth taking your vacation.
- The main point of intrigue of the city of Pergamon, Bergama in Turkey is the fact that it dates back possibly later than the 4th Century B.C. The history of the city shows how many rulers once dominated this city – Greeks, Romans, and Persians. This city was the capital of the Attalid Dynasty for a long time, and the Library of Pergamon was one of the greatest in the world with almost 200,000 volumes. The ruins of this library are still around. While the Altar of Pergamon now rests in a Berlin museum, several ruins are still around in the original location. The elevated ground that overlooks the town of Bergama, is a hotspot for temples, gymnasiums, theatres, and other ancient buildings.
- There are so many different ways to experience and explore the natural wonder – The Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA. It is possibly on of the most popular and recognized attractions and tourist spots today. Visitors can take a horseback ride through the Canyon, or take a flight, or even go sky walking over this magnificent natural wonder. Visitors can also reach the Canyon Village – which is the entry point to the Canyon, and can then take the rail or go on a 6-mile trek across. In whatever manner you choose to see the Canyon, you are sure to get a sense of exhilaration and know exactly why UNESCO has taken this magnificent creation under its protection.
- Hoxter, Germany houses Westwork (Abbey of Corvey) which dates far back to the Carolingian era, the period when the Franks ruled in the ninth century. This abbey was a Benedictine monastery in 815 AD, and later was reconstructed to become a mint, occupying a central position as a significant economic and cultural spot. This abbey earlier taken over by Napoleon from the Catholics, now is a member of the Hohenlohe German Dynasty, and allows visitors to learn more about and soak in the glories and remnants of the Carolingian design.
- A small island in the Polynesian waters, has held the interest and curiosity of archaeologists and historians alike is Easter Island, Chile. Do not miss an opportunity to visit one of the remotest UNESCO heritage sites, which seems to hold several intriguing mysteries.
- The Queen’s Step Well or Rani-ki-Vav, Gujarat India, was built and commissioned by Queen Udayamati, wife of Bhimdev I in 1063 AD, and is a seven storeyed structure, later restored in the year 1986. This structure looks like an inverted temple, with the seven levels descending and ending in a pool at the very bottom. It is one of the largest step wells
of its kind today, and is therefore a significant example of the kind of structures and step wells built in India in the 3rd century B.C. Not only are these structures architectural wonders, but were used also as water resources. The step well has intricate carving on the walls, with 2000 statues that proudly display the incredible artisanship of Maru-Gurjara style.
- The intriguing part of Petra, Jordan is that it is partially carved and partially built into a rock, making it a rather intriguing and fascinating sight for visitors. Of course, it has historical importance too, and is gradually becoming a favourite of visitors, who make it part of their itinerary when they visit the Middle East.
- Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic is a quaint and charming village, and is now among the ‘must visit’ for travellers on an extended European tour. The locals are friendly and one can meet several like-minded visitors from across the globe here. The castle also houses bears, a ‘cute’ reason to go through this tiny village for sure.
- A popular safari destination is the inland delta of Okavango, in Botswana. Its unique topography makes it an immensely popular and important geographical site. It is one of the very few deltas in the world with a permanent marshland, which does not flow into any sea or ocean. The uniqueness of this delta is that the flooding during the dry season occurs because of the harmony that exists between the flora and fauna and the environment. This Delta is home to an innumerable species of plants, animals, and birds (around 400 species of the avian community reside here). The African Wild Dog is found here in abundance – one of the few places where this exotic creature can still live in peace. The locals of the Delta still practice traditional methods of sustenance, depending on farming, fishing, and hunting.
- Located in Ninh Binh, Vietnam, the Trang is both culturally and naturally significant. It is a picturesque landscape complex located on the edge of the Red River Delta. The visually stunning landscape must be seen to understand its wondrousness – the topography of limestone formations that rise vertically out of the water and a large cave system that has both active and inactive caves – leave visitors speechless. These caves are now flooded most of the time, but in prehistoric times they were inhabited by humans, with human presence dating as far back as 20,000 B.C. The place still has several temples, shrines, and pagodas, built in the 13th and 14th centuries, of which the Vu Lam Palace is the most noteworthy. Is it any wonder then that it is now a protected sight?
The places we have mentioned, are not significant because of their cultural and historical heritage, but also because they have picturesque locales, friendly indigenous population, and visually striking natural beauty. We would love to help with your visit to any of these world heritage sites.