The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, a specialized agency of the UN with its headquarters in Paris, is an organisation that portrays the ideology of one world. Seeking to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the globe which are considered to be of an outstanding value to humanity, has become the core responsibility of UNESCO. This organisation that the countries of the world love to flaunt as their winning title, is one of the very rare organisations who follow the ideology stated by them, word for word. The lines on which their ideology is reflected is so stunningly heart-warming that the perception of the world is easily lifted up.
“Since wars begin in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace must be constructed. Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located. ”
– UNESCO Constitution
Over 1073 UNESCO world heritage sites, spread across the globe. It makes us realise that there’s so much more to be seen and experienced to only get a true glimpse of the humanity’s heritage. Each UNESCO world heritage site hides a whole new perception and philosophy to offer to every visitor. Here are the top 10 picks of UNESCO world heritage sites that you should explore and cross off your bucket list right away!
1. Angkor Wat – Cambodia
Angkor Wat of Cambodia as stated by the UNESCO is truly ‘one of the most important archaeological sites in south-east Asia.’ Explore the stunning Seim Reap as you visit the interior brick sculptures of Prasat Kravan, the Srah Srang reservoir which is also known as “The Royal Baths” which were once used for ritual bathing, Banteay Kdei surrounded by 4 concentric walls, Eastern Mebon which is guarded at its corner by stone figures of harnessed elephants and the mountain-temple of Pre Rup. Visit the ancient capital of Angkor Thom dated back to the 12th century, Ta Prohm Temple and Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Angkor Wat’s five towers symbolize Meru’s five peaks, whose enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world.
2. Plitvice Lakes – Croatia
Straight out of fiction, Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest and the most stunning forest reserve located in central Croatia. Known for a chain of 16 terraced lakes, joined by waterfalls extending into a limestone canyon, this is exceptionally the most postcard-perfect colourful land of paradise. Plitvice National Park, the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1979, stores in around thousands of sparkling falls, clean pure air and the great Splashier. Idyllically boat ride on Lake Kozjak and experience a walk on one of 18km marked trails. A trip to this phenomenon is something that will leave you enchanted to never turn back to the city again! The natural acoustics and the aesthetics of the Mother Earth couldn’t get any perfect than this!
3. Grand Canyon – USA
Grand Canyon is popularly known as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. This is one amazing place where we shall have an experience of a lifetime. The Grand Canyon is a deep valley, a natural gorge carved by the flowing force of the Colorado River, millions of years ago. A small flight will give us a bird’s eye view of the Grand Canyon, Colorado River and leave us with wonderful, unforgettable memories of this majestic creation of nature! The Grand Canyon made it in UNESCO for being what they describe as “Carved out by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon (nearly 1,500 m deep) is the most spectacular gorge in the world!” With such a stunning title and the unrivalled beauty, Grand Canyon is a must visit for a lifetime!
4. Petra – Jordan
Petra is now famed as the New Wonder of the World. This rose gold pained UNESCO World Heritage Site, portrays the legacy of the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled in southern Jordan more than 2,000 years ago. Most of the 800 monuments in Petra are carved out of solid rock. Witness the spectacular Treasury, the 8,000-seat amphitheatre and other monuments which will make you rethink of our ancestral history being so extravaganza! With the understanding of such intricate designs and architecture, Jordan’s Petra is undoubtedly an irreplaceable experience!
5. Hampi – India
This ancient village in the south Indian state of Karnataka, Hampi is adorned with numerous ruined temple complexes from the Vijayanagara Empire. Explore the ancient temples of Hampi, including Monolithic Bull, Virupaksha Temple, Lakshmi Narasimha, Badavi Linga, Underground Shiva Temple, Elephant Stables, Palace Area, Vijaya Vithala Temple popularly known as the Stone Chariot and King’s Balance. Purandara Mantapa, Old Bridge Pillars, Queen’s bath, Archaeological Museum and Lotus Temple, also make up to the list. With a legacy so vast, reflecting India’s cultural heritage, exploring this UNESCO world heritage site must be part of your list!
6. Great Barrier Reef – Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is a large puzzling, painting of colourful reefs with its intricate strokes of architecture that provide a home for a variety of flora and fauna. With over 900 islands, Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system. Stretching over 2300 kilometres, this natural icon is known to be so large that it can even be spotted from the outer space. Enriched with multiple species of aqua-life, the Great Barrier Reef is a harmonious home to the rarest kind of species. This largest living organism is the longest living specimen narrating the planet Earth’s stories of evolution. With such attributes and significance, no doubt it made to the UNESCO list!
7. Sagrada Familia – Spain
Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral, one of the most complex architectural structure which has been under construction since 1882. It is not expected to be completed for at least another 10 years, thereby being famed it as Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece! With aesthetics that redefined the horizons of the creative artwork and complexity of designs. The precise use of colours and light along with the references of inspiration drawn for this design will get you curious to read about it more and more. The architecture that made writers fall in love, will blow your mind! Being here will speak for itself for why it is a part of UNESCO world heritage site.
8. Acropolis – Greece
Overlooking the city of Athens, The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel which is embellished with the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous among them being the Parthenon. The monuments of Acropolis are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization since the beginning of the time. Greeks left behind one of the greatest architectural and artistic complexes for the world to remember and be curious. With a heritage that defined human philosophies of the bygone era, this UNESCO world heritage will make you feel small yet insignificant in-front of the massive legacy of the literary and cultural heritage of our human ancestors.
9. Historic Centre of Bruges – Belgium
Bruges, ‘The Venice of the North’, is famed for its Gothic architecture and the intricate canal system running through the city. Bruges can be best explored with a walking city tour of where you get a chance to explore this beautiful town at your pace! Visit De Halve Maan Brewery which is known to be one of Western Europe`s oldest breweries which is still active today. Enjoy horse-drawn carriage ride which takes you through the beautiful sights of Bruges and lets your fairy-tale fantasy come to life! Right from and before Renaissance era, Bruges was recognised as an important centre of art and culture. A city with so much of architectural treasury and cultural charms is an irreplaceable part of UNESCO.
10. Red Square – Russia
Red Square, the central square of Moscow, got listed in UNESCO’s world heritage in 1990. More than 500 years were invested to create this masterpiece of human creativity. The ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square, thereby have become an inseparable main symbol of the country. Building Russia’s stereotypical imagery, Red Square has become an identity for the country. This architectural wonder will confuse your vision, making it hard to believe its presence and question if it just popped out of a fictional comic book! With a design so complex and colours so lively, it has become the finest specimen of Russian Architecture.
The title of being a UNESCO world heritage not only brings a responsibility but also sets a standard. It truly sets hopes for the curious explorers to make it a part of their bucket list. Awaken the curious travel enthusiast in you! Make it a part of your travel resolution as you set a number to cover as many UNESCO world heritage sites as possible! With over 1073 of them spreading across the globe, it gives you enough reason to cover them all! Each with a different story and a different adventure awaits you to let you stitch your own. Make your own list, get inspired the above, plan your trip soon, as the clock is ticking and the list is getting bigger!