Must see: 21 new UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Posted on 26 September 2017

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) gives recognition to sites around the world with extraordinary beauty, whether natural or cultural.

All sites must represent a masterpiece of human creative genius and cultural significance. The site could also be an outstanding example of a type of building or landscape illustrating a signature stage in human history.

Here are the 21 newest World Heritage Sites added to the worldwide list, creating a total of 1093 sites.


1. Aphrodisias, Turkey

The Aphrodisias is one of the most important archaeological sites from the Greek and Roman periods in Turkey. The old and sacred site is surrounded by marble quarries and the remains of temples and theatres. Aphrodisias is named after the Greek goddess Aphrodite and the site was found in the second century BC. Tourists can visit the newly declared preserved heritage site, but be sure to check your local visa regulations.

One of the most important archaeological sites in Turkey. Image by Chris Stroup

2. Taputapuātea, French Polynesia

Taputapuātea is at the centre of the French Polynesia Triangle. This area has been protected since 1952 and is significant for being a political and religious centre. The area also has beautiful forested valleys, coral reefs, lagoons and the open ocean.


3. Asmara, Eritrea

Asmara is the capital of Eritrea and lies across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It’s one of Africa’s most beautiful cities, labelled the ‘Forgotten piece of Italy in Africa’. The city was invaded by an Italian colony between 1890 and 1941. Asmara boasts of some of the most beautiful architecture and is considered a modernist city of Africa.

Asmara is known for its beautiful architecture. Image by Clay Gilliland

4. Tarnowskie Góry, Poland

Tarnowskie Góry is less than two hours away from Krakow. The underground site was a lead, silver and zinc mine until the 1900s. Although it is no longer used as a mining shaft, visitors can still visit underground.


5. Khomani Cultural Landscapes, South Africa

The Khomani Cultural Landscape borders Botswana and Namibia along the South African borders and includes the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The newly-declared Heritage site will hopefully boost the economic development in the area as well as preserve the Khomani culture.

Also read: Khomani San Landscape spotlights South African heritage.

A walk through the traditions of the Khomani san. Image by Melanie van Zyl.

6. Valongo Wharf, Brazil

The archaeological site in Rio de Janeiro has a rich history and is a former harbour area in the stone town. An estimated 900000 African slaves arrived in South America via Valongo between the end of the 18th century and the mid 19th century. Valongo Wharf was where the African slaves took their first steps in South America.

Jornal do Commercio Square in Rio de Janeiro. Image by Porto Maravihla

7. English Lake District, United Kingdom

The United Kingdom’s first National Park to be granted this high status. The English Lake District is situated in the English countryside and is surrounded by quaint houses, small towns and winding streets. To avoid the chaos of the bigger cities, in the United Kingdom, enjoy the countryside full of valleys, mountains and beautiful lakes.

Go to the English countryside. Image by Robert J. Heath

8. Qinghai Hoh Xil, China

Qinghai Hoh Xil is a Nature Reserve in China, in the province of Qinghai Tibet Plateau. The area is free of modern human impact and has over 200 animal species. This is China’s largest and highest natural World Heritage Site covering 45000 kilometres. The Reserve has snow capped mountains, grasslands, lakes and wild animals.


9. Los Alerces National Park, Argentina

Located in Patagonia, the Los Alerces National Park was created in 1937 with the aim of protecting the pure forests. Tourists can visit the National Park in the warmer summer days in January and February. There are various activities that tourists can take part in, such as hiking, trekking, sailing on the lakes as well as self guided walks in the forests.

Clear water lakes in the Andes. Image by Sam Burnett

10. Sacred Island of Okinoshima, Japan

This sacred island is between the island of Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula.  What makes this island so sacred is that the island is strictly for males who are allowed to be nude (the island bans any females). The men bathe in the sea to remove any impurities. Every year, up to 200 men are allowed to visit the island on the 27 May to honour sailors who died nearby the island during the Russo-Japanese War.


11. Sambor Prei Kuk Temple Zone, Cambodia

This art-rich archaeological site is in the Kampong Thom province in Cambodia. The temple zone is also referred to as ‘temple in the richness of the forest’ and is extremely popular among tourists. The province prides itself in fine arts.

The site of ancient Ishanapura in Kamong Thom province. Image by Tomonori Kimura

12. Kulangsu, China

Located on the Chiu–Lung River facing Xiamen, is Kulangsu also known as Gulangyu and the island is a big tourist destination known for being a pedestrian-only island. Cars and bicycle are banned on the island and only small electric buggies are allowed to be used.


13. City of Yazd, Iran

The city of Yazd is in central Iran and is known for architecture, temples and religion. Yazd means to feast and worship. Yazd has maintained its traditional structures with domed roofs and mud brick houses. The city is the only UNESCO-listed city in Iran where people still live.

Traditional mud houses. Image by Franx

14. Kujataa Greenland, Denmark

This sub-arctic farming landscape in Greenland was created based on farming, grazing and marine mammal hunting during the medieval times. Kujataa Greenland represents the early land use in the Arctic and holds the ruins of the Norse settlements.

Mountainous terrain. Picture by W Bernard

15. M’banza Congo, Angola

M’banza Congo was one of the largest constituted states in Southern Africa from the 14th to the 19th century. It was taken over by the Portuguese Colony of Angola in the 15th century. M’banza Congo was the initial spiritual and political capital of the Kingdom of Kongo (as it was then known). Now it is the market centre for maize, groundnuts, almonds, sesames and oil production.


16. Historic city of Ahmedabad, India

Ahmedabad is also known as Ahmadabad and Ahemdavad. It is the sixth-largest city in India. The city is a winner when it comes to architecture with old mosques, museums and restaurants. Although the city is not known for being a tourist destination, it is definitely worth a visit. Have a look here


17. Assumption Cathedral and Monastery of Sviyazhsk, Russia

The Assumption Cathedral and Monastery of Sviyazhsk was founded by Ivan the Terrible, the first Tsar of Russia in 1551. The cathedral is located on an island town called Sviyazhsk, in Tatarstan. It is famous for its history as well as the mural painting on the walls of the horse-headed Saint Christopher.

Sviyazhsk was founded in 1551 as a Russian fortress. Image from UNESCO

18. Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura, Germany

The Caves and Ice Age Art in Swabian Jura in southern Germany is rumoured to be where humans first arrived 43000 years ago. It is here that the oldest figurative artwork and early musical instruments were found. These objects were carved from various materials, including mammoth ivory.


19. Hebron/Al- Khalil Old Town, Palestine

Hebron/Al-Khalil city is declared one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back to more than 3000 years BC. This is the town of religious significance and has holy sites such as Al-Ibrahimi Mosque and the Tombs of Patriarchs. Hebron/Al-Khalil makes this city the third Palestinian World Heritage Site.

Hebron is the oldest Jewish community in the world, dating back to Biblical times. Picture by Adrian Guerin

20. Venetian Works of Defence, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro

The defence system was designed and built to control territories and routes leading to Eastern Europe. This was between the 16th and 17th century. The Venetian Works of Defence represents Croatia, Italy and Montenegro.


21. Landscape of Dauria, Mongolia and Russia

The Landscape of Dauria is the eleventh World Heritage site in Russia and the second in Mongolia. The Russian side encompasses the Daursky Nature Reserve. This landscape is important because it acts as a breeding ground for crane species, migrating birds and Mongolian Gazelle between Russia and Mongolia.

Communities have been staying in Dauria for nearly 3 000 years. Image by Akavit Terahdit


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