Art & Entertainment

World Heritage Day: 10 Movies Featuring UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Top 10 movies on UNESCO heritage: A day dedicated to creating awareness about the significant sites around the world and the importance of keeping them safe, 'World Heritage Day', is celebrated on April 18, every year.

World Heritage Day Photo: GD Goenka Rohini

We all know there are certain places all over the world that bear historical, scientific, cultural or some kind of importance. These sites are designated by the UNESCO as 'World Heritage Sites'. This is done so as to preserve their importance and pass on their legacy to the coming generation.

To celebrate these sites, 'World Heritage Day' is celebrated annually on April 18.

Today on the same occasion, let's raise some awareness about 10 such sites that do not only appear on the UNESCO list but have been part of some prominent Hollywood movies:

1. 'Spectre': Mexico City

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Mexico City Historic Center

At the very first shot of 'Spectre' movie, Mexico's Historic Center is shown. However, it is blown up totally during a parade called 'Day of the Dead' in the movie. Of course, the site wasn't damaged even a bit during the shoot and the destruction was completely virtual using effects. While there was no such parade in real, a Day of the Dead became a real parade post the James Bond film.

2. 'The Da Vinci Code': France

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Louvre Museum on the banks of the Seine, Paris

If you have watched the movie, you would see ample shots of a museum as the movie focuses on a painting, 'The Last Supper' which is in the Louvre Museum. The Tom Hanks starrer dives in deep with the painting as it is what leads their investigation to the Holy Grail. You can have an experience yourself by taking the 'Da Vinci Code' tour at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

3. 'The Motorcycle Diaries': Peru

Machu Picchu in 'The Motorcycle Diaries'
Machu Picchu in 'The Motorcycle Diaries' Photo: YouTube

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Machu Picchu

The movie is based on two young guys who embark on a journey throughout South America, however, it soon turns into a journey of self-exploration. Much of this happens at the Machu Picchu.

4. 'Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade': Jordan

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Siq, the main entrance of Petra

The city actually gained its place on the map of people via the 'Indiana Jones' movie. At the ending of the movie, Sean Connery turns to Harrison Ford to say a dialogue. However, the intriguing thing is that the scene was shot in front of the Siq which marks an entrance to Petra.

5. 'Slumdog Millionaire': Agra

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Taj Mahal

Even though, it is shown as a brief cameo in the movie, the site has a connection to the main character of the movie, Jamal Malik. It is shown that on their journey, Jamal ends up working at the Taj Mahal as a tour guide, an illegal one. Through this job he learns a few things that help him a big way during his appearance on the game show.

6. 'National Lampoon's Vacation': Arizona, USA

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Grand Canyon

One of the hilarious scenes that have been shot at any world heritage site, the scene from 'National Lampoon's Vacation' features a hotel outside the Grand Canyon. Chevy Chase steals money from the hotel register and then tries to make a getaway.

7. 'Tomb Raider': Cambodia

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom, Siem Riep

During the shoot of the movie, ironically, the cast and crew occupied two hotels, which are the only two hotels in Siem Riep, completely. The good thing is that whatever money was procured, went towards the temples and their preservation. So much so that you can have a Tomb Raider cocktail for yourself at the Siem Riep. As for the movie, Lara Croft (the portragonist) ends up at the Bayon Temple to find her father's fate.

8. 'The Gladiator': Morocco

Ait-Ben-Haddou in 'The Gladiator'
Ait-Ben-Haddou in 'The Gladiator' Photo: YouTube

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Morocco Ksar in Ait-Ben-Haddou

The site protected by the Moroccan government is featured as a backdrop of an important sequence in 'The Gladiator' which sees Russell Crowe in the lead. After burying his family, Maximus Meridius is forced to become a slave and is sold to a gladiator trainer, which forms the base of him becoming a warrior. The portion of his transition to a slave is filmed at the Morocco Ksar.

9. 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Ireland

Skellig Michael
Skellig Michael Photo: YouTube

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Skellig Michael

One of the most beautiful heritage sites, Skellig Michael is on the off-coast of Ireland. It is the hiding location of Luke Skywalker, it is where Rhea finds him and gets lessons from Luke, and it is where she tries to get Luke back to fight the First Order. Much of the movie takes place at this location and to avoid chaos during the shooting, the film crew actually told the residents that a documentary film is being shot.

10. 'Lord Of The Rings': New Zealand

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Tongariro National Park

The home of the Dark Lord Sauron in Mordor featured in 'The Lord of the Rings' is actually the Tongariro National Park. The film's crew took immense care as to not harm the site and the sensitive environment as well.

However, being a tremendously popular film franchise, the location attracted a lot of fans. Similar thing happened with the locations of 'Spectre' and 'Star Wars' due to the popularity. Yes, everyone wants to see these sites with their own eyes but we have to keep in mind the importance of preserving these sites as well.

Therefore, the next time you plan on visiting a World Heritage Site, take proper measures to help sustain these sites for our future generations and not harm them in any way.