The Best of Unesco World Heritage Sites

The Best of Unesco World Heritage Sites

From Modernist housing in Berlin to the ancient Nabataean site of Al-Hijr in Saudi Arabia, here are some of the sites worth seeing

Our Team
July 10 , 2014
05 Min Read

Berlin Modernism Housing Estates
The diversity of sites in the list is evidenced by this inclusion. These are not soaring monuments dedicated to the maker, but humble residential estates built between 1910 and 1933. But that does not make them less worthy of World Heritage Site status. These projects revolutionised housing and improved the living conditions of low-income people. The novel approach to town planning, architecture and garden design and the influence these six Berlin projects had over housing all over the world has helped them make it to the list.


Preah Vihear, Cambodia
This 900-year-old temple has been in the news recently and not just because it is now on the World Heritage List. Cambodia and Thailand have been bickering over the temple, which lies on the border between the two countries. This Khmer temple, dedicated to Shiva, predates Angkor Wat by 100 years. The temple's location atop a hill, with sheer cliffs dropping off to the plains below, and its beautiful carvings make Preah Vihear an extraordinary monument.


Le Morne Cultural Landscape
This mountain on the southwest coast of Mauritius has a unique place in world history. The isolated region was used as a shelter by runaway slaves or maroons in the 18th and early 19th centuries. On the summit and in caves, these escaped slaves created settlements. It is said that in 1835, when slavery was abolished in Mauritius, soldiers came to the mountain to tell the hideaways that they were free but the slaves, thinking they were about to be captured, jumped into the ocean to their deaths. This dramatic landmass has become a symbol of the struggle for freedom for Mauritians, many of whom are descended from slaves.


Wooden Churches of Slovakia
These unique churches in the Carpathian mountain region of Slovakia were built between the 16th and 17th centuries. Two Roman Catholic, three Protestant and three Greek Orthodox churches have been included in the list though about 50 such churches remain in the country. The architecture is an amalgam of Latin and Byzantine cultures. While the plans vary according to the religious denomination, the interiors are decorated with rich paintings. These chapels may be small in size, but their grandeur lies in their simplicity.


Melaka and George Town
There is a certain whiff of romance to the Straits of Malacca that comes with its colonial heritage. Here East and West collided and the happy result can be seen in Melaka and George Town, in their architecture and food. From the 16th century the Dutch and the Portuguese dominated the scene and their influences can be seen in Melaka, in the government buildings, churches and squares. At the end of the 18th century, the British took over and left their mark on George Town. These two towns are anthropological and architectural specimens of a bygone era.


Al-Hijr Archaeological Site
This is the first World Heritage Site in Saudi Arabia. This area, in northwest Saudi Arabia, was inhabited between the second century BC and the second century AD, during the Thamudis and Nabataen civilisations. After Petra in Jordan, this is one of the most important Nabaetan sites with 131 tombs, a siq (narrow gorge), walls, towers, water conduits and cisterns.

 And some more…

1. Fujian Tulou (China)
2. Stari Grad Plain (Croatia)
3. Historic Centre of Camaguey (Cuba)
4. Fortifications of Vauban (France)
5. Armenian Monastic Ensembles in Iran (Iran)
6. Bahá'i Holy Places in Haifa and Western Galilee (Israel)
7. Mantua and Sabbioneta (Italy)
8. Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests (Kenya)
9. Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús de Nazareno de Atotonilco (Mexico)
10. Kuk Early Agricultural Site (Papua New Guinea)
11. San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano (San Marino)
12. Rhaetian Railway in Albula/Bernina (Switzerland and Italy)
13. Chief Roi Mata's Domain (Vanuatu)

 Natural Properties

1. Joggins Fossil Cliffs (Canada)
2. Mount Sanqingshan National Park (China)
3. Lagoons of New Caledonia (France)
4. Surtsey (Iceland)
5. Saryarka—Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan
6. Monarch Butterfly biosphere Reserve (Mexico)
7. Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona (Switzerland)
8. Socotra Archipelago (Yemen)

 Extensions added to properties already on the World Heritage List

1. Historic centres of Berat and Gjirokastra (Albania)
2. Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art (Spain)
3. Frontiers of the Roman Empire (United Kingdom, Germany)

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