There are 981 UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the globe, each documenting a slice of history through sheer beauty, stunning architecture and breath-taking monuments. Read on to discover 10 of the best UNESCO sites around the world.
City of Valetta – Malta
Built by the Knights of St John in the 16th and 17th century, the City of Valletta has been described by UNESCO as ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world’. The Waterfront City in Malta is famous for its Baroque style architecture, narrow winding streets and Grand Harbour, creating a small, but popular, area for culture vultures to discover. Highlights include the breath-taking St John’s Co-Cathedral, also known as the ‘Home of the Knights and Grand Masters’. The Cathedral is also home to a nave that is 53 metres long and 15 metres wide.
Marrakech Medina – Morocco
If you want to dive in and experience a culture quickly, then Marrakech is a must. The Red City is home to the electric Jemaa El Fna Square, whilst other highlights include the Koutoubia Mosque and the relaxing Majorelle Gardens. First listed in 1985, the city has grown to become one of the world’s most diverse holiday destinations, offering guests a fast paced induction into modern North Africa. Exploring is the name of the game in Marrakech, where you can expect to spend sunny days meandering through the medina and enjoying a thrilling market experience.
Paphos – Cyprus
Although situated in Cyprus, Paphos is a showcase of ancient Mediterranean and Greek history. Home to renowned landmarks, such as The Temple of Aphrodite, it’s a favourite with tourists seeking insight into Greek Mythology. Stone pillars and mosaics maintain the ancient feel of the city, so there’s plenty to see. Visit Aphrodite’s Rock on the coast, which is believed to mark the Goddess’ birthplace. Legend has it, if you swim around the rock three times, you will gain eternal beauty.
Historic Cairo – Egypt
Egypt is a cultural treasure-trove, where the modern world meets ancient wonder. This is especially true of its capital, Cairo, which was founded in the 10th century. The centre rests along the Nile, where you can indulge your inner-historian by exploring settlements from the Middle Ages. Highlights include the 12th century Citadel and the Great Mosque of Ibn-Tulun, both survivors of an ancient uprising. With a flight time of around 5 hours, Egypt offers a mid-haul holiday, full of history, without breaking the bank.
Chichen Itza – Mexico
The Chichen Itza holds the honour of being listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, making it one of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Dating back almost 1,000 years, the group of archaeological sites in Yucutan, Mexico, are a uniquely preserved showcase of how the Maya and Toltec cultures envisioned the world. Temples, stone monuments and artwork span the area, including the symbolic 24 metre high Kukulkan Pyramid, known as ‘El Castillo’ (the Castle). For those visiting Mexico, it’s a must see and the perfect photo opportunity.
Everglades National Park – Florida
The vast Everglades National Park is an eco-system that spans an incredible 1.5 million acres of land in Southern Florida. The network of swampland and forest is one of the sunshine state’s less renowned attractions, but offers similar thrills to the region’s theme parks. An airboat ride is the only way to explore this subtropical wilderness, which is home to the largest mangrove canopy in the western hemisphere. The area is jam-packed with countless species of birds and marine life, including manatee, as well as reptiles, alligators and the mysterious Florida panther.
Historic Centre of Prague
It’s impossible to ignore Prague’s historic core when you visit the city. Some of its most famous landmarks, such as the Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock and the Old Town Square, can all be found here. Even the New Town district, or Nové Mĕsto, isn’t new at all, as it dates back to 1348. From the Gothic houses of the Old Town, to Baroque artwork in the local churches, all across Prague you’ll find you can’t escape the past. The city’s attracted many famous artists and authors over the years, including Alphonse Mucha and Franz Kafka, and there’s a strong modern art scene to discover too.
Colonial City of Santo Domingo – Dominican Republic
Think of the Caribbean and picturesque beaches and palm trees are likely to spring to mind. However, away from the captivating coastlines are a cluster of towns and cities steeped in history, including the Dominican Republic’s Colonial City Santo Domingo. Founded by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the city is home to the first Cathedral, Hospital and University in the Americas, setting the model for town planners in the new world. The Cathedral of Santa Maria is a focal point of the city and is controversially renowned for once being the headquarters of Sir Francis Drake.
Dorset and East Devon Coastline – Great Britain
Stretching from Old Harry Rocks to Orcombe Point, the Dorset and East Devon Coastline is a UNESCO Site a little closer to home. Also known as the Jurassic Coast, the coastline displays rock formations dating back almost 250 million years. Expect stunning views, with the 95 mile stretch of coast showcasing Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic rock patterns. The area is renowned for housing fossils from prehistoric animals and plants.
Tramuntana Mountains – Majorca
The Tramuntana Mountains dominate the landscape in Majorca, creating a culturally significant land mass which defines the north of the Balearic Island. The mountainous region has helped shake Majorca’s ‘bucket and spade’ past, with rustic towns drawing a more discerning crowd, and extreme mountain sports facilities now being a fundamental part of modern Majorca. Bradley Wiggins spends his winter months training on the Island, whilst Catherine Zeta Jones owns a property in the small Northern town of Valldemossa.
So there we have it, a roundup of some of the greatest UNESCO sites around the world. Which one will you be visiting?