It’s World Heritage Day! But where are the top UNESCO World Heritage sites?
Here at Orbzii, we love a good fact. The one that is really tickling us today is that there are over 1,000 World Heritage sites listed with UNESCO. Madness! This prestigious list not only represents some of the most iconic and beloved landmarks throughout the world, but it also ensures their inclusion in the UNESCO programme that protects and preserves these sites worldwide.
World Heritage Day aims to recognise the diversity and cultural heritage offered by these monuments and buildings as well as develop programmes to maintain and preserve these important landmarks.
From the Egyptian Pyramids and Petra in Jordan to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the Acropolis in Greece, there are so many UNESCO World Heritage sites, you may need to find a bigger bucket for the list of places you should visit. The big question is, where will you start?
One of the most significant ancient UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world and an enduring legacy of ancient Greece, the Acropolis is an iconic landmark in Athens. It’s no real surprise thanks to its rich history and cultural legacy that Greece is also home to a further 18 UNESCO World Heritage sites which includes the Temple of Apollo, the archaeological site of Zeus and Meteora.
The Acropolis of Athens is the most striking and complete ancient Greek monumental complex still existing in modern times and it is one of the most visited landmarks in Athens.
Not only content with being a UNESCO World Heritage site, the mysterious Pyramids in Egypt are also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Built between 2550 to 2490 B.C. in Giza on the west bank of the Nile River, they still continue to stump engineers as to how they were constructed. There are three Pyramids you can visit in Giza, the largest of which serves as the tomb of the fourth-century pharaoh Khufu.
Egypt is home to a total of 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (including the Pyramids of Giza) which range from stunning examples of natural history to culturally significant landmarks.
Another contender for the coveted spot as one of the Seven Wonders of the World is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Petra in Jordan. Petra is the archaeological site of an ancient Nabatean city and the rose-red rocks house a fascinating city that was carved into the stone cliffs as early as 1BC.
If this doesn’t completely wow you, we think that the 4000 seat theatre that is also carved into the side of a mountain will. This showstopper is surrounded by mountains which have a plethora of ancient passages and gorges. It is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites that has an intriguing fusion of Hellenistic architecture and ancient Eastern traditions.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument and one of the most-visited UNESCO World Heritage sites. This incredible spot in Cambodia hosts more than 2 million visitors every year and it contains impressive remains from the 9th –15th century Khmer Empire.
Angkor Wat has hundreds of temples dating back to between the 9th-15th centuries. It’s striking at any time of the day, but the Orbzii Insider team can’t help but think that the best time to visit is at sunrise where the warm morning light rises from behind the peaks of Angkor Wat.
Great Wall of China, China
Sure, it took over 2000 years to build, but it was undoubtedly worth it. The Great Wall of China is the most famous wall in the world and is one of the most-visited UNESCO World Heritage sites thanks to its architectural and historic importance. The wall, which spans over 13,171 miles, is one of the most remarkable architectural feats in the world. Varying sections of the Great Wall were built, destroyed, and subsequently restored by over 9 dynasties of China, but predominantly it was from the Ming dynasty.
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot see the Great Wall of China from space – however in space terms, it is larger than the planet Pluto (based on the length)
Taj Mahal, India
Could this be one of the most extravagant presents ever? It might be hard to top this romantic gesture made by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to hold the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, in the shape of the Taj Mahal in India.
This incredible landmark which spans 42 acres is one of the most revered UNESCO World Heritage sites and is an enduring and enlightening symbol of both love and the rich history of India. It is one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture,has the river Yamuna on one side and is surrounded by stunning landscaped gardens that make the Taj Mahal even more special.
Not content with just having the Colosseum as an UNESCO World Heritage site, the historic city of Rome is dominated by all things UNESCO. As a rule of thumb, the historic centre within the city walls is part of the ]site which includes the Vatican and the Basilica of St. Paul’s.
The Colosseum was built between 72 and 80 AD and is the biggest and most significant amphitheatre that has ever been created. It was one of the most popular areas of Ancient Rome for entertainment, hosting gladiator fights and other forms of gruesome entertainment for Romans of all shapes and sizes.
Sydney Opera House, Australia
You might be surprised to learn that the majestic landmark that is the Sydney Opera House in Australia has UNESCO World Heritage status. It was awarded the accolade in 2007 and whilst it is relatively modern in comparison to its older counterparts, this iconic building is a masterpiece of 20th century architecture.
This urban sculpture is set in a remarkable waterscape, at the tip of a peninsula projecting into the waters of Sydney Harbour. Not only is it in constant use, but the building has had an enduring influence on modern architecture all over the world.