37 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites Have Been Added

The world is filled with astounding places, locations that for reasons cultural or natural are one-of-a-kind and absolutely irreplaceable. In an effort to help preserve them, some of these locations were named UNESCO World Heritage sites this week.



For UNESCO—aka the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—the idea for World Heritage sites came from a dam. Egypt’s Aswan High Dam, to be specific. When the dam was built on the Nile during the 1960s, the rising waters of Lake Nasser threatened to submerge a temple complex built more than 3,000 years ago. An international effort subsequently came together to save it. Workers cut the Abu Simbel temple into enormous blocks before moving it uphill, where it remains today.

Out of that enormous effort came the realization there were cultural treasures and natural wonders around the world also in need of protection. So, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted in 1972. Among the first inductees were the Galapagos Islands and Yellowstone National Park. Since then, 1,123 more World Heritage sites have joined the list. However, not all sites stay on the list. Liverpool was stricken because development including a new football stadium destroyed infrastructure related to its maritime history.

The World Heritage Committee didn’t meet last year, so this year they were reviewing nominations for 2020 and 2021. Out of those, the following 37 locations subsequently joined the World Heritage list and can now be considered “officially” amazing.

The gardens at Brazil's Sítio Roberto Burle Marx.
© Diego Rodriguez Crescencio

1. Sítio Roberto Burle Marx


Landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx created this “landscape laboratory” in the last 20 years of his life, west of Rio de Janeiro. Alongside native vegetation, Marx planted more than 3,500 species of tropical and subtropical plants.

Mummies created by the Chinchorro culture of Chile.
© Regional Program for Protection of the Chinchorro Sites

2. Settlement and Artificial Mummification of the Chinchorro Culture in the Arica and Parinacota Region


Marine hunter-gathers—whose earliest origins came 7,000 years ago—the Chinchorro people had complex mortuary practices that included dismembering and reassembling bodies.

A temple in Quanzhou, China.
© Quanzhou maritime Silk Road World Heritage Nomination Center

3. Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China


During the Song and Yuan period in China (10th to 14th centuries), the city of Quanzhou was a center for maritime trade. The site includes religious buildings including a mosque, tombs, administrative buildings, stone docks, and sites for ceramic and iron production.

A Sudanese-style mosque in northern Côte d’Ivoire.

4. Sudanese-style mosques in northern Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire

Built in a style that originated in 14th-century Sudan, these eight distinctive adobe mosques feature intricate designs and decoration that includes pottery or ostrich eggs.

The Cordouan Lighthouse on the Atlantic coast of France.
© DRAC Nouvelle-Aquitaine

5. Cordouan Lighthouse


Dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, the Cordouan lighthouse on the Atlantic Ocean is decorated with columns and gargoyles. Built of white limestone, three additional stories were added in the 18th century because sailors had criticized its height.

An aerial shot of Nice, France with the sea, beach, and city buildings.
© Ville de Nice

6. Nice, winter resort town of the Riviera


Proving that not every World Heritage site is a little-known wonder is the French city of Nice. Located on the Mediterranean, the resort city has been popular with aristocrats and the wealthy since the 18th century.

An elephant next to enormous waterfalls in Gabon's Ivindo National Park.
© Lee White

7. Ivindo National Park


The almost 1,200-square mile Ivindo National Park features rapids and waterfalls surrounded by rainforest. It’s home to critically endangered animals such as the forest elephant and western lowland gorilla.

The coast of the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands in Georgia.
© Agency of Protected Areas

8. Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands


Located along a 49-mile corridor, this Georgian site includes rainforests and wetlands from sea level to more than 8,000 feet. These extremely humid broad-leaved rainforests are home to 1,100 species of vascular and non-vascular plants.

An aerial view of the distinctive architecture and landscaping of Darmstadt.
© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg_Ingo E. Fischer

9. Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt


Established as an artist’s colony in 1897, Darmstadt‘s buildings were created as experimental modernist living and work spaces. The site includes 23 elements including 13 houses and art studios, as well as an Exhibition Hall and Wedding Tower.

A Jewish cemeter within the World Heritage site of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz
© GeneraldirektionKulturelles Erbe Rheinland-Pfalz

10. ShUM Sites of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz


Focusing on Jewish sites from the 11th to 14th centuries, this site includes a synagogue, religious school, ritual bath, and two Jewish cemeteries. ShUM comes for the Hebrew initials for the cities of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz.

Dug-out ruins from fortified city of Dholavira that was last occupied 3,500 years ago.

11. Dholavira: a Harappan city


Located on the island of Khadir in the Indian state of Gujarat, the ancient, fortified city of Dholavira was occupied between 3,500 and 5,000 years ago by the Harappan civilization.

An image of an entrance in the Kakatiya Rudreshwara Temple in India.

12. Kakatiya Rudreshwara Temple


Work on the sandstone temple—known as Ramappa Temple—began in 1213. With beams and pillars of carved granite and dolerite, the temple includes “floating bricks” that reduce the weight of roof structures.

A Hawrami vertical settlement built in the mountains of Iran.
© Hamid Binaei Faa

13. Cultural landscape of Hawraman/Uramanat


A Kurdish tribe, the Hawrami people have inhabited the remote mountainous region of northwest Iran for 5,000 years. The semi-nomadic people practice seasonal vertical migration and are known for their steep-slope architecture and terraced farming.

A train crosses a mountain bridge on the Trans-Iranian Railway.
© Hossein Javadi

14. Trans-Iranian Railway


Connecting the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, work on the 866-mile railway was completed in 1938. The Trans-Iranian Railway crosses two mountain ranges and includes 174 large bridges, 186 small bridges, and 224 tunnels.

One of the frescoes painted in Padua, Italy during the 14th century.
© Comune di Padova Settore Cultura Turismo Museie Biblioteche

15. Padua’s 14th-century fresco cycles


Painted by different artists for different buildings between 1302 and 1397, Padua’s frescoes still share a similar style. The work that was done over nearly a century is considered a revolutionary development in mural painting.

A row of porticoes in Bologna, Italy.
© Giorgio Bianchi – Comune di Bologna

16. Porticoes of Bologna


Porticoes can be roofed porches supported by columns that lead to building entrances or form walkways. And the city of Bologna has, according to UNESCO, 38 miles of porticoes made of brick, stone, wood, or concrete. Some date back to the 12th century.

A mangrove forest in the Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, northern part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island World Heritage site.

17. Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, northern part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island


Entirely uninhabited by humans, the 164 square miles of subtropical rainforests on these Japanese islands are filled with life. Along with native species, they’re home to the endangered Amami Rabbit and the Ruukyu Long-Haired Rat.

A circular ruin from a site belonging to the Jomon people of Japan.
© Jomon Prehistoric Sites World Cultural Heritage Registration Promotion Headquarters

18. Jomon prehistoric sites in Northern Japan


The Jomon culture existed 10,000 years ago on the southern part of Hokkaido Island and the northern part of Tohoku region of Honshu Island in Japan. Though they existed prior to agriculture, the hunter-fisher-gatherer culture was not nomadic and known for its lacquered pots and “goggle eyed” dogu figurines.

A view of the city of As-Salt in Jordan.
© Turath Architecture and Urban Design Consultants

19. As-Salt – the place of tolerance and urban hospitality


Located in western Jordan, the city of As-Salt with its yellow limestone buildings and homes was an important Ottoman trading post between the eastern desert and the West. The site features 650 historic buildings at the city’s core that mix local tradition with European Art Nouveau and Neo-Colonial styles

An aerial view of Mexico's Franciscan Ensemble of the Monastery and Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Tlaxcala.
© J. Guadalupe Perez

20. Franciscan Ensemble of the Monastery and Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Tlaxcala


This is an extension of an existing World Heritage site, adding a monastery and cathedral to two previous monasteries built during the 16th century. The new extension includes a free-standing tower and a wooden mudéjar ceiling.

A trail leading through an ancient beech forest in Europe.
© Geri Kaufmann

21. Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe


This is an extension of an existing World Heritage site that now includes beech forests in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, North Macedonia, Poland, Slovakia, and also Switzerland.

A tree-lined road leading to a Colonies of Benevolence building.
© Province of Drenthe on behalf of all nomination partners

22. Colonies of Benevolence


Containing four settlements—three in The Netherlands, one in Belgium—the Colonies of Benevolence were an effort to fight urban poverty in the early 19th century. Because of this, poor families from larger cities were granted land where they could farm.

A wall from a former Roman fort in Regensburg, Germany.
© Stadt Regensburg, Peter Ferstl

23. Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Danube Limes


The frontier of the Roman Empire was established along the Danube River during the 1st century and lasted until the 7th century. This 372-mile site that crosses through Austria, Germany, and Slovakia includes fortresses, camps, and also roads.

Roman Empire ruins on the Lower Rhine River.
© Nederlandse Limes Samenwerking

24. Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Lower German Limes


A joint site shared by Germany and the Netherlands, this site follows the left back of the Lower Rhine River for 248 miles. Significantly, it includes 102 buried components from the Roman Empire including bases, forts, towers, towns, a palace, and more.

Steaming mineral springs in Bath, United Kingdom.
© Colin Hawkins

25. The Great Spa Towns of Europe


This cultural site involves towns and cities developed around natural mineral springs and celebrates a spa culture that started during the early-18th century. Among the 11 spa towns are Baden-Baden, Germany; Vichy, France; and also Bath in the United Kingdom.

An aerial view of a fort surrounded by water in The Netherlands.
© New Dutch Waterline

26. Dutch Water Defense Lines

The Netherlands

An extension on an existing World Heritage site, this site is a testament to how the Dutch have used hydraulic engineering for defense purposes since the 16th century. The country was protected by a network of 45 forts and also an intricate canal and lock system that allows defensive flooding.

A ridgeline with 13 towers, part of the Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex.

27. Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex


Built in Peru’s Casma Valley, the prehistoric Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex consists of three towers, as well as 13 towers along a ridge. Together with natural features, the complex forms a calendar-like instrument that marks the progress of the sun through the year. While it’s more than 2,000 years old, it’s accurate to within one or two days.

An aerial view of Korean Tidal Flats on the Yellow Sea.
© World Heritage Promotion Team of Korean Tidal Flat

28. Getbol, Korean Tidal Flats

Republic of Korea

Located on the Yellow Sea on the southern and southwestern coast of Korea, these tidal flats are home to 2,150 species of fauna and flora, including Mud Octopuses and Stimpson’s Ghost Crabs.

A town with Roșia Montana mines in the background.
© Radu Sălcudean

29. Roșia Montana mining landscape


Nestled in Romania’s Apuseni Mountains, the mines of Roșia Montana were an incredible source of wealth for the Roman Empire. During a single 166-year period, the empire took 500 metric tons of gold from the mines.

Located on Lake Onega and the White Sea, 4,500 petroglyphs carved into rock 6 to 7 thousand years ago.
© Republic centre for the state protection of cultural heritage of the Republic of Karelia

30. Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea

Russian Federation

Located in the Republic of Karelia, this site includes 4,500 petroglyphs carved into rock 6 to 7 thousand years ago. The figures include birds, animals, human figures, and also shapes.

Travelers have been adding their names and pictures to the Hima Cultural Area for 7,000 years.

31. Hima Cultural Area

Saudi Arabia

Situated on an ancient caravan route, the Hima Cultural Area features a large collection of rock art images that show hunting, fauna, and flora. For 7,000 years, travelers have been leaving their marks and, surprisingly, they remain in pristine condition.

The Triple Bridge by Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
© Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana

32. The works of Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana


There was a period between World Wars I and II when architect Jože Plečnik transformed the city of Ljubljana. He designed the Triple Bridge and the Slovene National and University Library, as well as parks, plazas, and a cemetery.

A fountain on the Paseo del Prado in Madrid.
© Ayuntamiento de Madrid

33. Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences


This tree-lined avenue of Paseo del Prado in central Madrid is home to the Jardines del Buen Retiro (Garden of Pleasant Retreat), the terraced Royal Botanical Garden, as well as the residential Barrio Jerónimos neighborhood.

A view of the Kaeng Krachan Forest.
© Department of National Parks Thailand

34. Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex


Home to the critically endangered Siamese crocodile, the Kaeng Krachan forest is found along the Tenasserim mountain range. It’s also home to eight cat species including the fishing cat and the clouded leopard.

The Arslantepe Mound in Turkey is home to some of the oldest swords ever found.

35. Arslantepe Mound


The mound is an archaeological site that includes a palace complex that dates back to the Early Bronze Age. Additionally, metal weapons have been found at the site, some of the earliest known swords in the world.

A mountain of slate in Wales.
© Crown copyright RCAHMW

36. The slate landscape of Northwest Wales

United Kingdom

During the Industrial Revolution and beyond, slate mining was huge in Wales. This World Heritage site includes former quarries and mines, historic homes, and also the rail, harbor, and road systems that made it work.

A view from inside of the bell tower in Uruguay's Church of Atlandida.
© CPCN, Getty Foundation

37. Church of Atlandida


Just 27 miles from Montevideo, the Church of Atlantida was built in 1960. Designed by Eladio Dieste, the curving walls of the church and bell tower are built with exposed and reinforced brick.

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