UNESCO World Heritage Sites

What the Heck is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

The history of UNESCO is a pretty interesting and inspiring one. In 1954, the Egyptian government decided to build a dam that would have effectively destroyed the Abu Simbel Temples. UNESCO launched a world wide fundraising campaign to have the temples be moved to higher ground allowing the historical site to be preserved and the dam to be built. This was one of the first times the world cooperated on a planetary scale since countries realized that these sites are of importance not just to Egyptians, but to the entire world.

After this success, the World Heritage Committee was created to identify, recognize, and protect these types of sites. In 1977, they designated the first list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and have added more every year. There are currently 1092 UNESCO World Heritage Sites with 845 cultural, 209 natural, and 38 mixed sites.

Which Have I Visited?

This is the complete list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites that I have visited in chronological order. Some sites have links to an evaluation article I have written about them (as I like to rank them), while others just have a link to UNESCO’s information on that site. It is my goal to see and evaluate as many of these as possible in my lifetime.

As of January 9th, 2019, I have visited 77/1092 sites or 7.05%.

2001 (2)

1) Historic Center of Mexico City and Xochimilco (November, 2001 // Mexico)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

 

2) Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan (November,2001 // Mexico)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

2005 (1)

3) Grand Canyon National Park (December, 2005 // USA)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

2007 (1)

4) Redwoods National and State Parks (September, 2007 // USA)ahoe

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

2009 (8)

5) Independence Hall (June, 2009 // USA)

[UNESCO’s Article]*1

6) Statue of Liberty (June, 2009 // USA)

[UNESCO’s Article]*2

7) Yellowstone National Park (July, 2009 // USA)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

8) Historic Center of Zacatecas (August, 2009 // Mexico)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

9) Central University City Campus of the Univesidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) (August, 2009 // Mexico)

[UNESCO’s Article]*3

10) Silk Roads: The Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor (December, 2009 // China)

[UNESCO’s Article]*4

11) Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor [The Terracotta Army] (December, 2009 // China)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

12) Old Town of Lijiang (December, 2009 // China)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

2010 (12)

13) Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang (February, 2010 // China)

[UNESCO’s Article]

14) The Great Wall (February, 2010 // China)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

15) Angkor (July, 2010 // Cambodia)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

16) Hwaseong Fortress (August, 2010 // South Korea)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

17) Gyeongju Historic Areas (September, 2010 // South Korea)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

18) Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple (September, 2010 // South Korea)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

19) Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong (September, 2010 // South Korea)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

20) Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila (December, 2010 // Mexico)

[UNESCO’s article]*5

21) Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara (December, 2010 // Mexico)

[UNESCO’s Article]

22) Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines (December, 2010 // Mexico)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

23) Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco (December, 2010 // Mexico)

[UNESCO’s Article]

24) Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (December, 2010 // Mexico)

[UNESCO’s Article]*6

2011 (6)

25) Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen Itza (January, 2011 // Mexico)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

26) Sian Ka’an (January, 2011 // Mexico)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

27) Changdeokgung Palace Complex (March, 2011 // South Korea)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

28) Jongmyo Shrine (March, 2011 // South Korea)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

29) Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes (July, 2011 // South Korea)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

30) Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty (October, 2011 // South Korea)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

2012 (15)

31) Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories of the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks (June, 2012 // South Korea)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

32) Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites (June, 2012 // South Korea)

[My Evaluation Article] [UNESCO’s Article]

33) Archaeological Area of Agrigento [Valle Dei Templi] (July, 2012 // Italy)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

34) Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum, and Torre Annunziata (August, 2012 // Italy)

[UNESCO’s Article]

35) Historic Center of Naples (August, 2012)

[UNESCO’s Article]

36) Historic Center of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura (August, 2012 // Italy and Vatican City)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

37) Vatican City (August, 2012 // Vatican City)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

38) Historic Centre of Florence (August, 2012 // Italy)

[UNESCO’s Article]

39) Piazza del Duomo, Pisa (August, 2012 // Italy)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

40) Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Italy Maria delle Grazie with “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci (August, 2012 // Italy)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

41) Venice and its Lagoon (August, 2012 // Italy)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

42) Seventeenth Century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht (August, 2012 // Netherlands)

[UNESCO’s Article]

43) Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji, and Otsu Cities) (September, 2012 // Japan)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

44) Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara (September, 2012 // Japan)

[UNESCO’s Article]

45) Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-Ji Area (September, 2012 // Japan)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

2013 (12)

46) Historic Center of Macau (January, 2013 // Macau Self-Governing Province, China)

[UNESCO’s Article]

47) Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu (February, 2013 // Japan)

[UNESCO’s Article]

48) Baekje Historical Areas (March, 2013 // Korea)

[UNESCO’s Article]*7

49) Sansa, Buddhist mountain Monasteries in Korea (March, 2013 // Korea)

[UNESCO’s Article]*9

50) Namhansanseong (April, 2013 // South Korea)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]*8

51) Everglades National Park (June, 2013 // USA)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

52) Historic Center of Lima (June, 2013 // Peru)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

53) Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (June, 2013 // Peru)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

54) City of Cuzco (June, 2013 // Peru)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

55) Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana (June, 2013 // Peru)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

56) Komodo National Park (July, 2013 // Indonesia)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

57) Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: The Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy (August, 2013 // Indonesia)

[UNESCO’s Article]

2014 (11)

58) Fujisan, Sacred Place and Source of Artistic Inspiration (February, 2014 // Japan)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

59) Chaco Culture (March, 2014 // USA)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

60) Mesa Verde National Park (March, 2014 // USA)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

61) Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range (June, 2014 // Japan)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

62) Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex (July, 2014 // Thailand)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

63) Historic City of Ayutthaya (July, 2014 // Thailand)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

64) Temple of Preah Vihear (August, 2014 // Cambodia)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

65) Pyu Ancient Cities (August, 2014 // Myanmar)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

66) Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca (September, 2014 // Malaysia)

[UNESCO’s Article]

67) Sydney Opera House (September, 2014 // Australia)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

68) Australian Convict Sites (September, 2014 // Australia)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

2015 (3)

69) Tongariro National Park (April, 2015 // New Zealand)

[UNESCO’s Article]

70) Te Wahipounamu (April, 2015 // New Zealand)

[UNESCO’s Article]

71) Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens (July, 2015 // Australia)

[UNESCO’s Article]

2016 (2)

72) Kinabalu Park (July, 2016 // Malaysia)

[UNESCO’s Article]

73) Gunung Mulu National Park (July, 2016 // Malaysia)

[My Evaluation Article] and [UNESCO’s Article]

2017 (2)

74) Yosemite National Park (August, 2017 // USA)

[UNESCO’s Article]

2018 (4)

75) Himeji-jo (August, 2017 // Japan)

[UNESCO’s Article]

76) The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (August, 2018 // Japan)

[UNESCO’s Article]

77) Shrines and Temples of Nikko (August, 2018 // Japan)

[UNESCO’s Article]

What are all those the Asterisks About?

*1 I viewed independence hall mostly from the outside. While there was plenty to see, I only viewed the Liberty Bell through a glass window since there was a two hour wait to go inside. I regret the decision, but am sure I will return in the next few years.

*2 The day I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, it rained. I was going to push the group I was with to go anyways, but I settled for looking at it from a distance. While I did technically see it with my own eyes, I don’t think I absorbed the essence of it, so I will wait until I return to New York.

*3 While I have been to UNAM, from looking at the pictures online, I seem to have missed the part of the university that justified its entry was a WHS. Given that I have been to Mexico City numerous times, I am pretty confident that I will return and will wait until I return before I make an evaluation on this.

*4 Visited in 2009. This site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.

*5 I visited the city of tequila and many of the Agave plantations along the way. However, I feel that to make a proper judgement, I should also see the tequila factories, which I didn’t get a chance to see. I was born not far from Tequila, Mexico, so I am sure I will return real soon and will make my evaluation then.

*6 Visited in 2010. It also became a site in 2010, but hadn’t realized I visited until recently.

*7 Visited in 2013. This site because a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.

*8 Visited in 2013. This site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.

*9 Visited in 2013. This site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018.

11 thoughts on “UNESCO World Heritage Sites

  • February 26, 2014 at 2:21 am
    Permalink

    why don’t u come to india ,………you will get lot more than this……..

    Reply
    • February 26, 2014 at 8:37 am
      Permalink

      Oh, I’d love to. India is at the top of my list, but it is a country I’d like to spend months in. Hopefully some time next year I’ll go.

      Reply
  • March 13, 2014 at 12:22 pm
    Permalink

    Since I read somewhere in your blog that you will be back in Korea soon (April?). This list could be useful, it is the general plan for Korea’s world heritage program. The first (3) are set in stone. Some of these TWHS may very well be inscribed. On the bottom of the page I included a indicative list of (12) sites that are currently being evaluated to join Korea’s Tentative List. For any world heritage enthusiast it often pays off to get a head start!

    ROK Nomination Framework by Year (currently very active)

    2014 Namhansanseong (official selection)
    2015 Baekje Historic Areas (official selection)
    2016 Seowon, Confucian Academies of Korea (official selection)

    2017 Daegokcheon Stream Petroglyphs (indication from articles)
    —– Southwestern Coast Tidal Flats (priority nomination)
    2018 Seoul City Wall (priority nomination)
    2019 Traditional Buddhist Mountain Temples of Korea (priority nomination)
    2020 Naganeupseong, Town Fortress and Village (indication from articles)

    Unofficial List of potential additions to Korea’s Tentative List (12)
    * Jirisan National Park
    * Sacred Manisan Mountain – Chamseongdan Altar
    * Neolithic Sites of Korea: Amsa-dong and Osan-ri
    * Yeongsan River Basin – Ancient Ruins of Naju
    * Byeokgolje Reservoir of Gimje
    * Doldam of Jeju Island
    * Historical sites of Baekje Kingdom (Seoul)
    * Jeong-dong: Old Legation Quarter (Seoul)
    * Deoksugung Palace (Seoul)
    * Dongmyo Shrine (Seoul)
    * Yongsan-gu Garrison District (Seoul)
    * Seodaemun Prison (Seoul)

    Reply
    • April 7, 2014 at 11:20 pm
      Permalink

      I actually have seen this list and have already started. I must say that I am surprised by some of the choices! For example, what exactly is left of Baekje in Seoul? Which ones have you been to? I recall that the island of Sa-do being one of them for the dinosaur footprints. That is one of the reasons I went there.
      I’ll make sure to try to knock most of these off when I get back to Korea :).

      Reply
      • April 12, 2014 at 11:19 am
        Permalink

        Concerning Korea’s current Tentative List I’ve visited 12/18 nominations:

        * Mt. Soraksan Nature Reserve
        * Sites of fossilized dinosaurs throughout the Southern seacoast
        * Southwestern Coast Tidal Flats
        * Namhansanseong – Ancient Fortified Military and Cultural Landscape of Mt. Namhansan
        * Ancient Mountain Fortresses in Central Korea
        * Gongju and Buyeo Historic Sites
        * Iksan Historic Areas
        * Upo Wetland
        * Naganeupseong, Town Fortress and Village
        * Oeam Village
        * Seoul City Wall
        * Traditional Buddhist Mountain Temples of Korea

        Aspiring Candidates (Not finalized) – I’ve visited 9/14 sites
        – Sacred Manisan Mountain – Chamseongdan Altar VISITED
        – Neolithic Sites of Korea: Amsa-dong and Osan-ri VISITED
        – Doldam of Jeju Island VISITED
        – Jirisan National Park VISITED
        – Historical sites of Baekje Kingdom (Seoul) VISITED
        – Jeong-dong: Old Legation Quarter (Seoul) VISITED
        – Deoksugung Palace (Seoul) VISITED
        – Dongmyo Shrine (Seoul) VISITED
        – Seodaemun Prison (Seoul) VISITED
        – Yongsan-gu Garrison District (Seoul)
        – Dadohaehaesang National Park
        – Yeongsan River Basin – Ancient Ruins of Naju
        – Byeokgolje Reservoir of Gimje
        – Unjusa Temple

        Reply
          • April 20, 2014 at 3:05 am
            Permalink

            I must agree that they are interesting, but couldn’t stand alone. With that said, I am currently on a Baekje binge and love everything from that kingdom, so I really do hope they get the nomination. The fortress is also Baekje I think (Namhansanseong) so it wouldn’t hurt to bundle it to get the nod.

  • May 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm
    Permalink

    I don’t know if you read the evaluation report on the UNESCO website, but Namhansanseong has been recommended for inscription. So it will be designated as Korea’s newest world heritage this June. Which makes (11) total!

    As you mentioned, Namhansanseong does have some Baekje connections. However, the fortress we see today, is a product of rebuilding the fortress almost entirely in 1624. The new fortress was designed in response to the disastrous Imjin War with Japan, and with the assumption of a potential invasion by the Manchu (Qing). One of Korea’s most famous sieges (47 days!) occurred at Namahansanseong. I visited the site in 2011, very representative Korean fortress. Both older and better preserved than Hwaseong.

    Reply
    • May 11, 2014 at 1:28 am
      Permalink

      My girlfriend told me this a few days ago. So what does that mean exactly? Does that mean it is for sure going to become a WHS? I like it of course, but worry that it will be more crowded than it already is.
      I actually visited Namhansanseong today (I’ll write a full post about it soon). It was my second time visiting and loved it. I actually did learn that about the rebuilding in 1624, which I didn’t know when I first visited a year ago. I loved that bit of history about the Manchu invasion but didn’t know the full story about the siege (I’ll have to read up on this later).
      I did read that the king escaped to the “emergency palace” which has been recently rebuilt within the wall in the town.
      Hwaseong is my favorite fortress still. While it is true that it’s newer, it has some very cool drops and the entrances are so photogenic.

      This will become the first WHS that leapfrogs me if it does get nominated. I hope my blog becomes famous enough to get invited to that WHS meeting sometime in the future :).

      Reply
      • May 12, 2014 at 4:55 pm
        Permalink

        Yes, if a nomination is recommended for Inscription by ICOMOS or IUCN, they are quickly inscribed by the World Heritage Committee in June, following suggestions, exact wording for the met OUV, and congratulatory comments. You can read the Advisory Body (ICOMOS) evaluation of Namhansanseong on the UNESCO Statutory Meetings page, under documents. The contested debate and lobbying takes place when a site receives a Referral, Deferral, or Not Inscribe.

        Here are the Recommended Inscriptions for 2014:
        – Okavango Delta (Botswana)
        – Stevns Klint (Denmark)
        – Rani-ki-Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell) (India)
        – Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites (Japan)
        – Silk Roads: Initial Section of the Silk Roads (China)
        – Namhansanseong (Korea)
        – Grotte ornée Chauvet-Pont d’Arc (France)
        – Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato (Italy)
        – Caves of Maresha and Bet-Guvrin – The Land of the Caves (Israel)
        – Van Nellefabriek (Netherlands)
        – Qhapaq Nan, Andean Road System (Peru)
        – Precolumbian chiefdom settlements with stone spheres of the Diquís (Costa Rica)

        (4) previously Referred sites are still awaiting their evaluation recommendations. Several other nominations received Referrals, Deferrals, or Not Inscribe (Strict Rejection). If a site receives the later, usually they drop their bid and are not argued at the convention. In other words, these (12) sites are virtually guaranteed. As far as the other nominations, we’ll just have to wait and see how well the state party argues/lobbies the world heritage committee in regards to their nomination.

        Reply
  • May 12, 2014 at 8:13 pm
    Permalink

    That is some great news. That means I will have for sure done Namhansanseong, and can add 2 to the “I guess I went there technically” list. The silk road and the andean road are the two on top of the road in the middle of Mexico which is very similar. Forgot the name, but it would be extremely hard for me to judge and evaluate, so I am holding out for now.

    Reply

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