With 962 UNESCO World Heritage Sites found far and wide across the globe, visiting all of them would be near on impossible. All of them have been awarded this status to highlight their unique, impressive natural and cultural significance and beauty, but there are some which arouse more curiosity than others. So without further ado, here are some contenders that we think feature on most people’s travel bucket lists, therefore making them the Top 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites…
India’s primary attraction, the breath-taking Taj Mahal is found in the city of Agra and dates back to the early 1600’s. A relic and iconic masterpiece, it is described as “the jewel of Muslim art in India” by UNESCO itself. The building was crafted from white marble by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal and is both one of the most easily recognizable buildings in the world, but also a symbol for eternal love.
Not only a World Heritage Site, Chichen Itza is also listed as one of the 7 Wonders of the World and is easily one of the most visited attractions in Mexico. It is the largest archaeological city used by the Mayan civilization and there is plenty to see during a visit here. Explorations of the small towns surrounding the site will give you a greater insight into the way of life here.
Nestled on a mountain ridge a staggering 8,000ft above sea level, the mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu are the reward at the end of a demanding hike along the famous Inca Trail, or for those who are less physically inclined, a ride on the train from nearby Cusco. Its alternative name is “the Lost City of the Incas” and as such it is a symbol of the Inca Empire, dating to 1450. Featuring more than 100 stone stair cases, with temples, sanctuaries, parks and residences too, it makes for a fascinating visit.
One of the most famous and puzzling sites not only in the UK, but the world, Stonehenge features on many must-see lists. UNESCO describe the 2,000 acre site as “one of the archaeologically rich in Europe” with many Neolithic and Bronze Age artefacts having been discovered over the years. The mammoth monument that stands here remains the subject of much speculation and is the main attraction.
Grand Canyon National Park
With a history going back close to 2 billion years, the Grand Canyon National Park is a fascinating and undeniably impressive feat of nature; one of America’s very best. Carved out by the Colorado River, the canyon is close to 5,000ft deep and incredibly vast. A visit here will be powerful, with panoramas guaranteed to catch your breath.
Found off the coast of Chile in the South Pacific Ocean, Easter Island is famous for the 887 monumental, but somewhat bizarre, statues called Moai which were crafted by the native Rapanui people. Easter Island is claimed to be the most remote inhabited island in the world.
The Pyramids of Giza
The Egyptian Pyramids have always been a cause for awe and amazement; an architectural feat, for how were these huge buildings erected with no modern tools. Brought to our attention from an early age, the Pyramids are the symbol of Egypt and with many fascinating tales surrounding them, a visit here is a must for many.
Vatican City, where you will find buildings such as St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, is the Capital of the Catholic Church and thus one of the most sacred places in Christendom. There are truly some incredible sights to see here and although technically classified as a separate country, it is found in Rome, Italy.
Ancient City of Petra
Reviews of Petra frequently include the word “amazing”. Incredibly, the site was carved directly out of burnt orange rock faces and definitely deserves its place on the UNESCO list; find out more about Petra here.
A masterpiece of Hindu culture, Prambana Temple is an incredibly beautiful and graceful building. Built in the 10th century, it is found in Indonesia and the compound is dedicated to Shiva, a major Hindu deity.
It goes without saying that every single one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites is special; this is just a pick of 10 of our favourites.