UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) is a division of the United Nations which, among other things, selects and designates properties around the world as World Heritage Sites. Nominations are made from the countries and are then considered based on the property’s historical, cultural, or natural value. With the UNESCO label comes responsibility to preserve the property and sometimes monetary incentives.
As of 2011 there are 936 properties around the world. Some of the places are rather obscure but many are major tourist destinations or attractions. To date, I have visited only about 10% of the World Heritage Sites (and I consider myself well-traveled).
In this series of posts, I will present my favorites, broken down into managable groups of ten. These groups are further subdivided into an A and a B section, each of which contains five (5) World Heritage Sites. Group 1 represents my all-time favorites, Group 2 the next-favorite, etc. Within each group the sites are presented randomly and are not ranked — it’s so hard to pick between excellent things. I will post daily in a countdown fashion so that I will begin with my least favorite places, and so on down to Group 1. Obviously you may disagree with the list but if you haven’t put some of these places on your Bucket List, you should. Many of these sites are on the majority of travelers’ “important places to visit” list.
Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang, China* — One of China’s most incredible sights is the Forbidden City which, as its name implies, was for hundreds of years reserved the the Emperor and his exclusive inner circle. Now it is open for all to see its splendor and extravagance.
Historic Center of Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic* — This adorable town is one of Europe’s most pleasant to stroll. It is located at a bend in the Vltava River and features a prominent castle.
The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes, France — Come here to witness the French trying to outdo on another. The chateaux along the river are the epitome of exuberance and extravagance.
Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzin, Grenada, Spain* — Grenada retains much of its Moorish architecture. The crowing glory can be seen in the Alhambra, an exquisite complex of building which sprawl above the city.
Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, England — This remnant of Roman occupation of northern England was a remarkable achievement for its day — it dates to the early 2nd Century AD. It stretched for about 75 miles and separated Roman territory from the barbarians (Scots) to the north.
* These properties are best seen by walking. You can purchase a self-guided walking your of these and many other cities and towns around the world by simply clicking on the “Walking Tour Store” on the website. Each digital copy is only $1.49..