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.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii, USA — Here is one of the few places on Earth where a visitor can witness an erupting volcano and get close enough to actually see molten lava.
Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct, Spain* — The delightful city of Segovia has three (3) main attractions: the Roman Aqueduct, the Cathedral, and El Alcazar, one of the world’s archetypal castles.
Venice and its Lagoon, Italy* — Venice is one of the world’s unique cities. It is composed of over 100 islands connected by bridges and waterways such that water traffic becomes the major method of transportation. It is a city of great surprises.
Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, and Andrassy Avenue, Hungary* — The city of Budapest has emerged from years behind the Iron Curtain to become of the major destinations in Eastern Europe.
Historic Center of the City of Salzburg, Austria* — The enchanting city of Salzburg offers tourists a glimpse of the life and times of Mozart, as well as a look back at one of the world’s most beloved movies, The Sound of Music.
* The asterisked properties on this list are best seen by walking. You can purchase a walking tour for these places or many other cities and towns around the world by simply clicking on Walking Tour Store, on the website heading. Each digital copy is only $1.49..