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.
Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium* — This excellent and elegant square is lined with Guild Houses, the equivalent of Labor Union Headquarters today, which were built to impress and outdo their neighbors.
Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, north of Beijing, China — The region of these tombs is marked by a Royal walkway, known as the Spirit Way. It was the route taken by Chinese emperors to visit their ancestors.
Palace and Park of Versailles, France — Versailles is the epitome of decadence and ornate expression. The palace of Louis XIV has hundreds of rooms and elaborate formal gardens.
Yosemite National Park, California, USA — Yosemite is one of America’s premier national parks. It is a marvelous example of the effects of glaciation on the landscape. The noted conservationist, John Muir, spent much time in Yosemite Valley.
Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, Italy — More appropriately called the Piazza dei Miracoli, this large park-like open space houses the famous Leaning Tower and its associated Cathedral and Baptistry.
* This property is a stop on my walking tour of Brussels. You can purchase this or any other of my over 250 walking tours for cities and towns around the world by clicking on “Walking Tour Store” on this website. Digital copies are only $1.49 each..