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.
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA* — Located within the much-visited Independence National Historical Park, this significant building in American history was the venue in which the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776.
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, Montana, USA — The American portion of this cooperative venture (see Group 7A) is called Glacier National Park. Its Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the country’s most beautiful scenic drives.
Assisi, the Basilica of San Francisco and Other Franciscan Sites, Italy* — The glorious basilica, dedicated to one of the most beloved of the Roman Catholic saints, sits near the bottom of this lovely hill town in the province of Umbria.
Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing, China — On the outskirts of Beijing this massive complex includes a man-made lake and numerous royal buildings. The grounds are spectacular and include the longest covered walkway in the world.
The City of San Marino in the country of San Marino* — The tiny republic of San Marino is located entirely within Italy. The medieval town is noteworthy for its Tre Castelli (three castles) which are part of the fortifications.
* These properties are included in my collection of Walking Tours which can be purchased on my website. Just click on “Walking Tour Store.”.