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.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada — This adorable village has a lovely harbor and well-preserved buildings. It lies on the “Lighthouse Route” of Nova Scotia and is a rewarding place to spend a few hours.
Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France — Here is the epitome of Gothic Cathedrals. It dominates the town and its twin towers can be seen from a distance. Chartres is a popular day trip from Paris. It is famous for its special “blue” color in its stained glass.
Pilgrimage Church of Wies — The Wieskirche is a model of Rococo splendor. The church is probably the most ornate in all of Germany. Since it is located along the Romantic Road, there are plenty of visitors.
Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy — This grand residence is Italy’s answer to Versailles. The plush interior, including an exquisite central staircase, is certainly worth a visit. Caserta is conveniently located between Rome and Naples.
Kinderdjik Windmills, Netherlands — The Dutch have preserved a group of windmills so that future generations can appreciate the pre-modern methods of allowing these “nether” lands to survive and prosper.