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.
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA — Mesa Verde is the best Native American historical site in the entire American Southwest. There are several cliff-dwellings that can be accessed.
Krakow’s Historic Center, Poland* — Krakow was completely destroyed in World War II by the Germans. However, the people of Poland have completed rebuilt and restored the city center. It is once again a busy, happy place.
Historic Center of Rome, Italy* — Where else on earth can you turn a corner and see ruins from 2,000 years ago or an Egyptian obelisk which is 3,000 years old? Rome is timeless. It is certainly one of the greatest cities in the world and a must-visit for any self-respecting traveler.
Masada, Israel — This incredibly evocative site recalls one of the most courageous and defiant acts in the history of Man, when almost 1,000 people committed suicide rather than be captured and face a life of slavery.
Paris, Banks of the Seine, France* — The lovely city of Paris is centered on the Seine River which cuts through the middle of the city. There are mega-attractions on both sides.
* These properties are best seen by walking. I have created self-guided walking tours for these and over 250 other cities and towns around the world. They are available for purchase, for a mere $1.49, on my website — just click on Walking Tour Store..