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.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park — To me this cave system is the best. We descended through the original entrance, walking down six stories of stairs and switchbacks. The “Big Room” is so huge, it contains a snack bar and even a post office.
Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church, London, England* — The governmental section of London, revolving around Parliament (Westminster Palace) is a fascinating place to visit. The architecture is exquisite and the sense of history is truly awe-inspiring.
Bahai Palace and Gardens, Haifa, Israel — The glorious Bahai Gardens and Temple cascade down a hill in Haifa almost to the sea. They grounds are meticulously landscaped and extremely attractive.
Classical Gardens of Suzhou, China* — Suzhou, located just west of Shanghai, is the best place in the world to see “classical” Chinese gardens. There are many examples in town of these fantasias of rock, water, and plants.
Historic District of Quebec, Quebec Province, Canada* — The delightful city of Quebec is the closest North Americans can get to Europe without traveling “across the pond.” The city is divided into an Upper Town and a Lower Town. Both areas must be explored.
* Walking tours of these locations are available on my website. Just click on “Walking Tour Store” to peruse my 250+ self-guided walking tours of cities and towns around the world. Each digital copy is only $1.49..