UNESCO Announces New World Heritage Sites

  • Buildings in Saudi Arabia's Makkah Gate have stood at the edge of the Red Sea since the 7th century A.D.

    Buildings in Saudi Arabia's Makkah Gate have stood at the edge of the Red Sea since the 7th century A.D.

  • More than 1,000 images of prehistoric art have been inventoried on the walls of France's Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc limestone cave.

    More than 1,000 images of prehistoric art have been inventoried on the walls of France's Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc limestone cave.

  • The annual flooding of Botswana's Okavango River occurs during the dry season, resulting in unique biological cycles for the native plants and animals.

    The annual flooding of Botswana's Okavango River occurs during the dry season, resulting in unique biological cycles for the native plants and animals.

  • A 5,000-kilometer section of the vast Silk Roads network has been added, which linked civilizations in Central Asia from the 2nd century B.C. until the 16th century, spurring not only trade but also the spreading of  religion, science, and technology.

    A 5,000-kilometer section of the vast Silk Roads network has been added, which linked civilizations in Central Asia from the 2nd century B.C. until the 16th century, spurring not only trade but also the spreading of religion, science, and technology.

  • In the Irrawaddy River Basin, the brick remains of three ancient cities comprise Myanmar's first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    In the Irrawaddy River Basin, the brick remains of three ancient cities comprise Myanmar's first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • The expansive Qhapac Nan Andean Road System  was used by Incas for trade, communication, and defense and stretches through some of the most remote parts of South America's upper regions.

    The expansive Qhapac Nan Andean Road System was used by Incas for trade, communication, and defense and stretches through some of the most remote parts of South America's upper regions.

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Following a week-long conference in Qatar, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has announced this year’s additions to its running list of the world’s most awe-inspiring wonders, bringing the total number of protected places to 1,001. In order to be ushered into the prestigious list, sites must be of “outstanding universal value” in addition to meeting at least one of 10 criteria, such as having “exceptional natural beauty” or bearing testament to human creative genius. Accordingly, this year’s inscriptions range from remote mountainous regions to fertile deltas teeming with endangered wildlife to ancient temples and trade routes.

A portion of China’s Silk Roads known as the Routes Network of Chang’an Tianshan Corridor that runs past Khan Kingdom palaces, Buddhist temples, and The Great Wall was added, as was the Qhapaq Ñan Andean Road System, an ancient Inca web of routes spanning over 30,000 kilometers through the rainforests, deserts, and snow-capped mountains of Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Myanmar sees its first inductee as the Pyu Ancient Cities, the ruins of three ancient moated cities from the once flourishing Pyu Kingdoms that have served as some of Southeast Asia’s most prized archaeological sites. The Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc limestone cave in southern France, home to the world’s earliest known figurative drawings (and immortalized by Werner Herzog in his 2010 documentary “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”); Botswana’s Okavango Delta where annual flooding dictates a unique biological life cycle for the marshlands’ resident endangered species of white and black rhinoceros, lions, and cheetahs; and Saudi Arabia’s Gate to Makkah ancient port on the eastern shore of the Red Sea are some of the other new members to the list, adding to its steady growth since 1978.

For more information, visit UNESCO.

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