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.