A cool way to start a travel bucket list is to pick some World Heritage Sites. World Heritage Sites are sites or areas that are recognized for their cultural significance and natural beauty, or both. There is a rigorous vetting process done by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that is done before a site can be included on the World Heritage Site registry.
At GetAway Travel, we like to include UNESCO sites in our group adventures and we can certainly help you tailor a trip to include some World Heritage Sites.
First, a bit of background
UNESCO was founded in 1945 and it’s an arm of the United Nations. The idea behind designating places or areas as World Heritage Sites is that there are natural and man-made wonders that are simply so fabulous they could never be re-created and thus, they need to be preserved.
The World Heritage Sites list was set up in 1972 and there are more than 1,000 sites from all around the world on the list. They are sites of such natural beauty and cultural significance that they are considered a world asset — a valuable contribution to world culture.
Here’s a sense of what’s on the list
Some of civilization’s earliest creations are on the World Heritage Sites list, like the rock engravings on the Great Plains, Buddhist cave art and the Giza Pyramids as well as the Great Sphinx of Giza. A designation as a UNESCO site or area helps support the natural integrity of historic sites. It acknowledges that history belongs to all the people of the world and we need to embrace and maintain every bit that remains. Many of the UNESCO sites are considered at risk, either by natural disasters or armed conflicts.
World temperature fluctuations threaten some of the World Heritage sites like Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef and Glacier Bay in Alaska.
Some of the World Heritage Sites are areas considered worthy of global appreciation like the Alto Douro wine region of Portugal, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the banks of the River Seine, the canals in Venice or Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
To make it on the list, areas or sites must meet strict criteria, but that also means there are fascinating places that everyone would find interesting — from archeological ruins to ancient monasteries to volcanoes and animal sanctuaries.
Don’t neglect the smaller sites
There are sites that you just know are World Heritage Sites, like the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty, but some of the lesser-known sites are very interesting and offer a quirky glimpse into history. There’s the Rietveld Schroder House in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Dutch socialite Truus Schroder-Schrader commissioned a home from Gerrit Rietveld and he wanted it to leave a lasting impression. With its explosion of primary colors and asymmetrical shapes, it certainly does leave a lasting impression.
The agave fields in Tequila, Mexico are on the site registry. Agave plants have grown there since the 16th century and supply the tequila distilleries that dot the area.
German shoe factory owner Carl Benscheidt was a man before his time. He commissioned a huge concrete block and glass factory that he wanted employees to be proud of and like working in. The masterful stone and glass structure stands in Alfield, Germany.
GetAway can help with your get away
If you want to start including UNESCO sites in your travel itinerary, GetAway Travel can help with that. Your travel advisor can help set up travel plans that, if you wish, have you visiting sites not at peak times so you can avoid crowds, Perhaps you would like a tour set up so you can hit the ground running? We’re here for you. Visiting World Heritage Sites helps you embrace world and historic culture. As always, when you are a visitor to any area, we remind you to be respectful of the sites and the environment that surrounds them.
Let’s start planning your adventure!