There are nearly one thousand UNESCO World Heritage Sites to date, ranging from dazzling underwater ecosystems to the ruins of ancient civilisations. They are chosen due to their ‘outstanding universal value’, and each year around 25 new sites are inscribed. Tony Hakim’s list below looks at 10 of the most famous of these sites, and the most amazing photos of them.
Pyramids of Giza – Egypt
The oldest structures to still exist from the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this complex of ancient monuments includes the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, and several cemeteries. The Pyramids were built around 2584 – 2561 BC and have truly stood the test of time.
Petra – Jordan
The ancient capital of the Nabataean kingdom from the 6th century BC, Petra was later absorbed by the Roman Empire, and abandoned after a catastrophic earthquake. The desert city carved from rose-red limestone remains one of the world’s most important archaeological sites today.
The remnants of the centre of civilisation in Ancient Greece, the Acropolis features impressive temples, the most well-known of these being the Parthenon. Situated on a high rocky outcrop above the city, the Acropolis still stands as an important insight into Greek history and mythology.
Machu Picchu – Peru
Situated 2,430 metres above sea level in the midst of a tropical mountain forest, Machu Picchu comprises Cusco’s Sacred City and is one of the world’s most photographed sites. Visitors can enjoy the amazing sunset over the Incan city, which was built in the 15th century and was among the few Inca sites that wasn’t plundered by Spanish invaders.
The Great Wall of China – China
Said to be the only man made structure visible from space with the naked eye, the Great Wall of China was built in the 14th century and protected the northern borders of the Chinese Empire. It stretches a massive 8,850 kilometres.
Angkor – Cambodia
Between the twisting roots of the Cambodian jungle lies this dedication to the Hindu god, Vishnu. It contains the remains of Khmer Empire capitals dating from the 9th to the 15th centuries. Angkor is most famous for its monument, the Temple of Angkor Wat.
Mont Saint Michael – France
Regarded as one of the most beautiful castles in the world, Mont Saint Michael is located 1km off the coast of Normandy. Its highest point is 92 metres above sea level, and in high tide is completely disconnected from the mainland.
Taj Mahal – Agra, India
Built between 1632 and 1653, this huge mausoleum of white marble is as beautiful as it is famous. The marble dome that surmounts the tomb is 35 metres tall and decorated with a spectacular lotus design.
Chichen Itza – Mexico
Built by the Maya people, Chichen Itza was one of the largest cities and a major focal point in the northern Maya lowlands for centuries. It is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico with approximately 1.2 million visitors each year.
Rapa Nui – Chile
Easter Island is the most remote inhabited island on the planet, and was once home to a Polynesian society who settled there around 300 AD. It is most famous for its group of more than 80 massive stone monuments known as moai that are scattered across the volcanic landscape.