Arrivals & Departures 11 of UNESCO's most breathtaking new World Heritage sites

Autumn light over Rosthwaite
Photo of Angie Tomlinson

UNESCO's newest world heritage sites are something to behold.

UNESCO has added some 26 new sites to its World Heritage list. Here's a selection of some of the most beautiful and intriguing. 

1. The English Lake District, UK

I was lucky enough to spend four months living in this beautiful corner of north-west England, hiking its mountains, valleys and around its lakes. The Lake District has been listed in recognition of the combined work of nature, with its mountains mirrored in lakes, and human activity including stone walls, grand houses, gardens and parks. (At top: Looking over Rosthwaite, courtesy Nick Bodle.)

2. Aphrodisias, Turkey

The archaeological site of Aphrodisias and the marble quarries north-east of the city are in south-western Turkey. The temple of Aphrodite dates from the third century BC, and the city’s wealth coming from the marble quarries and the art produced by its sculptors.

3. Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site, Brazil

Located in central Rio de Janeiro, this stone wharf was built for the landing of an estimated 900,000 enslaved Africans from 1811. It is the most important physical trace of the arrival of African slaves on the American continent.

4. Los Alerces National Park, Argentina

Located in the Andes of northern Patagonia, this national park is a mix of spectacular moraines, glacial cirques and clear-water lakes. Its also home to a number of threatened plants and animals.

5. Ahmadabad, India

Contained within this walled city is the Bhadra citadel, mosques and tombs, and Hindu and Jain temples. Its gated streets have densely packed traditional houses, heritage bird feeders and public wells.

6. Kulangsu, China

This tiny island shows the evidence of Chinese-foreign cultural fusion with a mixture of architectural styles forming an eclectic and beautiful town.

7. Taputapuatea, French Polynesia

Taputapuatea on Ra’iatea Island sits at the centre of the Polynesian Triangle in the Pacific Ocean. The listed area includes two forested valleys, a portion of lagoon and coral reef. At its heart is the Taputapuatea marae complex, a political, ceremonial and funerary centre. 

8. Kujataa, Greenland

Besides being spectacular to look at, the sub-arctic farming landscape of Kujataa in southern Greenland is where two cultures — the European Norse and Inuit — created a cultural landscape based on farming, grazing and marine mammal hunting. It represents the earliest introduction of farming to the Arctic and the Norse expansion of settlement beyond Europe. 

9. Landscapes of Dauria, Mongolia and Russia

Here you will find grasslands and forest, lakes and wetlands with diverse ecosystems supporting a wide variety of species including the Mongolian gazelle, the white-naped crane and the great bustard.

10. Yazd, Iran

The city of Yazd bears testimony to the use of limited resources for survival in the desert. Water is supplied through a qanat system developed to draw underground water. It retains it traditional earthen architecture, districts, bazaars, hammams, mosques, synagogues, Zoroastrian temples and the historic garden of Dolat-abad.

11. Okinoshima, Japan

This sacred island provides an exceptional example of the tradition of worship. Intact archaeological sites give a chronological record of how the rituals performed over time, with evidence of the original votive objects deposited on the island. 

Fact File


You may also like