Founded in 1978, the UNESCO World Heritage Site program started off with just twelve sites. Now, the list has reached an impressive 1,031, with the latest 24 additions added in early July. It’s amazing to see the world taking an interest in its historic treasures and making a conscious effort to protect and preserve their beauty for future generations. To celebrate UNESCO’s latest efforts we’ve put together a collection of some of our favourite new additions that now feature on the official list. From the ancient winemaking regions of France and the colonial Spanish missions of San Antonio to the oriental splendour of the Baekje Kingdom and the majesty of Jamaican mountains, the list encompasses both cultural and natural wonders from across the globe.
The best thing about our top picks is the fact that they’re easily accessible to everyday travellers in search of unique experiences. Plenty of cruise ships visit these countries and shore, pre and post voyage excursions are the perfect way to discover them.
Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars
Since the Middle Ages France’s Champagne region has been producing premium quality sparkling wine. The concept was first dreamt up in 1531 by Benedictine monks residing at the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, however 17th century monk turned cellar master Dom Perignon generally takes the most credit for refining production and quality control. It appears that the UNESCO team also have an appreciation for the iconic drop and have now welcomed historic vineyards, houses and cellars located in the Champagne province to the official list. Cheers to that!
Par Force Hunting Landscape
In Denmark’s east lies one of the country’s most expansive hunting forests, purposefully designed, landscaped and grown for Danish kings and their courts in the Middle Ages. They’re still prospering today and are used to practice par force hunting, a style of pursuit that utilises hounds to track down an animal’s scent. The distinctive grid layout is designed to help hunting parties spot animals and get a clean shot. As well as the woods themselves the area is peppered with Baroque style lodges, houses and decorative elements that will also be protected under the new UNESCO listing.
Baekje Historic Areas
The south-western portion of the Korean peninsula fell under the rule of the Baekje Kingdom for almost 700 years, reaching its pinnacle in the fourth century. In 660 the kingdom was finally defeated by the Tang Dynasty, however that didn’t stop the Baekje legacy from enduring in the majestic mountains of western Korea. Today the landscape is home to eight crumbling sites that echo the cultural and artistic influences of Korea, China and Japan. These include the Gongsanseong fortress, a handful of royal tombs, the lavish royal palace and the Naseong city wall.
San Antonio Missions
Spanning across a twenty-three-mile stretch of the San Antonio River, these missions have a history dating back to the early 18th century. The quintet of Spanish complexes was founded by Franciscan missionaries in a bid to honour the newly established Spanish crown. Both Catholic and Coahuiltecan cultures shine through in the designs which blend traditional Catholic symbolism with organic influences drawn from the local Texan landscape. A definite favourite among history buffs!
Blue and John Crow Mountains
Rugged and wild, the dramatic terrain of Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park is both culturally and naturally significant for the people of Jamaica’s northeast Kingston. The indigenous Taino people found much needed refuge in the mountains during European colonisation where they escaped enslavement using a complex network of trails, hideouts and miniature colonies. Thanks to the lush and fertile landscape the runaways were able to comfortably live off the land. Today, it’s famous for its incredible biodiversity featuring rare butterflies, endangered birds, threatened snakes and small mammals. Nature lovers rejoice because this is definitely one of UNESCO’s most eco-friendly additions to date.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: yeowatzup, mlhradio, Meena Kadri