Must-visit UNESCO Sites

Must-visit UNESCO Sites

Travel Specialist Rhonda Delameter shares five UNESCO World Heritage sites every traveler should experience.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as being of special cultural or physical significance. The 1031 sites that currently make up the list of protected sites are as unique and far-reaching as the countries they inhabit. Because of the multiple qualifying categories that allow admittance into this select group, the list honors ancient sites, cultural icons, terroir, historic cities, and the intangible. Here are five UNESCO designated sites every traveler should experience.

The Ancient

As with many ancient cultures, the city of Paquime, in Northern Mexico, asks as many questions as it answers. Mostly constructed between 1130 and 1350, Paquime ruled as the largest city in the region for hundreds of years and was an advanced city featuring living areas, farming areas, and a sophisticated water system. The residents were talented craftspeople, as evidenced by the large number of baskets, vases, and jewelry found during the archaeological dig. Theories regarding the reason for the abandonment of the city abound, but the truth will, most likely, never be truly known.

Visit Paquime on a 10-day trip to Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

The Cultural Icon

The Sydney Opera House, gleaming white, above the iconic Sydney Harbor, remains one of the most recognizable buildings around the world. Home to frequent concerts, performances, and host to thousands of travelers each year, the Opera House earned UNESCO status in 2007. It remains as much a symbol of this vibrant country as its world-renowned beaches and active lifestyle.

Experience the Sydney Opera House on the Inspiring Australia Tour.

The Terroir

Few regions of the world create as much fervor as the rolling vineyards of the Burgundy wine region of France. Prized for its ancient soil, farmed since the middle Ages, the vintners of the region fought for seven long years to gain UNESCO standings. This listing encompasses the villages of Beaune and Dijon, in addition to the vineyards themselves, sweeping over the rolling hills.

Explore Burgundy on the 17-day Country Roads of France guided vacation.

The Historical City

Built over seven centuries, even Prague’s “new” city was completed in the 18th century, although many of her most beloved monuments were created as early as the 14th century. Within the city core, successive stages of growth, rather surprisingly, have respected the original urban growth plan creating a cohesive feel as you move throughout the town. The Charles Bridge, THE local gathering spot for artists, photographers, street performers, and those merely out for a stroll, connects the east and west bank, bringing together this vibrant city.

Visit Prague on a selection of guided vacations and river cruises.

The Intangible

Believe it or not, his last one is not a place but a diet (the good kind, of course!). The Mediterranean Diet, long praised by dietitians, was inscribed into the UNESCO list of intangible entries in 2013. This locally produced, farm to table, type of eating is as much about superior ingredients as it is about social interaction and a sense of community. It focuses on total lifestyle; good food, good exercise, and good community. Join a guided vacation or river cruise to Italy, France, Spain and Greece and experience this extraordinary way of life.

Have you visited any of these sites?  If so, tell us about your experience! 

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