Want to experience a taste of history and majesty in your travels? Then spend some time visiting some of the many incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world. UNESCO maintains this list of heritage sites, which include cultural monuments as well as incredible nature. As of 2012, there are 962 sites on UNESCO’s list.
Most of these heritage sites are very carefully preserved. Cultural and historical sites are regularly restored. Dangerous or fragile areas are roped off from tourists. Maximum safety precautions are taken to ensure that the sites remain in pristine condition for decades and centuries to come.
Here are ten of the top heritage destinations around the world.
#1: The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is perhaps the most famous of all the heritage destinations in the world. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Legend has it that after his wife passed away, Shah Jahan had a dream in which he saw his wife. He made her a promise that he’d build the Taj Mahal. When he woke, he put his promise into action.
It’s estimated that the cost to build a new Taj Mahal today would exceed more than $2 billion dollars. The building is absolutely majestic and a miracle to witness.
#2: Petra, Jordan
Petra isn’t just a building but an entire ancient town that’s still in great condition today. Many of the buildings are carves from wall faces in the mountain. They didn’t use external stone in their construction, instead they carved out shapes from gigantic pieces of stone. It’s an architectural wonder to behold.
Jerusalem is one of the most hotly contested cities in the world. It’s also one of the most holy cities in the world. It’s where Jesus Christ is buried. It’s where Muhammad the Prophet rose to the heavens. It’s the promised land of the Jews. Three religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam all consider Jerusalem to be one of their most holy sites.
Stonehenge is the most famous site in Britain. For many years, how Stonehenge was built was a complete mystery. Many believed it was done by magic. Though the construction methods of Stonehenge have been discovered, to this day, pagans still believe Stonehenge’s location holds special mystical significance.
#5: Angkor Wat
Located near Siam Reap in Cambodia, Angkor Wat features and incredible array of temples built by a variety of kings and emperors throughout the years. Each ruler took it upon himself to build an even more impressive monument than the last. Today, Angkor Wat is one of the largest and most majestic historical structures in Southeast Asia.
#6: The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a real life demonstration of nature’s awesome power. The canyon stretches over 277 miles and goes as deep as an entire mile below surface. The Colorado River started to carve out the Grand Canyon roughly 17 million years ago. Since then, year by year it slowly chipped away at the ground until it became the world famous site it is today.
#7: Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra is the site of an ancient city in Syria. It’s located almost smack dab in the middle of the country. It used to be located in the middle of an oasis, which made it an important hub for desert travelers. Its history stretches back to the times of King Solomon. Its history includes Greek rule, Roman rule and Islamic rule.
#8: The Giza Necropolis
The Giza Necropolis, also known as the Great Pyramids or the Pyramids of Giza, are one of the most famous sites in the world. The pyramids are a symbol of Egypt’s ancient might. Located near Cairo, about 5 miles from the Nile River, the pyramids and the gigantic Great Sphinx sculpture tower over visitors with grace and wisdom. The pyramids are one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
#9: The Vatican City
The Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world, with a population of just 800 people. Located inside Rome, the Vatican operates completely independently of the Italian government. The Vatican Gardens stretches half the property, gracing the Vatican with a divinely lush garden. The walls of the Vatican City are decorated with both famous art and history.
#10: Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is perhaps the most famous of all the Mayan ruins. It was one of their largest cities and even took on a mythical importance in Mayan writings. It first started its climb to fame in 600 AD and became a powerhouse in the early stages of the Terminal Classic.
These are ten of the world’s most famous World Heritage Sites. If you want to get a taste of travel and history, be sure to stop at these sites on your trip around the world.