It's always a little bit exciting when UNESCO announce new historical and cultural gems that they have added to their list. It's like having a Christmas list and then constantly topping it up with cool things that you hear about. This is a list that is never going to remain untouchable, because new and awe-inspiring sights are constantly being discovered and recognised, each with a strong case for making it onto the holy grail of travel lists.
One of the reasons why I like these new additions, is because it gives the underdogs a chance as well as the most popular destinations. All it takes is one stunning UNESCO site to give people a reason to visit an underrated destination.
I always try and take note of any new places that are added, in case there's some that I feel compelled to go and see. Don't worry, you don't have to spend a few hours going through the list and picking out the best ones that have been added, as I have done that for you!
You may not agree with me, but here's some of the top must see new UNESCO listed sites that should be jostling for a position on your bucket list.
Ten UNESCO heritage sites to visit in your next holiday
Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites
English Harbour, Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua looks like a breathtakingly beautiful and luxurious holiday destination, but it's so much more than that. Antigua has more cultural gems and hidden surprises than you might think. Take the Naval Dockyard and related archeological sites for example.
It's a collection of naval, Georgian-style buildings which are all inside a magical walled enclosure. Here lies some clues about Antigua's naval history, as this was the perfect spot for ships to stop and get some shelter from stormy weather, and build defensive fortifications.
This spot was very important at a key point in history when countries were competing over the lucrative sugar plantations in the Eastern Caribbean.
Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahaviharada (Nalanda University)
Nalanda, Bihar, India
Fans of archeology and historic architecture won't want to miss this addition. In the north-eastern region of India you will find the State of Bihar, which is home to the Archeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara. These are the remains of a scholastic and monastic institution which existed between the 3rd century BCE and the 12th century CE.
Here you might just come across monks meditating whilst overlooking what's left of these fascinating structures. There's intricate art works, shrines and educational buildings to catch a glimpse of. This site showcases the growth of Buddhism into a religion as knowledge was shared here for 800 years.
Archipielago de Revillagigedo
Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico
If you are passionate about aquatic life, then you won't want to miss out on the chance to go to Archipielago de Revillagigedo in Mexico. It's located on the eastern Pacific Ocean, and forms part of a submerged mountain range.
The four islands found here are actually the peaks of the volcanoes which reach above sea level. The remains of these mountains underwater creates a wonderful environment for marine life to flourish, here you will find whales, dolphins and even sharks. Many bird species also rely on the islands to survive.
The Persian Qanat
Isfahan, Central District, Iran
The majority of Iran receives just six to 10 inches of rainfall per year, so they had to figure out a way to collect enough water to survive. Around 3,000 years ago the Persians figured out how to dig underground aqueducts that supply water from the mountains to the plains. The Qanat system:
"...involves tapping alluvial aquifers at the heads of valleys and conducting the water along underground tunnels by gravity, often over many kilometres."
According to UNESCO, it's a fine example:
"...of a technological ensemble illustrating significant stages in the history of human occupation of arid and semi-arid regions in the world."
It's an amazing achievement to enable so many desert towns and villages to prosper in such barren conditions using this system.
Khangchendzonga National Park
Chungthang, Sikkim, India
Khangchendzonga National Park can be found in the centre of the Himalayan range in the State of Sikkim in Northern India. It's been given UNESCO status thanks to the diversity of its environment and the complexity of the landscape.
It's home to the world's third highest peak and due it it being the narrowest part of the Himalayas, the terrain is very steep and exaggerates the different eco-zones that are found here. You will be in awe of the scenery which includes glaciers, valleys, lakes and ancient forests.
"The Park has an extraordinary vertical sweep of over 7 kilometres (1,220m to 8,586m) within an area of only 178,400 ha."
Archaeological Site of Ani
Ocakli, Kars Province, Turkey
Visit the jaw-dropping ruins in Ani, which is located 42 km from Kars. Here you can admire medieval architecture including religious, military and domestic buildings which were built between the 7th and 13th centuries CE. The city went into decline following a powerful and destructive earthquake in 1319 and a change in trade routes. It was eventually abandoned in the 18th century.
Archaeological Site of Philippi
Filippoi, Macedonia, Greece
Uncover the remains of a city that used to resemble a "small Rome". These exceptional ruins show off the development of architecture during the Roman and early Christian period. This walled city has numerous fascinating remains including the walls and their gates, a temple and a theatre. It was founded in 356 BC and according to UNESCO, is a:
"...testimony to the early establishment of Christianity."
Stecci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards
Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia
This UNESCO site combines a total of 28 mini sites, which are located in four different places, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia. If you are up for seeing something a little spooky then perhaps you will enjoy the eeriness of these cemeteries.
Wander past the medieval tombstones (stecci) and walk through cemeteries which date from the 12th to the 16 century CE. Each tombstone is decorated differently and most are carved from limestone and laid out in rows. According to UNESCO they:
"...represent iconographic continuities within medieval Europe as well as locally distinctive traditions."
Yichang, Hubei, China
Stumble upon rare animal species and walk through the largest primary forest in Central China. See unusual animals such as the Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, the Chinese Giant Salamander, the Clouded Leopard and the Asian Black Bear. This site is made up of two parts, Laojunshan to the east and Shennong Ding/Badong to the west. Some parts of this area look like a dream world they are so naturally stunning and colourful.
"Shennongjia exhibits globally impressive levels of species richness and endemism especially within its flora."
Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay
Mukkawar Island Marine National Park, Sudan
Lastly, here's another location where you will find magical marine life. Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay are two separate sites. Located in the red sea, Sanganeb is an amazing coral reef. At Dungonab Bay you will find beaches, mangroves and coral reefs, plus a huge variety of wildlife including sharks, fish, manta rays, turtles and sea birds.
New UNESCO sites that I think are worth a visit
So that's my list of new UNESCO sites that I think are worth a visit. There's a good selection of different things in there, including archeological wonders, coral reefs and natural parks. Hopefully over the next few years I will get the chance to visit some of them, and you should too! Check out some of these destinations on The Holiday Place website and book the trip of a lifetime.