12 Fascinating Yet Unheard Of UNESCO Heritage Sites That You Need To See
As on date there are 1,007 places designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and all that we end up quoting is Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat or Machu Picchu. This list of a thousand plus sites is a mix of interesting wonders that are picturesque, historical, architectural or natural marvels, eerie and brilliant in their own sense. And obvious enough, we are sure to not know many of them. Here’s taking you through some of the lesser known, but sheer pieces of art kind of sites that found a coveted place in the UNESCO list.
- 1 1. CHAN CHAN, PERU
- 2 2. LESHAN GIANT BUDDHA, CHINA
- 3 3. TSINGY DE BEMARAHA STRICT NATURE RESERVE, MADAGASCAR
- 4 4. AMPHITHEATRE OF EL JEM, TUNISIA
- 5 5. MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK, USA
- 6 6. SAMARKAND, UZBEKISTAN
- 7 7. FORTRESS OF SUOMENLINNA, FINLAND
- 8 8. OKAVANGO DELTA, BOTSWANA
- 9 9. MOUNTAIN RAILWAYS OF INDIA
- 10 10. DEFENCE LINE OF AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
- 11 11. WADI AL-HITAN, EGYPT
- 12 12. RIETVELD SCHRODER HOUSE, THE NETHERLANDS
1. CHAN CHAN, PERU
Designated in – 1986, Cultural
This site is the remains of Chimu Kingdom from the 15th century, in South America. The earthen city is a well-planned division, safely contained inside nine citadels with temples, palaces, burial grounds etc., separately marked and planned. You cannot stop yourself from getting amazed at the clarity of vision and the nitty-gritties of planning that must have gone in to constructing this large city.
2. LESHAN GIANT BUDDHA, CHINA
Designated in – 1996, Mixed
The tallest pre-modern stone Budhha in the world, construction of this began in 713. Carved out of a cliff at the confluence of three rivers, the location of the statue makes it even more majestic with rivers flowing below its feet.
3. TSINGY DE BEMARAHA STRICT NATURE RESERVE, MADAGASCAR
Designated in – 1990, Natural
Caves and Tsingys (pinnacles), carved out of limestone, plateau comprises a forest inhabited by rare species of lemurs and other animals. This site shines out because of its unique and dramatic landscape.
4. AMPHITHEATRE OF EL JEM, TUNISIA
Designated in – 1979, Cultural
A 3rd century masterpiece located in the heart of Tunisia, this gladiator-styled amphitheatre can hold a massive crowd of over 35,000. Considered one of the finest examples of Roman architecture, its resemblance to the Roman Colosseum is quite obvious. El Jem was designed to hold grand spectacles and shows, and is a tall evidence of complex architectural design.
5. MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK, USA
Designated in – 1981, Natural
A national park located in Kentucky, underneath it lies the Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system in the world. The caves are still getting discovered and not all of it is open to public. Regular cave tours are organised for visitors but the caves largely remain dark, gloomy and eerily beautiful.
6. SAMARKAND, UZBEKISTAN
Designated in – 2001, Cultural
Uzbekistan’s third largest city, Samarkand is a living legend and a cultural heritage. The delicate balance that the city maintains between its rich heritage and recent times is worth seeing.
7. FORTRESS OF SUOMENLINNA, FINLAND
Designated in – 1991, Cultural
A great example of European military architecture, the fortress was constructed on six islands. Then built by the Swedish and now forming a part of Helsinki, this place will leave you astonished at the might of humans who built this wonder.
8. OKAVANGO DELTA, BOTSWANA
Designated in – 2014, Natural
Number 1000th addition to the list, very recent since it was added in 2014, Okavango is one of those very few, large inland deltas that do not flow in to an ocean or a sea. All the water reaching the delta evaporates! No wonder, it is also one of the seven natural wonders of Africa.
9. MOUNTAIN RAILWAYS OF INDIA
Designated in – 1999, Cultural
Now, we knew these were the little pieces of heritage in the era gone by, but the fact that the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway and Kalka Shimla Railway are listed as UNESCO heritage sites, makes it all the more amazing. A heritage which is still operational on the zig-zag mountains.
10. DEFENCE LINE OF AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
Designated in – 1996, Cultural
A defence line of about 135 km circling Amsterdam, was built to protect the city in case of enemy attacks. Series of forts were to work in tandem, combined with the principles of flooding in order to stop the enemies’ advance. Sheer Dutch genius.
11. WADI AL-HITAN, EGYPT
Designated in – 2005, Natural
Meaning ‘Whales Valley’ in Arabic, Wadi Al-Hitan contains fossils of evolution of whales, crocodiles, sea turtles, sea snakes and some other sea animals. The fossils are spread in a large area, in a large amount that makes it an extraordinary site to visit.
12. RIETVELD SCHRODER HOUSE, THE NETHERLANDS
Designated in – 2000, Cultural
Quite an odd addition to the World Heritage List, Schroder House was designed by a Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld. What makes it interesting is that it was made as an open-plan house without interior walls. Now it is a museum open to visitors.
Know more such interesting and not-so-common heritage sites that should be on this list? Do share with us.