UNESCO Adds 19 New World Heritage Sites

Mt. Fuji is Japan was not a UNESCO World Heritage Site until last week. A surprise to me.

The Islamic Republic 006

UNESCO’s annual meeting brought 19 additions to the World Heritage Site List:


North Korea 035

The process is surely as fraught as any at the UN, however I find the list fun and useful in trip planning. I try to visit sites whenever possible and there have been many good surprises and none that I felt were not interesting for some aspect of the journey to reach them. As a moving target it is not realistic to try to keep pace. I have traveled every province of China yet they constantly add sites.

Of the new crop I have been to:

  • Golestan Palace, Iran, a palace in Tehran.
  • Kaesong, North Korea, so-so town and historic sites part of any North Korea tour to the DMZ.
  • Xinjiang Tianshan, a great stop on a Silk Road trip, though heavily, heavily touristed.

You can locate and track sites at Wandering Aramean’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Readers, have you been to any of the new sites? Your take?

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  • guera

    Wouldn’t it be great to work for the UN, and your job is to investigate possible additions to this list. Hey, someone has to do it.

    Only site on this additions list I have visited is Etna, on the island of Sicily. VERY heavily touristed, but worth visiting. Heck, the whole island of Sicily could be classified as a World Heritage site, IMO.

  • Joey

    @guera, that would be an awesome job! However, does UNESCO every delete or remove any World Heritage Sites from its list? Or do they just keep adding? Just curious.

  • @Joey – it is very rare and a lengthy process of warnings and negotiation, for instance a case with some construction that was threatening some German bridges went on I think for years. From what I read, UNESCO is rather toothless in this and dependent on countries to support, so aggressive ones like China can keep pushing sites through through the use of their pocketbook.

  • Jerry

    @Rapid Travel Chai
    You are so wrong about China. It’s not about money. It’s because China has so many potential sites on the list. Since UNESCO only allows two sites per year per nation, it will take a full century to go through all the tentative sites in China!

  • @Jerry – I agree that China has many qualified sites, it looks like I have visited 38 of 45, but as I understand it requires the country’s financial backing and lobbying to get on the tentative list. And I recall a lot of issues where UNESCO has challenged post-listing development, Mount Qingcheng comes to mind, where UNESCO backed down, presumably for financial reasons, with little or no adjustment by China. Listing means huge tourist dollars and prestige in China, especially for previously little-known or nebulous sites like the Three Rivers one, so they make every effort to maximize UNESCO. A lot of countries don’t bother or don’t have the resources.

  • Jerry

    @Rapid Travel Chai
    I wasn’t sure what was the post-listing development you mentioned about the Mt. Qingcheng but Mt. Qingcheng was severely affected by the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake. Restorations seemed to be necessary.

  • @Jerry it was listed in 2000 and I think it was in 2005 or 2006 that there reports in the Chinese media about a tussle with UNESCO over huge development post-listing such as several chair lifts that were viewed as threatening the site, unfortunately I am not finding sources that go back to that.

  • The only one I’ve been to on the new lsit is the Namib Sand Sea. It is one of the most amazing sites in the world, in my opinion. Sossusvlei, in particular, is one of two places where I ever shot an entire role of film in about a half hour. (The other, before you ask, was the Lemare Channel in Antarctica).

  • Linda T

    Thanks for the update on this. I have been to 3 of the new sites – University of Coimbra, Mount Etna and the Namib Sand Sea. I find it fun and helpful to keep track of which ones I have visited on Pinterest. http://pinterest.com/smittytabb/unesco-world-heritage-sites-visited/

  • @Miriam – I am not sure which trip I am more envious of!

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