More and more culturally significant sites and destinations all over the world need protection, be it from change induced by the climate emergency, or conflicts such as the war in Ukraine.
The 45th session of Unesco’s World Heritage Committee concluded yesterday on 25 September, and 42 new destinations have become World Heritage Sites: 33 are ‘cultural’ sites, and nine are ‘natural’ sites. The new additions bring the total list of sites to 1199 across 168 different countries.
Sites that have been added include the Gaya Tumuli memorial grounds in South Korea, which commemorate the ancient Gaya confederacy that ruled the land between the first and sixth centuries BC. Viking-age fortresses in Denmark and Anticosti in Canada – the best-preserved fossil site of the Earth’s first mass extinction – were included on the list too.
Africa is now home to 100 World Heritage Sites after three new sites were recognised as ‘sites of memory’ – the name given to places where major events such as conflict occurred, which are then turned into memorial sites. Argentina’s ESMA Museum and Site of Memory, a former detention, torture and extermination centre was added to the list, as well as Western Front memorial sites in France and Belgium.
Becoming a World Heritage Site is a big deal. All the new destinations are now entitled to the highest level of cultural protection in the world, and they’ll each have access to new opportunities for technical and financial help from Unesco.
However, the title is not always welcomed – take Venice, which was being considered for inclusion on Unesco’s endangered list despite the Italian government not being too happy about the idea. This time around, the city hasn’t been added.
Alongside the 42 new World Heritage sites, five existing sites were extended. They were Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba, Benin and Togo; the Historic Centre of Guimarães and Couros Zone in Portugal; Andrefana Dry Forests in Madagascar; Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago in Vietnam and the Hyrcanian Forests in Azerbaijan and Iran.
The new cultural World Heritage Sites
- Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er, China
- Deer Stone Monuments and Related Bronze Age Sites, Mongolia
- Gaya Tumuli, South Korea
- Gordion, Türkiye
- Jewish-Medieval Heritage of Erfurt, Germany
- Koh Ker: Archaeological Site of Ancient Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, Cambodia
- Modernist Kaunas: Architecture of Optimism, 1919-1939, Lithuania
- National Archaeological Park Tak’alik Ab’aj, Guatemala
- Old town of Kuldīga, Latvia
- Prehistoric Sites of Talayotic Menorca, Spain
- Santiniketan, India
- Silk Roads: Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
- The Gedeo Cultural Landscape, Ethiopia
- The Persian Caravanserai, Iran
- Tr’ondëk-Klondike, Canada
- Viking-Age Ring Fortresses, Denmark
- Žatec and the Landscape of Saaz Hops, Czechia
- Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan, Palestine
- Astronomical Observatories of Kazan Federal University, Russia
- Cultural Landscape of Khinalig People and “Köç Yolu” Transhumance Route, Azerbaijan
- Djerba: Testimony to a settlement pattern in an island territory, Tunisia
- ESMA Museum and Site of Memory – Former Clandestine Center of Detention, Torture and extermination, Argentina
- Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker, Netherlands
- Funerary and memory sites of the First World War (Western Front), Belgium, France
- Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, USA
- Jodensavanne Archaeological Site: Jodensavanne Settlement and Cassipora Creek Cemetery, Suriname
- Memorial sites of the Genocide: Nyamata, Murambi, Gisozi and Bisesero, Rwanda
- Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas, India
- The Ancient Town of Si Thep and its Associated Dvaravati Monuments, Thailand
- The Cosmological Axis of Yogyakarta and its Historic Landmarks, Indonesia
- The Maison Carrée of Nîmes, France
- Wooden Hypostyle Mosques of Medieval Anatolia, Türkiye
- Zagori Cultural Landscape, Greece
The new natural World Heritage Sites
- Forest Massif of Odzala-Kokoua, Congo
- Volcanoes and Forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique, France
- Anticosti, Canada
- Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
- Cold Winter Deserts of Turan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
- Evaporitic Karst and Caves of Northern Apennines, Italy
- Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda
- Tugay forests of the Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve, Tajikistan
- ‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid, Saudi Arabia
Did you see that this is officially the world’s most overcrowded tourist destination?
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