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Quinta de Regaleria in Sintra, Portugal

UNESCO World Heritage Sites Right Outside Our Doors

Article by Raegan Johnson 06.06.2016

Ancient settlements, beautiful architecture and breathtaking landscapes: There are places on this planet that hold special significance to the human race. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designates these spectacular landmarks as World Heritage Sites Among our favorites are these seven to add to your travel bucket list.

1. Historic Centre of Macau, Macau

East meets West in the Chinese port of Macau, which was under Portuguese rule from the middle of the 16th century to 1999. People from all over the world settled in Macau, bringing with them their own cultures, religion and architecture. Visit the Chinese religious buildings, Ruins of St. Paul's, Moorish barracks and the Old City Walls — to name just a few of the historical landmarks.

Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau
Ruins of St. Paul's

2. Hawaii Volcano National Park

Located on the Big Island, this site is significant to UNESCO because it contains two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Visitors to this fascinating, biologically diverse destination will see plumes of volcanic gas, huge craters, lava tubes and the ohia tree, with its bright red blooms. 

Entrance to Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Entrance to the Lava Tubes at Hawaii Volcano National Park

3. Works of Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona

Catalan Modernist master Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926), nicknamed “God’s architect,” incorporated a passion for nature and religion into his famously fantastical creations. Seven of Gaudí’s works have been designated as World Heritage Sites, including Parque Güell, Casa Mila and Palacio Güell. His soaring masterpiece, Sagrada Familia, is world-renowned for its intricate facades and towering spears.

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain
Parque Güell created by Antoni Gaudí

4. The Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow

Step into the heart of Russian history with a visit to Red Square. You’ll see the Cathedral of the Dormition, Lenin’s Mausoluem, Kazan Cathedral and the iconic St. Basil’s Basilica, a beautiful Russian Orthodox monument. Visit the nearby Kremlin, which dates to the 13th century and was built as a royal citadel.

View of St. Basil's and the Kremlin in Moscow
St. Basil's Cathedral (left) and the Kremlin (right)

5. Cultural Sites of Al Ain, Abu Dhabi

Harkening back to humanity’s ancient beginnings, UNESCO acknowledges the desert regions of Hili, Bint, Bidaa Bint Saud, Hafit and the Oases Area. Settlements have existed here since the Neolithic period. Visitors today will see prehistoric tombs, as well as towers, palaces and residential buildings that date back to the Bronze and Iron ages. 

Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi

6. Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore

Singapore is a modern metropolis, but on the outskirts of the city is a lush tropical garden — the first and only one, in fact, to make UNESCO’s list. For orchid enthusiasts, the National Orchid Garden is a must-see as it contains more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of the flower.

Singapore botanic gardens historic trees
Prehistoric tree ferns & cycads at Singapore Botanic Gardens

7. Cultural Landscape of Sintra, Portugal

To see 19th-century Romantic architecture at its finest, head to the gorgeous town of Sintra, only an hour outside of Lisbon by train. You’ll feel like you’ve entered a fairytale story at the Quinta da Regaleira, a Gothic palace complete with gargoyles, nestled on a hilltop and surrounded by a lovely green forest. 

Quinta de Regaleria in Sintra, Portugal
Quinta de Regaleria in Sintra, Portugal

Plan Your Stay Near a UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • Macau

    Location Macau, China

    Experience The all-suite hotel from The Ritz-Carlton.

    • Set within the Galaxy Macau™ integrated resort
    • Suites offer inspiring views of Cotai Macau
    • Hand-crafted Cantonese dishes at Lai Heen
  • Kapalua

    Location Maui, Hawaii

    Experience A resort rich in cultural traditions and a warm Aloha spirit.

    • Unique ocean activities for everyone
    • Three distinctive beachside cabana offerings
    • Snorkeling & underwater photography
  • Barcelona

    Location Barcelona, Spain

    Experience A seaside hotel overlooking the Mediterranean on Port Olimpic.

    • Rising 44 stories above the Mediterranean
    • Creative meeting and team-building options
    • 28 luxury Penthouse suites on top floors
  • Moscow

    Location Moscow, Russia

    Experience Tverskaya Street, in Moscow’s cultural and business district.

    • Situated just off the famed Red Square
    • Among the largest accommodations in Moscow
    • Authentic Russian dining experiences
  • Abu Dhabi

    Location Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

    Experience A 57-acre hotel just steps from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

    • A sprawling 1,600-meter outdoor pool
    • Spa treatments on a private beach
    • Majestic indoor & outdoor wedding venues
  • Singapore

    Location Singapore

    Experience Unmatched amenities at a 7-acre oasis in Marina Bay

    • Explore Singapore’s treasures, just steps away
    • 4,200-piece contemporary art collection
    • Serene, 25-metre outdoor pool
  • Penha Longa Resort

    Location Sintra, Portugal

    Experience A quintessential retreat among rolling hills and mountain lakes.

    • A palazzo estate steeped in history
    • Unlimited championship golf experiences
    • Set within a 1355 monastery