UNESCO World Heritage Sites Right Outside Our Doors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.