25 unesco world heritage sites to add to your architecture bucket list


The list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites has grown dramatically since it was first unveiled in 1978 with only a...


2024, 10.07

dozen entries (at the time it included places like Aachen Cathedral in Germany and Yellowstone National Park in the US). Today, the World Heritage list includes 1,199 places, from natural sites and protected areas showcasing ecosystems and biodiversity (like Yosemite National Park) to archaeological sites (like Peru’s Machu Picchu) and cultural sites and landmarks (that’s you, Statue of Liberty), all of outstanding universal value in nearly every corner of the earth. However, this also means the list is something of an architectural treasure map. So we’ve parsed the sites for a few of our most beloved landmarks to help you plan

your next architectural pilgrimage (or two). Read on for our top World Heritage Site recommendations, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about the distinguished list. Beginning in 1978, UNESCO (the universally accepted shorthand for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) published its first list of places with

important “cultural and natural heritage considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.” These sites range from places of great biodiversity to historic sites or archaeological sites and important cultural

sites. “The UNESCO World Heritage List’s main objective is to pass on cultural and natural heritage considered to be of outstanding

value to humanity to future generations,” UNESCO tells AD in a statement. Each year (skipping 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic), the organization adds about 20 to 40 new locales. The places it includes are those that it considers to be critical to its mission to “encourage the identification, protection, and preservation” of these important places. However, being on the list is not just about pedigree or honor, it also ensures that the conservation and protection of the sites is carried out to high standards. So far, the UNESCO World Heritage Sites include a diverse group, from Stonehenge and the Galapagos Islands to the pyramids of Giza and the works of modernist Swiss-French architect and painter Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier. To make the World Heritage List, an entry doesn’t have to be in a single location, it can be an ode to cultural heritage across boundaries and countries—for example, Le Corbusier’s included works can be found in Europe, India, Japan and Argentina. “The uniqueness of UNESCO World Heritage sites is based on their outstanding universal value, meaning that their significance is so exceptional as to be of common importance for all humanity, for present and future generations.” UNESCO explains. “As...

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