Print this page

World Heritage Sites Offer a World of Culture

Written by 

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization works to preserve significant and inspirational places worldwide.

Designated World Heritage sites, they're as diverse as Yellowstone National Park, Shark Bay in Australia and the historic center of Vienna, and they symbolize the world's collective history, culture and landscape.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization works to preserve significant and inspirational places worldwide.

Designated World Heritage sites, they're as diverse as Yellowstone National Park, Shark Bay in Australia and the historic center of Vienna, and they symbolize the world's collective history, culture and landscape.

Reviewing the list of 911 World Heritage locations provides an impressive history lesson.

Here are five your family would enjoy.

 

Statue of Liberty, New York City. Calling Lady Liberty "a bridge between art and engineering," UNESCO emphasizes the symbolic value of this gift given to the U.S. by the French in 1886. Since then, Americans and immigrants have revered this symbol of freedom, democracy and peace.

Today, the statue's torch continues to shine on New York's harbor, and tours of the figure remain highly popular. Reservations are required to enter the pedestal or climb to the top of the crown.

Kids can learn why liberty is important to preserve and protect and can earn a Junior Ranger badge.

Contact: 212-363-3200; www.nps.gov/stli


Great Wall of China. The serpentine wall meanders 5,500 miles across northern China, spanning more than 2,000 years of history. Constructed primarily during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as a defense against invasion, the wall was designated by UNESCO for its "architectural grandeur and historical significance."

Parts of the wall now are damaged, disappearing or gone altogether. However, the segments that modern travelers can visit provide a window into Chinese culture and past. A variety of tours, from hikes to overnight or archaeological visits, gives families many options.

Contact: www.travelchinaguide.com; www.chinahighlights.com/ greatwall

 


Taos Pueblo, N.M. Continuously inhabited for more than 1,000 years, this remarkable community remains a prime example of American Indian culture, tradition and architecture. UNESCO notes the Pueblo Indians' ability to retain long-held traditions despite pressure from the outside world. More than 1,900 Pueblo Indians live full or part time in adobe homes in the community. Take a walking tour and learn the pueblo's rich history, view native crafts and see a unique way of life.

Contact: 575-758-1028; www.taospueblo.com;
www.nps.gov/history/world heritage/taos.htm


Carcassonne and Canal Du Midi, southern France. Step back in time on the cobblestone streets of Carcassonne, a medieval, fortified town on a hilltop in the Languedoc region. Children of all ages will be awed by the walled city, the castle and a Gothic cathedral complete with gargoyles. Tour the town, then head for a second World Heritage site just minutes away. From the Port of Carcassonne, embark on a barge tour of the scenic Canal Du Midi. Noted as an outstanding example of civil engineering and landscape design, the waterway was built between 1667 and 1694. Today's travelers enjoy day trips as well as longer cruises on the 150-mile-long canal, which connects the Mediterranean with the Atlantic via locks, bridges, tunnels and aqueducts.

Contact: www.carcassonne.org;
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/770;
www.franceguide.com


Historic center of Riga, Latvia. Budding architects and design students will marvel at the art nouveau buildings that moved UNESCO to add this 800-year-old city to its list of heritage sites.

A charming capital alongside the Daugava River, Riga offers a mix of old and new, historic and creative. Visit the opera house, Vermanes Park for the kids, St. Peter's Cathedral and the outdoor markets. Riga is often called the "Paris of the North."

It's said the first Christmas tree was introduced here, in 1510.

Contact:  www.rigalatvia.net


View the entire list of World Heritage sites at http://whc.unesco.org.

UNESCO's World Heritage mission:

  • encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage;
  • encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List;
  • encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites;
  • help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training;
  • provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger;
  • support States Parties' public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation;
  • encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage;
  • encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage.

Photo Copyright Lynn O'Rourke Hayes, Canal di Midi, France. 2010