What do Casa Batlló (a funky modernist house designed by Gaudí in the early 1900s) and the Pantheon (a Roman temple built in 126 AD) have in common?¹ They are both listed among UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The World Heritage List includes 890 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.
Having been provoked to investigate the question by a comment on my last post, I found myself going further down the rabbit hole to look carefully through the list. I observed that I have visited far more such sites than I had realized.
Those places listed were among the most memorable places–dramatic, intriguing, charming or downright awe-inspiring– that I have been to in my life. I would gladly return to any of them.
What’s more, many of the places that are on my mental list of places to visit before I die are on that list: the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall, the pyramids of Egypt, to name a few. Still other places I recognized from the travel tales and photos of my mother and grandmother–places I would love to visit as well.
All of these things have made me realize what an incredible resource this list is. I now have it in my head that in the years to come, I will expressly make efforts to visit more sites on the list. I’m going to consider this a grand checklist of wonders of the world.
Below I have listed the sites that I have been to so far. I count that I have visited 24 sites in 9 countries.
How about you? Have you been to any World Heritage sites? Are there places on the list that you long to visit?
UNESCO Word Heritage Sites I have visited²
- Mesa Verde National Park: This was one of our regular haunts of summer camping trips with my grandmother and sister.
- Grand Canyon National Park: I went there on a separate camping trip with just my grandmother, when I was a teenager. (I can’t remember the year.)
Japan: I visited Japan in 2004. I went to a conference in Nara, and stayed a few days in Kyoto as well. (I want to go back.)
- Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)*²
- Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara*
Brazil: I visited these sites in 1991, during my semester abroad as an undergrad.
- Iguaçu National Park
- Historic Town of Ouro Preto
- Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia
- Central Amazon Conservation Complex*: I’m not sure the part of the Amazon I went to is in the region listed, but I feel I can count this one, having been to the rainforest in Amazonas.
- Tower of London: I know I went there when I was 9 years old, but have little memory. I also revisited the Tower in 2005 with John.
- City of Bath: visited in 2005
France: I lived in France for 2 years, though they weren’t consecutive years. The first was in 1980, the second in 1988. Some of the sites here were visited during the first year, some the second. More recently, I visited Paris and Versailles in 2007.
- Chartres Cathedral
- The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes*
- Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay
- Palace and Park of Versailles
- Paris, Banks of the Seine*: includes the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and many more monuments.
- Völklingen Ironworks: John, Phoebe and I headed here as an excursion from Saarbrücken, during our stay there for a conference in 2007. It was an amazing place, and I would love to return there with more time to explore and photograph. (I posted some photos from that trip before.)
- Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch*: I’m not sure whether or not to count this one. I visited Switzerland with my mother on our European trip of 1984, but I don’t remember exactly where we went. I do know we saw some Alps, though…
Italy: I have been to Italy two times. The first time was in 1984, on a trip around Europe by train with my mother. We visited Florence and Venice. The second time was in 1988, when I travelled with a high school friend. We went to Rome and Florence by bus (from France), and stopped in Pisa as well.
- Venice and its Lagoon
- Historic Centre of Florence
- Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura*
- Vatican City*
- Piazza del Duomo, Pisa*: I was lucky enough to go while visitors were still allowed to climb up the leaning tower.
My trip to Spain was just this past September (2009). (I want to go back.)
- Works of Antoni Gaudí* I visited 2 of the properties in Barcelona included in this listing–Casa Batlló and Park Güell.
- Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville*
¹ Aside from being 2 of Sally’s favorite buildings on earth, that is.
² Places marked by an asterisk are those where either I have not been to every monument within a listing, or where I am not certain whether the particular location I visited falls within a region listed.³
images: These are photos I took on various trips since 2004. One of these days I hope to unearth and scan photos from my trips before the days of digital cameras…