World Heritage Sites, Defined

If you do a lot of traveling then you may have heard of “UNESCO World Heritage Sites”. What are these sites?

UNESCO is an acronym for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area that was selected by UNESCO as having historical, cultural, or scientific significance. The site is considered to be important to the interests of humanity and is protected by international treaties. The intent is to preserve these special sites for posterity, to prevent erosion, damage, and destruction of these sites, and to promote the sites as tourism destinations.

A site or area must already be considered a landmark to be selected for inclusion on the World Heritage List. Also, it must be unique in some respect as a geographically or historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area). It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, or serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.

The World Heritage program was launched in 1972. Since then, 193 nations have ratified the convention, making it one of the most widely recognized international agreements.

There are now a total of 1,092 World Heritage sites. Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites (54) than any other nation. The United States has 23 sites listed.

Recently, I read an article about UNESCO and the process of listing these World Heritage Sites. Reading that article reminded me that I’ve visited several of the listed sites. So I added a new category to my Locations page to feature the UNESCO World Heritage Sites that I’ve visited.