Top 10 New UNESCO Sites

The UNESCO World Heritage Site Program, which began in 1978 with just 12 sites, added 24 new ones to the list, making the new total 1,031. These 10 sites are just a few of the highlights from this most recent addition.

Champagne Hillsides, Houses, and Cellars, France

Although it has been a center for wine production since the Middle Ages, Champagne came into the limelight in the 17th century when it introduced sparkling wine to the world. Benedictine monks at the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire created the first bottle of champagne in 1531, and the UNESCO listing aims to highlight the regional production and includes historic vineyards, the Avenue de Champagne and Fort Chabrol in Epernay.

San Antonio Missions, USA

These five Spanish Missions run 23 miles along the San Antonio River, and only a 20-minute drive from the downtown area. The complexes, which were founded by Franciscan missionaries, date back to the early 18th century and combine traditional Catholic symbolism with designs inspired by the natural landscape of the region.

Par Force Hunting Landscape in North Zealand, Denmark

Set in the Eastern part of Denmark are some of the country’s largest hunting forests specifically designed and landscaped to benefit the human hunters, some of which were the Danish kings and their courts, who hunted heavily in the area during the Middle Ages through the 16th Century. They practiced par force hunting, a style of equestrian hunting where hounds are used to track the scent of animals. The area also houses many lodges and barge structures and designs.

Ephesus, Turkey

As one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Ephesus was the home to the Temple of Artemus, and provides an excellent example of a Hellenistic Roman Settlement. Not a lot remains of the Temple, but there are still many important structures there, such as the Library of Celsus, and the Great Theatre. As a coastal city, Ephesus was an important port city, and many visit its remains today.

Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System, Mexico

Initiated by Padre Tembleque, a Franciscan friar, this aqueduct combines Roman hydraulic technology and mesoamerican techniques. These canals, distribution tanks, and arcaded bridges carry water over 28 miles through the Central Mexican Plateau. The channel starts in the town of Zempoala and ends in Otumba in the Northwest.

Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalu and Monreale, Italy

Palermo was taken over by a Muslim conquest in 831 AD after a collapse in Byzantine leadership, and was controlled as an emirate until 1072, when Norman conquest took over after the Muslim government was destabilized. During a period of extensive construction, which made Sicily prosper again, it became one of the wealthiest states in Europe. The site brings attention to the Norman and Arab influences that can still be seen to this day.

Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore

The Singapore Botanic Gardens were founded in 1822 when Sir Stanford Raffles began experimenting with agricultural development. Almost four decades later, they were transformed by Kew-trained botanists who turned the space into an English-style work of art. It has since become one of the leading Botanical gardens in the world, and includes a rainforest and the National Orchid Garden.

Necropolis of Bet She’arim, Israel

Located 60 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bet She’arim has been the site of prosperous towns since the first century BC. The necropolis was founded almost 2,000 years ago as the burial site of Rabbi Judah the Patriarch, who is credited with the renewal of Judaism after 135 AD. The site holds a series of limestone caves and tombs that were carved into the southern foothills of lower Galilee.

Baekje Historic Areas, South Korea

The Baekje Kingdom ruled the southeastern portion of the Korean peninsula for almost 700 years before it was defeated by the Tan Dynasty in 660. The mountains of Western Korea house this new UNESCO site, where the remaining structures cary on the history of the Baekje Kingdom. This UNESCO site actually includes 8 subsets, including various royal tombs, a royal palace, the Gongsanseong fortress, and the Naseong city wall, which surrounded the capital city of Sabi, who’s style shows a convergence of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese influences.

Blue and John Crow Mountains, Jamaica

The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park lies northeast of Kingston and has both natural and cultural significance. The area was used for refuge by the indigenous Taino people during European Colonization as a place where they could avoid enslavement .To avoid capture, a system of trails, hideouts, and settlements was created in the mountains. The park is also famous for being the home to many threatened species of birds, snakes, and small mammals, as well as rare butterflies.