2012 saw an additional 26 sites of natural and cultural importance added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Why not add a few of these to your 2013 travel list? Take a look at the new additions here:
1) Lakes of Ounianga, Chad
In the Sahara desert, the 18 interconnected lakes of Ounianga create a landscape of striking colours and shapes. The largest lake, Yoan, covers an area of 358 ha and has a depth of 27m.Cheap Flights To Chad
2) Sangha Trinational, Africa
In the north-western Congo Basin, where Cameroon, Central African Republic and Congo meet, you’ll find the incredible Sangha Trinational. Made up of three national parks, much of the site is untouched by humans and is rich with flora and fauna, including Nile crocodiles, forest elephants, and the critically endangered western lowland gorilla.
3) Chengjiang Fossil Site, China
For evolutionary biologists and paleontologists Chengjiang is a goldmine of ancient fossils. It represents the most complete record of early marine life documenting about 196 species from 530 million years ago.
4) Western Ghats, India
Older than the Himalayas, the Western Ghats mountain chain influences the Indian monsoon weather pattern. The site gives one of the best examples of the monsoon system on the planet and is home to at least 325 globally threatened species of flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish (main image by tornado_twister) .
5) Lena Pillars Nature Park, Russia
In far eastern Siberia, spectacular rock pillars line the Lena River and reach a height of approximately 100m. They were produced by the region’s extreme climate that ranges from –60°C in winter to +40°C in summer.
6) Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, Palau
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon is home to 445 uninhabited limestone islands of volcanic origin surrounded by coral reefs. The reefs sustain a large diversity of plants, birds and marine life including dugong and at least 13 shark species. Human history is also preserved here with the remains of stonework villages, burial sites and rock art of small island communities dating back 3000 years.
7) Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy, Bahrain
This site is the last remaining complete example of the pearling industry and the wealth it generated when the trade dominated the Gulf’s economy. It consists of 17 buildings in Muharraq City, three offshore oyster beds, part of the seashore and the Qal’at Bu Mahir fortress on the southern tip of Muharraq Island.
8) Major Mining Sites of Wallonia, Belgium
These four sites form a strip 170 km long, crossing Belgium from east to west, and are the best-preserved 19th- and 20th-century coal-mining sites in the country. It features examples of Utopian architecture from the early periods of the industrial era in Europe.
9) Rio de Janeiro, Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea, Brazil
This famous cityscape will be in for a lot of attention when the 2016 Olympic Games roll around.
UNESCO has recognised Rio all the way from Tijuca National Park’s mountains to the sea, including the Botanical Gardens, Corcovado Mountain with its Christ the Redeemer statue, and the hills around Guanabara Bay.
10) The Landscape of Grand-Pré, Canada
The landscape of Grand-Pré shows how well the first European settlers adapted to the conditions of the North American Atlantic coast. The main feature is the agricultural techniques started by the Acadians in the 17th century and further developed and maintained by the Planters and present-day inhabitants.
11) Site of Xanadu, China
North of the Great Wall, the Site of Xanadu includes the remains of Kublai Khan’s legendary capital city. Designed by the Mongol ruler’s Chinese advisor Liu Bingzhdong in 1256, the city was an attempt to assimilate the nomadic Mongolian and Han Chinese cultures. From this base, Kublai Khan established the Yuan dynasty that ruled China over a century. The site was planned according to traditional Chinese feng shui in relation to the nearby mountains and river. It features the remains of the city, including temples, palaces, tombs, nomadic camps and the Tiefan’gang Canal.
12) Historic Town Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire
The first capital of Côte d’Ivoire, the historic town of Grand-Bassam, is an example of a late 19th- and early 20th-century colonial town planned with quarters specialising in commerce, administration, and housing for Europeans and Africans. The site includes the N’zima African fishing village alongside colonial architecture.
13) Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin, France
The landscape at Nord-Pas was shaped by over three centuries of coal extraction from the 1700s to the 1900s. It features mining pits, infrastructure, slag heaps, railway stations, workers’ estates and mining villages including, schools, churches, and community facilities. The site illustrates a significant period in the history of industrial Europe.
14) Margravial Opera House Bayreuth, Germany
Built between 1745 and 1750, the Opera House is masterpiece of Baroque theatre architecture. As the auditorium retains all its original materials, it is only entirely preserved theatre of its kind where an audience can experience Baroque court opera culture and acoustics as it was meant to be heard.
15) Cultural Landscape of Bali Province, Indonesia
The cultural landscape of Bali consists of five rice terraces and their water temples. The temples are the focus of a cooperative water management system known as subak that dates back to the 9th century. The subak reflects the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, which brings together the realms of the spirit, the human world and nature.
16) Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan, Iran
Located in the historic centre of Isfahan, the Masjed-e Jāmé (‘Friday mosque’) illustrates the evolution of mosque architecture over 12 centuries, starting in 841. The site also features remarkable decorative details representing more than a thousand years of Islamic art.
17) Gonbad-e Qābus, Iran
The 53m high tomb was built in 1006 for ruler Qābus Ibn Voshmgir. The tower is all that remains of the ancient city of Jorjan, a former centre of arts and science that was destroyed during the Mongols’ invasion in the 14th and 15th centuries. It illustrates the development of mathematics and science in the Muslim world.
18) Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot/Wadi el-Mughara Caves, Israel
On the western slopes of the Mount Carmel range, the site includes the caves of Tabun, Jamal, el-Wad and Skhul. Ninety years of archaeological research have revealed a sequence of at least 500,000 years of human evolution. Evidence from burials and early stone architecture shows the transition from a hunter-gathering lifestyle to agriculture and farming.
19) Archaelogical Heritage of the Lenggong Valley, Malaysia
In the lush Lenggong Valley, you’ll find four archaeological sites that span close to 2 million years of human history. One of the longest records of early man in a single location, and the oldest outside Africa, it features open-air and cave sites with Palaeolithic tool workshops with cultural remains from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Metal ages.
20) Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City, Morocco
On the Atlantic coast in the north-west of Morocco, Rabat is a mix of Arabo-Muslim and Western modernism. The new town is one of the largest and most ambitious built in Africa in the 20th century while the older parts include Hassan Mosque (begun in 1184), the Almohad ramparts and gates, and 17th century Moorish remains.
21) Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem
Since the 2nd century AD, this spot 10km south of Jerusalem has been recognised as the birthplace of Jesus. A church was first built on the site in the year 339, however it was largely destroyed by fire in the 6th century. The current church retains several elaborate floor mosaics saved from the original building. The site also includes Latin, Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian convents and churches, as well as bell towers, terraced gardens and a pilgrimage route.
22) Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications, Portugal
While Elvas contains remains dating back to the 10th century, its fortification began when Portugal regained independence in 1640. The fortifications designed by Dutch Jesuit padre Cosmander represent the best surviving example of the Dutch school of fortifications anywhere. Within its walls, the town contains barracks and other military buildings as well as churches and monasteries.
23) Bassari Country: Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes, Senegal
The Bassari, Fula and Bedik peoples settled in the area from the 11th to the 19th centuries and left their unique impact on the surrounding natural environment. The Bassari landscape is marked by terraces and rice paddies, villages, hamlets and archaeological sites. The Bedik villages are formed by dense groups of huts with steep thatched roofs. The site is a well-preserved multicultural landscape housing original and still vibrant local cultures.
24) Heritage of Mercury: Almadén and Idrija, Slovenia & Spain
The history of mercury mining is remembered at the sites of Almadén in Spain, where mercury has been extracted since ancient times, and Idrija in Slovenia, where it was first discovered in 1490. The Spanish property includes buildings relating to its mining history, including Retamar Castle, religious buildings and traditional dwellings. The site in Idrija features mercury stores and infrastructure, as well as miners’ living quarters, and a miners’ theatre. Together they represent the two largest mercury mines in the world.
25) Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland, Sweden
In the east of Sweden, seven unassuming timber houses have a hidden secret. Independent 19th century farmers used their wealth to elaborately decorate the interior of their homes with artwork depicting a mix of religious motifs, ribbons and large flowers. The well-preserved folk art paintings were completed by known and unknown travelling artists.
26) Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey
The two hills that form the site at Çatalhöyük offer a unique glimpse into human history. The site contains wall paintings, reliefs, sculptures and other symbolic and artistic features from Neolithic and Chalcolithic times dating back to between 7400 and 5200 BC.