10 UNESCO World Heritage sites that blend nature and culture
Yeses, all UNESCO World Heritage sites are special by definition. But only 39 of the more than 1,000 are mixed, which means they are known for their cultural and natural characteristics. Many are islands and / or mountains. A few are famous: Machu Picchu, Tikal, Cappadocia. And some are unexpected: Ibiza? It’s more than a party island. Australia and China are tied for most – four each – and that of the United States is not exactly on cruise ship itineraries; it’s almost as hard to spell as it gets there: Papahānaumokuakea, an archipelago of small islands in Hawai’i.
Even without restrictions related to the pandemic, several of these sites are very remote, but that means they are also well preserved and most are crowded. Here are 10 of the world’s most fascinating mixed heritage sites:
Blue and John Crow Mountains, Jamaica
Coffee enthusiasts associate the Blue Mountains of this Caribbean island with the source of rare and expensive beans. But for UNESCO, these chains, which form a national park, are remarkable for biodiversity (over 1,200 species of flowering plants), endangered frogs and birds, and their history of refuge for slaves. . The rugged landscape offered the fugitives, the Maroons, a suitable place to hide and develop a culture closely linked to life in the mountains. Visitors can visit a coffee factory and take a guided hike.
Trang An Landscape Complex, Vietnam
Forested limestone rock towers reach up to 600 feet throughout this area, and there is evidence that people lived in the elevated caves here a long time ago. Located near a river delta, Trang An also includes a network of underground waterways, accessible to visitors by small boat trips. Today, apart from villages, rice fields, temples and a few small tourist resorts, the landscape remains in its natural and dramatic state, one of the reasons why 2017 Kong: Skull Island was filmed here.
Nothing new about hydrotherapy. Around 130 BC, the Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis (sacred city) was a spa destination, as it will remain for several centuries. One reason: the thermal mineral waters near Pamukkale (cotton palace Where cotton castle), with its strange landscape of terraced pools and petrified waterfalls. A vast system of canals was built to bring water not only to the baths, but also to the inhabitants of the village and to the irrigation fields. The ancient amphitheater here, one of the best-preserved in the world, was a place of gladiatorial fights in Roman times.
This island, far from being a secret resort, has a reputation for partying. But UNESCO recognized it for culture and biodiversity more than 20 years ago. Throughout history, various cultures have visited this Balearic island, including the ancient Phoenicians, who had a colony there. The remains of their presence include a well-preserved necropolis. A highlight of Ibiza’s biodiversity is the Ses Salines Natural Park, renowned for its marine life; it is ideal for observing flamingos (avian type) and snorkeling.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Adjacent to the famous Serengeti National Park, this natural / cultural site includes Olduvai Gorge, a long archaeological research area rich in fossils of human ancestors. It also includes the world’s largest unbroken volcanic crater and is home to a wide range of wildlife, including major migrations of zebras, gazelles, and wildebeest. The semi-nomadic Maasai continue to use the land for grazing livestock.
Mount Emei Scenic Area including Giant Buddha Scenic Area in Leshan, China
This mixed site combines two remarkable places a few hours away from each other. All of China’s mixed sites involve mountains, but only Leshan, near Emei in Sichuan, offers the world’s largest Buddha sculpture (233 feet tall) carved into the hillside. This is normal, since this is where Buddhism was introduced to China. The hills and cliffs are also home to many historic temples. Coniferous forests and three rivers decorate the setting. As one of China’s four sacred Buddhist mountains, Emei has long been protected; the first Chinese Buddhist temple, dating from the 1st century AD, culminates at its summit.
Kakadu National Park, Australia
Australia’s largest national park, located in a tropical part of the Northern Territory, includes portions of four river systems, waterfalls, wetlands, and sheer cliffs and plateaus inaccessible to vehicles. In addition, the thousands of rock art sites and rock paintings indicate that people lived here for approximately 40,000 years, including today’s Aboriginal people. Crocodiles, wallabies, and flying foxes also live here, and a large and diverse bird population makes it a popular birding spot. Dundee Crocodile featuring the Kakadu Gunlom Deep Basin, popular with visitors.
Tassili n’Ajjer, Algeria
Nature and culture blend vividly at this site, which offers an impressive array of prehistoric rock art in a landscape of eroded sandstone pillars and arches in the desert. The engravings and paintings, rediscovered in the 20th century, include images of animals; they span over 10,000 years and show long-extinct species in the region, such as crocodiles and hippos. They also describe how a society and the climate have evolved.
Pimachiowin Aki, Canada
This site, “The Land That Gives Life,” is the traditional home of four Anishinaabeg First Nations communities. In this boreal forest rich in lakes and rivers in the provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, caribou, wolverines, moose and other wildlife thrive. Local First Nations communities follow their long cultural tradition of ‘keeping the land’, responsible stewardship that includes fishing and hunting, maintaining ancient and sacred spaces, and avoiding commercial development.
Saint-Kilda, United Kingdom
Of nearly three dozen UNESCO sites in the UK, St. Kilda is the only mixed cultural-natural site; it is also one of the most distant. Yet this tiny archipelago off the west coast of Scotland has been inhabited for thousands of years. (No one lives there now, except for a million visiting seabirds and wild sheep.) The striking landscape results from the formation of the islands by a volcano. The high cliffs and sea stacks of St. Kilda experience some of the highest waves and strongest winds in Europe.
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