July 22, 2024

On Monday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) unveiled 27 new World Heritage Site designations. Among them are a diverse slate of culturally significant areas, including sacred temples in Cambodia, ancient tea forests in China, and historic European towns.

Several existing heritage sites were also expanded to include new areas, including Madagascar’s Andrefana Dry Forests, Vietnam’s Cat Ba Archipelago in Ha Long Bay, and new parts of the ancient Hyrcanian Forests in Azerbaijan.

The World Heritage Committee has been deliberating which sites to inscribe on its World Heritage roster at its ongoing meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Committee members are choosing from a list of global nominations that were submitted throughout 2022 and 2023.

In order to be added to the illustrious list, a natural or cultural site must be be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of ten other criteria for selection, such as representing a “masterpiece of human creative genius,” or having “areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.”

Additionally, the committee recently added several sites in Ukraine to its Endangered List, due to the ongoing Russian invasion there. Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral and its monastic buildings were designated as endangered, as was the historic city center of L’viv. “Faced with the risk of direct attack, these sites are also vulnerable to the shockwaves caused by the bombing of the two cities,” UNESCO said in a statement.

The committee meeting is slated to last until September 25, and additional sites could continue to be inscribed. Here’s a running list of the newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites added in 2023:

  • Koh Ker archaeological site in Cambodia

  • Santiniketan, West Bengal, India

  • Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er, China

  • Mongolia’s Deer Stone Monuments

  • Korea’s Gaya Tumuli burial mounds

  • Türkiye’s archaeological site of Gordion

  • Germany’s Jewish medieval historic center of Erfurt

  • Architecture of the town of Kaunas, Lithuania

  • Guatemala’s National Archaeological Park Tak’alik Ab’aj

  • Old town of Kuldīga, Latvia

  • Prehistoric Sites of Talayotic Menorca

  • The Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor of the Silk Road

  • Ethiopia’s Gedeo Cultural Landscape

  • Iran’s Persian Caravanserai

  • Canada’s Tr’ondëk-Klondike region

  • The Czech town of Žatec and its tradition of Saaz Hops

  • Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan

  • “Köç Yolu” Transhumance Route in Azerbaijan

  • Djerba in Tunisia

  • India’s Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas

  • Indonesia’s Cosmological Axis of Yogyakarta

  • Bale Mountains National Park in Ethiopia

  • The Forest Massif of Odzala-Kokoua in Congo

  • Volcanoes and forests of Mount Pelée and pitons of Martinique

  • Viking-age ring fortresses in Denmark

  • The Maison Carrée of Nîmes, France

  • Russia’s Astronomical Observatories of Kazan Federal University

Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler

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