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UNESCO declares 34 new world heritage sites

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced 34 newly inscribed sites treasured for their outstanding universal value

Iriomote Island, Japan (Shutterstock)

Biodiverse rainforests in Japan and a mountainous valley in Iran are among the 34 newly inscribed sites around the world that UNESCO treasures for their outstanding universal value.

The committee that decides which sites are UNESCO-listed didn’t meet in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, so the new list is longer than usual. Once a site is added, it is entitled to funds and advice on ways to maintain it.

Only five of the new sites are natural, while the rest are cherished for their cultural value. The slate landscape of northwest Wales is among the newly inscribed natural sites, prized because of the impact slate quarrying and mining had on the area during the Industrial Revolution from the 1780s to 1914.

Cwmorthin Slate Quarry, Wales (Shutterstock)

Cwmorthin Slate Quarry, Wales (Shutterstock)

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany did well, scooping up UNESCO status for six sites, which include an artist’s colony in Darmstadt and the cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz, which are historically known for their Jewish culture, architecture and cemeteries. The German spa towns of Bad Ems, Baden-Baden and Bad Kissingen are also now prized by UNESCO, along with 11 other European towns including Bath in the UK.

Further afield, the Trans-Iranian Railway, a 1,394km route encompassing 360 bridges and 224 tunnels dating from the 1920s, is now on the list. Other highlights include a decorative Indian temple, the maritime Chinese city of Quanzhou and rock art in Saudi Arabia.

See the full list below. Perhaps it’s time to update your bucket list?


Roman baths in Bath, UK (Shutterstock)

Roman baths in Bath, UK (Shutterstock)

Colonies of Benevolence, Belgium/the Netherlands

Cordouan Lighthouse, France

Nice, Winter Resort Town of the Riviera, France

Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, Germany

Frontiers of the Roman Empire: The Lower German Lines, Germany, the Netherlands

Frontiers of the Roman Empire: The Danube Limes (Western Segment), Austria, Germany, Slovakia

ShUM Sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz, Germany

The Porticoes of Bologna, Italy

The Works of Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana: Human Centered Urban Design, Slovenia

The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales, United Kingdom

Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea, Russia

Padua’s 14th Century Fresco Cycles, Italy

Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences, Spain

Roșia Montană Mining Landscape, Romania

The Great Spa Towns of Europe, Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom

Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands, Georgia


The ruins of Dholavira, India (Shutterstock)

The ruins of Dholavira, India (Shutterstock)

Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China

Jomon Prehistoric Sites in northern Japan

Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa Island and Iriomote Island, Japan

Getbol, Korean Tidal Flats, South Korea

Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex, Thailand

Dholavira: a Harappan City, India

Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple, Telangana, India

South America

Sitio Roberto Burle Marx, Brazil (Shutterstock)

Sitio Roberto Burle Marx, Brazil (Shutterstock)

Settlement and Artificial Mummification of the Chinchorro Culture in the Arica and Parinacota Region, Chile

Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, Brazil

Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex, Peru

The Work of Engineer Eladio Dieste: Church of Atlántida, Uruguay


A western lowland gorilla in Ivindo National Park, Gabon (Shutterstock)

A western lowland gorilla in Ivindo National Park, Gabon (Shutterstock)

Sudanese Style Mosques, Ivory Coast

Ivindo National Park, Gabon

Middle East

Arslantepe Mound, Turkey (Shutterstock)

Arslantepe Mound, Turkey (Shutterstock)

As-Salt, the Place of Tolerance and Urban Hospitality, Jordan

Trans-Iranian Railway, Iran

Cultural Landscape of Hawraman/Uramanat, Iran

Ḥimā Cultural Area, Saudi Arabia

Arslantepe Mound, Turkey

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