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There’s two things every UNESCO World Heritage Site we’ve visited has in common: They’re always beautiful and memorable. The sites, flagged by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as being of special cultural or physical significance, never fail to impress, and this year 21 new destinations have been added to the already sizable list of 1,073. Read on to get a look at the latest additions and once you pick the ones you want to add to your travel to-do list, be sure to get the best savings at Orbitz.com.deals.

 

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Made it your mission to visit every single UNESCO World Heritage Site on the planet?

That challenge is about to get tougher.

UNESCO’s huge list of World Heritage properties has grown even longer this month, with the global body voting to add 21 sites during the 41st annual World Heritage Committee session in Krakow, Poland.

That brings the total of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to 1,073.

Northwest England’s mountainous Lake District was among the new sites added to the list, the UK’s first national park to become a World Heritage property.

“The combined work of nature and human activity has produced a harmonious landscape in which the mountains are mirrored in the lakes,” says UNESCO’s statement announcing the inscription.

India’s walled city of Ahmedabad, founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah in the 15th century, was also added to the list, becoming the country’s first city to get a UNESCO nod.

Located on the eastern bank of the Sabarmati river, it “presents a rich architectural heritage from the sultanate period, notably the Bhadra citadel, the walls and gates of the Fort city and numerous mosques and tombs as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods,” says UNESCO’s description of the city.

Two South America properties were added to the list, including Brazil’s Valongo Wharf, an archeological site.

Located in central Rio de Janeiro, the wharf encompasses the entire Jornal do Comércio Square and was built to receive enslaved Africans who began landing the South American continent from 1811.

“It is the most important physical trace of the arrival of African slaves on the American continent,” says UNESCO.

UNESCO decisions draw protests

This year’s committee meeting wasn’t without controversy. Israel has denounced UNESCO’s decision to inscribe the old city of Hebron in the West Bank as a Palestinian World Heritage Site.

Israel accused UNESCO of making a politically motivated move, part of what it says is an attempt to deny the Jewish character and heritage of certain key sites in the Holy Land.

Meanwhile, UNESCO’s decision to approve China’s nomination of Hoh Xil, part of the high-altitude Tibetan plateau in Qinghai Province, has also drawn protests.

The International Campaign for Tibet says the nomination poses a threat to Tibetan nomads and their way of life.

“The Committee ignored the reality that Tibetans — and nomads in particular — are stewards of the landscape whose role is essential to sustaining the wildlife, the long-term health of the ecosystems, and the water resources that China and Asia depend upon,” said Kai Mueller, Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet, in a statement.

Here’s this year’s list of newly inscribed sites, several of which can be viewed in the above gallery:

Turkey: Aphrodisias, archeological site and marble quarries

Eritrea: Asmara, modernist city of Africa

Russia: Assumption Cathedral and Monastery of Sviyazhsk

Germany: Caves and ice age art in the Swabian Jura

Palestinian territories: Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town

Iran: Historic city of Yazd

Denmark: Kujataa Greenland, sub-arctic farming landscape

China: Kulangsu, historic international settlement

Angola: Mbanza Kongo, political and spiritual capital of the Kingdom of Kongo

Japan: Sacred Island of Okinoshima

France: Taputapuātea, center of the “Polynesian Triangle”

Poland: Tarnowskie Góry, lead-silver-zinc mine

Cambodia: Sambor Prei Kuk temple zone

United Kingdom: English Lake District

Brazil: Valongo Wharf, archeological site

Croatia, Italy, Montenegro: Venetian Works of Defense

South Africa: Khomani Cultural Landscape

Mongolia, Russia: Landscapes of Dauria

Argentina: Los Alerces National Park

China: Qinghai Hoh Xil, world’s highest and largest plateau

India: Historic city of Ahmedabad

Places of ‘outstanding universal value’

The United Nations’ World Heritage Committee, made up of representatives from 21 countries, meets annually to vote natural, cultural and sites of mixed significance around the world to its prestigious preservation list, which includes places of “outstanding universal value.”

The inscribed sites must meet at least one of 10 criteria such as “representing a masterpiece of human creative genius,” containing “exceptional natural beauty” or being an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement.

UNESCO has been adding sites to the World Heritage List since 1978.

In the travel world, being able to add the words “UNESCO World Heritage Site” to destination marketing materials is the equivalent of striking tourism gold, bringing fame and cultural cachet as well as resources for sites in need of restoration and protection.

As a result, nations often spend years developing pitches for inclusion on the list and must convince the UNESCO committee they will protect their sites and support them financially.

Go to whc.unesco.org/en/newproperties to learn more about the newly named sites.

 

This article was written by Karla Cripps from CNN and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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