Arts and Culture

These 21 sites have been deemed worthy of preservation

Lut Desert: Sand dunes in Rig-e Yallan

The Lut Desert, one of 21 new cultural gems added to UNESCO's list Image: © Naser Mizban - Lut Desert: Sand dunes in Rig-e Yallan

Emma Luxton
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From Chinese rock art to underwater caves, UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites showcases places around the world that are considered to be “of outstanding value to humanity”.

Historical, cultural, natural or man-made, these sites – and there are more than 1,000 of them – vary dramatically, but they have all been deemed significant and worthy of preservation.

The World Heritage Committee’s annual meeting recently identified 21 new sites to be added to the list.

The following images provide a glimpse of the new sites:

Antigua and Barbuda: Antigua naval dockyard and related archaeological sites

 Antigua naval dockyard and related archaeological sites
Image: © Nicola & Reg Murphy - Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites

The harbour, consisting of Georgian-style buildings, was constructed by the British navy. However, it wouldn’t have been possible without the labour of generations of enslaved Africans.

Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, India, Japan, Switzerland: The architectural work of Le Corbusier, an outstanding contribution to the Modern movement

 The architectural work of Le Corbusier, an outstanding contribution to the modern movement
Image: © Ville de Pessac - Nikolas Ernult - Cité Frugès de Pessac

A pioneer of Modern design, architect and designer Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris – known to most as Le Corbusier – has buildings spread across 17 sites in several countries. His works are considered by his fans to be masterpieces of creative genius.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia: Stećci medieval tombstones

 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia: Stećci medieval tombstones
Image: © Adnan Šahbaz - Dugo polje at Blidinje, Jablanica

Dating back to somewhere between the 12th and 16th centuries, these tombstones, known as stećci, are carved from limestone and inscribed with decorative motifs.

Brazil: Pampulha Modern Ensemble

 Pampulha Modern Ensemble
Image: © Marcilio Gazzinelli - Pampulha Modern Ensemble: Example of integration between gardens and buildings

The bold forms of this cultural centre, designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer in collaboration with innovative artists, is influenced by local traditions.

Canada: Mistaken Point

 Mistaken Point
Image: © Mistaken Point Ambassadors Inc - Watern Cove E surface, Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Located at the south-eastern tip of Newfoundland, these coastal cliffs are home to some of the oldest known assemblages of large fossils anywhere in the world.

Chad: Ennedi Massif natural and cultural landscape

 Ennedi Massif natural and cultural landscape
Image: © Comité Technique/ Sven Oehm - Aloba arch

Sculpted over time by rain and wind erosion, the canyons, arches and valleys of this African plateau form a spectacular landscape. Ancient images have been painted and carved into the rock, making it one of the largest collections of rock art in the Sahara.

China: Hubei Shennongjia

 Hubei Shennongjia
Image: © Institute of Botany, The Chinese Academy of Science - Hubei Shennongjia. Original Forest dominated by Abiesfargesii

These forests, found in China’s Hubei Province, are home to many rare animal species, including the snub-nosed monkey, the clouded leopard and the Asian black bear.

China: Zuojiang Huashan rock art cultural landscape

 Zuojiang Huashan rock art cultural landscape
Image: © Zhu Qiuping - Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape: Part of Ningming Huashan Rock Art

Illustrating the life and rituals of the Luoyue people, these rock paintings date from fifth century BCE, and are the only relics to remain of this culture.

Greece: Archaeological site of Philippi

 Archaeological site of Philippi
Image: © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports - Archaeological Site of Philippi: The Theater Date: 01/01/2006

Founded in 356 BC, this walled city was developed as a “small Rome” and then later became a centre of the Christian faith.

India: Archaeological site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanada University) at Nalanda, Bihar

 Archaeological site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanada University) at Nalanda, Bihar
Image: © Rajneesh Raj - Excavated Remains of Nalanda Mahavihara: View of Site no. 03 and structure to north of Site no. 1B from East

Based in north-eastern India, the site of Nalanda Mahavihara dates from the third century BCE and include the ruins of a monastic and scholastic institution seen as the most ancient university of the Indian subcontinent.

India: Khangchendzonga National Park

 Khangchendzonga National Park
Image: © FEWMD - Khangchendzonga National Park: India-Nepal border at Boktok

Located in the Himalayas, this protected area is associated with mythological stories that have since been integrated with Buddhist beliefs.

Iran: Lut Desert

Lut Desert
Image: © Naser Mizban - Lut Desert: Sand dunes in Rig-e Yallan

Swept and sculpted by strong winds between the months of June and October, this desert contains some of the most spectacular examples of aeolian and yardang (wind and weather-carved) landforms.

Iran: Persian Qanat

 Persian Qanat
Image: © ICQHS - The Persian Qanat: Mozd Abad Qanat

This ancient method of transporting water via a system of underground tunnels is still in use today – a testimony to enduring cultural traditions and desert civilizations.

Southern Iraq: The Ahwar: refuge of biodiversity and relic of the Mesopotamian cities

 The Ahwar of southern Iraq: Refuge of biodiversity and the relict landscape of the Mesopotamian cities
Image: © Jasim Al-Asady - The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities; A view of one of the inhabitants of the marshes

This collection of areas is made up of three sites where the archaeological remains of Sumerian cities can be found, as well as four wetland marsh areas that make up one of the world’s largest inland delta systems.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan: Western Tien-Shan

 Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan: Western Tien-Shan
Image: © Ushakov V. - Western Tien-Shan, Sary-Chelek State Biosphere Nature Reserve: Sary-Chelek lake

The centre of origin for some fruit and crops, this vast site spans three countries and features a range of landscapes.

Mexico: Archipiélago de Revillagigedo

 Archipiélago de Revillagigedo
Image: © Erick Higuera - Archipielago de Revillagigedo: Giant manta ray

This line of four remote islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean are part of a submerged mountain range and provide a critical habitat for a range of wildlife.

Eastern Micronesia: Nan Madol Ceremonial Centre

 Micronesia: Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia
Image: © Takuya Nagaoka - Nan Madol: Ceremonial Center of the Eastern Micronesia: Columnar basalt used in a wall built by in a header-stretcher technique Nandowas Isle

These ruins of stone palaces, temples and tombs were once the ceremonial centre of the Saudeleur dynasty, a vibrant period in Pacific Island history.

Spain: Antequera dolmens site

 Antequera dolmens site
Image: © Conjunto Arqueológico Dólmenes de Antequera - Antequera Dolmens Site: Las “siete mesas” de El Torcal

Three man-made monuments, which collectively are understood to be one of the most remarkable architectural works of European prehistory, along with two natural structures, make up this site in southern Spain.

Sudan: Mukkawar Island Marine National Park

 Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay -- Mukkawar Island Marine National Park
Image: © PERGSA - Soft coral (Alconarian)

Made up of two areas, Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay, this maritime national park is home to a range of coral reefs, mangroves, beaches and islets, as well as being home to many diverse species.

Turkey: Archaeological site of Ani

 Archaeological site of Ani
Image: © Fahriye Bayram - Archaeological Site of Ani: Surp Amenap’rkitch Church -2005

This medieval city was built by Christian then Muslim dynasties, combining homes, military buildings and places of worship.

Gibraltar: Gorham's Cave complex

Gorham's Cave complex
Image: © Clive Finlayson, Gibraltar Museum - Close-up view of the property from the sea with Gorham’s Cave in the foreground and Vanguard and Hyaena caves behind. Caves with the sea now entering them are on the right. The succession of cliffs and slopes to the peak reflect important tectonic uplift episodes.

Caves in the cliffs on the eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar show evidence of Neanderthal occupation.

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