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By Jason Jourdan

This week we’re chatting all about UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are 1,073 sites around the world which have been nominated by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for their exceptional physical or cultural importance. You’d be hard pressed to visit even half of these spectacular and unique spots in a single lifetime. Having visited 112 countries so far over the past 14 years, I still have only had the privilege of visiting just over 100 of them. Below I’ve created a small photo essay to give you an idea of what awaits you if you’re in search of some brilliant World Heritage Sites.

Venice, Italy :

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Venice, Italy

Venice is made up of over 100 islands in a shallow lagoon, linked by canals and bridges, famous for gondola rides and romance.

Tiger Leaping Gorge, China:

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Tiger Leaping Gorge, China

Best known for its trekking, this gorge is one of the deepest in the world, measuring roughly 3,790 meters (12,434 feet) from rapids to peaks.

Leshan Giant Sitting Buddha, China: 

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Leshan Giant Sitting Buddha, China

Protector overlooking three rivers since the 8th century and carved right into the rocky cliffside, this Buddha sits a proud 71m (233ft) tall, making it the world’s largest sitting Buddha.

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Lake Baikal, Russia:

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Lake Baikal, Russia

At the whopping age of 25-35 million years and 1,642m (5,387ft) deep,it is both the oldest and the deepest lake in the world. After a quick dip in it myself, I’m willing to bet it’s the coldest lake in the world too.

Ellora Caves, India:

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Ellora Caves, India

Consisting of 34 temples and monasteries of Jain, Buddhist and Hindu faith, dug into the wall of a high cliff the Ellora Caves are an incredible 1,000-1,500 years old.

Stari Most, Bosnia and Herzegovina: 

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Stari Most, Bosnia and Herzegovina

400+ year old bridge is a marvellous feat of Ottoman architecture and a great representation of Mostar’s divided population.

Medina of Fez, Morocco:

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Medina of Fez, Morocco

Pungent smells of leather tanning linger in the alleyways of Fez’s busy and historic Medina. Step into a completely different world with the magic of fondouks, mosques, madrasas, pottery shops, carpenters, and more.

Timbuktu, Mali:

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Timbuktu, Mali

Covered in sand, in the middle of no where, this city is often mistaken as a mythical place used to describe a place as ‘far-away” but it truly does exist. Historically, a significant trading post on trans-Saharan caravan route.

Pompeii, Italy:

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Pompeii, Italy

There are so many incredible places on and off the World Heritage Sites list in Italy, but one of my favorites is Pompeii. Over 2,000 years ago this thriving Roman city went silent when it disappeared under meters of ash in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Now uncovered, you can walk the streets of this ancient city and even see the bodies of its shockingly well-preserved residents.

Galapagos Islands:


Galapagos Islands

An otherworldly collection of island just off the coast of Ecuador. Famous for being the inspiration to Charles Darwin’s theory on evolution with its finches. Also home to the blue-footed booby, penguins, hammerhead sharks, world’s largest Galapagos tortoises, sea lions, pelicans, marine iguanas, fredatidae and so many other special creatures.

Rock-Hewn Churches Lalibela, Ethiopia:

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Rock-Hewn Churches Lalibela, Ethiopia

Eleven Christian churches connected by deep passages, carved 11m (36ft) deep into rock in the 12th and 13th century. Their construction is still quite mysterious.

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg:

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Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Some consider Luxembourg City the safest city in the world. Built on plateaus and along the deep gorge split by the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers. Because of the city’s incredible strategical position, it was one of the most powerful fortified sites in the 16th century.

Old Town Lijiang, China:

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Old Town Lijiang, China

The old town of Lijiang is made up of beautiful canals twinkling through this historic trading town, highly important for traders on the Ancient Tea Horse Road. Its ancient water system was beyond its time.

Budapest, Hungary

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Budapest, Hungary

Capital of Hungary, Budapest is a stunning city is a World Heritage Site with many points of interest including the Banks of Danube, The Buda Castle Quarter and Andrassy Avenue.

Which of these Unesco Sites have you already visited and which are still on your list? Come share with us your best World Heritage Site experiences, photos and recommendations.

-Savannah Grace