5 of the most beautiful World Heritage Sites

Hot Air Ballons rising above Bagan, Myanmar

World Heritage Day celebrates work carried out by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).

This year, World Heritage Day fell on 18 April 2022. To acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the diversity of cultural heritage, I’ve picked five of the most impressive heritage sites that exist today.

Nubian Monuments – Egypt

Nubian Kingdom - Temples of Ramses II

The Nubian Monuments cover a string of ancient archaeological sites in southern Egypt. Featuring several important sites, they were built from the 2nd millennium onwards. This was done to try and gain or retain dominance over the Nubian kingdom, and its assets such as gold, copper, and ivory.

The outstanding archaeological area contains such monuments as the Temples of Ramses II and the Sanctuary of Isis. Both were relocated and saved from rising water thanks to the International Campaign launched by UNESCO, from 1960 to 1980.

Kathmandu Valley – Nepal

Kathmandu Valley

The Kathmandu Valley is a bowl-shaped valley located in the Himalayan mountains. Featuring at least 130 important monuments, with seven of these being World Heritage Sites. These sites display the full range of historic and artistic achievements for which the Kathmandu Valley is famous.

The seven monuments include:

  • The Durbar Squares of Kathamandu
  • Patan
  • Bhaktapur
  • Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Bauddhanath
  • Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan.

The Great Wall – China

Great Wall of China

Continuously built from 3rd century BC to the 17th century AD, the Great Wall is the longest man-made structure in the world. The complete route is over 20,000km. It stretches from Shanhaigun in the East to Jiayugan in the West.

Originally built as a defense system, the existing elements of the Great Wall retain their original location, material, form, technology, and structure. The best-known and best-preserved section of the Great Wall was built from 14th-17th century AD during the Ming dynasty.

Taj Mahal – India

Taj Mahal

An ivory-white mausoleum, the Taj Mahal sits on the right bank of the river Yamuna, in the city of Agra. Commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal houses the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It also houses the tomb of the emperor himself.

The 42-acre complex also includes a mosque, a guest house, and formal gardens. The Taj Mahal is regarded as one of the best examples of Mughal architecture, and a symbol of India’s rich history.

Bagan – Myanmar

Bagan in Myanmar

Bagan is an ancient city located on the bend of the Ayeyarwady River in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. A sacred landscape, it features a vast range of Buddhist art and architecture and over 3,500 stupas, temples, monasteries, and other structures.

From the 9th-13th century, this ancient city was the capital of the Bagan Kingdom. In 2019, the city was officially added as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, 24 years after it had originally been nominated.

Rachael Woodroffe is a SOAS Digital Ambassador currently studying a distant learning online Masters in Global Corporations and Policy. Rachael lives in the South West of England and works full-time in Corporate Affairs alongside her studies.

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