I’ve slowly clued into the fact that there is a network of ‘World Heritage’ monuments, sites, and natural parks throughout the world–places that are deemed unique enough, or endangered enough, to deserve funding by UNESCO. A site can be a monument, a group of buildings, or an entire city. But to be granted a World Heritage designation, it must ‘represent a masterpiece of human creative genius; or bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.’
I like to think of these creations as the Best of Civilization.
Almost every country has at least one site, and sometimes many. Some places are justifiably famous, but many are mysteriously overlooked. Heritage sites are always among the most interesting destinations to visit in any country, well worth going out of your way to see. The sites range from ruins like the famous Inca Machu Picchu, to the less known ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri, India, to preserved towns like Visby, Sweden, to unspoiled wilderness areas like the Galapagos Islands. In total UNESCO lists 630 sites in 100 countries.