10 Must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Celebrate World Heritage Day by taking a virtual tour of 10 World Heritage Sites

By Google Arts & Culture

Sphinx (1947) by Eliot ElisofonLIFE Photo Collection

1. The Great Pyramids of Giza

The Great Pyramids of Giza are one of the oldest seven wonders of the world, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and an iconic symbol of Egypt. They were built around 4,500 years ago during the Old Kingdom, west of the Nile river outside the ancient city of Memphis.  

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Also known as known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest pyramid in the Giza complex in Cairo, Egypt.

Colosseo. Anfiteatro FlavioYouth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO

2. The Colosseum

Symbol of Rome par excellence, the Flavian Amphitheatre, more commonly known as the Colosseum, was the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire. 

Its construction was begun by Vespasian in 72 AD and it was used to host entertainment spectacles, such as hunts and gladiatorial combat. The building was designed for entertainment and open to all: any citizen could attend the shows for free.

Taj Mahal, Agra, IndiaGianfranco Ferré Research Center, Politecnico di Milano

3. The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is one of the great artistic treasures of the world, an instantly-recognisable emblem of India itself. It’s a mausoleum, or tomb, commissioned in 1632 by Emperor Shah Jahan, one of the greatest Mugal Emperors, to house the body of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Here, you can take in the famous architecture and surroundings in Street View. From the top of this minaret, we have a good view across the entire river plain, and of the Taj Mahal itself. The building is perfectly symmetrical, with four minarets, four small pavilions, and one iconic central dome.

The iconic tomb of Qasr al-Farid (2008) by Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)UNESCO World Heritage

4. Mada’in Salih in Saudi Arabia

Mada’in Salih is the largest conserved site of the civilization of the Nabataeans south of Petra in Jordan. It features well-preserved monumental tombs with decorated facades dating from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD.

Tombs of Hegra (2008) by Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)UNESCO World Heritage

With its 111 monumental tombs, 94 of which are decorated, and water wells, the site is an outstanding example of the Nabataeans’ architectural accomplishment and hydraulic expertise. In 2008, UNESCO proclaimed Mada'in Salih as a site of patrimony, becoming Saudi Arabia's first World Heritage Site.

By Dmitri KesselLIFE Photo Collection

5. The Grand Site of Chichén Itzá

The ancient Maya site of Chichén Itzá is located on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. The site once was one of the largest and most powerful city states of the pre-Columbian Americas.

Today, Chichén Itzá is one of the New Wonders of the World and the extraordinary El Castillo, the pyramidal structure in the main plaza of the site, is one of Chichén Itzá’s largest and most popular buildings.

A Close Up of a Moai in Rapa Nui (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk

6. Easter Island

Easter Island is an island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. It's famous for monumental statues, called moai, which were created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site.

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, CyArk, From the collection of: CyArk
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The ahu (platforms), with their moai (statues) are the iconic monuments of Easter Island. There are approximately 900 moai and over 300 ahu, most of which are located along the coast, as well as thousands of other archaeological sites and monuments, including rock art panels.

The lions of the Serengeti (1981) by Serengeti National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

7. Serengeti National Park

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is one of the most diverse and beautiful places on Earth. The park covers an area of 5,700 square miles and contains thousands of animal species. 

Zebras, Serengeti National Park (1981) by Serengeti National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Packed full of wildlife, the park is best known for its annual migration of over 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebra, the largest unaltered animal migration remaining in the world.

Wat_chaiwatthanaram (2011-12-12) by เกริกชัย อินทร์ปอCyArk

8. Historic City of Ayutthaya

Founded in 1350 C.E., the ancient city of Ayutthaya was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam until the 18th century. The city sits on an island In Thailand surrounded by three rivers which lead to the sea.

Wat Phra Si San Phet Ayutthaya by CyArkCyArk

The city was home to many finely built monuments including palaces and temples. In 1991, Ayutthaya was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it bears witness to the period of development of true national Thai art.

The Horses Fresco (2015/2015) by David HuguetGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

9. Chauvet Cave

The Chauvet Cave in Southern France contains some of the best-preserved figurative cave paintings in the world. Estimated to be 36,000 years old, the Chauvet Cave art has more than 1,000 drawings and engravings.

The Feline Fresco (Salle du Fond, Chauvet cave, Ardèche) (2008/2008) by L. Guichard/Perazio/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Animals are a central focus of the panels and frescoes in the cave.

Yosemite Valley from Tunnel view, El Capital facing Cathedral rocks, Yosemite National Park, Califo (2005-09-15) by Digital Vision.Getty Images

10. Yosemite National Park

Home to some of the most spectacular landscapes and breathtaking views on Earth, Yosemite National Park deserves to be on your hit list. The park covers an area of 1,169 sq miles and takes in granite cliffs, giant sequoia groves, lakes and waterfalls.

Visit Yosemite on Street View. You can hike its many trails and climb to its lofty viewpoints.

São Miguel Arcanjo church (1983) by Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis: Ruins of Sao Miguel das MissoesUNESCO World Heritage

If you'd like to learn about UNESCO sites around the world, you can read more about these incredible locations here

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