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There Are New World Heritage Sites, Here Are the Ones You Should Travel to Now

This year, 24 sites from across the globe have been added to the heralded Unesco list

(© Murat Taner/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Every year, the bucket lists of heritage-minded travelers get a little longer thanks to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

The organization has recently released its annual additions to the list of World Heritage Sites, which is focused on the world’s most important cultural and natural wonders—from the watery coasts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the top of the Pyramids of Giza.

There were 24 all-new additions to the list this year, including the first World Heritage Site in Jamaica (the Blue and John Crow Mountains, a refuge for indigenous people and Africans fleeing slavery) and the United States’ 23rd designation, the San Antonio Missions. The list now includes 1,031 different sites, located in 163 countries.

Beyond just identifying the sites, Unesco also aims to protect, preserve and conserve these locations so that they’ll be around for generations to come. These particular aims have taken on added meaning with the recent reports that ISIS has deliberately destroyed some of Iraq’s and Syria’s most valued and significant World Heritage-designated sites, including the ancient cities of Nimrud and Palmyra.During its most recent meeting, the organization also added two sites to the List of World Heritage in Danger: Hatra in Iraq and the Old City of Sana’a in Yemen, both imperiled because of armed conflict.

Here are seven of the 2015 additions to the World Heritage list that are particular destination-worthy, each so packed with history and cultural meaning it’s one of the must-see places on Earth:

Ephesus: Turkey

On the western coast of modern-day Turkey sit the remains of the ancient city of Ephesus, once one of the world's greatest seaports. Vibrant for about 25,000 years, Ephesus reached its height under Greek and Roman rule and was then revived in the 4th century as an important Christian city.  

As the most culturally significant city in Asia Minor during its time, Ephesus housed magnificent buildings devoted to religion, learning and entertainment. The Library of Celsus housed thousands of scrolls, and was one of the most important libraries of the ancient world. The Temple of Artemis, built as a shrine to the Greek goddess, is one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.

Today, the city’s ruins attract people from all over. With over 2 million tourists a year, it is the third-most visited spot in Turkey

The other 2015 World Heritage Site additions:

Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System: Mexico

Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale: Italy

Baekje Historic Areas: Republic of Korea

Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement: Denmark

Climats, terroirs of Burgundy: France

Cultural Landscape of Maymand: Iran

Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape: Turkey

Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape: Uruguay

Rjukan–Notodden Industrial Heritage Site: Norway

Rock Art in the Hail Region: Saudi Arabia

Singapore Botanical Gardens: Singapore

Tusi Sites: China

The par force hunting landscape in North Zealand: Denmark

The Forth Bridge: Scotland

Susa: Iran

Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus: Germany

Blue and John Crow Mountains: Jamaica

About Matt Blitz

Matt Blitz is a history and travel writer. His work has been featured on CNN, Atlas Obscura, Curbed, Nickelodeon, and Today I Found Out. He also runs the Obscura Society DC and is a big fan of diners.

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