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:
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: