At Large  July 11, 2019  Chandra Noyes

7 New Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites

© Department of Archaeology and National Museum

Bagan, Myanmar

It may be time to update your bucket list. This week UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ) designated 29 new World Heritage Sites. They include natural and man-made wonders from around the globe, chosen because they have cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance that make them important to human history. With the designation comes legal protections by international treaties, and the possibility of increased funds for conservation efforts. Here are seven stunning new World Heritage sites that you may want to check out soon.

Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York
Gorup de Besanez, wikimedia commons

The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, USA

UNESCO chose eight diverse buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to designate World Heritage Sites. Throughout his lifetime, Wright had over 500 of his designs built, not all of which remain standing. The chosen sites include his most famous works, like the Fallingwater home in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, as well as lesser-known buildings, like the Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois. Founding what would become known as the Prairie School of architecture, Wright advocated for open floor plans and using materials in unconventional ways, both of which UNESCO cites as reasons to value his work.

Main facade of Mafra National Palace, Portugal
Alvesgaspar, wikimedia commons

Royal Building of Mafra – Palace, Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden and Hunting Park (Tapada), Portugal 

A testament to the power of the Portuguese Empire, the Mafra National Palace is an imposing Royal complex in the elaborate Italian Baroque style. Comprised of the king's and queen’s palaces, a royal chapel, a monastery, and impressive library, the site was built by King João V in 1711. Located northwest of Lisbon, the palace is surrounded by the Cerco garden and royal hunting park. Once the home of the Mafra School of Sculpture, the palace has a large collection of busts and other works found throughout the grounds.

Babylonian gates
Mohamm3dfadil, wikimedia commons

Babylon, Iraq

It is a wonder that the famed site of Babylon is only now receiving recognition from UNESCO, given its reputation. Once home to the Hanging Gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Babylon has certainly seen better days (and better millennia). Once the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the ancient site, which was at its peak in the 6th and 7th Centuries, BCE, is now largely in ruins. There is incredible potential for excavation and preservation at Babylon, and hopefully, this designation will aid in that. 

Bagan, Myanmar
© Department of Archaeology and National Museum

Bagan, Myanmar 

Elaborate temples litter the lush landscape of Bagan, the capital of a thriving empire from the 11th and 13th centuries. During this period, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were built in the plains of the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. Over 2,000 of the buildings still stand, some important sites of pilgrimage for Buddhists, making this region Myanmar’s biggest tourist attraction.

Pskov Krom, view from the Velikaya River
Alexandr Kozlov, wikimedia commons

Churches of the Pskov School of Architecture, Russian Federation 

Sitting on the banks of the Velikaya River in northwest Russia, Pskov is one of the oldest cities in Russia, and home to a unique architectural style that has influenced the entirety of Russian architecture. The Pskov School of Architecture reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries, when many churches, cathedrals, monasteries, fortification towers and administrative buildings which still stand were built. Some of the picturesque, squat buildings with curved arches and domes date back to the 12th and 9th centuries, inspired by Byzantine and Novgorod traditions.

Shaki khan palace
Sefer azeri, wikimedia commons

Historic Center of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace, Azerbaijan 

The luxurious Palace of the Shaki Khan’s was built 1797 as a summer residence for the empire's leading family. With frescoes, stained-glass or mosaics decorating nearly every surface, the palace is a treat for the eyes. Once the home of great wealth generated by Silk Road trading, Sheki sits at the base of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, a site that archeologists date back 2700 years. The buildings in the city reflect this long history, including impressive homes of merchants, and churches dating back to the 6th Century.

Jorawar Singh Gate in Jaipur, India
A.Savin, Wikimedia Commons

Jaipur City, Rajasthan, India 

With a population of over three million, Jaipur is the largest city in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan. One of the earliest planned cities of modern India, it was founded in 1727 by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amer, who consulted with architects when designing his nine-block city-center, featuring seven fortified gates. In 1876, Jaipur earned the nickname the “Pink City,” when officials literally painted the town to welcome the visiting Prince of Wales (he would later become King Edward VII). Jaipur City has enough stunning palaces, gates and views of the Dravyavati River to occupy an architecture buff for days.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is Managing Editor for Art & Object.

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