UNESCO adds 33 spots to the list of World Heritage Sites. These are the newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites you need to see.

Each year (since 1978) the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets to discuss and vote on new spots to add to the list of World Heritage Sites. Of course, the distinction of being a World Heritage Site is a highly coveted honor. Indeed, destinations have to meet certain criteria to make the list. Criteria for making the list include things like places that are “a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared." Or places might have “exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance." The nomination process alone can last years.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee didn't meet for a year. So, virtual participants in this year's session met to review nominations from both 2020 and 2021. After several days of deliberations, UNESCO (which stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) voted to add 33 spots to the list of World Heritage Sites.

There are therefore a number of natural and cultural spots added to the list of newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites this year. They include the Great Spa Towns of Europe and the Korean Tidal Flats of Getbol. They also feature the Trans-Iranian Railway and the historic limestone city of As-Salt in Jordan. We are big fans of adding UNESCO World Heritage sites to itineraries. Here are just a few of the new sites we are most excited about because of their history and proximity to other key destinations. You can see the full list at the bottom of this post.

As-Salt, Jordan - The Place of Tolerance and Urban Hospitality

Half an hour away from Amman, you’ll find As-Salt -- one of the newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This ancient town was once the most important settlement in the area between the Jordan Valley and the Eastern Desert. Built between three hills, the city linked the eastern desert and the west. It enjoyed its most prosperous period at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century during Ottoman rule. The Ottomans encouraged people to settle in As-Salt which then brought merchants and wealth. With their wealth, they built houses that can still be seen in the city today.

The buildings typically had domed roofs, interior courtyards, and tall, arched windows. Indeed, the most beautiful house -- the Abu Jaber mansion built between 1892 and 1906 -- has frescoed ceilings painted by Italian artists. As such, it is considered to be the finest example of a 19th-century merchant house in the region.

Additionally, the city is known for its tolerance between Muslims and Christians, as seen in its non-segregated development of the city and the traditions of hospitality marked by the guest houses, known as Dawaween.

The Great Spa Towns of Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland)

Then there are the Great Spa Towns of Europe. The Great Spa Towns of Europe specifically comprise 11 towns in seven different European countries. Each of these areas were developed around natural mineral water springs. Because of their location, from the early 18th century to the 1930s, a significant spa culture arose in Europe. Indeed, the many grand international resorts still standing today remain remnants of that time. Afterwards, throughout the towns, buildings for therapy, pump rooms, and drinking halls were built and gardens were landscaped. The infrastructure contributed to an overall therapeutic and recreational environment set in some of the most picturesque landscapes. Some of these newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites include the City of Bath (United Kingdom), Vichy (France), and Baden bei Wien (Austria).

The Trans-Iranian Railway

Finally, there is the Trans-Iranian Railway. The Trans-Iranian Railway became one of the newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of the impressive engineering feat it represents. The railway, which was constructed between 1927 and 1938, stretches 866 miles and crosses two mountain ranges to connect the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. It was therefore constructed to handle steep inclines and tough terrain. Moreover, the railway includes 174 large bridges, 186 small bridges, 224 tunnels, 11 spiral tunnels, and horseshoe curves.

The Newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites

2020 Newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Turkey: Arslantepe Mound
Peru: Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex
Belgium/Netherlands: Colonies of Benevolence
France: Cordouan Lighthouse
India: Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple, Telangana
Germany: Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt
Italy: Padua's fourteenth-century fresco cycles
Spain: Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences
China: Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China
Romania: Roșia Montană Mining Landscape
Brazil: Sítio Roberto Burle Marx
Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: The Great Spa Towns of Europe
Uruguay: The work of engineer Eladio Dieste: Church of Atlántida
Iran: Trans-Iranian Railway
Saudi Arabia: Ḥimā Cultural Area
Japan: Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, Northern part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island
Georgia: Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands
South Korea: Getbol, Korean Tidal Flats
Thailand: Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex
Austria/Germany/Slovakia: Frontiers of the Roman Empire -- The Danube Limes (Western Segment)

2021 Newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Jordan: As-Salt - The Place of Tolerance and Urban Hospitality
Iran: Cultural Landscape of Hawraman/Uramanat
India: Dholavira: a Harappan City
Germany/the Netherlands: Frontiers of the Roman Empire -- The Lower German Limes
Japan: Jomon Prehistoric Sites in Northern Japan
France: Nice, Winter Resort Town of the Riviera
Chile: Settlement and Artificial Mummification of the Chinchorro Culture in the Arica and Parinacota Region
Germany: ShUM Sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz
Côte d'Ivoire: Sudanese style mosques in northern Côte d'Ivoire
Italy: The Porticoes of Bologna
Slovenia: The works of Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana -- Human Centred Urban Design
United Kingdom: The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales
Russia: Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea
Gabon: Ivindo National Park

See these Sites with Ker & Downey

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