UNESCO's newest World Heritage sites: how to see them differently

Cycling the temples of Bagan
Cycling the temples of Bagan

UNESCO has inscribed 29 new places on the World Heritage list for 2019, among these are Bagan’s monumental architecture and a beautiful Italian vineyard region.

The prestigious list has come a long way, with 1,121 cultural and natural sites now tagged as World Heritage-listed. In comparison, the very first World Heritage list in 1978 featured only 12.

We list five of the most exciting additions and ways to explore them differently.

Vatnajökull National Park | Iceland

It's a mega park that encompasses almost 14 per cent of Iceland. It's volcanic, ice cap scenery is spectacularly varied with sub-glacial lakes, jagged mountain ranges, and active volcanoes, that haven't erupted in many years.

UNESCO describes the landscape as an "interaction between volcanoes and the rifts that underlie the Vatnajökull ice cap takes many forms, the most spectacular of which is the jökulhlaup – a sudden flood caused by the breach of the margin of a glacier during an eruption.”

Go there on a Iceland Northern Lights experience. Explore an ice cave in the heart of Vatnajökull for a spectacular winter experience before retiring in a comfortable hotel literally in the middle of nowhere, to maximise your chance to view the extraordinary coloured lights streaming through the northern sky, the Aurora Borealis.

Aurora Borealis over Iceland |  <i>Tim Gallantree</i>

Jaipur City, Rajasthan | India

Known for its iconic architectural legacy and vibrant culture, India's Pink City of Jaipur recently made its entry into the UNESCO World Heritage list. The walled city's finest monuments include the City Palace, Amber Fort and the iconic Hawa Mahal.

“The city’s urban planning shows an exchange of ideas from ancient Hindu and modern Mughal as well as Western cultures," states UNESCO. "The grid plan is a model that prevails in the West, while the organization of the different districts refers to traditional Hindu concepts. Designed to be a commercial capital, the city has maintained its local commercial, artisanal and cooperative traditions.”

Go there on a Rajasthan Cycle adventure which departs weekly from October to March. At Jaipur, you'll visit the City Palace, bazaars of the Old City and the Palace of the Winds, originally built as part of the City Palace. You'll then cycle the outskirts of Jaipur to your next destination to savour a way of life that is still in harmony with the seasons.

The Palace of Winds in Jaipur is located in the city and is a stunning example of Rajput architecture and artistry with its pink delicately honeycombed 953 sandstone windows known as 'jharokhas' |  <i>Fiona Windon</i>

Bagan | Myanmar

No trip to Myanmar is complete without a visit to Bagan, a sacred landscape of Buddhist art and architecture, as well as archaeological greats. Find some Southeast Asia's finest collection of temples and stupas dating back to the 11th-13th centuries.

Mist rises over the enchanting Bagan, Myanmar

From monasteries and places of pilgrimage to frescoes and sculptures, UNESCO featured the city on its heritage list as it "bears spectacular testimony to the peak of Bagan civilization. This ensemble of monumental architecture reflects the strength of religious devotion of an early Buddhist empire.”

Go there on an all-encompassing Myanmar Adventure which departs on various dates year round. Explore the ancient Bagan temples by bike, before relaxing in the serene Minnanthu area for a scenic picnic lunch in this historical setting.

Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene | Italy

You can probably guess by the name of this Italian region is known for it's wine and beautiful vineyards.

As described by UNESCO, its landscape is "characterized by ‘hogback’ hills, ciglioni – small plots of vines on narrow grassy terraces – forests, small villages and farmland. For centuries, this rugged terrain has been shaped and adapted by man. Since the 17th century, the use of ciglioni has created a particular chequerboard landscape consisting of rows of vines parallel and vertical to the slopes.”

Vineyards of Prosecco

Go there on a Prosecco Wine Cycle trip which departs between April and October. Cycle in the heart of the Veneto and through the picturesque and romantic hills of Prosecco. The gorgeous views of the almost never-ending grapevines will certainly build a craving to sample the world famous sparkling wine from local vineyards.

Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, Braga | Portugal

Reach this hilltop sanctuary via a 575-stepped staircase that leads you to an impressive a biblical landing of allegorical sculptures, picturesque gardens, ornate fountains and multiple chapels expressive of Via Crucis.

UNESCO says this pilgrimage site is a "sanctuary was developed over a period of more than 600 years and illustrates a European tradition of creating Sacri Monti (sacred mountains), promoted by the Catholic Church in reaction to the Protestant Reformation."

Go there on the Best of the Portuguese Way tour which depart in April, May, September and October. The visit to Braga will give you the chance to explore the historic town on special pilgrimage walk, the Portuguese Way. Second only to the Camino Francés in popularity with modern day walkers and pilgrims, it extends from the capital Lisbon across to Santiago.

Published on 18 July 2019.

adventure travel, UNESCO, cultural sites, natural sites, heritage-listed

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