Earlier this year UNESCO added nineteen new sites to its prestigious World Heritage List, a highly recognised honour for monuments, sites and natural wonders around the world. As 2013 draws to a close we look back at this year’s new entries and highlight some of our favourites.
Hill Forts of Rajasthan, India
The colour, pomp and history of Rajasthanis one of India’s biggest draw-cards, and this year six of its grandest forts have gained recognition as UNESCO World Heritage sites for their elaborate architecture, imposing size and the majestic testimony they bear to the erstwhile power of the Rajput rulers. Strategically built in the rugged hills of the Aravalli Mountain range, the six forts of Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Sawai Madhopur, Jhalawar, Jaipur and Jaisalmer demonstrate the political, cultural, social and architectural evolution of Rajput kings through the major urban centres, temples and sacred buildings enclosed within their fortified walls.
Perhaps better known by its nickname, the iconic Mount Fuji has gained international recognition as a symbol of Japan with its solitary snow-capped peak rising majestically above the sea framed by the pink hues of cherry blossom trees. For centuries this national icon has inspired artists and poets alike, and has even been worshipped as a sacred site with thousands of pilgrims flocking to its mountain-top shrines every year. This year Fujisan received well-deserved recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site, with inscribed areas including pilgrim routes and crater shrines around the upper 1,500-metre tier of the mountain, as well as sites at the base of the mountain, and elements of its natural volcanic features.
Namib Sand Sea, Namibia
Stretching some 2000 kilometres along the Atlantic Coast, the Namib Desert spans the countries of Namibia, Angola and South Africa and is thought to be the oldest desert in the world. This is where you’ll find ‘The Skeleton Coast’, so-called for the numerous whale and seal bones that would wash up on the shore during the days of the whaling trade. But in modern times, the name is more relevant to the remains of shipwrecks which line the coast, caught in the dense fog that rolls in off the Atlantic at night. Featuring some of the world’s tallest sand dunes, this is a land of epic cinematic landscapes and is the first natural site in Namibia to be inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
What was your favourite addition to the UNESCO World Heritage list this year? And which sites would you want to see for yourself?