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New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

In 1978 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) began cataloguing and recognising landmark sites around the globe in an effort to preserve the world’s cultural and natural heritage and raise awareness of places that are key to the common heritage of humanity.

Last month UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee met in Qatar to add 26 new sites to the list, bringing the number of World Heritage Sites to 1,007 across 161 countries.

The Flexicover Team selected five new additions that may be of interest to the discerning traveller!

Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc; France

Located in southern France, this 8,500 square metre cave (also known as the Grotte Chauvet-Pont d'Arc) contains over 1,000 drawings, some of which are the earliest known examples of human artistic expression, dating back over 30,000 years. The contents are remarkably well preserved due to a rockslide sealing the cave around 20,000 years ago until its discovery in 1994. On display is a vast range of artistic techniques including combined painting and engraving, anatomical precision and three-dimensionality depicting aurochs, rhinos, bears, mammoths, snow leopards and owls. The site is not yet open to the public; however, a perfect replica is currently being constructed on the hills of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, 7km from the cave, and due to open at the end of 2014.

Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex; Vietnam

This picturesque region is Vietnam’s eighth site recognised by UNESCO, located on the edge of the Red River delta, southeast of Hanoi. Spread over a huge 10,000 hectares, Tràng An is a spectacular landscape of limestone peaks and valleys, some of which are submerged. The site has three distinct components, Hoa Lu, the first capital of what would come to be Vietnam during the 10th and early 11th centuries, a city strategically built in mountainous area offering a natural defence from invasion. Then there’s Tam C?c and Bích Ð?ng with its huge rock formations jutting out of rice paddies, limestone caves and pagoda complex. Thirdly, Tràng An is an ecological site with its incredibly diverse flora and fauna.

Bursa and Cumalikizik: The Birth of the Ottoman Empire; Turkey

This nomination consisted of 8 sites in the City of Bursa and the nearby village of Cumalikizik, situated in north-western Turkey. Bursa was a political centre for the Ottomans and the empire's capital between 1335 and 1413. Known during that period as Hüdavendigar (‘God's Gift’), it’s nowadays widely known as Yesil (‘Green’) Bursa, due to its numerous parks and the vast forests surrounding the city. Cumalikizik is located 10km to the east, at the foot of Mount Uludag, and was a logistic centre of the Ottoman army, just before the conquest of Bursa. The village offers unique specimens of traditional Ottoman architecture with over 270 traditional houses, 180 of which are still used as dwellings, a mosque and a fountain still standing.

Rani-ki-vav; India

Also known as the The Queen's Stepwell, this site near Patan in Gujarat, was built in the 11th century by Queen Udayamati in memory of her husband King Bhimdev I. It’s a fantastic and complex example of a stepwell (basically a carved stone water storage unit accessed by steps). It was rediscovered in the 1950s as, for almost seven centuries, its many levels had been backfilled with silt. This does mean, though, that its many ornate carvings are exceptionally well preserved! This unique subterranean architectural structure is considered one of the most important stepwells in India and has seven storeys with most of the impressive sculptures devoted to the avatar forms of the god Vishnu.

Silk Roads: Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor; China, Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan

The Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor is a 5,000 kilometre stretch of the Silk Road, possibly the most important trading route in history. This part of the route runs from Chang’an/Luoyang, the central capital of China during the Han and Tang Dynasties, to the Zhetysu, a historical name given to the part of Central Asia around Lake Balkhash. Constructed between the 2nd century BCE and 1st century CE, it remained in continuous use until the 16th century, transporting silk and other goods as far west as the Mediterranean. Along the route, 33 historical structures are included as part of this listing, such as palaces, temples, lookout towers, tombs and parts of the Great Wall (itself, in its entirety, a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Whether you are travelling to some amazing heritage sites or just relaxing on a beach this summer, we at Flexicover are committed to providing you the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.

Safe Travels!