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Favorite Friday: World Heritage Sites

My desire to travel the world, experience new things, see new people, be inspired by nature, and (of course) photograph it all to share grows stronger every time I see pictures of different places around the world.  This means that my “I want to go!” travel list grows longer all the time.  And National Geographic always helps me add to my list.  They posted a photo gallery today titled World Heritage Sites that did not disappoint.

As of 2011, 936 sites are listed: 725 cultural, 183 natural, and 28 mixed properties.  Italy is home to the most Heritage Sites with 47 on the list.  To be nominated, a country can recommend a place to the World Heritage Committee, it must be of “outstanding universal value”, and meet at least 1 of the 10 criteria under “cultural” or “natural”.  The Committee meets once a year to go through the recommendations and decide if it should be added as a World Heritage Site.

I have not heard of these Heritage Sites but plenty of them are on my “I want to go!” travel list.  These sites just gives me even more reason to want to travel and another list to develop and try to complete.  My first travel bucket list is to visit all the National Parks in the United States (which I am working on).  The Heritage Sites would be another travel bucket list I’d like to be able to cross things off of.

The Great Wall of China has always been on my “I want to go!” list.  In existence for over 2,000 years, it holds so much history, conflicts, and has seen many civilizations (if walls could talk!).  A Cultural Heritage Site since 1987, it is recognized as an integral accomplishment in human history.  (More cool information on this Heritage Site here.)

Picture taken by Bu Xiangdong, Xinhua Press/Corbis. Location: Great Wall of China. (Click for larger image)

Another amazing site that has always had a place on my travel list is Machu Picchu, Peru.  This Heritage Site leftover from the Inca Empire and stretches more than 62 miles in present-day Peru.  This has been a Cultural Heritage Site since 1983 for being one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.  (More about this World Heritage Site here.)

Picture taken by Frank Tophoven, laif/Redux. Location: Machu Picchu, Peru. (Click for larger image)

Brazil also has a spot on my “I want to go!” travel list.  I have always wanted to see Rio de Janeiro and Christ the Redeemer (which is not a Heritage Site but has been recommended to the Committee in 2001).  What is a Heritage Site is the Amazon Basin.  It covers almost 15 million acres and is home to many threatened species, including the freshwater dolphin.  A Natural Heritage Site since 2000, it is recognized as one of the most biodiverse areas on Earth and home to many species found nowhere else.  (See more on this Site here.)

Picture taken by Kevin Schafer, National Geographic. Location: Amazon Basin, Brazil. (Click for larger image)

 If I could go anywhere in the world, it would be to Australia, hands down.  I wouldn’t even have to think about it.  And now I know it has a lot of Heritage Sites that I could cross off at the same time, including the Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef.  The Great Barrier Reef is one of the biggest reasons why I want to visit Australia (must be my love of the ocean and marine life).  I will even learn to scuba dive to be able to experience it.  A Natural Heritage Site since 1981, the coral reef system is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet.  (Read more about this amazing place here.)

Picture taken by Anthony Johnson, Getty Images. Location: Great Barrier Reef, Australia. (Click for larger image)

There are so many cool and interesting places on the list: Galapagos Islands, Redwood National Park, Yosemite Park, Kiev, castles in Great Britain, Stonehenge, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Swiss Alps, Jerusalem, Venice, and tons others.  It stretches all over the world to places in Romania, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Thailand, Spain, Mexico, India, Iceland, Haiti, Germany, Canada, Egypt, Viet Nam… the list goes on and on.  So diverse and interesting.  As of now, I can cross off 4 from the list (Independence Hall, Mammoth Cave National Park, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and Statue of Liberty).  I can also count Monticello and the University of Virginia as #5 if I really wanted to, but I only was in Monticello to see a concert one night.  I wasn’t there to do any sightseeing.  Only 932 places left to go!

To see National Geographic’s photo gallery on the rest of the World Heritage Sites they profiled, you can visit here.  To see the complete World Heritage Sites list and all the information on each one, you can see it all here (provided by UNESCO).

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