Heritage sites stand as an unparalleled legacy of human history and culture. These compelling reasons stand as ample grounds to protect their unique character and reveal their brilliance to a global audience for generations to come.
Annually, UNESCO curates an anthology of World Heritage Sites spanning the globe. To earn a coveted place on this esteemed list, a natural or cultural site must be of outstanding universal value and fulfill a minimum of one of ten other criteria for selection, which may include being a “showcase of human creative brilliance” or featuring “regions of extraordinary natural splendor and aesthetic significance”.
The List of World Heritage Sites falls under the purview of the International World Heritage Programme, overseen by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The program offers financial assistance through the compassionate channel of the World Heritage Fund, an honorable initiative rooted in the foundation of the Convention for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of the World. This landmark accord was formally adopted during the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972.
42 new inscribed properties were announced during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee being held from Sept. 10 to 25 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Recently, UNESCO revealed 27 dazzling new additions to its World Heritage Site list. These include a rich tapestry of culturally significant wonders, from Cambodia’s sacred temples to China’s ancient tea forests and Europe’s historic towns.
But that’s not all – some of our existing heritage gems have now grown even more magnificent, with expansions like Madagascar’s Andrefana Dry Forests, Vietnam’s Cat Ba Archipelago in Ha Long Bay, fresh sections of Azerbaijan’s ancient Hyrcanian Forest and ESMA Museum and Site of Memory – Former Clandestine Center of Detention, Torture and Extermination in Argentina.
Additionally,in response to the continued Russian invasion in Ukraine, the committee included a number of Ukrainian sites on its Endangered List. Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral and its monastic buildings were designated as endangered, as was the historic city center of L’viv. “Faced with the risk of direct attack, these sites are also vulnerable to the shockwaves caused by the bombing of the two cities,” UNESCO said in a statement.
The 27 new sites bring the list up to more than 1,100 locations across the world. The committee meeting is slated to last until September 25, and additional sites could continue to be inscribed.
Here’s a running list of the newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites added in 2023.
Gaya Tumli, South Korea
Jewish-Medieval Heritage of Erfurt, Germany
Modernist Kaunas, Lithuania
National Archaeological Park Tak’alik Ab’aj, Guatemala
Old town of Kuldīga, Latvia
Silk Roads: Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
The Gedeo Cultural Landscape, Ethiopia
The Persian Caravanserai, Iran
Viking-Age Ring Fortresses, Denmark
Žatec and the Landscape of Saaz Hops, Czechia
Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan, West Bank
Yogyakarta and its Historic Landmarks, Indonesia
Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
The Maison Carrée of Nimes, France
Two Ukraine Sites in ‘World Heritage in Danger’
The World Heritage Committee inscribed two sites in Ukraine to its List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Saint Sophia Cathedral and Lavra of Kyiv-Pechersk (Kyiv Monastery of the Caves)
The historic center of the city of Lviv
The committee noted both have been under permanent threat since the start of the Russian invasion despite “the many actions taken by the Ukrainian authorities to protect their cultural property,” according to UNESCO.
UNESCO stated that their inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger reminds the 195 States parties to the Convention of their responsibility to monitor and contribute to the protection of these sites. The two sites join the historic center of the city of Odesa — named in January — to UNESCO’s “in danger” list.