Worldwide, individuals celebrate their cultural heritage every day by being their true authentic selves. At the same time, one day is set aside every year to celebrate the heritage of the entire human race: World Heritage Day. It is celebrated on 18 April to raise awareness about preserving the history, diversity, and vulnerability of world heritage sites and monuments.
It also aims to recognize the efforts of all relevant organizations in this field. These include architects, engineers, geographers, civil engineers, artists and archaeologists. We will shed some light on the importance of World Heritage Day, 2019, its history and talk about 5 UNESCO heritage sites that you should tick off your bucket list right away.
About World Heritage Day
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in 1982 announced the 18th of April as World Heritage Day. Another name for this day is The International Day for Monument and Sites. This was approved by the General Assembly of UNESCO in 1983. The objective of World Heritage Day is to emphasize the importance of safeguarding various sites around the world that have achieved world heritage status and the challenges involved in protecting these sites.
A World Heritage site is defined as a “natural or man-made area or a structure that is of international importance, and space which requires special protection.” UNESCO believes that the sites classified as World Heritage hold cultural and physical significance. Today, there are a grand total of 1,092 UNESCO World Heritage Sites worldwide, of which 845 are cultural, 209 are natural and 38 are a mixture. 55 of these are in danger, including the birthplace of Jesus, Church of the Nativity and Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem.
Importance Of World Heritage Day
The World Heritage Day 2019 theme is rural landscapes. Protecting and preserving heritage rural sites requires the collective efforts of the entire international community. It is important for travelers like us to know how we can contribute to nurturing heritage sites.
Usually, local and foreign experts and personalities are invited for seminars calling attention to this day in cultural centers, city halls, and other public spaces. In addition to that, organizations or people who have made an outstanding contribution to the conservation and promotion of cultural heritage receive recognition via certificates and awards. Special awareness-raising activities among school children and youth are also held around the world.
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Top 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Whether it’s the Great Wall of China that can be seen from the moon or the Taj Mahal that was built as a symbol of love, each one of them has something special to offer. Take a look at our 5 favorite UNESCO world heritage sites.
1. Angkor Wat
The largest religious temple in the World, Angkor Wat In Siem Reap is a temple complex dedicated originally to the Hindu deity Vishnu which was then transformed into a Buddhist temple by the end of the 12th century. Built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II of the Khmer Empire, the temple embodies the classical Khmer style of architecture and also features on the Cambodian flag.
2. Machu Picchu
A trip to Peru is not complete without a trek to Machu Picchu. At almost 8,000 ft, this citadel is a sight to behold. Situated where the Andes and the Amazon Basin meet, the natural beauty of the structure is unparalleled. As you walk amongst the clouds, you’ll find varied landscapes and diverse flora and fauna. Make sure you have a camera handy to capture the ancient buildings, mind-blowing views, and local llamas.
The Sigiriya Lion Rock is a magnificent fortress and temple complex atop a high volcanic plateau. Locally also called the eighth wonder of the world, this stunning site features high on the list of places to visit in Dambulla and Sigiriya. The main entrance is shaped like a huge stone lion, whose feet survived the ravages of time. Make sure to visit Sigiriya’s western wall, which is adorned with beautiful frescoes.
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4. Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is actually a mausoleum built between 1632 and 1653 in the city of Agra. It sits on the banks of the Yamuna river and was commissioned by the Muslim emperor Shah Jahan of the Mughal dynasty. The imposing set of buildings was built in honor of his favorite wife, who died delivering her fourteenth child. It is estimated that its construction required the effort of 20,000 workers.
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5. Cinque Terre
‘Cinque Terre’ in Italian means ‘Five Lands’. It is a rugged portion of the coast on the Riviera of Italy. There are five popular Cinque Terre villages that include Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Due to the scenic beauty, trails, and untouched architecture, all these villages have been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
These sites have gained global significance because they embody art, culture, and civilization. They are of outstanding value to humanity. On World Heritage Day, it is important to plan events that would help people connect to the past like heritage walks, museum and library tours, and heritage property open days. Before booking an international trip to these heritage sites, find out what steps are needed to protect it and respect them during your visit. Don’t let an important site disappear from the world, do your part on this day to raise awareness and preserve it for future generations.