Places that should be UNESCO World Heritage Sites

07 December 2020

Last year, UNESCO updated their list of World Heritage Sites, adding fascinating sites such as the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco architecture of Mumbai, the ancient port city of Qalhat, Oman and Fanjingshan in China’s Wuling Mountains. While their extensive list features a vast amount of cultural riches, some miss the cut. Here is a selection of our favourite places that haven't made the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA

Although a popular spot for hikers, the stunning red and orange hues of Antelope Canyon have somehow avoided inclusion on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites List. These two stunning slot canyons allow for stunning patterns when sunlight filters through the cracks and its Navajo name, “the place where water runs through rocks,” is an allusion to the canyon’s creation by flood erosion.

Izmailovo Kremlin, Moscow, Russia

Moscow is a grand city and perhaps the hidden gem of Russia’s capital is the Izmailovo Kremlin. Not to be confused with the Red Square complex where Vladimir Putin and company take chair, Izmailovo Kremlin looks as though it has been plucked straight from a storybook. It features an assortment of colourful wooden buildings with tiled roofs, towering spires and cultural attractions including a chocolate museum, gingerbread shop and the Church of St Nicholas, the patron saint of crafts and trades.

The beaches of Normandy, France

The beaches of Normandy, France were not a tourist destination 75 years ago. Rather, they were the sight of one of the most poignant events in European history – the D-Day landings, where the Allied Forces began their charge to liberate the continent from years of German military operation. While the shores of Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches are still accessible today, many fear that potential development in the area might threaten future generations from visiting and acknowledging the 24,000 soldiers who fought there.

Batu Caves, Gombak, Malaysia

One of Malaysia’s most striking and Instagrammable locations, the 400 million-year-old Batu Caves somehow aren’t a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This cavern system is an excellent example of geological history, and the formation of caves, the Hindu temples inside and the colourful stairs that lead up to it are an impressive sight.

“The Batu Caves are just north of Kuala Lumpur and can easily be reached by local transport or pre-booked excursion. The main cave is one of the most important Hindu shrines outside of India and with 272 steps to reach the top, it’s best to arrive early to avoid both the daytime temperatures and the big crowds. Look out for the cheeky monkeys who live in the caves that you will probably meet on the way up and down the steps.”

Annette, Travel Counsellor

Geographic South Pole, Antarctica

The location of the true South Pole marks something that has unified humanity like very few places have before, captivating the hearts and minds of explorers in a similar way to the space race. Remarkably, and perhaps to prevent an international incident due to various land claims by a multitude of countries, the Geographic South Pole has never been granted World Heritage status.

Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, Cambodia

One of the first designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites was the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, immortalising one of humanity’s darkest moments and acknowledging the camp as an everlasting reminder that this particular piece of history should never repeat itself. From 1975 to 1979, an equally atrocious event occurred in Cambodia when dictator Pol Pot rose to power and started a massacre of Nazi proportions, executing approximately 1.5 million people. While visitors can visit the site today, UNESCO hasn’t granted the coveted status that similar places receive.


If you would like to book your trip to one of these fantastic attractions, contact your Travel Counsellors.

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