The all-new UNESCO World Heritage Sites for 2018

31 July 2018

From Christian relics in the Japanese countryside to stunning architecture in India’s biggest urban area, UNESCO recently added some fantastic destinations to their World Heritage Site list for 2018. We’ve rounded up the best inclusions and tell you more about the places you shouldn’t miss.

Hidden Christian Sites: Nagasaki, Japan

Located in the north-western part of Japan’s Kyushu island, Nagasaki’s hidden Christian sites are comprised of 10 villages, Hara Castle and a cathedral build between the 17th and 19th centuries during the country’s Christian prohibition era – which lasted until 1873.

The Nagasaki Churches are unique in that each tells a story about the revival of Christianity after the period of official suppression, while the Arima Christian Heritage Museum talks about the period when the buildings were constructed and the legacy that Japanese Christians left behind.

Victorian Gothic and Art Deco architecture: Mumbai, India

Thanks to an ambitious urban planning project in the second half of the 19th century, Mumbai birthed an ensemble of Victorian Neo-Gothic and Art Deco buildings bordering the city’s Oval Maidan open space. They feature elements suited to the subtropical Indian climate, such as balconies and verandas, creating a unique style that has been coined Indo-Deco.

The Victorian buildings are more traditional constructions, while the Art Deco buildings are home to cinemas, flats and hospitals in an array of colours.

Ancient port city: Qalhat, Oman

On the Sultanate of Oman’s east coast stands the ancient city of Qalhat, surrounded by inner and outer walls as well as a network of necropolises. The city originally developed as a major port on the east coast of Arabia between the 11th and 15th centuries when the Hormuz princes ruled the roost.

14th century explorer Ibn Battuta once said that Qalhat had “fine bazaars and one of the most beautiful mosques.”

Caliphate City of Medina Azahara: Córdoba, Spain

An essential part of Hispanic-Muslim heritage, the Caliphate City of Medina Azagara is today an archaeological site uncovered by 80 years of excavation and restoration.

This urban area, which lasted for 65 years before being brought to its knees by civil war, features roads, bridges, water systems, buildings, decorative elements and everyday objects. Two of its notable structures are the reception hall of Abd ar-Rahman III, with its arches and Arabic-inspired façade, as well as remaining ruins of the once grand Mezquita Aljama mosque.

Fanjingshan: Guizhou Province, China

Ranging between 500 and 2,570 metres above sea level, Fanjingshan is the highest peak of the Wuling Mountains in southwestern China. This extraordinary holy mountain has a finger-like peak and is home to many plant species that originated in the Tertiary period, while the site’s isolation has led to a high degree of biodiversity and features 19 threatened animal species including the endemic grey snub-nosed monkey.

Although there is a challenging 8,888-step ascent, taking around five hours, there is a cable car that ferries visitors to the summit, which offers incredible views and a complex of Buddhist temples.

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