This sacred, dusty plain is populated as far as the eye can see with hundreds of Buddhist temples, stupas, pagodas, and monasteries. Look for ornate frescoes and stylistic differences between the temples on your own, with a guide, or from the sky in a hot air balloon at sunrise.

Bagan, Myanmar

This sacred, dusty plain is populated as far as the eye can see with hundreds of Buddhist temples, stupas, pagodas, and monasteries. Look for ornate frescoes and stylistic differences between the temples on your own, with a guide, or from the sky in a hot air balloon at sunrise.
Photograph by ROBERT HARDING PICTURE LIBRARY, Nat Geo Image Collection

From Babylon to Rajasthan, here are the newest UNESCO World Heritage sites

These natural and cultural wonders, from ancient forests to lost civilizations, were recognized for their value to humanity.

The ruins of an ancient city, the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, and an icy volcanic landscape are officially part of our collective world heritage.

For the past 43 years, representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have met to evaluate which natural and cultural wonders around the globe merit World Heritage status. Icons including the Galápagos Islands, Machu Picchu, and the Great Barrier Reef are inscribed on the list. Some sites are endangered by threats such as overtourism and climate change. (Take a look back at the 2018 inscriptions.)

This year’s meeting of the World Heritage Committee, held in the walled city of Baku, Azerbaijan, added 29 new cultural and natural properties to the list—the largest number of new added sites since 2001—bringing the total to 1,121. Each site meets at least one of 10 cultural and natural criteria, meaning that they are considered to be a biodiversity hot spot, a masterpiece of creative genius, or a traditional human settlement, among other qualities. Azerbaijan had much to celebrate at the meeting; the historic center of Sheki with the Khan's Palace was inscribed this year, making it the Eurasian nation’s third World Heritage site. Discover the ancient Silk Road city of Baku, another UNESCO-listed site, in these beautiful pictures.

From one of the world’s oldest and largest aquaculture systems to the ancient tombs of Japan, here are 29 new World Heritage properties and what makes them worth the trip.

Meghan Miner Murray is a contributing researcher for National Geographic Traveler, a freelance writer, and a scuba guide based on Hawaii Island. Follow her on Instagram.
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