- A World Heritage Site is a location (or a collection of locations) defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation as having ‘outstanding universal value’.
- The country members of UNESCO meet each year to add new sites to the list. They normally add about 20 or so each time. There are currently 962 sites on the list.
- Each site can fit into one (or both) of two groups – either ‘cultural’ or ‘natural’.
- To meet the criteria to be included in the ‘cultural’ group, a site will be judged on how it represents human creative genius, shows the change of human values over time, demonstrates a unique cultural tradition, is an outstanding example of a stage in human history, represents the relationship between humans and the environment, or directly related to an important event, tradition or artwork.
- To meet the criteria to be included in the ‘natural’ group, a site will be judged on how it contains natural beauty or phenomena, represents major stages of the earth’s history, demonstrates ongoing evolution of plants or animals, is made up of significant natural habitats.
- A World Heritage Site can be a building (eg. Blenheim Palace in the UK), a collection of buildings in different locations (eg. Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios in Greece), a city (eg. The Historic Centre of Siena in Italy) or a large natural area (eg. Yosemite National Park in the USA).
- A World Heritage Site has special restrictions to protect it from damage and development.
You can see the full list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites here.
You can read about the World Heritage Sites I have visited here.