Worldwide celebrations will mark International Monuments and Sites Day, traditionally known as World #HeritageDay. Launching in 1983 with 12 sites, there are now an incredible 1092 sites in more than 150 countries. Here’s 9 of the most visited heritage sites visitors from around the globe are flocking to in their millions.
Great Wall of China
Of the 53 listed heritage sites in China, the most famous is the Great Wall of China. Officially the longest wall in the world, it measures a staggering 13,171 miles. Completed in 1878, it comprises of many sections of wall, fortresses, horse tracks, watch towers and shelters and has a unique and impressive style which has stood tall through the dynasties. Recognised as the world’s largest military structure in 1644 the monument is a must-see attraction for tourists from all over the world and a revered national symbol.
Palace of the Winds
One of the most beautiful examples of Indian architecture, Hawa Mahal is situated in Jaipur, “The Pink City”, Rajasthan. Dating back to 1799, the five-storey pyramidal shaped monument was constructed by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Also known as Palace of the Winds, it is a gem in the Rajasthani crown. With an astonishing 953 windows, the original purpose was for royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below, when obeying the strict rules of ‘purdah’. Built of red and pink sandstone it is one of the most famous ancient monuments in the country.
Angkor Wat (Temple)
The Cambodian Angkor Wat temple complex was firmly put on the tourist trail in 2001 as the setting for the action-packed Tomb Radar film. But it was almost 10 years earlier it was awarded UNESCO status and declared Cambodia’s first heritage site. As one of the largest religious monuments worldwide, the spectacular site covers 162.6 hectares. Awe-inspiring and vividly detailed, it is built out of sandstone blocks quarried from the holy mountain of Phnom Kulen, More than 3000 heavenly nymphs are carved into its walls of the main temple; a sacred religious mausoleum. Ornately decorated with beautiful ancient structures this unique landmark, surrounded by a 190m wide moat, is a monument of national pride, is featured on the nation’s flag and the prime attraction for visitors to the country.
Grand Canyon National Park
Proclaimed a national park in 1919, the Grand Canyon is one of the principal visitor attractions in the USA. The 277-mile long and a mile deep canyon, bearing the same name can be explored by hiking down a corridor trail, taking a leisurely stroll along one of the rims or enjoying the immense landscape from one of the many vantage points, all nothing short of impressive. In 1908, the then president of the USA Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed the Grand Canyon to be a national monument. Celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year, the Grand Canyon receives close to five million visitors annually, as people flock to see this natural phenomenon and are of immense beauty.
Stonehenge is a famous prehistoric monument based in Wiltshire, England and is one of the wonders of the world. It was built in several stages by Neolithic farmers approximately 5000 years ago out of sarsen stone and bluestones, with each sarsen stone weighing around 25 tons and measuring a staggering 13 meters high. The history of Stonehenge is a fascinating one due to the sophistication of its architecture and the only surviving linteled stone circle in the world. The ancient landscape that surrounds Stonehenge is beautiful and peaceful and allows all visitors to explore and experience the everyday Neolithic life.
Undoubtedly, South Africa’s most famous landmark, Table Mountain offers spectacular views of the city of Cape Town below. Taking its name from the fact that it has a flat top, which is thought to have been created around 300 million years ago during an ice age, Table Mountain is a key tourist attraction in South Afirca and is especially popular amongst hikers, with the highest point being 3,563 feet above sea level. As one of the seven wonders of the world, Table Mountain is a natural heritage that belongs to the people of South Africa and with the beauty that it gives, there is no wonder why.
Known for the magical surroundings, Bavaria is home to one of the world’s most famous fairytale castles; the Neuschwanstein Castle. Situated on top of a rugged hill, surrounded by magnificent views, the castle was constructed by King Ludwig II in 1869 and was finished in 1880. The architecture of the exterior is described as breath-taking and one that is never forgotten. The Marienbrucke, the bridge over the Pollat gorge allows the public to see the natural elegance of the surroundings in which the castle was built.
Situated in the heart of Italy’s capital, the Trevi Fountain is a spectacular masterpiece. Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi, the Trevi Fountain is the largest baroque fountain in Rome measuring at an impressive 26.3 meters high. The fountain was built in front of the Palazzo Poli, a Roman palace however the central part of the palace was demolished in 1730 to provide enough space for the fountain. The centre piece within the fountain is that of the Greek Sea God, Oceanus accompanied by Sea Horses and Tritons. Each day thousands of visitors flock to this iconic Italian monument to follow tradition, tossing a coin into the fountain, securing their return trip.
Located on top of the hill, on the left bank of the river Darro and with a stunning view over the entire city sits the palace, the Alhambra. Constructed as a small fortress in Granada, Spain in 889 AD, it was rebuilt in the mid 13th century and expanded to include the palace. The Alhambra was named because of the reddish colour to its walls, and in Arabic, al-Hamra translates to Red Castle. With its magnificent architecture, it is understandable as to why it was the crown jewel of the Emirate of Granada.