The 10 New UNESCO Sites You Must See Before You Die
The Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont has been one of Italy’s best wine-growing regions for thousands of years. (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)
By Deb Hopewell
More than 2,000 years ago, near the Aegean coast of modern-day Turkey, the Greek city of Pergamon was an important center of learning and healing. Today, it is one of the 26 newest UNESCO World Heritage sites, joining such significant natural and cultural sites as France’s prehistoric cave paintings of Pont d’Arc, China’s extensive Grand Canal, and Denmark’s remarkably preserved fossil record at Stevns Klint.
Each summer, the Paris-based United Nations agency meets—as it did recently in Doha, Qatar—to grant this coveted status to natural and man-made sites around the globe, almost always ensuring boosts in tourism and preservation assistance. The latest inscriptions bring the number of sites deemed most noteworthy—and fascinating—on the planet to 1,007. Here are 10 of the newest additions.
Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato, Italy
The Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera d’Asti vines that produce the wines over which you lovingly linger are now part of Italy’s 50th World Heritage site, giving it more sites than any other country. Tucked between the coastal mountains of Liguria Appenines and the Po River, the roughly 25,000-acre area covers five distinct wine-growing regions and a landscape that includes the Castle of Grinzane Cavour. Vine pollen dating back to the fifth century BCE, when Etruscans and Celts traded here, has been found in the area; the local dialect still includes Etruscan and Celtic words related to wine. More than 2,000 years ago, Pliny the Elder declared Piedmont one of the most favorable wine-growing regions in ancient Italy, and it remains so to this day.
(Photo: Pergamon Temple via Shutterstock)
Pergamon and Its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape, Turkey
The ancient Greek city of Pergamon rises from the Bakirçay Plain near the Aegean coast, where it was once one of the most important centers of culture, art, and architecture in the ancient world. The acropolis, or upper city, contains the Sanctuary of Athena, the Temple of Dionysos, and the Upper Agora, a theater for 10,000 people, as well as a 200,000-volume library that Mark Antony is believed to have given Cleopatra as a wedding gift. The site is also home to prehistoric remains, as well as those of the later Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman civilizations. Less than two miles south of the acropolis, in the valley, was the Sanctuary of Asclepius, a healing center built in the first half of the fourth century BCE. Here, ailments were treated with hydrotherapy, physical therapy, and hypnotherapy — methods still used today.