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Top 15 Lesser known World Heritage sites

Kiri Derrick . . . Comments

UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and they work to protect World Heritage Sites like the Great Wall of China, the pyramids and Stonehenge. Established in 1945, its purpose is to “protect and conserve places of special cultural or physical significance to the common heritage of humanity”. In 1954, the Egyptian government were preparing to build the Aswan Dam, which would flood a valley destroying the Abu Simbel and Philae temples. UNESCO raised funding and paid to have the temples disassembled and moved to a safer location and rebuilt exactly as they were, thereby preserving it for future generations. As of the end of 2010, there were 911 sites that are listed by UNESCO as world heritage sites. Below is a list of some of my favorite, lesser know sites.


Aldabra Atoll


Aldabra is the world’s second biggest coral atoll, it is uninhabited, isolated and virtually untouched by humans. The atoll is the home to the world’s largest population of giant tortoises, which makes it an extremely valuable conservation site. During the 1700s, the islands were used by the French to hunt giant tortoises, as they were considered a delicacy at the time, but by the 1900s they had been hunted to the brink of extinction. The tortoises also share this atoll with the Aldabra Rail, the endangered Malagasy Sacred Ibis, Green and Hawksbill turtles and two species of bats found only on Aldabra. The atoll was declared a world heritage site in 1982, as it is home to so many rare and unusual creatures.


Leshan Giant Buddha


This Maitreya Buddha was carved from a cliff face where the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers meet, in southern Sichuan, China. It was constructed by a Chinese monk named Haithong in 713, his followers worked on and off for 90 years to complete it and, today, it is still the largest stone Buddha in the world, at 71m tall and 28m wide. Where the three rivers meet, the water currents were dangerous and would often sink shipping vessels, Haithong thought if he carved the Buddha there it would help to calm the waters. The stone removed to carve the Buddha was dumped into the river, unintentionally altering the currents and calming the waters. Today the Buddha is threatened by pollution, and the wear and tear caused by the thousands of tourists who come each year to visit the site. The Chinese government has closed factories nearby, in an effort to reduce the damage being inflicted on the Buddha.




Hatra is located to the northwest of Baghdad in Iraq, you may recognize it from the opening scenes in the film, The Exorcist. It was constructed during the 3rd century BC, by Arabs under the Iranian Parthian Empire. The city became the capital of the first Arab kingdom and became an important border fort against roman invasion. The city was ruled by Arabian princes who would have paid a yearly tribute to the rulers of the Iranian empire, until the Iranians took the city by force in 241. Hatra is recognized as one of the best preserved Parthian cities, with many of its structures still standing, including the inner and outer defensive walls and towers, and a range of temples dedicated to a different Gods from many different cultures. Some of the temples found have been dedicated to the Babylonian and Akkadian God Nergal, the Greek God Hermes, the Aramaean Gods Atargatis and Ba’al Shamayn, the Arabian Gods Allat and Shamiyyah and the Mesopotamian God Shamash, showing the cultural differences and tolerance that was once prevalent in this area.


Rietveld Schröder House


The Rietveld Schröder House is a modern family home built in the Netherlands in 1924, so why is it a UNESCO site? The house was designed by architect Gerrit Rietveld, who had been commissioned to create a house for Mrs Truus Schröder-Schrader and her 3 children. This house is one of the best examples of De-Stijl design, or modern open plan living to me and you. The down stairs is a fairly traditional layout but upstairs none of the internal walls are static, they are all moveable panels giving a changeable open plan area. Externally the building is strikingly different from the brick terrace to which it’s attached. With stark, clean lines, dramatic use of colors, cleverly placed balconies and large open windows which connect the interior of the building to the exterior. UNESCO chose this site as “it is an icon of the Modern Movement in architecture… With its radical approach to design and the use of space, the Rietveld Schröder house occupies a seminal position in the development of architecture in the modern age.” I have to say, I completely agree.


Krak des Chevaliers


Built in a defensive position atop a large hill in 1031, by the Emir of Aleppo, this castle in western Syria guards the route from Antioch to Beirut. It was a strategically important fort during the crusades, and was taken in 1099, by Raymond IV of Toulouse, after which it changed hands a few times until 1142, when it became the headquarters of the knights Hospitaller. During the Crusades, it housed a garrison of 2,000 soldiers as well as up to 60 knights. The Hospitaller knights rebuilt much of the castle, including strengthening the walls, which are up to 100ft thick in places, they also rebuilt a lot of inner wards in a gothic style including a meeting hall, chapel, cistern, aqueduct, storage facilities and two stables which held up to 1000 horses. In the cliff below the castle the Hospitaller knights dug further storage areas to hold supplies that could have lasted them up to 5 years, if they were besieged. This site is also one of the few places in the world where crusaders art frescos can be seen.


Alcobaça Monastery

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The Alcobaça Monastery in central Portugal was founded by king Afonso Henriques in 1153, and took 99 years to complete. This was the first building of the gothic style in Portugal, and is still the largest church in the country, it is of no surprise it went on to become one of the most important medieval monasteries in Europe. The monks of the monastery spent their lives meditating on religion and producing manuscripts, until it was pillaged by the French in 1810, it had one of the largest medieval libraries recorded. This monastery was the chosen burial place for many royals during the 13th and 14th centuries, their elaborate tombs are some of the best surviving examples of medieval engraving and sculptures in Europe. The tombs of Pedro I and his mistress, Ines de Castro, are particularly intricate, both feature relief of the occupant on the lid of the tomb, the kings tomb rests on carved lions while Ines is supported by carvings of creatures which are half man – half animal, and are covered in engravings showing angels and biblical scenes. The best known tomb is Queen Urraca’s, a Romanesque tomb engraved with an image of the Queen on the top, while around the body of the tomb are reliefs of the Apostles, the King and their children. This building is truly a showcase for the skills and dedication of the medieval craftsmen of Europe.


Monte Albán


Monte Albán can be found on a low mountain range in southern Mexico. The site is one of the earliest pre-Columbian Mesoamerican sites ever found, dating back to at least 500BC, the valley it is situated within also shows signs of inhabitancy from as early as 2000BC. The site offers a unique glimpse into the Zapotec history and culture. At the centre of the site is the main plaza surrounded by civic and ceremonial buildings as well as the elite homes. The site also features two ball courts, monumental stairs, hundreds of tombs and over 300 Danzante carved stone monuments. Most of them are of male war prisoners, tortured and sacrificed, with many being leaders of competing villages. The site also contains over 40 conquest slabs within the walls of buildings, these slabs give the names and sometimes details of places conquered by Monte Albán. From these it has been possible to confirm Cañada de Cuicatlán was conquered by the Zapotec.



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Lalibela is a rural town in the north of Ethiopia. It is also one of the countries holiest cities and a centre for pilgrimage. The 13 churches in the town have been carved completely from rock directly into the ground. It was under the instruction of Saint Gebre Mesqel Lalibela during his reign as Emperor of Ethiopia, that these churches were constructed, the layout and names of the buildings in Lalibela are a representation of Jerusalem. This has helped to date the churches to around the 1200s, after the 1187 capture of Jerusalem by Saladin. The largest monolithic church in the world, Bet Madhane Alem, is also home to the Lalibela Cross: a 12th century processional cross. Bete Maryam is thought to be the oldest of the churches, and Bete Golgotha is where it is believed King Lalibela is entombed. These churches are very unusual in that they are carved into the ground instead of into a cave or a cliff face, as most other rock carved buildings are. This process must have been very slow work and each church is carved with painstaking detail and stands as testament of the dedication of these people to their religion.


Ellora caves


Ellora is the site of monumental, rock cut, cave temples representing Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religions, built from 400AD in close proximity to each other to show the religious harmony in the area. The structures are multi level buildings, carved directly from caves within the mountain face, and include monasteries, shrines and places of worship. Many of the buildings have vaulted ceilings and are all intricately carved, with most of the shrines containing large carved deities. During construction, 200,000 tonnes of rock had to be removed from the site by generations of workers. Some notable caves are: the Buddhist shrine Vishvakarma, which features a multi-storied entrance, a large hall with vaulted ceilings and a 15ft carving of Buddha in a preaching pose; The Indra Sabha is a two level Jain cave with a monolithic shrine, like all of the Jain caves it once had richly painted ceilings, part of which are still visible today. It also has fine carvings of lotus flowers, Yaksha Matanga on an elephant and Ambika sitting on a lion under a mango tree. Kailasanatha is the centerpiece of Ellora, made to resemble mount Kailash, the home of lord Shiva, this Hindu shrine was built by Krishna I in around 760AD. The structure is covered in detailed and intricate carvings, including sacred bulls and life-sized elephants supporting the shrines.


Wudang Building Complex

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The Wudang Mountains are a small mountain range found in eastern China, which have been inhabited since at least 250 AD. The area is known for its Taoist monasteries, which were renowned as centers for meditation, martial arts, agriculture and medicines. People traveled to this area to research, learn and practice these skills. The palace and temple complex was constructed in the Ming Dynasty and within it are buildings dating from the 7th century. One of the more famous temples is the Golden Hall; built in 1416, the hall is constructed from gilded copper. It consists of 20 tons of copper and over 300kgs of gold, and was supposedly forged in Bejing, then moved to Wudang. The Nanyan Temple perches precariously on top of a cliff, in legend it is known as the place from which Emperor Zen Whu flew to heaven. The entire temple, including beams, gates and windows, is carved from rock and within the temple are gilded bronze statues of dozens of Taoist deities. Scattered across the cliffs are 500 gilded iron statues of heavenly officials. Another notable building, the Purple Cloud Temple is made up of several halls, the Dragon and Tiger Hall, the Purple Sky Hall, the East Hall, the West Hall and the Parent Hall. This temple contains shrines to Zhen Wu throughout his life. It also houses relics including the Green Dragon Crescent Blade which dates back to the 7th century.


Wadi Al-Hitan

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The Whale Valley is found in a desert in Egypt, the site contains fossils showing the evolution of whales from land mammals to the ocean going creatures we are familiar with today. Fossils of the Archaeoceti suborder such as Basilosaurus and Dorudon are common, but the skeletons of sea cows Sirenia, elephants Moeritherium, crocodiles, sea turtles and sea snakes have also been found at the site. The sheer number and quality of these fossils found in such a high concentration make this site unique. The quality of preservation is so good that stomach contents have been found preserved, while the combination of other species found at the site make it possible to reconstruct the environmental and ecological conditions. The site has produced hundreds of high quality fossils showing the earliest sub-species of whales which are helping to unravel the mystery of the evolution of whales.


Tropical Rainforest Sumatra

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The Tropical Rainforest of Sumatra is made up of three national parks on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, and was chosen due to its outstanding scenic beauty and natural habitats for in-situ conservation. The three parks all contain different habitats, allowing for a large diversity in both flora and fauna. The parks are home to Rafflesia Arnoldi, the world’s largest flower, and Amorphophallus Titanum, the worlds tallest flower, as well as 174 species of mammals and 380 species of birds. Of these specimens, 16 are endemic and 73 are currently threatened. Species such as Orang-utans, Sumatran rhinoceros, bornean clouded leopards, Asian tapirs, Sumatran elephants and the leather back turtles are all found within this site, making it one of the most diverse and important conservation sites in the world. The sites main threat is residential expansion and encroaching human occupation, both of which is being battled by a number of different preservation groups.


Lascaux Cave


Lascaux is group of caves in southwest France which were decorated over 17,300 years ago, with Paleolithic cave paintings. The public were allowed to view the caves in 1948, but by 1955 the carbon dioxide exhaled by the visitors had damaged the paintings causing the cave to be closed, the art was restored and is now monitored on a daily basis. The images are mostly of animals known to have lived in the area at the time, but images of humans and abstract signs are also present. Some of the images have been carved into the cave but the majority of art has been painted on using mineral pigments. A large portion of the paintings are of horses, but stags, cattle, aurochs, felines, birds, bears and rhinoceros’s are also represented. There are many theories on why this cave was decorated in this manor: it is thought that some of the art may represent star charts, as the constellations of Taurus and Pleiades can be found within the cave. There are also theories that this would have been a scared space to communicate with deities, a gathering place to plan a hunt together or even a record to celebrate the success of a hunt. We will probably never know but these images give us a fascinating look into our past.


Takht-e Jamshid


More commonly known as Persepolis, it is located in the south of Iran and was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. Construction was started around 515BC by Cyrus the Great, but the most impressive works were completed by Darius the Great and Xerxes the Great (yes the bad guy from 300) in around 470BC. One of the most awe inspiring structures on this site is the Apadana palace which was the main hall of the kings, where the tributes from nations within his Empire would have been received. The building was supported by columns 20m high, topped with a brace carved to the shape of lions or bulls. I have seen an example of these braces in the Louvre and it gives you an amazing idea of the size and scale of Persepolis. The site also contains the gate of nations, the hall of 100 columns, the imperial treasury, council halls, military quarters, reception halls, cisterns, drainage, sepulchers, royal tombs, royal stables, chariot houses and a number of palaces and royal residences, all covered in engravings and mosaics. The city was destroyed in 330BC, by Alexander the Great, possibly in revenge for the destruction of the acropolis in Athens, but the ruins still contain many beautiful carvings and are testament to the wealth and power of the Persian empire.


Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein

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More commonly known as The Cradle of Humankind, this site is a complex of over 36 limestone caves in South Africa, not far from Johannesburg. Within these caves scientists have found a huge number of hominid fossils dating back over 3.5 million years, with one cave alone containing over a third of all hominid fossils ever found. The caves also show signs of occupation as well, including the first ever in-situ hominid stone tools, and the oldest controlled fire dated to over 1 million years ago. Scientist believe prompt burials, along with the unusual conditions within the caves, allowed for the bodies within to become fossilized, which in itself is an extremely rare occurrence. Some of the better known finds include Mrs Ples, the most intact skull of an Australopithecus Africanus ever found, although the sex is not definitely female, x-rays of the teeth seem to show that this was a sub-adult. Another famous find is Little Foot, an amazingly complete hominin skeleton which is believed to be between 2.5 to 3.3 million years old. This site shows us not only where our species came from but how we evolved over millennia, earning it top spot on my list.

  • OmegaMan

    I love the Ellora Caves. You have to see it to really understand the beauty of it.

    • Sid

      It is amazing, I have been there before.

  • Brycen

    Dang, I haven’t been to one of these.

  • Love the list as there’s some really interesting info here. But for the love of God, somebody please edit the spelling and grammar. It’s some of the worst I’ve ever seen on Listverse.

    • Otter

      Dang Matt, you beat me to it. I’m not one to complain or put down someone elses writing, but the writing is horrible. It’s a great list, but the grammar, punctuation and altogether layout is terrible.

      • I thought lists were normally treated for such things before being published. Definitely an awesome list, though. I’d love nothing more than to visit all of these one day.

        • Arsnl

          Listen you people. Before posting your grammar nazi comments I suggest one thing: count to 10000. Painfully slow. Then get the hell out of here because nobody actually cares about you. Haven’t you wondered why you people are called grammar nazis (and not grammar communists for example); it’s because you are the most detested group on the internet. And, my dear matt, you are worse that a grammar nazi. A grammar nazi would take his time to correct all the errors. No, you just complain. You are probably even hated by real grammar nazis. Why don’t you just correct the whole list and send it to jfrater in a mail, instead of complaining here, like the soulless millipede that you are. And after all this hullabaloo, you add insult to injury: you post a second comment complaining about EXACTLY the same thing. Boy, were you repeatedly hit with a grammar book as a child?

          • Tracypants

            So, what you’re saying is, they’re not even actually a grammar nazi, they’re just a person with a valid viewpoint on the grammar of a written article?

            Because let’s be honest, the grammar was pretty bad. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great list, well researched, informative and interesting, but that doesn’t change the fact that the spelling, punctuation and general grammar were wrong.

            Maybe you need to count to… what was it?… 10000… painfully slow before you go off on people like that for having an opinion….

          • Clockwork

            I agree that grammar nazis can be annoying, and I would never point out minor mistakes that don’t really affect what the writer is trying to convey. However, the rampant run-on sentences in this list made it quite irritating to read. They’re very difficult to overlook.

          • Arsnl

            Don’t get me wrong. Grammar is very important. But this person did it for free. He didn’t get paid, he stood in front of his computer to type a great sunday list. These authors are friends that write me a list a day. If I get a letter from a friend, I don’t send it back and call him a dunce. Yes, sometimes I am harsh with the authors, but it is all in goodwill and i do take my time to point out what things could be corrected. You could copy this list, correct it and send it to JF. You could become a free editor on this website (why would JF refuse free labourers aka the best kind of labourers). If you want a perfect grammar you could just buy the book and not visit this FREE website.
            Of course to some extent you are all right, but in my view you’re also big d***s. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Beggars can’t be choosers. Isn’t it obvious that humankind is sick of people complaining about freebies?

            Also, you wrote: “they’re just a person “. I’m no English but is that a correct sentence? In my view that would mean that they are all one person. OMG does this prove it’s quite difficult to write in such a way as to please every d**k, d**k and harry?

            @c**kwork: “run-on sentences” Run-on sentences have been used in literature, Kafka made sentences that ran for pages. Does that mean you don’t read Kafka? Anti aesthetic is a style of its own. If you are such a great critic you should know these things.

            In short Hartman said it best: Gammur nazzis “I got your name! I got your a**!”

          • bullamakanka

            I get hit with a grammar book repeatedly. Usually it’s me doing the swinging; part of my job in printing/advertising. It is incredibly distracting when reading a passage that is pitted with misspellings, incorrect or absent punctuation, and grammatical errors. The information is beautiful — make no mistake about it — but it’s like a rosy red apple with a bruise on it. No matter how tasty that apple might be, that one bruise is enough to make me move on to something else.

          • Arsnl

            @bull: ehh i already pulled a matt by complained twice about the same thing. Why not pull 2 matts, amirite?
            Hey. Its great that you are here. Im hoping you get paid for your job. Right? I hope so. This person didn’t. That apple is a free apple. Hey i almost always have to work with opensource software and libraries. And yes. It can get very difficult at times. But i prefer to look at the glass half full than half empty and thank the author for a great list. If you wanted to enjoy this list you could have done it. If there is clearly a need for perfect lists why dont you make such a site. With paid subscriptions? JF tried to make such a thing and it hit the fan. People want editors like you to work on these lists. Yet they dont want to pay you or anybody.

            Btw, shouldnt you actually love grammar errors? That’s what pays your bills. I have to work with opensource cuz i cant afford to pay expensive non sense.

            This thread can go on for ages. People coming up with new arguments and ideas. And all of you are right. God bless you all.
            But for me, these facts remain: great site, great list, great job, it reminded me of the huge bull brace that i saw at the Louvre. It really is impressive. Next time i visit Ill pay more atention. I appologize to the author if I may have created a Streissand effect.

          • Clockwork

            Comparing the run-on sentences in this list to Kafka is a complete apples and oranges comparison and is nothing short of silly. Do you really think this author was going for anti-aesthetic?? I don’t give a crap if this website is free to read or not; if you’re going to submit a list that you know is going to be read by a decent amount of people, at least make sure that you don’t butcher the English language.

        • Arsnl

          @ otter:”I’m not one to complain or put down someone elses writing, but the writing is horrible.” Do you have marmite instead of brains? Do you have some type of mental disorder? Do you not understand the fact that you wrote something, only to disprove it after just one comma and 2 words? Did you actually receive so little love in your life? You complain about the grammar and punctuation yet you, yourself, type “elses”. For me that’s clear proof that you are so stupid, you don”t realise how stupid you are.

          About this next thing, I’m not so sure. You wrote:”the grammar, punctuation and altogether layout is terrible”. I’m not a native English speaker, but don’t you have to do verb subject agreement? I’ll just assume that the answer is yes. otter you made a logical mistake and 2 grammar/punctuation/whatever mistakes in under 3 lines, complaining about grammar/punctuation/whatever. Is that called irony or just plain stupidity? I can’t tell. I just hope you live in a country where there are no suicide hotlines. I hope Jimmy Carter’s swamp bunny will eat out those fingers of yours that bring so much hatred in the world. I hate you and i hate matt for being such a bombastic piece of **** that he didn’t even take the time to correct you terrible comment.

          • Jonnie

            But Arsnl, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

          • Lukin

            Wow, for someone who is “sick of all the grammar Nazis” (probably because they have something negative to say about the list), you certainly have a lot of negative, rude, and highly unnecessary things to say. As a non-native English speaker, were you repeatedly hit with a book on how to be a pompous asshole as a child? The list was great, the best listverse has done in weeks, but the poor grammar does make it difficult to read. It does become irritating when you have to reread a sentence to understand what the writer is saying because the grammar and punctuation are incorrect.

          • akira

            Swamp bunny?

          • Lilly

            Arsnl; you are a very rude & boring individual. You have ruined my enjoyment of this list not I might add; other peoples comments or indeed the list itself, but you with your offensive remarks.

          • Vaami

            Arsnl: I just have to say – I LOVE YOU!!!! I was just thinking the same things, and you made me smile!

            Great list!!!

    • jay karlson

      I think we’re being a bit harsh on a valid point the readers are making. I may know what’s going on, because I’ve have made the same mistake at least a hundred times. That’s not hyperbole–straight up, I mean 100 times.

      The Listverse submissions page explicitly tells you to keep list entries to one paragraph or they can’t be used. BREAK THAT RULE. It’s in there to remind you to keep things brief, but in my experience it’s more of a guideline. My writing got a ton clearer when I gave the reader an opportunity to ‘breathe’ between topics by introducing a second (and even sometimes third) paragraph. It also made spotting typos easier.

      And while we’re on the topic of typos, I’m not really qualified to give advice. All I’ll say is I give my pieces to someone else for a cold read.

      I hope this has been helpful. If Blogball, Flamehorse, or Jamie tells you otherwise, I’ll defer to ‘il miglior fabbro’.

      I liked your list and hope you will submit more.

    • Dickensgirl

      Hello – I’m the ‘best labour’ of which Arsnl speaks – the unpaid editor. I started as a huge listverse fan – and a self confessed grammar nazi. I DETEST poor writing and appalling grammar, and in this day and age I find it inexcusable. We all have that wonderful invention – the spell checker. As I write this, it’s underlined labour (I’m not American) and Arsnl, among other things. I’m then able to see whether I want to change the words. To not use that invaluable tool is just lazy. I’m working, slowly, as time permits, to edit every list, back to the beginning, to increase the joy in perusing ListVerse. It’s not fun reading a poorly written piece, and nor is it fun to edit.

      Having said that, believe me when I tell you that this is not the worst list I’ve edited – not even close. And there are times I find myself thinking unkind thoughts. However, I’m unpaid and as such I can quit any time. I keep doing this because I think the site is worth it.

      It’s also made me aware of the worst type of grammar nazi – the one who moans and complains, and derides the authors, without offering either a list themselves, or to edit anything. It’s far easier to write a scathing note and sit back feeling sanctimonious than it is to agree to spend time, every day, fixing the problems. People spend time writing these lists, doing the research and forming an opinion. No, it’s not always high literature, but you have the option of all of us in the 21st century – change the channel.

  • Tom

    What about the Universidad Central de Venezuela. U-U-UCV

    • HAGEN

      Unlike Venezuela, these countries are proud of their cultural and historical heritage. Venezuela don’t even have any interest in the touristic side of his econimics, so why bother counting it?

  • mehmeh

    I’m sure there are tons of other places that deserve a spot in this list. But I still enjoyed reading about the various places mentioned here. My respects to no. 14. Amazing.

  • Artemis

    I’ve only been to the Dutch House but I have been to see the orangutans in Borneo :)
    Apart the grammar, etc this was a good list.

  • HJRO

    Some of these must really piss off die hard creationists.

  • Will Trame

    Lesser known is an apt description as I have never heard of any of these sites. A pretty good list overall as a number of the photos are impressive works of art. The Lascaux Cave calls to mind the Steely Dan song “The Caves of Altamira”.

  • Darthnixa

    Are these lists written by the illiterate?

  • Metalwrath

    Honorable mention would be the Chauvet Cave, which is a prehistoric paintings cave in France the likes of Lascaux, except that it is much older, over 30,000 years old. The discovery of the cave disproved what prehistorians previously believed, that prehistoric art evolved since 40,000 from very stylized to very realistic (by the time of Lascaux) because Chauvet harbors extreemly realistic pantings.

    • Arsnl

      Is that Chauvet cave a world heritage site? Plus all you see in the news is about the Lascaux cave.

  • wombat135

    Never done this before (posted a comment) but was moved to do so by this list. Makes me want to travel. Best list in a long time.

  • loapaja


    Fantastic list!

  • druglord

    The ellora caves are a thing of beauty….went there on a field trip from school for the first time and I have been going there ever since…so much to see

  • “The city was destroyed in 330BC by Alexander the great possibly in revenge for the destruction of the acropolis in Athens”

    According to plutarch he was drunk at the time and encouraged and goaded by Thais, as she said she would burn it to show women who followed Alexander extract more revenge than he does. Apparently he quickly became remorseful and ordered the fire to be put out.

    just giving the other side of the story thats also reported, it’s interesting how the information changes depending on the source, their own agenda and who they want to represent who they are writing on.

    The list was good, I enjoyed it, I was suprised that I only really heard of one or two of the sites, but then it is a list of lesser known sites. a few have been added to places I would like to see at some stage in my life.

    • Arsnl

      Considering that Plutarch lived 350-400 years after Alexander, I don’t think he is particularly reliable. Especially when considering such level of detail (He was remorseful)

      • peter2dc

        …hmmmm…was’nt the bible written hundreds of years after the life of Jesus? Seems to be a lot of detail in that book…but I guess you are right, I find the Bible to be totally unreliable :)

        • Dawnchaser

          No, the New Testament was written only 40-50 years after the life of Jesus by people who knew him personally before he died.

  • Matt

    A curse on GumGum and their invasive popups! It is ironic and sadly appropriate that the pictures of these wonders are spoiled by gaudy capitalism.

    There is no hope…..

  • undaunted warrior 1

    Great list, well researched and written.

    Nice to see my country at no. 1

  • oouchan

    Amazing places! I would love to visit the Wudang Building Complex. That picture looks just superb! The Ellora Caves are beautiful as well.

    Good list.

  • Killbilly Deluxe

    I want to say great list and normally I don’t say “But what about…”

    But what about…L’Anse aux Meadows?

    The remains of a Viking settlement in Newfoundland, Canada that predates Columbus by 500 years?

    Got to give the love to Canada!

    • mom424

      Don’t forget Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo-Jump – used for 5000 years by indigenous peoples to hunt Buffalo of course.

  • br0ck

    very cool list it would be amazing to visit these sites someday :D

  • mom424

    Very good list – I’m assuming that our esteemed editor did her magic BEFORE I read it…..

    Very interesting and well presented; there were quite a few new entries – at least for me – Great job!

  • Elemarth

    Very cool! The closest I’ve been to one of these was Lascaux II, a recreation of the most famous cave of Lascaux. I also went to a few other caves in the area, including the last one with colored paintings that they still allow visitors in. I don’t remember its name, but only a certain number of people are allowed every day so that it won’t be damaged like Lascaux was.
    The fossil sites sound fascinating, especially number 1. I really want to visit some of these!

  • Tropical Rainforest Sumatra????


  • Magnolia

    In absolutely no way does “De Stijl” mean “modern open plan living.”

  • Mimi

    I would love this list if there were commas in it. That is all.

  • vanowensbody

    Great list.

  • venusbloo

    The Rietveld Schröder House is pants, all the other entries are beautiful yet that house has the beauty of a piece of used toilet tissue.

  • Scott

    I know everyone hates typo police but on number three it is sacred not scared. Also I think it is Alexander the Great.

  • Lifeschool

    Hi everyone. I thought this was a very interesting list – and certainly included many sites I was not familiar with. I liked the flow and the innocence of the writing – and I can certainly tell when lists have been written by stone-faced academics, and when they have been written by a sweet-hearted twenty-something girl from the London area. :) Thanks for writing in!

    UNESCO has been on my mind day and night recently. Having passed over two separate invitations (from two separate people) to move permanantly to Portugal, I was then given the possibility to retire to a place called Auroville in south east India. Auroville is a UNESCO eco village with a difference. It is home to people from all around the world; who each have a ‘sector’ or ‘spiral arm’ which sweeps around an international hub. Sound idyllic? Well yes it is, but the place has it’s fair share of dimplomatic issues too – and housing is a major problem because very few folks want to allow any more buildings in ‘their neighbourhood’. I am still considering my options… How can I swap my life for the world..??

    • Arsnl

      “UNESCO has been on my mind day and night recently.”

      Uhmmm is that some kind of new fetish? I kind of have a fling for the ocde and definitely for the eu, tbh. Though it’s not that type of feeling james may was was talking about. The fizzy feeling behind the you know what.

      • Lifeschool

        I wouldn’t call it a fetish, more like going completely crazy. I’m not really liking my life right now; which is ironic, because my first knee-jerk reaction to your comment was ‘get a life’. Do you want mine? I have skills and degrees coming out of (everywhere), but no girl, no job, no future – nothing – diddly squat. At least this list cheered me a little :)

        • Arsnl

          You sound like you’re about to have a melt down:)). You also worked for a shaman. You forgot that one. The list was quite cheerful yes.
          But take it easy man. Things sometimes are slow. You know.

          • Lilly

            Lifeschool; I thought your comment was lovely. I am lucky enough to live in a world heritage city; Bath. Good luck with your future, I hope things pick up for you. :-)

  • P. William

    I liked this list because I learned about interesting, new places. But, holy jeez, learn how to put a sentence together!

  • photogold

    what about the Antonine Wall in Scotland? It’s a fascinating relic of the Romans in Scotland . There is a certain art to building a wall with very simple methods. It stretched for nearly 60 km (40 Roman miles) across the narrow waist of Scotland from Bo’ness on the River Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde and consisted of a turf rampart perhaps 3-4 m high fronted by a great ditch.

  • Great

    So much rich culture in those Arab countries, but they’re in their dark ages today. They’ve become greedy, lazy because of Oil. Hopefuly soon they’ll realize what great things they have given to the world, and begin creating extraordinary things once again!
    Wake up ARABS!
    God willing.

  • chad

    number 1 is moot we all know evolution doesnt occur ;)


    Been lurking Listverse for a long time now, but I rarely comment.

    But this list makes me appreciate the world, and I would really want to travel it if I had a chance.

    Great list.

  • Chloe

    Very good list but I can’t stand it when people write e.g. 1900’s it’s 1900s! no apostrophe! and do you know why this annoys me? because listverse did a list on it…

  • Very interesting list. The Valley of Whales looks paticularly interesting. What about the Vredefort Dome in South Africa? It’s a 150-mile wide crater formed by a 5-mile wide meteor (one of the largest to ever hit the Earth) that hit the Earth 2 billion years ago. It is the largest impact structure on Earth, and the second oldest crater on Earth. The impact of the meteor strike drastically changed the region’s climate and impacted the development of some of the ancestors of animals that exist today.

  • Battman

    I feel privileged to live within a 2 hour drive of 4 Unesco World Heritage sites: They are:

    The Canadian Rocky Mountain parks which is an are that encompasses 4 national parks (2 in Alberta, 2 in British Columbia) a 3 provincial parks (All in BC).

    Waterton Glacier International Peace Park which straddles the Canada – U.S. border between Alberta and Montana.

    Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump.

    Dinosaur Provincial Park which “contains some of the most important fossil discoveries ever made from the ‘Age of Reptiles’, in particular about 35 species of dinosaur, dating back some 75 million years.” (Quoted from Unesco)

    I’m proud to say that I’ve visited all of these.

    I guess this could be a mini-list of Unesco sites located in Alberta, Canada.

    Great list by the way. A few grammatical errors did not lessen the enjoyment for me.

    • skin2win

      Where do you live? I’m from Medicine Hat. Great list, to be sure!

      • Battman

        Don’t you know by now? I live in the Battcave. Its in a top secret location and its whereabouts are highly classified.;)

  • I really didn’t know half of these – I need to plan a holiday around this list!

    • Battman

      A little globetrotting in your future?

  • Pandora

    Whoever wrote this list has awful grammar. Holy crap.

  • I haven’t actually read the list yet. I thought I’d get myself a dose of comment vitriol first. Yep, it’s here. Now I’ll limp through the bad grammar, which definitely drives me batty.

  • Dickensgirl

    For those who had to ‘limp through this’ before editing, my profound apologies. I do try to get each list done prior to posting, but it’s not always possible. Mea culpa.

    Once again, people take time to educate us and do their research and inform us of their opinions, and I, for one, appreciate that. It’s what makes ListVerse a great place to kill time. No, they’re not always perfectly written, but someone did take the time to come up with it for us. So, thank you, authors – and I’ll keep trying to fix the glitches before it goes to post. :)

    • paulie

      Perhaps you can also change the following while you are at it:

      #3: “manor” should read as “manner”

      “scared” should read as “sacred”.

      Both of these jumped off the page for me.

      • FoxyJess

        And “romans” should be “Romans”. Show some respect to the people who invented orgies!! Yeah!!

        • Giuls


  • Hamster

    What about Malta?

  • asd

    What about Stonetown Zanzibar, Tanzania ?? It is an entire town which is still inhabitated and was declared World Heritage Site in 2006

  • joey

    Where are the pyramids in Egypt? Niagra Falls? Eiffel Tower? This list fails so hard lol

    • Lifeschool

      Those places you mention are all great places but are not really ‘lesser known’ – i.e. unknown to most people.

    • dycept

      You fail. So hard.

    • Vaami

      Wow….. Lesser known.

      Do you read?

      Guess not.

  • Enter your comment here.

  • Meg

    Alcobaca Monastary in Portugal is not one of the greatest buildings in all of Europe, being that Portugal is NOT in Europe……..Not only did this person fail grammar but also Geography.

  • Aj

    Damn, u r a good writer Kiri. This is very entertaining. It makes me want to travel around the world.

  • naaa

    Love this list!
    The way Hatra had dedications to many different cultures and religions was really nice and even today people who visit Iran say the people are lovely & welcoming.

  • Courtney

    I love this list!! Please do more like these!!

    I’ve added almost all of these to my dream vacation list- but maybe you could do a list of places that people can actually go? Like a best sites to visit for real people vacations…?

  • revolver04

    Absolutely fascinating list! Bravo! Wish I had the money and energy to at least visit half of these places.

  • Vaami

    Awesome, Awesome list!!!!

  • flgh

    None of these are american..probably ’cause the Heart Attack Grill & southern us trailer parks will never make a UNESCO world heritage site. Eat that, yanks.

  • J

    Would be nice if you mentioned in the section about Ellora Caves which country it was in…

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