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Lesser-known UNESCO World Heritage Sites

September 18 2015

A country's heritage is a mark of legacy that it inherits from the bygone eras. With the objective of continuing this legacy, UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization) has aimed to preserve our heritage for future generations.

The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia are a few examples of the UNESCO world heritage sites that are always bustling with tourists. However, a few offbeat destinations that represent a rich blend of cultures are still unknown!

A World Heritage Site is a place listed by UNESCO that holds special cultural significance
A World Heritage Site is a place listed by UNESCO that holds special cultural significance

1. Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is home to a horde of heritage sites. Nevertheless, the most fascinating among them is the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the second capital of the country, rarely found on any travel itinerary. This city has witnessed several civilizations. Hence, it comprises of Brahmanic sculptures built by the Cholas and monumental ruins of the Sinhalese emperors.

The Buddhist sanctuaries, temples of Lord Shiva and Atadage (Temple of the Tooth Relic) are a few renowned sites that bring forth the astounding architectural style and uniqueness of various cultures.

Polonnaruwa is the second most ancient kingdom on Sri Lanka
Polonnaruwa is the second most ancient kingdom on Sri Lanka

2. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

A scintillating and pristine bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long Bay in Vietnam is known for its emerald waters and limestone islands. Few of these are merely limestone pillars amid the blue waters of the ocean. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited.

The Karst limestone formations due to erosion activities have resulted in arches, caves and conical peaks. In addition, it is rich in flora and fauna. Boat tours and kayak expeditions will let you pay a visit to islands named for their shapes, including Stone Dog and Teapot islands.

The Ha Long Bay includes 1,960-2,000 islets, most of which are limestone
The Ha Long Bay includes 1,960-2,000 islets, most of which are limestone

3. Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Exquisitely built, Samarkand is one of the oldest cities in the world. Initially known as Afrasiab, it came into prominence since it was situated at the crossing of trade routes between China, Iran and India. The city then became an important centre of silk trade. Hence, it is regarded as a crossroad of the world's cultures. Its importance can be witnessed in the works of English poets. The city has preserved the ancient remains of the Timurid civilization.

Samarkand was built as early as in 7thcentury BC
Samarkand was built as early as in 7th century BC

4. Ephesus, Turkey

Experience the grandeur of the two greatest civilizations, Roman and Greek, at Ephesus. It is a living proof of the rich cultural heritage that flourished in this city. The Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre exemplify the architectural finesse of the Roman Imperial Period.

Ruins of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis, can be found here. The House of the Virgin Mary, a domed chapel, is a major place of Christian pilgrimage.

Ephesus is an example of a Roman port city, with a sea channel and harbor basin
Ephesus is an example of a Roman port city, with a sea channel and harbor basin

5. Bergpark Wilhelmshohe, Germany

The Bergpark Wilhelmshohe park displays German mastery over technical and artistic aspects of the late 17th century. The monumental waterworks along with the size of the park are a testimony to the aesthetics of the Baroque and Romantic periods. The descending hill is dominated by a giant statue of Hercules. Reservoirs and channels behind this statue supply water to the site's large Baroque water theatre, grotto, fountains and 350-metre long Grand Cascade.

Grandeur of technology and art at Bergpark Wilhelmshohe
Grandeur of technology and art at Bergpark Wilhelmshohe

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