World Heritage Class of 2013

FujisanHere’s one you can file under “About Damn Time!” Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji has been given status as a World Cultural Heritage Site by the UNESCO committee. You know, the mountain that has played a prominent role in Japanese history and culture since before any of us were gleams in our great-great-great-great-Grandfather’s eye? Fujisan, the huge, snow-capped stratovolcano that looms over Honshu Island, visible from Tokyo and almost anywhere else within a hundred kilometers or more. Yes, the highest peak in Japan, one of the venerable Three Holy Mountains, is now a World Cultural Heritage Site. And well it should be.

But alone it is not. In an announcement issued from UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s 37th session in Cambodia this week, 19 sites around the globe were added to the World Heritage List, including another smoldering beauty long overlooked: Mount Etna. The world’s most active stratovolcano has a 500,000 year history of global impact. As the highest mountain in the Mediterranean, it’s also been a prominent feature of the region’s culture, art and history.

2013 World Heritage Site, the Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese in Ukraine

2013 World Heritage Site, the Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese in Ukraine. Photo by Visit Ukraine

The rest of the list is not so explosive but is no less impressive: the monumental waterworks of Germany’s Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, the 1300 year old Honghe Hani Rice Terraces of China, Tuscany’s Medici Villas and Gardens, and literally dozens more. Notable among the new entries, Fiji and Qatar got their first sites this year. After 25 years of lobbying, Fiji’s Lavuka Historical Port Town, the island nation’s first colonial capital made the list, as did the Al Zubarah archeological site, a walled city on the Persian Gulf coast that was once an important trading center but has been abandoned since the early 1900s. The Class of 2013 brings the World Heritage list to 981 sites in 160 states; a veritable Bucket List for travelers.

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That’s a lot of sightseeing to do! Which leaves only one question: Are you ready to go? Let us know which World Heritage Sites are on your Bucket List, or what sites you’ve seen that you think should be nominated.

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