Already researching getaways for 2024? If it’s picturesque you’re after, the top twenty most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites have officially been determined.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) aims to encourage the protection and preservation of global cultural heritage, and was first enshrined in an international treaty – the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage – in 1972.
Travel company Explore Worldwide has now offered its insight into the world-famous heritage sites, shortlisting 52 out of the 1,000+ UNESCO locations based on how recognisable they are.
They’re nothing if not Instagrammable.
As part of the study, participants were shown images of the shortlisted landmarks, with their average gaze duration of each measured using eye-tracking technology to determine the most captivating sites.
One UK location occupied the number one spot, with the impressive Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal in Wales acquiring an impressive 180 fixations with an average duration of 0.31 seconds.
Floating over the River Dee, this Welsh landmark is the highest and longest navigable aqueduct in the world.
The world-famous Canadian Rocky Mountains Parks occupy second place, boasting rugged mountain peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, canyons, limestone caves and fossils. Comprising a group of four national parks including the Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho, the Rockies famously offer winter sports, hiking and wildlife viewing.
The diverse cityscape of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was ranked third. Offering an amalgamation of natural and urban environments, it’s famous for the Christ the Redeemer statue towering over the city and its tropical forests and granite peaks.
Drum roll, please! The top twenty most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites are as follows:
- Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal, Wales
- Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, Canada
- Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea, Brazil
- Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia AND Maloti-Drakensberg Park, South Africa
- Island of Mozambique, Mozambique
- Ancient City of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
- Ankor Wat, Cambodia AND Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán, Mexico
- Sceilg Mhichíl, Ireland
- Petra, Jordan
- Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities), Japan
- Yellowstone National Park, United States
- Taj Mahal, India
- Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
- Rapa Nui National Park (Easter Island), Chile
- Piazza del Duomo, Italy
- Fujisan (Mount Fuji), Japan
- Historic Centre of Lima, Peru
- Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, China
- Palace and Park of Versailles, France
- Statue of Liberty, United States.
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