October 10, 2010

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

I'm writing a paper for my Spanish class about a kick-ass aquaculture farm called Veta la Palma. If you follow TED lectures, you may have heard about it here (or check it out now! It's one of my favorite TED lectures). Anyway, it's right next to DoƱana Biosphere Reserve, which is on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s World Heritage Site list. And, as one thing leads to another, I found myself thinking that this is probably a really really awesome "bucket list" (you know, the list of places you want to go before you die). Curious, I looked at the list of World Heritage Sites to see which ones I had already visited. There are currently 911 on the list, and I have been to 41 of them:

Chartres Cathedral
Palace and Park of Versailles
Paris, Banks of the Seine

Tikal National Park

Historic Center of Rome
Historic Center of Florence
Venice and its Lagoon
Historic Center of Naples
Archaelogic Area of Agrigento
Late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto
Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica
Archaelogica Areas of Pompei, Heculaneum, and Torre Annunziata

Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto
Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara

Le Morne Cultural Landscape

Historic Center of Oaxaca
Prehistoric City and National Park of Palenque

BOSAWAS Biosphere Reserve (okay, I cheated a little here...BOSAWAS, where I was, is adjacent to Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras and is not actually a UNESCO site itself)

Works of Antoni Gaudi

Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch
Rhaetian Railway and Bernina Landscapes

Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Serengeti National Park
Kilimanjaro National Park
Stone Town of Zanzibar

United Kingdom
Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
City of Bath
Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret's Church
Tower of London
Old and New Towns of Edinburgh
Cornwall and West Devon Mining

United States
Yellowstone National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky represent!!)
Great Smokey Mountains National Park
Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

First of all, I feel exceedingly lucky and grateful to have visited even 5% of UNESCO's list. Thanks to the Bingham Seminar/Scholarships in college, I was able to visit Sicily and Japan with the great fore-knowledge of an entire semester's class with Professors Chris Havice (Food, Architecture and Folkways of Sicily) & Doug Slaymaker (Japanese Literature, and the Cities of Japan). Thanks, too, to the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation grant that sent me to study in Nicaragua (Prevalence of Tuberculosis and Brucellosis in Dairy Cattle of BOSAWAS Biosphere Reserve) during my time in veterinary school. And thank you to my parents who allowed me to travel to Scotland when I was 16, and then travelled with my sister and I in Europe when I graduated from high school.
Not surprisingly, some of the most memorable (favorite) places I've ever been to are heavily seeding this list. Definitely, these include: everything in Tanzania, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (one of the most profound days of my life), Venice, Paris, Tikal Guatemala, and the standing stones of Stenness in Orkney, Scotland. I also have good stories to tell about some of them, like sleeping on a park bench in Bath because all the hotels and hostels were full; like bouldering on some of the ancient toppled columns in Agrigento (that's probably not allowed. doh.); or picking wildflowers in the Swiss Alps. I hope to return to many, I hope to explore more, and I am glad that these places are protected.

What UNESCO sites have you visited? What stories do you have associated with them? Which ones would you like to visit?

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