UNESCO adds sites to World Heritage list, and drops one too

The UNESCO World Heritage List has just gotten a lot longer. Officials meeting for the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee have added more than two dozen sites of great cultural, historical, or natural value to the list, and they’re considering more.

Among the new entries are an aqueduct in Britain, a stately home in Belgium, and a sacred Buddhist mountain dotted with monasteries in China.

Two lesser-visited countries got sites onto the list. The ruins of Loropéni in Burkina Faso, a massive thousand-year-old fort that guarded the Saharan gold trade, was added, as well as Cape Verde’s Cidade Velha, a 15th century Portuguese colony that was the first major station for the transatlantic slave trade. Cidade Velha includes a fort, ruins of houses, and a grand cathedral, the slave traders being devout Christians.

There have been some losers too. Several sites have been moved to the endangered list, and the Germany’s Dresden Elbe river valley was dropped from the list entirely after “developers” put a four-lane highway through it. Ironically, the old city of Dresden was Germany’s most historic city, but was leveled by Allied bombing during World War Two. The nearby historic landscape dotted with castles and palaces escaped damage, but now the Germans have destroyed that themselves. Nice going, guys.

UNESCO’s website is posting up-to-date information on new additions and changes.

Trivia questions: What does UNESCO stand for? And what World Heritage site is pictured above? Click “Read More” to find out.


1. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

2. That Chomsi Stupa, Mount Phu Shi, Luang Prabang, Laos. This center for Buddhist learning contains a giant gold statue of the Buddha and was a religious center for the first capital of Laos when it was built in 1804. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1995.