UNESCO Inscribes 34 New World Heritage Sites

This year's inductees include 29 cultural sites and five natural ones

The porticoes of Via Farini, Bologna
Julian Elliott Photography / Getty Images

Since 1978, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been bestowing the honor of "World Heritage Site" to destinations worldwide with extraordinary global significance. After the pandemic postponed 2020's deliberations, UNESCO's selection committee has met virtually to debate the latest contenders, ultimately voting to add a total of 34 properties to the prestigious list in 2021.

This year's inductees include 29 cultural sites ranging from a collection of spa towns in Europe to a historic train in Iran to an archaeoastronomical complex in Peru and five natural sites, including the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex in Thailand.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination process is arduous; many sites campaign for years before being designated, if they ever are. But the benefits that come with the honor are manifold, especially when it comes to preservation. UNESCO provides financial aid and expert resources to its collection of World Heritage Sites to help protect them for posterity.

But should a destination fail to preserve the qualities that earned it its World Heritage Site status, that status could be ripped away—which is exactly what happened to the British city of Liverpool this year. Delisting is rare, having only occurred on two (and a half) other occasions.

This combination of additions and subtractions means the current total of UNESCO World Heritage Sites sits at 1,154—check out the full list of newcomers below.

  • The Great Spa Towns of Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom)
  • Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Danube Limes (Western Segment) (Austria, Germany, Slovakia)
  • Colonies of Benevolence (Belgium, Netherlands)
  • Sítio Roberto Burle Marx (Brazil)
  • Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China (China)
  • Cordouan Lighthouse (France)
  • Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt (Germany)
  • Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple, Telangana (India)
  • Trans-Iranian Railway, Islamic Republic of Iran 
  • Padua’s fourteenth-century fresco cycles (Italy)
  • Dutch Water Defence Lines, inscribed as an extension to the World Heritage site of Defence Line of Amsterdam (Netherlands) 
  • Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex (Peru)
  • Roșia Montană Mining Landscape (Romania)
  • Ḥimā Cultural Area (Saudi Arabia)
  • Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences (Spain)
  • Arslantepe Mound (Turkey)
  • The work of engineer Eladio Dieste: Church of Atlántida (Uruguay)
  • Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands (Georgia)
  • Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, Northern part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island (Japan)
  • Getbol, Korean Tidal Flats (Republic of Korea)
  • Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex (Thailand)
  • Settlement and Artificial Mummification of the Chinchorro Culture in the Arica and Parinacota Region (Chile)
  • Sudanese style mosques in northern Côte d’Ivoire (Côte d'Ivoire)
  • Nice, Winter Resort Town of the Riviera (France)
  • ShUM Sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz (Germany)
  • Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Lower German Limes (Germany, Netherlands)
  • Dholavira: a Harappan City (India)
  • Cultural Landscape of Hawraman/Uramanat (Islamic Republic of Iran)
  • The Porticoes of Bologna (Italy)
  • Jomon Prehistoric Sites in Northern Japan (Japan)
  • As-Salt - The Place of Tolerance and Urban Hospitality (Jordan)
  • The Franciscan Ensemble of the Monastery and Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Tlaxcala was inscribed as an extension of the World Heritage property of Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl (Mexico)
  • Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea (Russian Federation)
  • The works of Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana – Human Centred Urban Design (Slovenia)
  • The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)