The 33 new UNESCO World Heritage sites added in 2021

The latest additions, from major spa towns in Europe to an almost 100-year-old railroad in Iran, are certainly worth a detour or even planning your next trip.

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TThe recent announcement of 33 new UNESCO World Heritage sites is bigger than usual as it covers two years, 2020 and 2021. (The committee that selects the sites did not meet in 2020 due to pandemic.) They join a list of more than 1,000 natural and cultural sites around the world. Culture, especially modern, rather than nature, presides over these choices.

Recognition by UNESCO means that the monument has “outstanding universal value”. It also means that the site can get funding and advice from UNESCO to maintain it. Both types of aid may be necessary as the new status frequently leads to an increase in tourist visits, sometimes too numerous, especially when a site has the dubious distinction of being “Instagrammable”.

As the pandemic continues to ban some of these sites, here is a sample of places you may want to include in your future travel plans.

Church of Atlántida, Uruguay

Completed in 1960, the Modernist Church of Atlántida features wavy walls and a double-curved vaulted roof.

Uruguay may not be a priority for many travelers, but modern architecture enthusiasts will be delighted to visit this remarkable building. Innovative engineer Eladio Dieste used humble bricks in a surprisingly sophisticated way. Completed in 1960, the church features wavy walls and a double-curved vaulted roof. The cylindrical bell tower is in openwork masonry; an oculus lights up the underground baptistery. The church is a vivid example of what the imagination can do on a very small budget.

Learn more about Uruguay: this small Uruguayan town is the next Marfa

The major spa towns of Europe

Vichy, France, is one of several cities in Europe that have developed around springs of natural mineral water.

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This designation encompasses 11 cities in 7 countries, so you’re sure to find several worth exploring on your next visit to Europe. They include the city of Bath (UK), Vichy in France, three spa towns each in Czechia and Germany, and the eponymous Spa in Belgium, long known for its healing thermal waters. All have natural mineral springs and have served as prototypes for today’s luxury international wellness resorts.

Learn About Natural Spas: 11 Of The World’s Dreamiest, Hottest Hot Springs

Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, Brazil

Just outside of Rio de Janeiro is a fantastic world of landscape architecture design.

Landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx developed this garden over four decades, starting in 1949, in his home. It includes some 3,500 species of tropical plants in spectacular and colorful arrangements. An on-site museum displays the Burle Marx arts and crafts collection. The American landscape designer Richard Hartlage sums up his work as “a painter working in the landscape”. The 100-acre garden is about a 90-minute drive west of Rio de Janeiro.

Learn more about Rio de Janeiro: embrace the unknown in Rio de Janeiro

Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt, Germany

In Mathildenhöhe you will find a chapel, a wedding tower, a pergola, a fountain and artists' studios and houses.

This artists’ colony started at the end of the 19th century began as a center of innovation in art and architecture. More than a dozen remaining experimental buildings and gardens include a chapel, wedding tower, pergola, fountain, and artists’ studios and houses, which were on display at international exhibitions in the years leading up to the First World War. A former home / studio is now the Artists’ Colony Museum, which displays the work of the 23 residents active here from 1899 to 1914. A must-see for lovers of Art Nouveau, the Viennese Secession and the arts and culture movement. Handicrafts, the property is a short drive from Frankfurt.

Plan a trip with the AFAR Germany travel guide

Trans-Iranian Railway

The Trans-Iranian Railway crosses two mountain ranges to connect the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf.

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You have no doubt heard of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Although it is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a good way to visit many such sites in Russia. Iran’s transnational railroad is shorter and newer – and it runs north to south, not east to west – but represents an impressive feat of engineering. Crossing two mountain ranges to connect the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf required the construction of hundreds of bridges and tunnels between 1927 and 1938. Horseshoe curves and 11 spiral tunnels were built to handle the many slopes. steep.

Learn more about Iran: 15 photos that show what it’s like to live in Iran

Here is the full 2021 list of new UNESCO World Heritage sites, by region:


  • Sudanese-style mosques in northern Côte d’Ivoire
  • Ivindo National Park, Gabon


  • Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China
  • Jomon prehistoric sites in northern Japan
  • Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, northern part of Okinawa Island and Iriomote Island, Japan
  • Getbol, ​​Korean mud flats, South Korea
  • Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex, Thailand
  • Dholavira: a Harappan city, India
  • Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) temple, Telangana, India


  • Colonies of Benevolence, Belgium / Netherlands
  • Cordouan Lighthouse, France
  • Nice, winter resort town on the French Riviera, France
  • Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, Germany
  • Frontiers of the Roman Empire — The lines of Lower Germany, Germany / Netherlands
  • ShUM sites in Speyer, Worms and Mainz, Germany
  • The porticoes of Bologna, Italy
  • Jože Plečnik’s works in Ljubljana — Human-centered urban design, Slovenia
  • The slate landscape of North West Wales, UK
  • Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea, Russia
  • 14th century fresco cycles from Padua, Italy
  • Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a Landscape of Arts and Sciences, Spain
  • Mining landscape of Roșia Montană, Romania
  • The major spa towns of Europe, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom
  • Tropical forests and colchicum wetlands, Georgia

Middle East

  • As-Salt, place of tolerance and urban hospitality, Jordan
  • Trans-Iranian Railway, Iran
  • Hawraman / Uramanat Cultural Landscape, Iran
  • Ḥimā Cultural Zone, Saudi Arabia
  • Mound of Arslantepe, Turkey

South America

  • Establishment and artificial mummification of the Chinchorro culture in the Arica and Parinacota region, Chile
  • Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, Brazil
  • Archaeoastronomical Complex of Chankillo, Peru
  • The work of the engineer Eladio Dieste: Church of Atlántida, Uruguay

>> Next: 10 extra-special UNESCO World Heritage sites

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