If you have plans to see the entire world in all its grandeur, UNESCO’s official list of World Heritage Sites is a good place to start.
This sacred collection consists of 1,052 locales across the globe ― historical and cultural, natural and manmade ― that meet some very lofty criteria, including this: They have to be “of outstanding value to humanity.”
This week, the World Heritage Committee’s annual meeting came to a close with a bevy of freshly-inscribed World Heritage Sites. And with the committee’s extreme standards, we can be sure that this impressively curated list includes places that are as diverse as they are breathtaking and significant.
From a chain of ancient, partially submerged volcanoes in the Pacific to deep caves where neanderthals once lived, say hello to UNESCO’s 21 newest members of the World Heritage List ― one of the most important travel bucket lists of our time.
While some of these wondrous spots are located in countries that the State Department has warned American travelers from visiting, you can take a virtual trip with the photos below.
Archaeological Site of Ani, Turkey
chetverg via Getty Images
The Ahwar of Southern Iraq
rasoul ali via Getty Images
The Ahwar is made up of seven sites: the remains of Mesopotamian Cities cities of Uruk, Ur and Tell Eridu and four wetland marshes. These sites are some of the world's largest inland delta systems
that exist in an extremely hot and arid environment.
Antigua Naval Dockyard, Antigua and Barbuda
Latitudestock via Getty Images
Antequera Dolmens, Spain
Jon Nazca / Reuters
This site consists of three megalithic tombs -- the Menga and Viera dolmens and the Tolos
of El Romeral -- and two natural monuments known as the Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal mountainous formations. As UNESCO notes, these dolmens are "one of the most remarkable architectural works
of European prehistory."
Archaeological Site of Philippi, Greece
sjhaytov via Getty Images
This walled city, founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II, was developed as a "small Rome
" and later became a center of the Christian faith following the visit of the Apostle Paul in 49-50 CE.
The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, Various Locations
NARINDER NANU via Getty Images
Architect Le Corbusier was a pioneer of modern design. The 17 sites chosen by the World Heritage committee were built over a half-century. His work reflects "the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply
during the 20th century to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society."
The Persian Qanat, Iran
ajlber via Getty Images
This ancient qanat system consists of 11 underground tunnels
used to carry water from the heads of valleys to rest areas or water reservoirs in the arid regions of Iran.
Gorham's Cave Complex, U.K.
Travel Ink via Getty Images
There are four caves tucked away inside the Rock of Gibraltar which have provided evidence of Neanderthal occupation over a span of more than 125,000 years
. These caves have allowed researchers to better understand Neanderthals and their cultural traditions.
Nan Madol, Micronesia
Michael Runkel / robertharding via Getty Images
This site consists of 99 artificial islets constructed by humans off the coast of Pohnpei between 1200 and 1500 CE. Now, these islets contain the remains of stone palaces, temples, tombs and residential areas -- but are also listed by UNESCO as "in danger" due to climate change and coastal erosion.
Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art, China
IMAGEMORE Co, Ltd. via Getty Images
There are dozens of examples of rock art on the steep cliffs in southwest China, and they are the only remains left in the world that reveal what life was like for the Luoye people
, who date back to around the 5th century BCE to the 2nd century CE. These drawings have been interpreted as portraying south China's once-prevalent bronze drum culture.
Nalanda Mahavihara, India
Peter Langer via Getty Images
Western Tien-Shan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan
MisoKnitl via Getty Images
Stećci Medieval Graveyards, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia
AGaeta via Getty Images
This listing combines some 30 sites across several countries all containing these distinctive medieval tombstones known as stećci
. These cemeteries date back to the 1100s are are mostly carved from limestone.
Pampulha Modern Ensemble, Brazil
Ian Trower / robertharding via Getty Images
This quirky cultural center, built in 1940 around an artificial lake, was designed by renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer
in collaboration with other artists.The space includes a casino, ballroom, Golf Yacht Club and the São Francisco de Assis church.
Archipiélago de Revillagigedo, Mexico
Daniela Dirscherl via Getty Images
These four remote islands are part of a submerged mountain range
, with each peak representing the peaks of volcanoes emerging from the sea. They're a critical habitat for seabirds and marine life, with an abundance or large pelagic species including manta rays, whales and sharks.
Lut Desert, Iran
Alireza Firouzi via Getty Images
Between June and October, this arid subtropical area is swept by strong winds, which transport sediment and cause aeolian erosion on a colossal scale. Consequently, the site presents some of the most spectacular examples
of aeolian yardang landforms.
Mistaken Point, Canada
Barrett & MacKay via Getty Images
Hubei Shennongjia, China
Anakey99 via Getty Images
These two sites protect ancient forests
in central-eastern China and is home to some of the country's rarest animal species, including the Chinese Giant Salamander, the Golden or Snub-nosed Monkey, the Clouded Leopard and the Asian Black bear.
Khangchendzonga National Park, India
Tim Makins via Getty Images
A collection of valleys, lakes, glaciers and snow-capped mountains are tucked away in the heart of the Himalayan range
in northern India. These incredible features also include the world's third largest peak, Mount Khangchendzonga, which comes with its own set of caves, rivers and lakes, which are worshipped by the area's indigenous people.
Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay, Sudan
Fiona McIntosh via Getty Images
This entry includes two separate sites
: Sanganeb, an isolated and vibrant coral reef in the central Red Sea, and the area including Mukkawar Island and Dungonab Bay. Seabirds, marine mammals, turtles and sharks call this protected area home.
Ennedi Massif's Natural and Cultural Landscape, Chad
DEA / C. SAPPA via Getty Images
Years and years of water and wind erosion have sculpted this sandstone
into stunning canyons, valleys, natural arches and pitons. Thousands of images have been painted and carved into the rock surface of caves, canyons and shelters, presenting one of the largest ensembles of rock art in the Sahara.
The information and captions for the photos were provided by UNESCO’s World Heritage Center.