Chances are you’ve visited at least one of the 1,073 World Heritage sites on UNESCO’s ever-growing list of historically and culturally significant destinations. Bucket list all stars include the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge and Serengeti National Park, but not all the sites are as well-known as these storied icons. Here are six under-the-radar gems that might not be on your list — yet.
Spectacular mountain views will almost make you forget that you’re riding on one of the world’s greatest feats of civil engineering. Built between 1848 and 1854, this dramatic railway utilizes 14 tunnels, 16 major viaducts, 118 stone bridges and 11 iron bridges to pass through some of the highest mountains in the Alps.
Known as the “Louvre of the Desert,” this historic section of the Kalahari Desert is home to the highest concentration of rock art in the world. More than 4,500 paintings are preserved on massive rock formations that rise dramatically from the desert floor making for a remarkable archaeological record that traces human activity from the Stone Age through to the 19th century.
Here you will find the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese stone carving from the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). Located alongside the Yi River in the Henan province, the grottoes’ caves and niches represent the high point of Chinese stone carving and contain almost 110,000 Buddhist statues, more than 60 stupas and 2,800 inscriptions.
Inhabited since the Neolithic period, the city of Paphos still holds the remains of villas, palaces, theaters, fortresses and tombs dedicated to the cult of Aphrodite. Legend says the Greek goddess was born on the island and the buildings constructed in her honor contain some of the world’s most magnificent mosaics.
Situated on one of the oldest harbors in Finland, Old Rauma is an outstanding example of a medieval Nordic city. Built around a Franciscan monastery, the city is composed of some 600 wooden buildings that preserve the region’s spectacular architectural heritage.
The world’s second largest coral atoll, isolated Aldabra is home to the largest population of giant tortoises. Tourism is strictly limited, but the lucky few who get to make the trip experience a marine ecosystem like no other.