13 Most Famous World Heritage Sites
Pyramids of Giza – Egypt
The Great Pyramids are part of a massive UNESCO World Heritage Site (added to the list in 1979) which encompasses Memphis (first capital of Ancient Egypt), its Necropolis, and the over 38 pyramids between Giza and Dahshur.
The Pyramids of Giza were built around BC 2500 and comprise of the Pyramid of Khafre, Menkaure, and Khufu. Khufu is also called “the Great Pyramid of Giza,” being the tallest man-made structure and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The entire complex also includes the Sphinx, bringing over 5 million visitors per year (down from 14 during its peak in 2010).
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Chichen-Itza – Mexico
Located in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, Chichen-Itza was a large pre-Hispanic city built by the Mayan civilization. The city’s name means “At the edge of the well of the Itzaes,” which refers to the two cenotes (natural sinkholes), which was the main source of water.
The site is famous for its step pyramids, including El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulcan (a Mayan feathered serpent deity), standing at roughly 30 meters high. Chichen-Itza. receives around 2.6 million tourists every year and was added to the list in 1988.
Great Barrier Reef – Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest collection of coral reefs in the world. It covers an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres, and features 1,500 species of fish, 4,000 types of mollusk, and 2,900 individual reefs (with 400 types of coral).
This complex ecosystem was added to the World Heritage Site list in 1981 due to its impressive biodiversity. There are also around 900 islands in the area, with some reaching 1,100 meters above sea level. The reef is the natural habitat of the dugong (sea cow) and the large green turtle, which are currently threatened with extinction.