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Hillsides, houses and cellars of Champagne granted UNESCO World Heritage status Slopes of Burgundy, France, also receive special status (CNN) France’s world renowned wine country was toasted twice Saturday with world heritage status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The U.N.’s cultural body bestowed the special status on the historic hillsides and properties where the sparkling wines of Champagne are produced, as well as the famous vineyards that grace the slopes of Burgundy. The designation covers the Champagne hillsides, houses and cellars where “the method of producing sparkling wines was developed on the principle of secondary fermentation in the bottle since the early 17th century to its early industrialization in the 19th century,” UNESCO said in a statement. The vineyards in Hautvilliers, Ay and Mareuil-sur-Ay, Saint-Nicaise Hill in Reims, and the Avenue de Champagne and Fort Chabrol in Epernay bear “clear testimony to the development of a very specialized artisan activity that has become an agro-industrial enterprise,” the statement said.

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Rapa Nui (Chile)
Easter Island, or Hanga Roa, is the most remote inhabited island on the planet. Carved from solid basalt between the 13th and 16th centuries, the group of more than 800 massive stone monuments known as moai scattered across the vol canic landscape are the legacy of a Polynesian society that settled here around 300 AD.

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Valletta (Malta)
Ruled successively by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and the Order of the Knights of St. John, which built the city in the 16th century, Valletta is one of the world’s rare urban inhabited sites that’s been preserved near perfectly. Crammed into a tiny fortified peninsula, the site comprises 320 monuments, making it on( of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.

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Yellowstone National Park (United States)
For sheer diversity, Yellowstone National Park is among the world’s great natural wonders. Contained within a 9,000-square-kilometer chunk of wyoming, the world’s first national park contains half of the globe’s known geothermal features, and is home to an equally impressive array of wildlife including grizzlies, wolves and bison.

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Bagan (Myanmar)
It’s still on the tentative list of sites to be brought into the UNESCO fold. But as Myanmar’s tourism industry expands, Bagan’s profile is gaining prominence. The capital city of the first Myanmar Kingdom, this enormous Buddhist complex on the Irrawaddy River contains more than 2,500 intricate monuments dating to the 10th century.

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Goreme National Park and Cappadocia (Turkey)
Sculpted by erosion, the Goreme valley and its surroundings contain rock-hewn sanctuaries that provide unique evidence of Byzantine art in the post-Iconoclastic period. Within the rugged natural landscape, villages and underground towns dating to the 4th century an be observed.

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Acropolis (Greece)
Looming over the city of Athens, this ancient Grecian citadel was built in the 5th century BC and continually beautified through the years. Despite being attacked and pillaged by everyone from the Byzantines to the Venetians, the site still stands to provide important insight into Greek mythology.

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Petra (Jordan)
Between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, Petra acted as the capital of the Nabataean caravanning kingdom from around the 6th century BC. Abandoned in the 2nd century AD after an earthquake crippled its water management system, the desert city carved from rose-red limestone remains one of the world’s most important archaeological sites.

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Angkor (Cambodia)
Scattered between the twisting roots of the Cambodian jungle, this site dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu contains the remains of Khmer Empire capitals dating from the 9th to the 15th centuries. Among the most fa mous of its 100-strong group of monuments is the Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the sculptural Bayou Temple.

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Iguazu National Park (Brazil and Argentina)
The spectacular semicircular waterfall that forms the border of Argentina and Brazil spans almost 300 meters in diameter and up to 80 meters in height. It’s home to wild life from neon-winged butterflies to sly caiman to elusive jaguar.

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Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)
Located in northern Tanzania and spilling into nearby Kenya, where the conservation area is known as the Masai Mara, this iconic savannah hosts the annual migration of 2 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle followed by their predators, in search of pasture and water. The phenomenal natural spectacle is the largest remaining animal migration in the world.

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Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
Composed of more than 3,000 individual reefs interspersed with more than 600 topical islands, the world’s most extensive coral reef system has been protected since 1981. A 2012 study found that the delicate ecosystem has lost more than half of its coral since 1985 due to a combination of factors including coral bleaching caused by climate change.

Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
Among the first sites to be listed by UNESCO in the 1970s, this otherworldly archipelago is located in the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean. On top of its bevy of endemic species that have remained unchanged for centuries, the island groups’ location at the confluence of three ocean currents also attracts a diverse array of marine life.

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Hampi (India)
Located between emerald banana plantations in eastern Karnataka, the enormous group of monuments that com- prise the former capital of the last great Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagara date to the 14th century. Hampi highlights include elephant stables, Kallina Ratha (Stone Chariot) and towering Virupaksha Temple.

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Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina)
Encompassing the largest ice mantle outside of Antarctica, this picturesque southern Patagonian park bordering Chile is one of the best places in the world to observe glacial activity. Its most famous ice mass is the cool blue Perito Mereno Glacier, from which giant icebergs can be observed crashing into the milky turquoise waters of Lake Argentine.

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Mont Saint-Michel (France)
On a rocky islet on the coast of Normandy, this fortified village built in the shadow of a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey appears to float on the ocean at high tide. Despite its seemingly unstable sandbank foundations, the picturesque village has survived since the 11th century.

Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)
Comprising the Pyramid fields from Giza to Dahshur, including the majestic Great Sphinx, the Old Kingdom of Egypt was considered one of the seven wonders of the world in Hellenistic times. The dozens of tombs buried in the shadows of the famous pyramids have provided archaeologists a glimpse into one of the world’s most fascinating civilizations.

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Sigiriya (Sri Lanka)
A breathtaking sight within the country’s so-called cultural triangle, this ancient Ceylon city is also known as Lion Mountain for the giant clawed feet carved into the granite alongside a staircase leading to the remains of a fortified palace built atop the 370-meter peak. The site also features a series of stunning frescoes and lashings of “Sigiri graffiti,” one of the most ancient texts in the Sinhalese language.

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Machu Picchu (Peru)
The sites that comprise Cusco’s Sacred City are spectacular in their own right, but nothing prepares a visitor for sunrise over the Incan city of Machu Picchu. At 2,430 meters above sea level, in the midst of a tropical mountain forest, the 15th-century settlement was among the few Inca sites that wasn’t plundered by Spanish invaders.

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TuLum (Mexico)
There are at least 30 Mayan ruins scattered throughout Mexico and Central America. Idyllically situated on a rocky cliff facing the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans, managing to survive around 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico in the early 16th century.

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Venice and its lagoon (Italy)
Founded in the 5th century and spread over 118 small islands, Venice is an architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest buildings contain works by some of the world’s greatest artists. Italy boasts the most World Heritage Sites of any nation (47). In Burgundy, the vineyard parcels on the slopes of the C6te de Nuits and the Ccte de Beaune, south of the city of Dijon, are “an outstanding example of grape cultivation and wine production developed since the High Middle Ages,” the statement said.In meetings in Bonn, Germany, the World Heritage Committee added other European cultural sites to its world heritage list. They include Christiansfeld, a Moravian church settlement, and the Parforce hunting landscape in North Zealand, both in Denmark; the Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape in Turkey.Nominations for heritage status have to meet the UNESCO criteria agreed by member states and include a long-term management plan before they can be scrutinized and judged. The sites are eligible for financial assistance towards preservatinn.The world heritage site list includes 1,022 properties throughout the world.

 Source : Traveller (From Aug 31 to Sept 6 ) Vol 3, No 12