UNESCO Just Named 42 New World Heritage Sites—Here’s the Full List

Many of the latest additions—which include Viking-age ring fortresses and Latvia’s Old Town of Kuldīga—are worth building a trip around.

Large grass-covered ancient burial mounds punctuated by trees at Gaya Tumuli

Gaya Tumuli in the Republic of Korea consists of ancient burial mounds—and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Seo Heun Kang/World Heritage Nomination Office for the Gaya Tumuli

The United Nations’ Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) this week released its list of new World Heritage sites for 2022 and 2023—places that are recognized for their cultural, historical, natural, and scientific significance in the world. In the past, sites as renowned as the Taj Mahal, the Acropolis of Athens, Yellowstone National Park, Machu Picchu, and Serengeti National Park, to name a few, have been added to this elite list. All told, there are now 1,172 sites—42 of which were just named this week and last—that make up the list of global UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Among the newly inscribed group are an archaeological cemetery site in South Korea, a roadside inn in Iran, and a famed hop-growing region in Czechia.

To be considered for UNESCO status, nominated sites must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one of the 10 selection criteria, which range from representing “a masterpiece of human creative genius” to being “directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.”

Here are the new additions to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2023.

Closeup of 18th-century mechanical scale of the solar system

This 18th-century mechanical scale of the solar system was built by an ordinary citizen and is powered by one single pendulum clock.

Courtesy of Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium

Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker

Those who are fascinated by the night sky may want to consider a visit to the Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker, Netherlands, located in the northern part of the country. Built between 1774 and 1781, this site houses a mechanical scale model of the solar system (at least, as it was known at that time) that’s built into the ceiling. Though it only includes six planets (Earth, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn), as well as the sun and moon, it played an important role in our understanding of the cosmos today—it was one of the earliest predecessors to the projection planetariums of the 20th and 21st centuries. The planetarium is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, year-round. From April 1 through October 31, it is also open on Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

These deer stones in central Mongolia were used in ceremonies and funerals.

These deer stones in central Mongolia were used in ceremonies and funerals.


The Deer Stone Monuments of Mongolia

These four-meter-tall stones, decorated with engravings of stags, poke out of the ground of Khangai Ridge, part of a mountain range in central Mongolia (10 miles west of Murun town in the Khovsgol province). They date from roughly 1,200 to 600 B.C.E. It’s believed that Eurasian Bronze Age nomads used these markers for ceremonial and funerary practices (the area also includes large burial mounds called khirgisüürs and sacrificial altars).

Archaeological site in Guatemala among trees and grass

On the coast of Guatemala is a lesser-known archaeological treasure.

Courtesy of Guatemala Vice Ministry of Cultural and Natural Heritage

National Archaeological Park Tak’alik Ab’aj

Situated on the Pacific coast of Guatemala (about four hours west of Guatemala City by car) this 1,700-plus-year-old archaeological site played a primary role in the emergence of Early Mayan culture. It was an important connection point in a long-distance trade route that connected what is now Mexico and El Salvador. According to UNESCO, “Ideas and customs were shared extensively along this route. . . . Today, Indigenous groups of different affiliations still consider the site a sacred place and visit it to perform rituals.” The site is open to visitors—the entrance fee is 50 Guatemalan quetzales (roughly $6.35).

Aerial view of one of the Rwandan Genocide memorials on a hillside

Four sites related to the Rwandan Genocide were protected.

Courtesy of UNESCO

Memorial sites of the Rwandan Genocide

Four sites important to the story and remembrance of the Rwandan Genocide, where an estimated 1 million people were killed across Rwanda between April and July 1994, also received protected status. Those sites include two places that were the scene of massacres: a Catholic church in Myamata and a technical school in Murambi. The other two locations are hills: the hill of Gisozi in Kigali, where more than 250,000 victims were buried (it’s also the site of the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a popular museum in the capital city), and the hill of Bisesero in the Western Providence, where a memorial was built to remember those “who resisted their perpetrators for over two months before being exterminated,” according to UNESCO.

The Andrefana Dry Forests of Madagascar feature gray karstic landscapes and limestone uplands

The Andrefana Dry Forests of Madagascar, which are made up of karstic landscapes and limestone uplands, are now part of the Tsingy de Bemaraha UNESCO World Heritage site.

Photo by Evergreen

Andrefana Dry Forests

Occasionally, UNESCO will choose to alter the boundaries of existing sites to encompass other areas of significance, which was the case with the Andrefana Dry Forests. Found in multiple spots along the western coast of Madagascar, the Dry Forests are an extension of the Tsingy de Bemaraha World Heritage site consisting of tall, thin, needle-like rock formations found only in Madagascar. The new component covers areas of “extreme importance for conservation as they cover a spectacular array of endemic and threatened biodiversity, including baobabs (a type of deciduous tree native to Madagascar), as well as unique evolutionary lineages such as the Mesitornithiformes, an order of birds which is 54 million years old,” according to UNESCO.

Exterior of white modernist two-story building in the town of Kaunas

The modernist architecture of the town of Kaunas in Lithuania has been inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Courtesy of Martynas Plepys / Kaunas City Municipality Administration

The complete 2023 list of UNESCO’s newly designated World Heritage sites



Central America


North America

South America

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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