UNESCO World Heritage Sites You Must Visit Before They're Gone Forever
Mass tourism, destructive natural phenomena, and civil conflict have all impacted many natural treasures spread all over the world in the recent years. In the Philippines alone, we have witnessed the degrading beauty of Boracay because of the sheer number of tourists flocking to the area, we have lamented the beauty of Bohol devastated by Typhoon Yolanda, and we have watched helplessly as military conflict took seige of the pristine locations of Zamboanga and Sulu that many travelers refuse to set foot in for fear of their lives.
There are many of these destructions that also grip numerous United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites and every year, more are added to the List of World Heritage in Danger as they suffer from man-made and natural disasters.
Right now, the list has 54 places around the world that are in danger of losing its beauty and former glory forever, if no enough government action is made or responsible tourism is not practiced enough.
The war-stricken nations of Yemen and Syria line the list with numerous endangered World Heritage sites, and tourists may never be able to set their eyes on these historic cultural heirlooms if civil conflict ravages these places.
Bosra (Image from Alessandra Kocman, Flickr)
In Syria, the Ancient Cities of Aleppo, Bosra, and Damascus stand to be lost forever after millennia of Arab culture and heritage. The Ancient City of Damascus is a nostalgic showcase of the the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic civilizations it gave birth to in the 3rd millennium B.C., and is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. The Ancient City of Bosra from the 2nd millennium B.C. now is a ruins of a magnificent 2nd-century Roman theatre, and several mosques within its great walls—a reminder of the former glory of what was once the capital of the Roman province of Arabia.
Old Walled City of Shibam (Image from Dan, Flickr)
In Yemen, the Old Walled City of Shibam from the 16th century is a beautiful throwback to the oldest and best examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction. The towering structures and the warm colors have dubbed the city the “Manhattan of the desert.” The Old City of Sana'a was also in the list, a hub of religious and political heritage that houses homogenous architecture of 103 mosques, 14 hammams, and over 6,000 houses.
Sumatra (image from Carsten ten Brink, Flickr)
Deforestation also threatens the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra in Indonesia, a 2.5-million hectare rainforest that is home to many endangered species, including the endemic Sumatran orangutan. Volcanic and glacial high-altitude lakes, fumaroles, waterfalls, cave systems, and steep rocky backdrops all lend beauty to the expansive forest, that have been in danger since 2011.
Liverpool (Image from Ronald Saunders, Flickr)
Surprisingly included on the list are the huge and developing cities of Liverpool in England and Vienna in Austria, which are deemed in danger by the UNESCO for the exact same reason—that the beauty and heritage of their city is threatened by the continued erection of high-rise and modern developments.
The Maritime Mercantile City still stands after bearing witness to the major trading of the 18th and 19th centuries. The port was a major player in the growth of the British Empire in its glory days, and have witnessed history unfold in its ports as slaves and emigrants and products moved on its shores.
Vienna (Image from Alex DROP, Flickr)
The capital and largest city of Austria, Vienna remains a rich architectural ensemble, home to Baroque castles and gardens, and grand buildings, monuments, and parks housed inside the 19th-century Ringstrasse. Proliferation of Viennese Classicism and Romanticism from the 16th to the 20th century institutionalized Vienna as the musical capital of Europe and its old European town beauty is now in danger of getting overpowered by sky-grazing skyscrapers and modern architecture.
Image from Alessandra Kocman, Flickr
The UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger includes many sites all over the world such as in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, and even the US. It serves as a perfect bucket list for the natural and cultural wonders that have withstood the test of time, but could be gone in a flash if not given enough care and priority.