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UNESCO Announces New World Heritage Sites


People wait to see the sunset from the top of Shwesandaw Pagoda in the ancient city of Bagan February 13, 2015. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
UNESCO Announces New World Heritage Sites
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The United Nations Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, meets each year to choose the latest additions to its World Heritage list.

Over the past few days, the World Heritage Committee has made over 30 new choices during this year's meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan. The group chooses sites based on historical and cultural importance, as well as their beauty.

Today, we look at some of the recent additions:

Babylon (Iraq)

The archaeological site of Babylon, Iraq, Friday, July 5, 2019.
The archaeological site of Babylon, Iraq, Friday, July 5, 2019.

​The ancient city of Babylon is closely connected with one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - the Hanging Gardens. Now, the area is gaining World Heritage Site status, years after Iraq began campaigning for the site’s inclusion. The city on the Euphrates River is about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad. It was once a main tourist site before Iraq suffered several wars. The 4,300-year-old Babylon is where dynasties have risen and fallen since the earliest days of settled human civilization. UNESCO says the site “offers a look into one of the most influential empires of the ancient world.”

Paraty and Ilha Grande (Brazil)

Hats are displayed in a hat shop in Paraty, Brazil September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes
Hats are displayed in a hat shop in Paraty, Brazil September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

​The historic coastal town of Paraty and the island Ilha Grande are already popular places for visitors to Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state. Now, they make up a newly named UNESCO site. Paraty was the final stop along the Gold Route, along which gold was shipped to Europe in the 1600s. Its port served as an entry point for tools and African slaves transported to work in the mines. The area is also home to a huge number of animals, some of which are threatened.

Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City (China)

People look at the foot of the ruins of an ancient city wall in Liangzhu, Zhejiang province November 29, 2007. REUTERS/China Daily
People look at the foot of the ruins of an ancient city wall in Liangzhu, Zhejiang province November 29, 2007. REUTERS/China Daily

The ruins of Liangzhu represent an early state with a collective belief system based on rice growing, dating from 3300 to 2300 BCE. The site is made up of four areas along the Yangtze River Basin, on the southeastern coast of the country. The ruins, UNESCO says, are an “outstanding example of early urban civilization.” They include a water conservation system and social divisions represented in different kinds of burials.

Jaipur City (India)

Tourists walk on a footway of the step well of Nahargarh fort in Jaipur, capital of India's desert state of Rajasthan January 23, 2012. REUTERS/Altaf Hussain
Tourists walk on a footway of the step well of Nahargarh fort in Jaipur, capital of India's desert state of Rajasthan January 23, 2012. REUTERS/Altaf Hussain

​The walled city of Jaipur, in India’s Rajasthan state, is recognizable for its large public squares, palaces, markets and pink buildings. UNESCO says Jaipur’s urban planning shows an “exchange of ideas from ancient Hindu as well as modern Mughal as well as Western cultures.” It was founded in 1727 by a Hindu ruler who was a mathematician, astronomer and an experienced city planner. Jaipur was designed to be a business capital, and it has held onto its “local commercial, artisanal and cooperative traditions to this day,” UNESCO writes.

Bagan (Myanmar)

People wait to see the sunset from the top of Shwesandaw Pagoda in the ancient city of Bagan February 13, 2015. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
People wait to see the sunset from the top of Shwesandaw Pagoda in the ancient city of Bagan February 13, 2015. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

​Myanmar’s ancient city of Bagan includes more than 3,500 temples, monasteries and other structures built between the 11th and 13th centuries. The site sits on a bend of the Ayeyarwady River in the central plain of Myanmar. Its inclusion as a World Heritage site is likely to help the country’s tourism industry. It was first nominated in 1995. Burma’s then military rulers were accused of ignoring experts’ advice on restoration and the nomination was rejected.

Writing-on-Stone (Canada)

Carvings are seen in rock structures called hoodoos in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada.
Carvings are seen in rock structures called hoodoos in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada.

​Canada’s Writing-on-Stone monument, known also as Aisinai’pi, has a large number of protected rock paintings and rock carvings. Some of them are 2,000 years old. The markings were left by Blackfoot Native Americans, who live in parts of Western Canada and the far northern United States. The land that makes up Writing-on-Stone is filled with rock columns that have been formed by erosion into “spectacular shapes,” UNESCO notes. The Blackfoot people consider the area to be holy.

Churches of the Pskov School of Architecture (Russia)

An audience arrives for a practice of the Bolshoi theatre's new staging of Rimsky-Korsakov open-air opera "The Maid of Pskov" in Pskov's Kremlin, some 650 km (404 miles) northwest of Moscow, July 21, 2010. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov
An audience arrives for a practice of the Bolshoi theatre's new staging of Rimsky-Korsakov open-air opera "The Maid of Pskov" in Pskov's Kremlin, some 650 km (404 miles) northwest of Moscow, July 21, 2010. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

​A group of ancient structures in the city of Pskov make up Russia’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site. The structures, many of which are churches, all were designed by the Pskov School of Architecture. It was a leading school of building design in the country, especially in the 15th and 16th centuries. Some elements common to Pskov architecture date back to the 11th century. UNESCO writes that the school “informed the evolution of Russian architecture over five centuries.”

The 20th-century architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (United States)

This May 31, 2011, file photo, shows the interior of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, architect Frank Lloyd Wright and built from 1956-1959, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
This May 31, 2011, file photo, shows the interior of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, architect Frank Lloyd Wright and built from 1956-1959, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

UNESCO also recognized the work of famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The group added eight of his buildings to the World Heritage List. They include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, California and Unity Temple in Chicago, Illinois. The World Heritage Committee said in a statement that Wright’s work “had a strong impact on the development of modern architecture in Europe.” The Guggenheim is among Wright’s most famous buildings, with its spiral path lined with works of art. It was completed in 1959, the same year Wright died.

I'm Caty Weaver.

And I'm Ashley Thompson.

Ashley Thompson adapted this report based on press materials from UNESCO and articles from the Associated Press and Reuters. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Is there a site in your country that you believe should be added to UNESCO's World Heritage Site list? Tell us about it in the comments section

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Words in This Story

dynasty - n. a family of rulers who rule over a country for a long period of time

commercial - adj. related to or used in the buying and selling of goods and services

artisanal - adj. related to people who are skilled at making things by hand

basin - n. the area of land around a large river and the small rivers that flow into it

temple - n. a building for worship

monastery - n. a place where monks live and work together

carving - n. the act or skill of creating carved objects, designs, or figures

column - n. something that is tall and thin in shape

erosion - n. the gradual destruction of something by natural forces (such as water, wind, or ice) : the process by which something is eroded or worn away

tourism - n. the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure

church - n. a building that is used for Christian religious services

spectacular - adj. causing wonder and admiration

impact - n. a powerful or major influence or effect

spiral -adj. winding or circling around a central point and usually getting closer to or farther away from it

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