UNESCO grants World Heritage Site status to 33 new places—and half of them are in Europe

From Bologna in Italy to Buen Retiro Park in Spain, these are the must-see sites added to the list

crystal palace in buen retiro park spain
The Crystal Palace in Buen Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

UNESCO, the United Nations organization that aims to promote world peace through education and culture, has added 33 new sites to its World Heritage List. 

The list encompasses destinations highlighted for their cultural, historical or scientific significance. Last month, the city of Liverpool was removed from the list due to new developments in the city.  

One of the new sites however is 'The Great Spa Towns of Europe,' encompassing towns in Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Northern Ireland. The City of Bath, for example, and Vichy, France are part of this designation because of their healing waters. 

city of Bath from above

Bath, England, a popular destination for tourists, received a second  UNESCO World Heritage inscription for its international importance to spa culture and architecture.

(Image credit: Getty)

The old town of Nice, the resort town in France, got its own designation for being the "winter resort town of the Riviera." The 13th-century porticos of Bologna, Italy, were added because the UNESCO committee said they “have become an expression and element of Bologna's urban identity.” Padua’s Fourteenth-Century Fresco Cycles were also added. Italy now has 58 sites on the list. 


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Corduan Lighthouse

The Cordouan Lighthouse off the coast of Le Verdon-sur-Mer, southwestern France.

(Image credit: Getty)

The Colonies of Benevolence in Belgium and the Netherlands, the Cordouan Lighthouse in France, Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro Park in Spain, the Roșia Montană Mining Landscape in Romania, the Works of Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana in Slovenia, and the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales were also added to the list. 

In Germany, the the Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt and ShUM Sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz were deemed UNESCO-worthy. The Frontiers of the Roman Empire, another new designation, also included spots in Germany and the Netherlands. In Russia, the Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea were added, and in Georgia, the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands were added to the list.

elephants in ivindo National Park

Forest elephants in the Ivindo national park.

(Image credit: Getty)

Outside of Europe, the Sudanese Style Mosques in the Northern Ivory Coast and Ivindo National Park in Gabon were added to the list in Africa. 

child skeleton at Arslantepe

A 5700-year-old child was discovered at the archaeological site of Arslantepe in Turkey in 2019. 

(Image credit: Getty)

In the Middle East, the Trans-Iranian Railway was also added. The railway connects the Caspian Sea with the Persian Gulf through hundreds of bridges and tunnels. Also in the Middle East, the Arslantepe Mound in Turkey, As-Salt (knows as The Place of Tolerance) in Jordan, the Cultural Landscape of Uramanat in Iran, and the Ḥimā Cultural Area in Saudia Arabia were added to the list. 

Church of Atlántida

The Church of Atlántida is one of the most relevant works of Uruguayan Engineer Eladio Dieste.

(Image credit: Getty)

In South America, the new list included the Settlement and Artificial Mummification of the Chinchorro Culture in the Arica and Parinacota Region in Chile, Sítio Roberto Burle Marx in Brazil, the Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex in Peru, and The Work of Engineer Eladio Dieste at the Church of Atlántida in Uruguay. 

Dholavira archaeological site

Dholavira was a major Harappan city remarkable for its town planning, monumental structures, aesthetic architecture and water management and storage system.

(Image credit: Getty)

The Getbol Korean Tidal Flats were added in South Korea and the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex in Thailand. In India, the new list includes Dholavira: a Harappan City, and the Kakatiya Rudreshwara Temple. 

A UNESCO designation calls out a site for its “outstanding universal value,” and gives the country it’s in permission to receive funds from UNESCO to maintain it. The new list of 33 additions is larger than usual because the organization did not add any sites in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are more than 1,000 World Heritage Sites in total. 

Rebecca Holland is a travel and food writer based in Chicago. She has written for the Guardian, New York Times, Architectural Digest, Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast and more. She is currently a graduate student at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. When not working, you can find her eating her way through Chicago's neighborhoods, or in non-pandemic times, traveling around the world.