Overview of UNESCO and World Heritage Sites
UNESCO is an international organization dedicated to promoting peace throughout the world. Some of the organizational goals and activities of UNESCO include reducing world poverty, promoting human rights, and increasing awareness for sustainable development. Education, scientific research, and cultural exploration are vehicles used for promoting peace and obtaining an international dialogue between member countries. The organization is headquartered in Paris and there are 50 field offices scattered throughout the world. The acronym UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
UNESCO world heritage sites are locations listed by the organization as having important global significance. The list can be specific to a site or encompass an entire historic district. Both geographical locations like the Grand Canyon and entire cities may be included. Being named a World Heritage SIte can bring money and attention to a specific location, but many argue that there are negative aspects to inclusion.
World Winder and UNESCO Sites
Over the last twelve years, Melissa and I have traveled to scores of sights deemed important by UNESCO. We don’t specifically seek out UNESCO sights because they are on a list, but have nonetheless had the opportunity to enjoy many key sites. I scaled the pyramid at Chichen Itza in Mexico, but elected not to climb Uluru-Kata in Australia in solidarity with local aboriginal requests. We have snorkeled the Galapagos Islands and marveled at the Historic Center of Praha (Prague).
Asia has a hefty percentage of UNESCO Heritage SItes. During a stint of living in Japan and traveling home slowly we visited many of these remarkable spots. In 2009, we returned to Asia while traveling with friends form New York. This allowed us to explore even more UNESCO sites. Today’s Photo Friday features three sites in Japan including the historic monuments of Kyoto, shrines and temples of Nikko, and Itsukushima Shinto Shrine on Miyajima island. In addition, we covered three sites in South East Asia. The town of Luang Prabang in Laos, historic city of Ayutthaya, Thailand, and temple complex at Angkor Wat in Cambodia are all represented.