UNESCO inscribes 42 new sites around the globe for heritage protection

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UNESCO inscribes 42 new sites around the globe for heritage protection

The medieval hamlet of Kuldīga, Latvia is one of 42 sites named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Laima Gutmane/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

The total number of UNESCO World Heritage sites rose to 1,199 this week, with the inscription of 42 new sites around the globe. The World Heritage Committee has named 33 cultural sites and 9 natural sites to the comprehensive list that offers “the highest level of heritage protection in the world.”

Historic locations, ancient structures, buildings, and landscapes named to the list span centuries. Among these are burial grounds in Spain and Mongolia dating back to 1600 BCE and memorial sites of the Rwanda genocide from the 1990s.

Of note this year is the addition of three new Sites of Memory, places where an event occurred that people would like to see memorialized. “Either already accessible, or made accessible to the public, these sites become places of reconciliation, contemplation and peaceful reflection,” UNESCO detailed in a press release.

The recently named Sites of Memory include a former naval academy in Argentina turned detention center during a military dictatorship, genocide sites in Rwanda, and burial sites across France and Belgium for tens of thousands of World War I soldiers. The committee also added sites in Ukraine to its List of World Heritage in Danger. When Russia’s full-scale invasion broke out in February 2022, UNESCO put out a call for historic sites in Ukraine to be protected. The Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv and a complex of monastic and Lavra buildings of Kyiv-Pechersk, and the historic center of Lviv were added to the list of under threat sites and landscapes due to the ongoing conflict.

Prehistoric Sites of Talayotic Menorca, Spain  (Ivan_bea/Public Domain)

In the U.S. a site consisting of earthworks built nearly 2,000 years ago, in what is now Ohio, received preservation status as a surviving example of Hopewell culture. The mounds built from ground matter are only the 25th site in the U.S. to receive heritage protection from UNESCO.

Notable architectural additions include Kaunas, a city in Lithuania, that grew from 1919–1939 as a lauded example of modernism, now coined Kaunas Modernism. The site’s Executive Summary states “Kaunas Modernism is an exceptional example of rethinking architecture as a process of social, political, and cultural modernisation in the 20th century.” Others include the protection of Kuldīga, a medieval hamlet in Latvia, of which the street layout is largely unchanged and traditional log architecture remains intact.

Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks in Ohio (Ɱ/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

The full list of newly named UNESCO World Heritage Sites is below:

Cold Winter Deserts of Turan | Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid | Saudi Arabia
Tugay forests of the Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve | Tajikistan
Memorial sites of the Genocide: Nyamata, Murambi, Gisozi and Bisesero | Rwanda
Funerary and memory sites of the First World War (Western Front) | Belgium, France
The Ancient Town of Si Thep and its Associated Dvaravati Monuments | Thailand
Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker | Netherlands
Wooden Hypostyle Mosques of Medieval Anatolia | Türkiye
Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks | Ohio, United States of America
Evaporitic Karst and Caves of Northern Apennines | Italy
Jodensavanne Archaeological Site: Jodensavanne Settlement and Cassipora Creek Cemetery | Suriname

Zagori Cultural Landscape | Greece
Anticosti | Canada
ESMA Museum and Site of Memory – Former Clandestine Center of Detention, Torture and Extermination | Argentina
Nyungwe National Park | Rwanda
Modernist Kaunas: Architecture of Optimism, 1919–1939 |Lithuania
Gordion | Türkiye
Žatec and the Landscape of Saaz Hops | Czechia
Prehistoric Sites of Talayotic Menorca | Spain
Cultural Landscape of Khinalig People and “Köç Yolu” Transhumance Route | Azerbaijan
National Archaeological Park Tak’alik Ab’aj | Guatemala

Nyamata, a memorial site of the Rwanda genocide (Ziqo/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Bale Mountains National Park | Ethiopia
Djerba: Testimony to a settlement pattern in an island territory | Tunisia
Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas | India
The Cosmological Axis of Yogyakarta and its Historic Landmarks | Indonesia
Astronomical Observatories of Kazan Federal University | Russian Federation
The Maison Carrée of Nîmes | France
Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan | Palestine

Silk Roads: Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor | Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
The Gedeo Cultural Landscape | Ethiopia
Koh Ker: Archaeological Site of Ancient Lingapura or Chok Gargyar | Cambodia
Deer Stone Monuments and Related Sites of Bronze Age | Mongolia
Gaya Tumuli | Republic of Korea
Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er | China
Santiniketan | India
The Persian Caravanserai | Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Tr’ondëk-Klondike | Canada
Viking-Age Ring Fortresses | Denmark
Jewish-Medieval Heritage of Erfurt | Germany
Old town of Kuldīga | Latvia
Forest Massif of Odzala-Kokoua | Congo
Volcanoes and Forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique | France