By: Liz Cantrell
May 31, 2021
From the pyramids of Egypt to the Great Barrier Reef, there are 1,121 places around the world that have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the gold standard for places of global historical and aesthetic significance. To be included on the list, the site must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one of ten criteria, such as: representing a “masterpiece of human creative genius” or containing “superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty.”
It would be impossible to see all of the UNESCO sites in a lifetime, so to help guide your choices, we asked T+L’s top travel advisors to share their favorite, under-the-radar sites.
As a native Texan, I’m partial to the history San Antonio Missions. Most just know of The Alamo, but the site encompasses a group of five frontier mission complexes situated along a stretch of the San Antonio River basin in southern Texas, as well as an adjacent ranch. You’ll see beautiful architectural and archaeological structures, farmlands, residencies, churches and granaries, as well as water distribution systems. The complexes were built by Franciscan missionaries in the 18th century and illustrate the Spanish Crown’s efforts to colonize, evangelize and defend the northern frontier of New Spain. The San Antonio Missions are also an example of the interweaving of Spanish and Coahuiltecan cultures, illustrated by a variety of features, including the decorative elements of churches, which combine Catholic symbols with indigenous designs inspired by nature.— Keith Waldon, Departure Lounge