Spanning continents and countries, UNESCO World Heritage Sites are notable landmarks or natural wonders that are of cultural, national or historical significance. We profile three of the world's best.
The Great Wall of China
The world's largest military structure, the Great Wall of China, stretches 8852km from the east to the west of China, spanning numerous cities. While construction of the Wall started in 220BC, to protect China from northern invasions, it was built by various dynasties - most of its remains were constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Today, the Wall provides insight into Chinese history and is an example of the wonders of ancient China's military history, culture, architecture and construction. Various sections of the Great Wall can be visited and organised tours depart from Beijing daily.
Country: South Africa
South Africa boasts numerous World Heritage Sites, including Robben Island and the Cradle of Humankind. The lesser-known, yet fascinating Vredefort Dome, situated just 120kms south of Johannesburg, near Parys, was declared a World Heritage Site in 2005. According to the UNESCO website, the Vredefort Dome is the oldest discovered astrobleme (a structure created by large meteorite impact), dating back more than two million years. Spanning 190 kilometres, it's also the world's largest impact site. According to UNESCO, the Vredefort Dome is unique in that "it is the only example to provide a full geological profile of an astrobleme below the crater floor", which makes it a vital link to understanding the earth's evolution and geology. Parts of the Dome are open to the public.
Palace and Park of Versailles
One of the first declared World Heritage Sites, the Palace of Versailles is of great architectural and historical significance for Europe. The palace was home to numerous French Kings, including Louis XIV, and served as an example for designers of European palaces. It is also a magnificent example of 18th century French artwork and interior decor. From the Hall of Mirrors to the intricately landscaped gardens, the palace is a breathtaking example of royal indulgence. Versailles is easily accessible from Paris and tours can be booked online.
Visit http://whc.unesco.org/en/list for the entire list of World Heritage Sites.