Best Unesco Sites in USA

The best UNESCO World Heritage sites in the United States

Here is a list of all 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States. Each one is a must-see for anybody interested in learning about the rich history of the United States and seeing some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery.

Twenty-one of these incredible places may be found inside the continental United States; two more can be found in Hawaii; one can be found in Puerto Rico; and one location extends from the northern United States into Canada.

In this article, we will learn more about the history of the 18 of these UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States along with what UNESCO is there for. Let’s start!

What does UNESCO do?

Crucial to the UN’s mission is UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The group was founded in 1945 by the education ministers of four countries (China, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union) to foster international harmony via the dissemination of new ideas in the fields of science and culture.

A cultural or natural site that has been designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization as deserving of the title “World Heritage Site” is called a World Heritage Site (UNESCO). It is believed that these locations should be preserved because of the importance that they have for all people, both in the here and now and also for those who will come after us. Each of the World Heritage Sites is regarded as “belonging to all the peoples of the world, regardless of the land on which they are situated,” and they are all afforded the highest level of legal protection possible thanks to an international agreement.

Heritage is deserving of preservation.

The safeguarding campaigns of Abu Simbel preceded the protection of ‘World Heritage’ by an international convention (in Egypt), the Borobodur Temple Compounds (in Indonesia), and Venice and its Lagoon (in Italy) in the 1960s. These campaigns were carried out before the protection of ‘World Heritage’ by an international convention.

A convention to protect the “common cultural heritage of humanity” was established as a result of the vulnerability of these sites to dangers such as looting, erosion, and construction. This vulnerability, combined with the power and success of international campaigns for their preservation, led to the establishment of the convention.

Taking into account the legacy of the globe

The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage from 1972 stipulates that a location has to have “outstanding universal importance” and fulfill at least one of the ten Cultural and Natural criteria in order to be considered a World Heritage Site. The variety of human values, the evolution of urban or settlement form, a reference to history or living traditions (Cultural), or exceptional natural occurrences, exemplifying geological, biological, and ecological processes, or in-situ preservation of biodiversity are some examples of these (Natural).

On the other hand, there is a disproportionate amount of emphasis placed on religious and European sites, in particular Judeo-Christian ones. A list that accurately reflects the cultural and ecological variety of the globe was one of the goals of the Global Strategy for a Representative, Balanced, and Credible World Heritage List, which the World Heritage Committee initiated in the year 1994. This resulted in the acknowledgment that “Cultural heritage does not stop with monuments and collections of artifacts” and the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was signed in 2003. Oral traditions, traditional craft production, performing arts, and rituals are all examples of what may be found on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Sites at risk

The classification of a site as a World Heritage site does not, however, guarantee that the site will remain intact; during the present civil conflict in Syria, all six UNESCO monuments, including the Palmyra Arch of Triumph and the Great Mosque of Aleppo, have been demolished or severely damaged. The World History List is both political and international because of its ties to the United Nations and the idea that people share a common heritage.

The inheritance of our world

The significance of monuments and landscapes on local, national, and even global dimensions is brought home to us when we visit a World Heritage Site. They provide insight into the achievements of civilizations both in the past and in the present, as well as into the variety, innovation, social interactions, values, and beliefs of such cultures.

Natural areas can include stunning beauty, in addition to opportunities for scientific discovery and variety in geology and fauna. Because of their significance and worth to both the present and the future of mankind, cultural and natural heritage sites are protected in the conviction that they also carry the unrealized potential for learning, participation, and exploration.

After two devastating wars in a matter of decades, it was generally agreed that political and economic alliances alone were not sufficient to maintain international stability.

UNESCO in the United States of America

The goal of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is not complicated but has far-reaching consequences: “to contribute to the constructing of harmony, the elimination of poverty, sustainable growth, and cultural exchange via learning, the fields of science, heritage, interaction, and knowledge.”

Since its foundation, the group has tackled many issues and taken on global campaigns to end social and humanitarian injustice. UNESCO is able to pursue some different goals thanks to the specializations of its staff in several areas of study, including but not limited to education, science, culture, communication, and information.

Its most notable accomplishment is the 1978 Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice, which asserts that people of all backgrounds are created equal.

In 1976, UNESCO established the World Heritage Committee, and in 1978, the first sites were added to the World Heritage List.

Each of the United States World Heritage sites is recognized by UNESCO as having cultural, ecological, or mixed significance and deserving of the organization’s continued study and preservation.

 

1. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (Missouri)

Cahokia Mounds is a beautiful portrayal of a cultural, religious, and commercial hub in the Mississippian heritage. It is also the most significant and oldest pre-Columbian civilization discovered north of Mexico. Cahokia Mounds is located in Mississippi. It is one of the most important historical landmarks in North America, and it spans an area of 1,600 acres, all of which are used to portray the story of life before cities.

At this site, which is just 20 minutes away from the heart of downtown St. Louis, guests are welcome every day from 8:00 a.m. till it becomes dark out. Guests have the option of seeing displays in the tremendous interpretative center of the museum, taking in an introductory performance in the theater, or participating in a workshop held in the community program’s theater.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the magnificent Monks Mound, explore the site independently, or utilize the enormous network of walking routes available to them while they are there. The Monks Mound is the largest earthwork in all of North America. The entrance fee is waived, however guests are invited to consider donating in place of the fee.

2. Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)

More than a hundred natural limestone caves, some of the largest and most diverse in the world, may be found inside Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. It is one of the few areas in the world where unusual speleothems continue to develop. The Carlsbad and Lechuguilla caves are recognized for the stunning beauty of the ornamental rock formations that can be seen inside them.

The tourist center is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until nightfall, and guests have the option of hiking into the heart of the caves or using the elevator to get there.

Visitors over the age of 16 may purchase a ticket good for three days for $12, while visitors under the age of 16 enter free of charge. There are also ranger-led excursions that may be taken, with prices beginning at $7 per adult.

3. Chaco Culture (New Mexico)

Chaco is a representation of much more than 10,000 years of humanity’s social heritage in the Chaco Canyon, and it is founded on the excavations of over 4,000 historical remains, both ancient and contemporary. The ancestral native land of the Puebloans of New Mexico, including the Hopi clan of Arizona, and the Navajo of the Southwest, are open for tourists to explore and admire.

The visitor center, which is located in the area with the highest concentration of pueblo homes, is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day except Halloween, Christmas Day, as well as New Year’s Day. There is no set time for closing. Single admission prices start at $15 for a 7-day ticket, or $25 per car, and are subject to change.

4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee)

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a place of outstanding natural beauty, including breathtaking panoramas of mountains covered in mist and streams that are crystal clear. The park has the world’s biggest uncut block of virgin red spruce forest, which can be found nowhere else on the planet. The park encompasses a total area of thousands of acres.

Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have the opportunity to witness the final relics of the mountain culture of the Southern Appalachians. Hiking, fishing, horseback riding, other outdoor activities, and ranger-guided sightseeing excursions are all available in plenty here.

The park is open around the clock, 365 days a year; however, during the winter months, some sections are off-limits. The fee to enter the park does not yet exist.

5. The Hollyhock Mansion (California)

Hollyhock House, which was constructed between 1919 and 1921, was the first contract that the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright received in the city of Los Angeles.

The spectacular structure was initially constructed for the American oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. These days, it serves as the centerpiece of the Barnsdall Art Park, which is located in the Olive Hill district of Los Feliz. Barnsdall, who was a passionate supporter of the arts, often fantasized of establishing a community of artists in the heart of Los Angeles.

Only three of the buildings ever got finished since she and Wright had such strong disagreements over the design of the structures, and it’s a shame that her goal was never completely fulfilled.

The home and its surrounding 11 acres of land were given to the city of Los Angeles as a gift in 1927 so that they might be used as an art park and library. Visitors can now appreciate the fascinating fusion of Mayan, Aztec, Asian, and even Egyptian architectural styles that have been incorporated into the structure. You will have the ability to observe how Wright was able to produce something remarkable in response to Barnsdall’s desire to merge the living spaces inside and outside in a seamless manner.

It is possible to take tours of the mansion, but reservations are required in advance.

6. The historical Independence Hall located in Pennsylvania

The Declaration of Independence as well as the United States Constitution were both discussed and signed inside the walls of Independence Hall, which is why it is considered to be the birthplace of the United States of America. The structure has been kept and held in high regard for a very long time as the location of the founding papers. These founding documents are the source of the values of liberty and democracy that have impacted legislators all over the globe.

Visitors come to the building not just to understand more about the early democratic lifestyles of America’s forebears but also to take in the extraordinary historical significance of the structure itself. This location offers a variety of educational activities as well as guided excursions that may be participated in and enjoyed. In addition, the Independence Hall neighborhood is home to the Liberty Bell Center, which is just across the street from Independence Hall.

Independence Hall is available every day of the year. However, visitors may only enter via guided tours. During the months of March through December, free tickets are available but need to be reserved in advance. Before being allowed in, there will be a security checkpoint that every guest must pass through.

7. La Fortaleza and San Juan (Puerto Rico)

La Fortaleza and the municipality of San Juan serve as a memorable illustrations of the European troops that established a foothold in the Caribbean due to their combination of three garrisons and a magnificent executive palace that is still in use today.

The city of San Juan, the fort, and the house are all excellent examples of the defenses that were constructed on the island between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. These structures are both socially and politically significant to the Americas.

The great military fortifications of the area are open for tourists to visit. Inside the walls of La Fortaleza that have been rebuilt, they may experience a trip back in time. This impressive structure was constructed in 1533 and has the title of the earliest executive house still in operation across the Western Hemisphere.

You have the option of going on a guided tour that lasts for thirty minutes and taking in the Moorish gardens, the basement, and the church. Because this is the administrative house of the Governor of Puerto Rico, there is a high level of security here; thus, you should be ready to present your passport and visa or other proof of identity upon arrival.

The location is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and guided tours are available every day of the week with the exception of holidays. The fee to enter the location has been waived. During their trip in San Cristóbal, guests shouldn’t forget to stop by the Castillo de San Cristóbal and the Del Morro on their itinerary.

8. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)

With more than 285 miles of measured cave corridors, Mammoth Cave National Park is the largest extensive cave system in the world. It is also regarded as one of the most stunning biological places in the United States. Additionally, it is home to some of the most diverse cave-dwelling plant and animal life that has ever been documented.

Visitors have the opportunity to participate in long cave excursions that are conducted by rangers deep into the Earth, or they may go fishing, canoeing, or kayaking on either the Green River or the Nolin River. At addition, camping is a well-liked activity in Mammoth Cave National Park.

The location is accessible throughout the year; however, the tourist center is shut down on Christmas Day. Depending on the time of year, business hours may change. There is now a price of $12 per person for the Wild Cave Tours, and the usage of strollers and wheelchairs is subject to some limitations.

9. Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

Mesa Verde National Park is thought to be the greatest representation of the neolithic Ancestral Puebloan way of life with its stunning “rock formations,” and as a result, it has been designated as a World Heritage site in acknowledgement of its extraordinary archaeological importance. This honor was bestowed upon the park in recognition of its selection as a World Heritage site. The place is definitely a sight to see, since it contains anything from single-room storage units to large communities.

Cliff dwellings, which are only found in Mesa Verde, are among the most interesting and well-preserved ancient finds in the area, and tourists will have a great time examining them. There are several remarkable historic residences in the park, including Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Spruce Tree House, although the three most well-known are Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Spruce Tree House, respectively. New discoveries are made in the park regularly.

There are opportunities for guided excursions, and the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum provides information about the heritage of the distinctive Puebloan culture. The Mesa Verde Visitor as well as Research Center and even the exhibit both seem to have varying hours of operation based on the period of visit. Ranger-led tours start at $5 and vary in price based on the time of day and the site of the tour altogether.

10. The historic Monticello and the prestigious University of Virginia (Virginia)

In addition to serving as the 3rd President of the United States and contributing to the writing of the Declaration of Independence, a widely respected architect and founding member of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, also served as one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson was responsible for the construction and layout of the Monticello estate, which maintains its status as a structure of exceptional architectural and historical value. The University of Virginia is widely regarded as being among the most culturally significant educational institutions in the United States. It is also famous for its traditional origins, honor code that is controlled by students, and secret societies.

Visitors visiting one or both of these buildings may easily spend hours soaking in the breathtaking architecture while also understanding the principles upon which the independence and freedom enjoyed by the American people are founded.

The stately mansion that Thomas Jefferson planned and constructed for himself and his family is on display at Monticello, which is accessible to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers guided tours of the property. You may also enjoy the expansive grounds and views of the surrounding area. Tickets for individual tours and day passes start at $21 for each adult tourist.

11. Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point (Louisiana)

The Monumental Earthworks at Poverty Point are a living witness to the history and legacy of the Native American people. These earthworks are comprised of a central plaza, five mounds, and six semi-elliptical slopes that are divided by shallow downturns. In addition, there is a museum of relics that is both instructive and informative.

In the year 3700 B.C., a civilization of hunters, fishers, and gatherers constructed earthworks for housing and ritualistic uses. This astounding feat of the building was unrivaled for more than 2,000 years after its completion.

In addition to marveling at the technical feat that required more than 5 million hours of labor to produce, tourists may also get knowledge about the vast commercial network that covered a large portion of the continent and reached distances of hundreds of kilometers.

The location is accessible every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and the day after New Year’s Day. In addition to historical and environmental events, the park provides daily tram trips that are guided by park rangers. There is a fee of $4 for each adult to enter.

12. State and National Parks in the Redwood Area (California)

The huge coastal redwood forest that has been there for more than 160 million years is the primary draw of the Redwood National and State Parks, which together cover a total area of about 38,982 acres. It is well known for the abundance of intertidal, coastal, and freshwater torrent wildlife and plants that can be discovered there. It is also home to some of the eldest and most significant trees in the whole country of the United States.

The park is known for its spectacular scenery, making it a favorite destination for those wishing to pitch a tent out in the wilderness. The majority of people who go to national parks do so to “get back to the outdoors and enjoy activities like as trekking, bicycling, swimming, or camping. They also go on ranger-led tours to take in the stunning scenery of the park and responsibly observe the species.

The national park is accessible at any time of day or night throughout the year. The visitor facilities are available from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., May to November, but shut an hour prior during the winter months. Visits to Redwood National Park are always free, but the state park requires payment for day admissions and camping passes, starting at $17.

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13. San Antonio Missions (Texas)

Four of the five Spanish colonial outposts in San Antonio have been preserved at this heritage landmark. These missions were first built by Catholic religious organizations to propagate Christianity among some of the native people of the area. Missions Concepción, San José, San Juan, and Espada constitute the highest density of Spanish imperial posts in North America. These missions are often considered as the high point in the process of bringing Christianity to the United States.

Tourists flock to the San Antonio Missions to learn about the history of these destinations, and they do so by strolling along the Eight miles of outdoor paths, footbridges, and pavilions that connect each of the four locations in the complex. There are video demonstrations available in the visitors facility at Mission San José. These videos highlight the tales of the rich heritage of the posts.

All of the churches are public from 9:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon, and there is no charge to enter any of the locations.

14. Statue Of Liberty (New York)

The people of France decided to honor their longstanding friendship with the United States by presenting the United States with a gift in the form of the Statue of Liberty Illuminating the World. The gigantic monument made of copper measures 93 meters high and is considered the most recognizable sight in the United States.

The Statue of Liberty salutes the millions of people who have arrived on American soil in quest of independence and prosperity by holding her torch aloft. She is a representation to the rest of the world of the principles of liberty based on which the United States was established as a nation.

The surroundings of Liberty Park in addition to Ellis Island served as the entry point for more than 12 million people who immigrated to the United States and was the most prominent immigration facility in the nation at the time, in addition to a hospital, are both accessible to tourists through a boat ride. You may discover everything about the monument’s background at the park entrance. YouBest Unesco Sites in USA can also tour the platform of the statue, climb 20 floors to observe the perspective from the crowning and investigate the pedestal itself.

The only day of the year that Liberty Island is closed is December 25. The Statue Cruises boat, which sails from Battery Site or Liberty State Park before one in the afternoon, is how visitors may reach the park. Climbing to the summit costs a minimum of three dollars, and visitors have the option of participating in either ranger-led or self-guided excursions.

15. Taos Pueblo (New Mexico)

The surviving culture of the Pueblo Native Americans is represented by this community of adobe residences and ceremonial structures, which is located in the canyon of the Rio Grande. Taos Pueblo is a beautiful example of ancient Native American construction and remains to be a functioning community even though it was founded in the late thirteenth century. The pueblo itself dates back to that time period.

When guests arrive, they are interested in learning more concerning the village’s heritage, customs, and inhabitants, so they can get the most out of their tour of the most important parts of the community. As Taos Pueblo is a real Native American village with some of the structures still being used as individual houses, we highly suggest taking one of the guided visits.

Taos Pueblo, which is located at the foot of the stunning Sangre de Cristo Mountainous region, provides visitors with a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about the traditions and history of the Pueblo community. The attraction is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and tickets for adults start at $16.

16. Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (Montana)

As Waterton Lakes National Park, which is located in Alberta, Canada, and Glacier National Park, which is located in Montana, pooled their resources in 1932, they created the earliest International Peace Park in the globe.

The park is now considered to be among the most prominent illustrations of green spaces in Northern America and is rich in flora and fauna in addition to prairie, forest, mountain, and glacial characteristics. Its location immediately on the boundary between the two countries renders it to be among the most exceptional ideas.

Trekking, biking, ranger-led excursions, swimming in Lake McDonald, and wilderness camping are just some of the spectacular outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by visitors to this park, which is known for its breathtaking landscape and plenty of options for outdoor recreation. There is also the incredible chance to drive 10 miles of the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road that goes from the West Glacier to the Lake McDonald Lodge. This road is known for its breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

The seasonal changes bring about a shift in the hours of operation for all visitor centers and ranger stations. Heavy snowfall during the off-peak winter months might render some portions of the park unavailable to visitors. The cost of a single pedestrian permit begins at $20 and may up to $30 for a car pass valid for seven days.

17. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)

In 1872, Yellowstone National Park became the first national park to ever be formed anywhere in the world. Before and after the advent of European settlers throughout the Americas, members of a great number of indigenous communities called the park home. As a result of its significance to such a large number of organizations, a Protection Act was enacted to ensure that it would never be developed, enabling the park to grow in accordance with how nature had always meant it to.

Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone Lake, the Lamar Valley, the hot springs, and even the grizzly bear and wolf museum are just some of the attractions that draw tourists to Yellowstone National Park, which is considered to be one of the most famous parks in the world. They may also participate in various outdoor pursuits such as wilderness campsites, hiking, bicycling, and fishing. They have access to all of these opportunities.

The park is open throughout the year; however, the months of July and August represent the only ones in which visitors have access to all of the park’s facilities. Due to the possibility of shifting weather conditions, you should verify the specific operating hours of each entry, visitor center, ranger station, and campsite before leaving the park. Prices range from $20 to $35 for admissions valid for a week, and prices start at $70 for yearly passes.

 

Best Unesco Sites in USA

18. Yosemite National Park (California)

Yosemite National Park is not only among the earliest wildlife reserves in the United States but also one of the most biologically and geologically diverse natural areas in the country. Over three million people go to the park annually to see its almost 1,200 square mile expanse, which is located on the western flank of the Sierra Nevada Mountain in central-eastern California.

People go there to see the many different natural attractions, along with the one-of-a-kind flora and fauna that can be discovered there. The granite rock known as Half Dome, which is about 1,550 meters (about 5,000 feet) above the valley floor, serves as the most visited feature in the park. The majesty of El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls, and Mirror Lake are also among the attractions that draw tourists to the park.

In addition to being able to camp within the park itself, guests may also participate in a wide variety of other outdoor recreation and excursions, such as fishing, trekking, path rides, and even horseback riding. There is a charge of $20 per automobile to enter Yosemite National Park, which is open all 365 days of the year.

A Few Parting Thoughts

In the United States, 24 locations have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These locations are significant not only to the people who visit them but also to the local flora and wildlife. Because they have been given the title of World Heritage Sites, every one of these locations will be safeguarded from any potential damage or destruction caused by pollution, conflict, or natural disasters forever.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has made it such that enormous tracts of breathtaking natural environments will never again be in danger of being developed or destroyed. This, in effect, implies that our historical past may be recognized and enjoyed, that our indigenous wildlife is safeguarded from extermination, and that everybody has the chance to experience a few of the most magnificent landscapes on Earth – right here in the United States of America.

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