New UNESCO World Heritage Sites for 2019

Last week UNESCO announced its new World Heritage sites for 2019. This year, 29 cultural and natural wonders joined the list, and while they are obviously all worthy of special mention, we’re highlighting a few particularly significant sites that merit a visit.

Jaipur

The fortified Pink City serves as the capital of Rajasthan in India’s northwest. It was founded in 1727 specifically to be the center of and most opulent city in the “Land of Kings,” and Jaipur lives up to the challenge in every sense. As part of the Golden Triangle with New Delhi and Agra, Jaipur is home to the Jantar Mantar observatory, itself already on the UNESCO list for its huge sundial. Not far away is Amer Fort, a large palace complex with beautiful architecture. The city was painted pink in 1876 to welcome the future King Edward VII, and has been famous for its dazzling color since.

Vatnajökull

Iceland’s land of fire and ice is defined by the interplay between erupting volcanoes and the glaciers striding atop them. The resultant melting has created river systems that carve canyons into the terrain. The largest glacier in Europe is a great venue for hiking and boat tours on the adjacent Jökulsárlón lagoon, and the area is home to herds of wild reindeer and many bird species. The national park, established in 2008, covers 14 percent of the country’s landmass.

Frank Lloyd Wright architecture

Eight of Wright’s building designs in the U.S. comprise the World Heritage. The most famous examples of his revolutionary vision are Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pa., and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Wright’s “organic architecture” style pioneered open plans and the synergy of interiors and exteriors and harmony with natural surroundings. Wright’s pioneering use of steel and concrete set the tone for the buildings of the 20th century and inspired much of Europe’s modern architecture.

Babylon

In the 7th and 6th centuries BC, this was the grandest city of the world and capital of the mighty Neo-Bablyonian Empire. Its hanging gardens were among the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the city captured the imagination of conquerors and peasants alike. The Persians took it over, followed by Alexander the Great. What remains of the ancient metropolis on site are the ruins of walls, gates, palaces and temples that offer glimpses into the glory of one of the world’s first great cities.

Paraty & Ilha Grande

South of Rio de Janeiro, the coastal city of Paraty and the island of Ilha Grande form a powerful 1-2 punch of cultural and ecological heritage. The Portuguese built the colonial town in the 17th century, and the surroundings forests are home to jaguars, peccaries and spider monkeys. Gold left for Europe from Paraty’s port. Ilha Grande has served as a leper colony and a prison, but its real claim to fame is its biodiversity. Sloths and howler monkeys roam the forests, while parrots and fruitcrows fill the skies, and Magellanic penguins, dolphins and whales teem the surrounding waters.