5 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Add to Your 2020 Bucket List

5 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Add to Your 2020 Bucket List

Each year, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee considers a new assortment of sites to add to its list of awe-inspiring places around the globe. These sites are carefully selected based on a strict set of criteria determining their cultural or natural significance and “outstanding universal value” to humanity. Some have been on the UNESCO Tentative List for years, waiting for their turn to shine.

In 2019, the UNESCO committee added 29 new sites to its list, and significantly expanded an older one.

Learn more about the 29 new UNESCO World Heritage Sites inscribed in 2019.

Here are five picks from this year’s UNESCO additions to put on your bucket list:

2019 New UNESCO Sites

Old Town Sheki, Azerbaijan. Photo: Richard Fejfar

Sheki: Azerbaijan’s Silk Road city
Photo credit: Richard Fejfar

Historic City of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace (Azerbaijan)

Sheki is one of the oldest towns in Azerbaijan, claiming to have been founded some 2,700 years ago. Set in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus and surrounded by beech and oak forests, Sheki was moved in 1772 after a terrible mudslide destroyed the original town.

Khan’s Palace in Sheki. Photo credit: Ana Filonov.

Light pours into the Khan’s Palace, the summer residence of the Sheki khanate
Photo credit: Ana Filonov

Having chased out Persian rule, Sheki was an independent khanate until the 1820s, when Russia finally got a grip on it. Today it’s one of Azerbaijan’s loveliest towns, and home to a well-preserved khan’s palace covered in brilliant mosaics and stained glass windows called shebeke. The town is also renowned for its carpets and a special type of sweet halvah.

Travel Suggestions

Discover the beautiful city of Sheki on one of our small group tours and rail journeys by private train that travel in and around Azerbaijan.

Small Group Tours:

Rail Journeys by Private Train:

You can also travel on one of our private independent travel itineraries, Essential Azerbaijan or Essential Caucasus, or design a hand-crafted custom private journey to Azerbaijan customized to your interests, pace, and dates.

Krzemionki Prehistoric Mine, Krzemionki, Poland. Photo: Krzysztof Peczalski

Krzemionki houses one of the largest and most comprehensive prehistoric flint mining centers identified to date
Photo credit: Krzysztof Peczalski

Krzemionki Prehistoric Striped Flint Mining Region (Poland)

Located deep in the Polish countryside between Warsaw and Krakow, Krzemionki houses one of the largest and most comprehensive prehistoric flint mining centers identified to date. The area consists of four main mining sites, each with their own underground mining structures, flint workshops, and some 4,000 shafts and pits. Some sites date back to almost 3900 BCE.

Flint’s sharpness and durability was highly valued during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, when it was used to make axes, chisels, and other everyday tools. Krzemionki’s extensive mining operations helped lay the foundations for similar mines across Europe, and contributed significantly to the rise of human tool production and cross-cultural trade in the prehistoric era.

Travel Suggestions

Peruse the prehistoric mines in Krzemionki on a custom private journey to Poland, hand-crafted to your interests, pace, and dates. You can also add a visit to the mines on an Essential Poland private independent itinerary.


Churches of the Pskov School of Architecture (Russia)

One of Russia’s oldest cities, Pskov celebrated its 1,100th anniversary in 2003. It was once a powerful Slavic city-state with its own veche — a self-governing body — and its own laws. And for more than five centuries, Pskov was also home to one of the foremost schools of architecture in Russia.

The Pskov school can be traced back as far as the 12th century, reaching its peak by the 15th and 16th centuries. Inspired by Byzantine and Kievan Rus traditions, Pskov’s architects incorporated cubic frames, belfries, and onion domes into many of the city’s cathedrals, monasteries, and fortification towers. Their contributions would come to inform and influence the evolution of Russia’s signature architectural style.

Travel Suggestions

The stunning churches of Pskov — located about a four-hour drive away from St. Petersburg — can be seen on a custom private journey to Western Russia, handcrafted to fit your interests, pace, and dates.


Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu (China)

Founded around 3300 BCE, the ancient civilization of Liangzhu was one of the last Neolithic jade societies to sprout up along the Yangtze River in eastern China. Though little remains of their culture, archaeologists have discovered a number of their burial sites, earthen monuments, and important artifacts — as well as evidence of an old urban center and water conservation system — in the plains just outside of modern-day Hangzhou.

Excavations in some of the burial sites and ruins suggest that the Liangzhu culture was both remarkably diverse and technologically advanced for the age. Their society was also highly class-conscious, as the burial sites of the elites were found to contain precious materials such as silks, ivory, lacquer, and jade. 

Travel Suggestions

Explore the archaeological ruins of Liangzhu on a custom private journey to China, handcrafted to fit your interests, pace, and dates. 

Ohrid, Macedonia. Photo: Peter Guttman

An iconic sunset view of the Church of Sveti Jovan at Kaneo near Ohrid
Photo credit: Peter Guttman

Natural & Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region (Macedonia, Albania)

Lovely Lake Ohrid is the oldest and deepest lake in the Balkans. UNESCO originally honored both its natural and historical importance in 1979, when it designated Ohrid a World Heritage Site, along with the lakeside town of the same name. In 2019, UNESCO extended the site to include the Albanian portion of the lake and its tiny Lin Peninsula, which houses the remains of a 6th-century early Christian church.

Ohrid, Macedonia. Photo: Bruno Hladnik

Located on the slopes of Mt. Galicica near the shore of Lake Ohrid, the monastery of Sveti Naum was founded in 900 AD
Photo credit: Bruno Hladnik

Ohrid boasts a beautiful Old Town that abounds with Mediterranean flair and ancient archaeological sites, including a Greek amphitheater and a fortress. Its antiquities, red-roofed houses, and beautiful setting combine to make it a riveting town for travelers.

Travel Suggestions

Travelers can admire lovely Lake Ohrid and its UNESCO-listed Old Town on MIR’s Balkan Odyssey: Crossroads of Cultures small group tour

Our Essential Balkans, Essential Albania, and Essential Albania, Macedonia & Kosovo private independent itineraries also include a visit to Lake Ohrid. Or design a hand-crafted custom private journey to Macedonia or Albania customized to your interests, pace, and dates.


See UNESCO World Heritage Sites with MIR
Sheki, Azerbaijan. Photo credit: Jered Gorman.

An evening stroll in Old Town Sheki
Photo credit: Jered Gorman

MIR is celebrating over 30 years of remarkable journeys to destinations at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Clients rave about our on-the-ground support and stellar Tour Managers, and our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

More than 30 years of travel expertise means that the specialists at MIR know how to get there, what to do while you’re there, and how to enhance your trip in each of our destinations.

Wondering which destination or itinerary is right for you? In addition to browsing the pages of our free catalog, you can narrow down your choices online using our Trip Finder and the Destination Map. Or chat with our Private Journeys department to have a trip handcrafted to your interests, pace and budget.

Contact MIR today at info@mircorp.com or 1-800-424-7289.

(Top photo: The Church of Sveti Jovan at Kaneo has been perched over the cliffs of Lake Ohrid since the 13th century. Photo credit: Bruno Hladnik.)

PUBLISHED: July 22, 2019

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