Revealed: The 41 new UNESCO World Heritage Sites for 2023 – from a Viking-age fortress in Denmark to China’s old tea forests
Mystifying burial grounds in Korea and Viking-age fortresses in Denmark are among 41 new World Heritage sites unveiled this week.
The United Nations’ cultural body – also known as UNESCO – has expanded its list of protected sites to more than 1,100 across the world following deliberations in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
World Heritage Sites are globally recognised buildings and areas of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’, which means they hold special importance for everyone.
As talks are still ongoing, UNESCO may even inscribe one further site today, while also expanding on the reach of existing areas like Madagascar’s Andrefana Dry Forests.
Scroll down to see their beauty for yourself, as MailOnline delves into the most stunning World Heritage Sites of 2023.
Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain, China
Tea plants thrive in the Jingmai Mountain thanks to its exposure to subtropical monsoons
Nestled in the Jingmai Mountain, this cultural landscape is comprised of tea plantations and villages built thousands of years ago.
Tea plants especially thrive in this area thanks to the mountain’s exposure to subtropical monsoons that can bring as much as 5ft of rain.
Local indigenous communities also monitor these plants while taking part in age-old ceremonies and nature-focused celebrations.
According to UNESCO, this primarily refers to the Tea Ancestor belief that spirits live amongst the surrounding vegetation.
Gaya Tumuli burial mounds, South Korea
These unusual mounds are the ancient burial sites of the Gaya Confederacy that once ruled over central-south Korea
These unusual mounds are the ancient burial sites of the Gaya Confederacy that ruled over central-south Korea during the 1st to 6th century CE.
It’s believed the shape of these sites is also symbolic of the political system, where leaders existed as ‘autonomous political equals while sharing cultural commonalities’.
UNESCO added: ‘The introduction of new forms of tombs and the intensification of the spatial hierarchy in the tumuli sites reflect the structural changes experienced by Gaya society during its history.’
Deer stone monuments, Mongolia
Mongolia’s deer stones were once part of ceremonies and funerals in the Late Bronze Age
These intricately decorated deer stones were once used as part of ceremonies and funerals in the Late Bronze Age (1200 to 600 BCE).
Standing at 13ft-tall, these pillars are engraved with pictures of stags and are located at a number of ‘sacrificial altars’ in Mongolia.
‘Covered with highly stylized or representational engravings of stags, deer stones are the most important surviving structures belonging to the culture of Eurasian Bronze Age nomads that evolved and then slowly disappeared between the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE,’ the UNESCO committee said.
Gedeo cultural landscape, Ethiopia
These remarkable monuments are closely linked to the religion of the indigenous Gedeo people who strongly value the natural world
These remarkable monuments sit at the heart of sacred forests along the eastern edge of the Main Ethiopian Rift.
They are closely linked to the religion of the indigenous Gedeo community, which places high importance the natural environment.
The community also use age-old traditions to support local forest management while growing coffee and other plants.
Prehistoric Talayotic Menorca sites, Spain
This structure is known as a ‘taylot’ and is one of many Bronze Age structures found on the island of Menorca, Spain
While this unusual megalith bears an uncanny resemblance to Stonehenge, it’s actually located in Spain.
The structure is known as a ‘taylot’ and is one of many Bronze Age structures found on the island of Menorca in the western Mediterranean Sea.
Although many of these formations are thought to have been used for defensive purposes, others are not clearly understood.
Though UNESCO acknowledges that its position corresponds to ‘astronomical orientations’ which may have religious meaning.
Koh Ker, Cambodia
Koh Ker is situated at the heart of the Cambodian jungle and is comprised of numerous temples and sanctuaries
At the core of the Cambodian jungle, this ancient site comprises of numerous sacred temples and sanctuaries from 928 to 944 CE.
It’s believed the site was constructed over a 23-year period and was once briefly the capital of the entire Khmer Empire.
An array of sculptures, inscriptions and wall paintings still exist there today, demonstrating that artistic expression was central to the city.
Viking-age fortresses, Denmark
These ring-shaped fortresses in Aggersborg, Fyrkat, Nonnebakken, Trelleborg and Borgring were strategically positioned near important land and sea routes
While these ring-shaped structures may look like UFO-esque crop circles, they are actually Viking-age fortresses.
The Vikings – also known as the Norsemen – were a group of seafaring people from Scandinavia that were known for their brutality and violence across Europe.
It’s believed they may have reached as far as North Africa and the Middle East during their voyages which spanned from 793 to 1066 CE.
Their ring-shaped fortresses in Aggersborg, Fyrkat, Nonnebakken, Trelleborg and Borgring, were strategically positioned near important land and sea routes.
The precise purpose of their ring shape remains a mystery to this day.
Situated on the largest island in Quebec, this coastline is believed to be the best preserved fossil record of Earth’s first mass extinction
Situated on the largest island in Quebec, this coastline is believed to be the best preserved fossil record of Earth’s first mass extinction.
This is thought to have occurred 447million years ago due to plummeting oxygen levels at a time when most creatures lived in oceans.
However, it should not be confused for the dinosaur’s demise which took place around 66million years ago when a giant asteroid smashed into Earth.
‘The abundance, diversity, and exquisite preservation of the fossils are exceptional and allow for world-class scientific work,’ UNESCO said.
‘Thousands of large bedding surfaces allow the observation and study of shell and sometimes soft-bodied animals that lived on the shallow sea floor of an ancient tropical sea.’
Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
The land’s unique shape is the result of ancient lava outpourings and glaciation
UNESCO described Ethopia’s Bale Mountains as a ‘mosaic of extraordinary beauty’ thanks to its sweeping valleys, forests and countless waterfalls.
The land’s unique shape is the result of lava outpourings and glaciation that took place many years ago.
‘The property harbours diverse and unique biodiversity at ecosystem, species and genetic levels, and five major rivers originate within the Park, estimated to supply water and support the livelihoods of millions of people in and beyond Ethiopia,’ UNESCO said.
Evaporitic Karst and Caves of Northern Apennines, Italy
This unbelievable site in Italy is comprised of more than 900 caves within just 100km
This unbelievable site in Italy is comprised of more than 900 caves within just 62miles.
It is believed to be the first and best studied ‘evaporitic karst’ in the world, which refers to the preservation of minerals in sandstone.
The UNESCO committee added: ‘It also includes some of the deepest gypsum caves in existence, reaching 265 meters below the surface.’
REVEALED: THE 40 NEWEST UNESCO SITES
Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan (State of Palestine)
Astronomical Observatories of Kazan Federal University (Russian Federation)
Cultural Landscape of Khinalig People and “Köç Yolu” Transhumance Route (Azerbaijan)
Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er (China)
Deer Stone Monuments and Related Bronze Age Sites (Mongolia)
Djerba: Testimony to a settlement pattern in an island territory (Tunisia)
ESMA Museum and Site of Memory – Former Clandestine Center of Detention, Torture and Extermination (Argentina)
Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker (Netherlands)
Gaya Tumuli (Republic of Korea)
Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks (United States of America)
Jewish-Medieval Heritage of Erfurt (Germany)
Jodensavanne Archaeological Site: Jodensavanne Settlement and Cassipora Creek Cemetery (Suriname)
Koh Ker: Archaeological Site of Ancient Lingapura or Chok Gargyar (Cambodia)
Memorial sites of the Genocide: Nyamata, Murambi, Gisozi and Bisesero (Rwanda)
Modernist Kaunas: Architecture of Optimism, 1919-1939 (Lithuania)
National Archaeological Park Tak’alik Ab’aj (Guatemala)
Old town of Kuldīga (Latvia)
Prehistoric Sites of Talayotic Menorca (Spain)
Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas (India)
Silk Roads: Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor (Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan)
The Ancient Town of Si Thep and its Associated Dvaravati Monuments (Thailand)
The Cosmological Axis of Yogyakarta and its Historic Landmarks (Indonesia)
The Gedeo Cultural Landscape (Ethiopia)
The Maison Carrée of Nîmes (France)
The Persian Caravanserai (Iran (Islamic Republic of))
Viking-Age Ring Fortresses (Denmark)
Wooden Hypostyle Mosques of Medieval Anatolia (Türkiye)
Zagori Cultural Landscape (Greece)
Žatec and the Landscape of Saaz Hops (Czechia)
Bale Mountains National Park (Ethiopia)
Cold Winter Deserts of Turan (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan)
Evaporitic Karst and Caves of Northern Apennines (Italy)
Forest Massif of Odzala-Kokoua (Congo)
Nyungwe National Park (Rwanda)
Tugay forests of the Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve (Tajikistan)
Volcanoes and Forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique (France)
‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid (Saudi Arabia)
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