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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 17 August 2018

Top 5 new World Heritage Sites to visit in 2017

Still need a reason to travel this year? From the English Lake District to the modernist city of Asmara, we look at the top new Unesco sites to visit from the UAE

Panoramic view down the length of the ancient stadium at Aphrodisias, Turkey. This is probably the best-preserved example of this type of stadium in the Mediterranean. It is 262 m long and 59 m wide with 22 rows of seats. It had a seating capacity of about 30 000. Getty Images
Panoramic view down the length of the ancient stadium at Aphrodisias, Turkey. This is probably the best-preserved example of this type of stadium in the Mediterranean. It is 262 m long and 59 m wide with 22 rows of seats. It had a seating capacity of about 30 000. Getty Images

Last month, 26 new sites were added to Unesco’s World Heritage List, bringing the total to 1,073. Of these, 18 are cultural and three natural. For visitors from the UAE, here are the five most tourist-friendly.

Aphrodisias, Turkey

This out-of-the-way site – a 230km, 3.5 hour drive from Izmir in western Anatolia – is one of the most important archaeological sites of the Greek and Roman periods in Turkey. Aphrodisias, named after its patron goddess Aphrodite, was founded in the 2nd century BC, and today’s remains include the Temple of Aphrodite, a large agora (public square), Hadrianic baths, a theatre and stadium. Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines fly from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Izmir via Istanbul, from Dh1,277 return including taxes; the flight takes nine hours (www.wmf.org).

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The Fiat Tagliero Building, Asmara, Eritrea. Jack Maguire / Alamy Stock Photo
The Fiat Tagliero Building, Asmara, Eritrea. Jack Maguire / Alamy Stock Photo

Asmara, Eritrea

Flydubai launched a new route to the Eritrean capital last year. Its Unesco designation is largely down to the large number of Art Deco buildings left over from when the country was an Italian colony, from 1889 until the Second World War. Striking modernist buildings include the Fiat Tagliero service station, a futurist structure completed in 1938, an Art Deco bowling alley, plus mosques, churches, cinemas and hotels. Unesco calls the city “an exceptional example of early modernist urbanism at the beginning of the 20th century and its application in an African context”.

Most nationalities need to arrange visas before travelling – obtainable from the Eritrea Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate in Dubai. Direct flights with Flydubai take four hours and cost from Dh2,464 return including taxes.

The Lake District. Getty
The Lake District. Getty

The English Lake District, United Kingdom

Located in northwest England, Unesco describes the English Lake District as “a mountainous area, whose valleys have been modelled by glaciers in the Ice Age and shaped by an agro-pastoral land use system characterised by fields enclosed by walls. The combined work of nature and human activity has produced a harmonious landscape in which the mountains are mirrored in the lakes.” From the 18th century onwards, the landscapes have been made famous by artists and writers including Jane Austen, Tennyson and Beatrix Potter. Before its Unesco designation, the Lake District received 18 million tourists a year, so visit before it gets even more crowded. Fly direct to Manchester with Etihad or Emirates in seven hours, from Dh3,000 return including taxes, from where it’s a two-hour drive (www.lakedistrict.co.uk).

Temple Ruins At Sambor Prei Kuk. Getty Images/EyeEm
Temple Ruins At Sambor Prei Kuk. Getty Images/EyeEm

Sambor Prei Kuk, Cambodia

Travellers who have already visited the Unesco-listed temples of Angkor near Siem Reap can now tick off another Unesco World Heritage Site, closer to the capital Phnom Penh. And new visitors to the country can see the archaeological site of Sambor Prei Kuk, meaning “the temple in the richness of the forest” in the Khmer language, in its proper historical context, as the precursor to Angkor. The 25 square-kilometre site was once the capital of the Chenla Empire, which flourished in the late 6th and 7th centuries, and its temples had an octagonal style. The site is a 200km, 3.5 hour drive north of Phnom Penh, though travellers may wish to base themselves at Kompong Thom, which is a 40-minute drive away. Emirates has just launched a new route to Phnom Penh; the nine-hour flight costs from Dh2,700 return including taxes (www.lonelyplanet.com).

Adalaj ni vav (step well) is intricately carved and is five stories deep. Such step wells were once integral to the semi-arid regions of Gujarat, as they provided water for drinking, washing and bathing. These wells were also venues for colourful festivals and sacred rituals. Getty Images
Adalaj ni vav (step well) is intricately carved and is five stories deep. Such step wells were once integral to the semi-arid regions of Gujarat, as they provided water for drinking, washing and bathing. These wells were also venues for colourful festivals and sacred rituals. Getty Images

Ahmedabad, India

Unesco has listed the 600-year-old historic walled city of Ahmedabad, founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah in the 15th century and now the largest city in Gujarat, because of its “rich architectural heritage” from the sultanate period. This is apparent in the Bhadra citadel, the walls and gates of the fort city and numerous mosques and tombs, as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods and its densely-packed traditional houses in gated streets. Both Etihad and Emirates offer direct, three-hour flights to Ahmedabad, costing from Dh1,300 return including taxes. With its partnership with Jet Airways, Etihad passengers can easily continue their journey around India with the same airline, visiting several cities on the same trip. (www.lonelyplanet.com)

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