Top 10 UNESCO protected sites

Look at the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves and you’ll be amazed.
You'll find ancient palaces, medieval towns, stretches of coastline that are rich in fossils and areas that are so dry they support very unusual flora and fauna. Here we list the Top 10 UNESCO-Protected Sites that feature on Inntravel holidays.
  • With their pinnacles, vertical walls and jagged, lace-like peaks whose colours are spectacular in the sunshine, the Dolomites are considered by many to be one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. But it’s not just their beauty that has earned them a spot on the global stage – they are of great geological and geomorphological significance too. Such scenic drama makes for first-rate walking, and our High Dolomites and Dolomites’ Three Peaks holidays promise just that, combined with great hotels and delicious cuisine.
  • This impressive monument is testimony to the engineering brilliance of the Romans. Completed in the first part of the 1st century AD, the three-tiered bridge is the largest surviving section of the 50-kilometre aqueduct which transported water to Nîmes, and measures 273 metres long and 48 metres high. Walk to the Pont du Gard to truly appreciate what is a fitting finale to your holiday.
  • Salzkammergut is Austria’s lake district, and it is widely agreed that, of the many lakes, Hallstättersee is the most beautiful. So steep are the slopes of the surrounding mountains that the landscape is almost fjord-like. Just as magnificent is the village of Hallstatt on the west shore, where the lack of ground to build on has resulted in gabled houses crowded together, which just adds to the charm. So limited is space, in fact, that the graveyard cannot expand any further, and bodies are exhumed after ten years and transferred to the Beinhaus (‘Bone House’).
  • Though tragic, the devastating earthquake of 1693 that razed Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli to the ground had one positive outcome: the birth of eight new towns on the sites of the old ones. The reconstruction – which incorporated various innovations in urban planning – was a huge undertaking, but the result was eight splendid examples of late Baroque architecture.
  • The Bryggen is perhaps the most photographed part of Bergen, and no wonder – here, colourful old warehouses and merchants’ houses line the wharf, recalling the period when Bergen was an important port in the Hanseatic League. Strict rules dictated the size of the buildings and the width of the passageways between them, something which you can still appreciate as the original medieval building line has remained largely unaltered over the centuries.
  • This is another region which combines handsome villages and landscapes of great natural beauty – with mountains plunging into the glittering waters of the Mediterranean. The scenery is certainly dramatic, but architecturally rich towns such as Amalfi and Ravello are very appealing too. As you explore, note how successive generations have adapted to the difficult terrain. Villages clamber up the slopes, their houses seemingly piled one on top of the other, beyond which the hillsides are coated with olive and lemon groves linked by ancient stepped paths.
  • The biosphere reserve within the mountains of Andalucia’s Grazalema Natural Park boasts a rich flora. One of the most important species is the Spanish fir (Abies pinsapo), which grows at altitudes of 1,000 metres and above. It has been described as a ‘living fossil’ because it is a relict of the forests that covered the Earth during the Tertiary Age.
  • In a region with so many beautiful towns and villages, Siena still manages to stand out as one of Tuscany’s real jewels, with red-brick medieval buildings and a wealth of art treasures. After strolling through the narrow streets lined by tall houses, it comes as a great contrast to emerge into the Campo, the vast plaza that is the city’s focal point.
  • The Garajonay National Park, which encompasses the central part of the island of La Gomera, is of great botanical importance in that its lush vegetation resembles that of the Tertiary Age. Laurel forests, the laurisilva, once very widespread in southern Europe and now only found in small pockets, cover over two-thirds of the Park.
  • Portugal’s second city and capital of the Port-wine trade is undeniably picturesque – a mixture of the opulent and the faded, its characterful churches, houses and museums cascade down the hillside to meet the banks of the Douro, where iconic bridges stand tall above the river. Perhaps the most photogenic spot of all is the city’s Ribeira – a colourful row of buildings looking out across the water towards the famous Port houses of Vila Nova de Gaia. Little wonder then that this historic quayside was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
  • So hard was it to select our Top 10 UNESCO-Protected Sites that we feel it only fair to list the other UNESCO World Heritage Sites visited on other holidays, namely: the historic centre of San Gimignano with its distinctive towers (Hill-Top Towns of Tuscany Walk); and Portovenere and the Cinque Terre (Along the Ligurian Coast Walk).

More top tens...

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