The idea of international travel is always intriguing, but occasionally we need a little extra inspiration. Enter the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a treasure trove of amazing things to see and do, with cultural and historic significance that bring travelers closer to the culture of the places they visit, while educating them a little bit along the way. These sites are located all over the world, so chances are you could find one in the next region on your list, or maybe our list will help you decide on where to start.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
(United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization)
- “to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and the human rights along with fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter”
Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor Location:China When To Go: March – April
Discovered in 1974 by peasant farmers, the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor is the final resting place of Qin Shi Huang, who was the first Chinese emperor to conquer the others and unite the country. The tomb has been excavated to reveal thousands of statues of ancient warriors, with archaeological estimates of thousands more in the surrounding hills.
The emperor himself commissioned the construction of this tomb shortly after ascending to power in 246 B.C. It took decades for the 700,000 workers to create the tomb, as the thousands of warriors, chariots, archers, and horses are all lined up in an exact replica of the layout of the country’s capital, and according to military rank and duty.
Once the funerary tomb was completed, it is rumored that the next ruler of the country gathered everyone who had worked on the project and walled them up in order to keep the secrets of its location hidden. The tomb was also laced with spring-loaded traps in case grave robbers made an attempt to loot the area.
What To Do: Visit the official Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang. Here, visitors can experience first-hand this massive army frozen in time. There are four pits excavated for viewing, with the 20,000-square-foot pit 1 being the main attraction. There are 1,087 figures here, with 8 battle chariots and 32 horses. Viewing platforms allow visitors to walk around above the armies, and select foreign dignitaries are allowed to walk through the pits for closer observation.
Why Its Special: The collection here offers a recreation of life at the beginning of China as we know it today. The tools, armor, and weapons show how advanced this civilization was. Among the findings, it has been discovered that some artifacts are plated in chromium oxide, and therefore have abated rust and decay. The western world did not discover chromium plating until the 18th century. Also, each of the warriors in the army has a unique face, armor, and weaponry. This, coupled with the size and organization leads historians to believe that it is an exact replica of the emperor’s army.
Hotel Pick: Le Royal Meridien Shanghai
Visitors will be hard pressed to find lodging near the mausoleum, as it is located deep in a very rural area of the country, so look to one of the major metropolitan areas. Le Royal Meridien in Shanghai is one of the finest hotels in the whole country, and one of the tallest structures in the city. The hotel features state-of-the-art technology throughout, as well as their famous aquarium entryway. There are many shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions in the immediate vicinity of the hotel too.
Fun Fact: The First Qin Emperor was only 13 years old when he ascended to the throne, and consequently put 700,000 workers on the project of his mausoleum.