A guide to the 23 newly-minted world heritage sites

An aerial view of the Botanic Gardens
An aerial view of the Botanic Gardens ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH/MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - The 156-year-old Singapore Botanic Gardens clinched the prestigious Unesco World Heritage site status - a first for the little red dot - at the 39th World Heritage Committee meeting in Bonn, Germany on Saturday (July 4).


From a sparkling wine region in France to the distinctive red railway bridge in Scotland, 23 other sites have been added to Unesco's list.

Here's a closer look at the latest spots around the world which received the coveted accolade.

1. Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System (Mexico)

The aqueduct of Tembleque in the Tepeyahualco community, Hidalgo State, Mexico. PHOTO: AFP

The 16th century canal system is located between the states of Mexico and Hidalgo on the Central Mexican Plateau.

Stretching over 48.22 kilometres, the water supply system was built by 400 quarry workers, assistants, bricklayers, carpenters and assorted labourers from 40 villages between 1553 and 1570 under the direction of a Franciscan monk known as Padre Tembleque.

The system comprises a water catchment area, springs, canals, distribution tanks and arcaded aqueduct bridges.

2. Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalu and Monreale (Italy)

Situated on the northern coast of Sicily, Italy, Arab-Norman Palermo has nine civil and religious structures from the Norman kingdom dating back to the 12th century: two palaces, three churches, a cathedral, a bridge, as well as the cathedrals of Cefalu and Monreale.

Together, these demonstrate the co-existence of Western, Islamic and Byzantine cultures on the island where people of different origins and religions lived together.

3. Baekje Historic Areas (Korea)

A collection of sites built over a period spanning nearly 700 years, the eight ancient Baekje historic areas include royal palaces and fortresses, tombs and temple sites.

The site ranges from Gongju and Buyeo in South Chungcheong Province to Iksan in North Jeolla Province.

Baekje contributed to the overall cultural development of east Asia and played an important role in the development of ancient culture in Korea, a Korean news report wrote.

4. Baptism Site Bethany Beyond the Jordan (Jordan)

Pope Francis praying in front of the Jordan river in Bethany Beyond the Jordan, west of Amman, Jordan on May 24, 2014. PHOTO: EPA

Located on the the eastern bank of the River Jordan, this Christian place of pilgrimage is believed to be where Jesus was baptised.

The site features Roman and Byzantine remains, including churches and chapels, a monastery, caves that have been used by hermits as well as pools where baptisms were held.

5. Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars (France)

A champagne vineyard in Villenauxe-la-Grande, near Epernay, eastern France on Sept 23, 2007. PHOTO: AFP

An area encompassing the production process from grape growth to bottle distribution to sales, the French Champagne region is the birth place of the French bubbly.

The site "bears clear testimony to the development of a very specialised artisan activity that has become an agro-industrial enterprise," Unesco said in a statement.

6. Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement (Denmark)

A small town in South Jutland, Denmark, Christianfeld was founded in 1773 by the Moravian Church. The town was a planned settlement of the Church, representing the Protestant denomination, and was built around a central church square.

The site has a vast agricultural tract that includes buildings such as large communal houses for the congregation's widows, bachelors and spinsters.

7. Climats, terroirs of Burgundy (France)

Burgundy wine-growing vineyards in Chassagne-Montrachet, eastern France on May 28, 2009. PHOTO: AFP

The Burgundy vineyards are known for its climats, a French term referring to specific places with unique terroirs, another French wine term referring to how climates, soils and topography influence the taste of wines. The region, located south of Dijon, France, produces about 22 million cases of wine every year.

The soils are extremely varied in richness, depth and mineral content. For the most part, the climate is fairly warm with threats of cold winters, but still cool enough for harvest and production.

8. Cultural landscape of Maymand (Islamic Republic of Iran)

The city of Maymand, southern Iran. PHOTO: EPA

Located in a valley in Iran's central mountains, the area is occupied by villagers, mostly nomadic shepherds, who move between mountain pastures and caves depending on the season. They live in temporary settlements in spring and autumn, and move lower down the valley to live in cave dwellings carved out of soft stone rocks during winter.

The region has been continuously occupied for nearly 3,000 years, making it the oldest settlements known in the country.

9. Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape (Turkey)

Located on the Upper Tigres River Basin, Diyarbakir Fortress and the landscape around has been an important centre since the Hellenistic period, between 323BC and 31BC.

The site features the almost six-kilometre-long city walls of Diyarbakir with towers and gates as well as the 8,000-year-old Hevsel Gardens which is a link between the city and the Tigris river that supplied the city with food and water.

10. Ephesus (Turkey)

The city of Ephesus in Turkey. PHOTO: ASA HOLIDAYS

Built in the 10th century, Ephesus was an ancient Greek city in Aegean coastal Izmir province in southwest Turkey.

Said to have been founded by the Amazons, the female warriors of Greek myth, it was once one of the most egalitarian cities of the ancient world where women enjoyed equal rights to men. The city was immensely wealthy, ruled in 560 to 546 BC by King Croesus, whose legendary fortune inspired the saying "rich as Croesus". Destroyed a few times over the centuries, there are still stately remnants of columns belonging to the Celsus Library and the Temple of Artemis.

11. Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape (Uruguay)

The canning sector of the old Anglo meat processing plant, founded in 1863 originally as a saltery, in Fray Bentos, 330 km west of Montevideo. PHOTO: AFP

Located facing the Uruguay River, this industrial complex was built in the 19th century to process meat from herds grazing the grasslands nearby.

The site encompasses the whole process of meat sourcing, processing, packing and dispatching.

The complex includes buildings and equipment of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, which exported meat extract and corned beef to the European market from 1865, and the Anglo Meat Packing Plant, which exported frozen meat from 1924, according to Unesco's website.

The meat products churned from this location sustained Europe through two World Wars, and illustrates the global nature of industrial food processing.

12. Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and its surrounding sacred landscape (Mongolia)

Located in the central part of the Khentii mountain area, Burkhan Khaldun is believed to be the place where the legendary Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan was born and buried. The landscape is also associated with the worship of sacred mountains and rivers, and is studded with rock cairns where shamanic and Buddhist ceremonies taken place.

The worship of sacred mountains and waters is one of the heritage elements practised by Mongolians since ancient times.

13. Necropolis of Bet She'arim: A landmark of Jewish renewal (Israel)

Visitors walk towards the entrance of one of the catacombs of the ancient Jewish burial site in the Beit She'arim National Park. PHOTO: EPA

Located 20 kilometres east of Haifa, Israel, forming a part of the Bet She'arim National Park, this archaeological site is a Jewish town and includes 33 ancient Jewish tombs from the 2nd century.

These tombs contain inscriptions in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew showing the exchange with the Roman world.

14. Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site (Norway)

The production complex - located in mountains, waterfalls and river valleys - was established to manufacture artificial fertiliser from nitrogen in the air to meet to meet the western world's growing demand for agricultural production in the early 20th century.

The combination of the industrial and the natural landscapes are an example of a new global industry in the early 20th century, Unesco said.

15. Rock Art in the Ha'il region of Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia)

The site includes two rock art complexes situated in a desert landscape - Jabel Umm Sinman at Jubbah and the Jabal al-Manjor and Raat at Shuwaymis.

Jubbah is located in northern Saudi Arabia and Shuwaymis in southern Ha'il province. These rock art complexes feature numerous representations of human and animal figures and span 10,000 years of history.

16. San Antonio Missions (United States of America)

Visitors in front of the Alamo on June 14, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. PHOTO: AFP

The Missions built in the 18th century include five complexes situated along the San Antonio River basin in southern Texas, as as well as a ranch located 37 kilometres to the south.

The site is an example of interweaving Spanish and Coahuiltecan cultures which "illustrate the Spanish Crown's efforts to colonise, evangelise and defend the northern frontier of New Spain," according to Unesco's website.

17. Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: iron and steel, shipbuilding and coal mining (Japan)

Tourists visit the Hashima coal mine, known as "battleship island" in Nagasaki prefecture, Japan's southern island of Kyushu on July 6, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

The 23 sites in eight prefectures in Japan were instrumental to Japan's industrialisation for over 50 years from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century by rapidly adopting western technologies.

The Unesco sites include some facilities that are still at least partly in operation, such as the Nagasaki shipyard. Japan's bid for Unesco World Heritage status sparked a diplomatic row with South Korea and China as Korean and Chinese prisoners of war were forced to work at some of these sites during World War II.

Unesco said the national property is also considered to be the first successful transfer of Western industralisation to a non-Western nation.

18. Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus (Germany)

The Speicherstadt warehouse district (front) and the construction site of the Elbphilharmonie concert venue (right) in Hamburg, Germany on June 19, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

The two densely-built urban areas are located in the centre of the port city of Hamburg. Speicherstadt, originally developed between 1885 and 1927 and partly rebuilt from 1949 to 1967, is the world's largest historic warehouse-complex and includes 15 gigantic warehouse blocks where goods such as coffee, tea, cocoa, spices, tobacco and oriental carpets were stored.

The Kontorhaus district is known in architectural history as Europe's first business district built in the 1920s and 1930s. The six large office complexes which used to house port-related businesses is also one of Germany's first high-rise buildings.

19. Susa (Islamic Republic of Iran)

A French Castle in the city of Susa located in the south-west of Iran. PHOTO: EPA

Covering about 350 hectares, Susa is one of the world's largest archaeological sites and dates back to approximately 4,000 BC. The ancient city is located in the province of Khuzestan. Having been settled as far back as 4,200 BCE, the area contains numerous monuments from the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires.

Located along a river in southwest Iran, the excavated architectural monuments include administrative, residential and palatial structures, demonstrating its importance as an urban, cultural and intellectual centre throughout the ages.

20. The Forth Bridge (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

Officials pose for photographs in front of the Forth Bridge in Queensferry, west of Edinburgh, Scotland on May 9, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

The railway bridge is the world's longest multi-span cantilever bridge and was opened in 1890 after eight years of construction.

The distinctive red bridge used to carry trains over the Forth River and is still in use today.

21. The par force hunting landscape in North Zealand (Denmark)

Located northeast of Copenhagen, the cultural landscape encompasses two hunting forests as well as a private hunting park - now a recreational area - where Danish kings hunted with hounds in the 17th and 18th centuries.

According to the Unesco website, the hunting lanes laid out in an orthogonal grid pattern, including stone posts, enclosures and hunting lodges, demonstrates the application of Baroque landscaping principles to forested areas.

22. Tusi Sites (China)

The sites are remains of an ancient political system adopted by Chinese emperors to govern local minority areas in south-west China. From the 13th to the early 20th centuries, the emperors appointed Tusi, which means hereditary rulers, to oversee these areas.

The Tusi system aimed to unify national administration while allowing ethnic minorities to retain their customs and way of life.

The three sites inscribed on the Unesco list are Laosicheng in the Hunan Province, Tangya in the Hubei Province and the Hailongtun Fortress in the Guizhou Province.

The addition of the Tusi sites brings the total number of world heritage sites in China to 48, which is more than any other country in the world after Italy.

23. Blue and John Crow Mountains (Jamaica)

Located on the south-east of the island, the site provided refuge to indigenous Taino Indians fleeing slavery as well as escaping African slaves during the anti-colonialism movement in the 16th century.

The forested mountainous region was their refuge where they established a network of trails, hiding places and settlements.

The inscription is a first for Jamaica and the first mixed (cultural and natural) site for the Caribbean sub-region.

Sources: ABC News, Ancient History Encyclopedia, Arab News, BBC, CNN, Daily Sabah, Japan Times, Korea Herald, Shanghai Daily, Saudi Archaeology, Telegraph UK, Unesco.