9 of the Weirdest World Heritage Sites
It’s easy to see why Egypt’s Pyramids, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and even Kronborg Castle in Denmark made the list of World Heritage Sites, but some of these places are just plain strange. Liquor fields? Buffalo slaughter camps? Stay tuned. Here are 9 of the weirdest sites on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
Tales of giants marching over the sea into Scotland is enough to put the Giant’s Causeway on the list of weird World Heritage Sites. Located two miles from Bushmills in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is made of 40,000 black basaltic columns that form interlocking pillars along the coast of the Antrim plateau.
Created during a volcanic explosion 50-60 million years ago, the columns create steps that lead from the edge of the cliff and disappear into the sea. It was named the fourth greatest national wonder in the UK and is the most visited attraction in Northern Ireland.
If the name alone isn’t enough to get this attraction on the list of weirdest world heritage sites, then look closer at the source.
Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump pays homage to North American natives in Alberta, Canada and is the location of their age-old buffalo slaughters.
Over 6,000 years ago, the Blackfoot Indians chased buffalo off of a cliff, then carved their carcasses in the valley below. Today the trails, the original camp and thousands of American Bison skeletons can still be seen.
Over 9,000 miles away near Johannesburg, South Africa, another hole in the ground-literally!-has made the list. The Vredefort Dome is a 155 mile-wide and three-mile deep crater that formed two billion years ago when a six-mile wide meteorite hit the earth. It is the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world and was inscribed for its importance as the “greatest known single energy release event” in the world’s history.
Landowners in the region have joined together to create the Vredefort Dome Conservancy that features camping, hiking, rock climbing, canoeing and white water rafting.
Travelers have long known Tequila’s importance on the global stage, and in 2006 the World Heritage Site committee agreed. This agave-based spirit is produced at a 34,000-hectare site between the Tequila Volcano and the Rio Grande River in the town of Tequila, Mexico.
The blue agave has been used since the 16th century to produce Mexico’s national liquor but was used 2,000 years before that to create fermented drinks and cloth. The World Heritage Site area includes a living and working landscape of the blue agave fields, as well as the distilleries, factories and ranches in Tequila.
Fossil Hominid Sites
Fossils found at these sites have defined the beginning and evolution of humanity and have aided in the classification of the earliest hominids that date back 4.5 million years.
The limestone cave where the 2.3 million year old fossil “Mrs. Ples” was found is included as a World Heritage Site attraction.
Stone Circles of Senegambia
With over 1,000 circles and almost 29,000 stone statues, the Stone Circles of Senegambia are the largest group of megalithic complexes in the world and contain over half of all of the world’s known hominid fossils.
The World Heritage Site consists of four groups that spread 60 miles wide and 215 miles along the River Gambia in western Africa. All of the circles are found near burial mounds, and although elements have been traced back to the 3rd century BC, their exact construction date and purpose remain a mystery.
Jaws fans, get ready because Malpelo Island, located 314 miles off of the coast of Colombia might the World Heritage Site you’ve been looking for. Malpelo Island’s 350 hectares and the surrounding 857,000 hectares of sea are famous for their natural beauty, premier diving site and sharks.
Fishing is prohibited on and around Malpelo Island, thus protecting the swarms of 500 hammerhead sharks, 1,000 silky sharks, the rare short-nosed ragged-toothed shark, whale sharks and deepwater sharks that call the waters home.
You might not expect to find an 8th century castle in the middle of the desert, but it is there. Located in modern-day Jordan, the castle is an important example of early Islamic architecture and is the best known desert castle in the world.
It is thought to have been used as a holiday castle by the caliph and princes and is adorned with frescos depicting hunting and naked women.
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine
Located in the Shimane Prefecture in Honsh, Japan, the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine was founded in 1526 and in “the Great Age of Exploration” produced as much as a third of the world’s silver.
Today it sits in ruins in the midst of the mountains that rise almost 2000 feet into the air and is scattered with the silver mine-remnants of fortresses, shrines, coastal routes and port towns.
Guests can visit the museum, research center and shops.
Read more about:
- Five UNESCO Castles on One Small Island: Okinawa, Japan
- 12 of the World’s Most Fascinating Cemeteries
- Around the World in 7 Lesser-Known Islands
Photo credits:Giant’s Causeway by Locace on Flickr , Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump by retropc on Flickr , Vredefort Dome by Karmor on Flickr , Agave Field by bbum on Flickr , Fossil Hominid Sites by sea turtle on Flickr , Stone Circles of Senegambia via Wikipedia , Malpelo Island by CAUT on Flickr , Quseir Amra by quantestorie on Flickr , Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine by kawabata on Flickr
Read about author Cherrye Moore and check out her other BootsnAll articles