As of July 2019, there are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world. And the list is constantly growing—recently, eight of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, from his stunning Fallingwater home in rural Pennsylvania to the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Wright played a pivotal role in the development of modern architecture around the world—the designation is well deserved.
The list includes iconic tourist hotspots like Greece’s Acropolis as well as under-the-radar attractions like China’s Classical Gardens of Suzhou. So what exactly does it mean to have a UNESCO designation? As of 2004, there are 10 criteria that a site must meet at least one of in order to earn the title, the first of which seems to encompass all the rest: “to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius.”
Want to see some of these sites for yourself? While Wright’s homes may not be in the Inspirato Collection, here are three incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore, all close to an Inspirato home.
This medieval city in the heart of Tuscany draws hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, and for good reason. Once a cultural rival of nearby Florence, Siena’s urban planning, tucked into a valley among three hills, aimed to integrate the city into the surrounding rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside. Today, it’s considered an incredibly well-preserved example of a medieval city, incorporating its distinctive Gothic style even in later renovations.
Though Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is home to hundreds of ruins, Chichen-Itza may be the most famous—and for good reason. The city played a monumental role in Mayan culture, at one point thought to be a major economic powerhouse, a mythical pilgrimage site, and a home for thousands of Mayans. The city was settled twice over the course of the next thousand years, first by the Mayans and later by the Toltecs. The Toltec conquest of the Yucatan brought a blending of both cultures, evident in the buildings and art found throughout Chichen-Itza today.
The physical embodiment of the lavish lifestyle of royals throughout the 17th century and beyond, France’s Palace of Versailles is the perfect fit for a UNESCO site in its wealth of architectural planning, artistic endeavors, and influence on European culture for centuries. Though Louis the XIII was the first to lay claim to the site for his hunting lodge, the palace grew to its current splendor under the reign of his son, Louis XIV, who took on the role of the architect. Versailles is perhaps best known, though, as the home of Louis XVI and his wife, the divisive Marie Antoinette.