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Are you planning to visit the UNESCO world heritage sites in the UK?

The United Kingdom has 31 locations that have been noted as part of the UNESCO Natural and Heritage World List.

United Kingdom is one of the top 10 countries in the world that has the most number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. There are 26 Cultural, 4 Natural and 1 mixed site listed in UNESCO. In addition to this, there are another 11 equally beautiful and worth noting heritage sites on the tentative list that has been named forward since 2012.

The List of Stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites the UK

Some of these World Heritage sites are located in London and the others are dotted around the four kingdoms of the country. Over the years, I have managed to visit some of them and the others are still on my list of places to visit in the UK.

I will be sharing with you these wonderful sites dotted around the UK. Don’t forget to include it on your UK itinerary when you visit the British Isles.

Here’s the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK

1. Blenheim Palace

This is a prestigious palace set in a romantic park designed by the famous Lancelot “Capability” Brown. Taking a stroll in Blenheim Palace is a great way to spend a sunny afternoon. 

Blenheim Palace in Oxford

Situated in Oxfordshire, the palace was built as a tribute to John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, after his momentous victory over the French and Bavarian troops in 1704. This victory paved the future of the Empire and cemented Churchill’s name in the nation’s history. Blenheim Palace was also the birthplace of Winston Churchill

The palace and the park are considered a world heritage site in England because of their scenic and historic landscape, remarkable architecture, and the important contents of the buildings and their close association with the property. Visitors can enter the palace grounds daily from 09:00 until 18:00.

2. Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church

Take a trip down to Canterbury in Kent and immerse yourself in the breathtaking view of these important historical monuments. Canterbury was considered to be the centre of the Church of England for five centuries, which left magnificent structures for future generations to revel in. 

Among these, St. Martin’s Church, Canterbury Cathedral, and St. Augustine’s Abbey are the most notable. Together, these awe-inspiring monuments are a reminder of the Church’s victory over the challenges it has faced over the years. 

Aside from their historical importance, the monuments also show the architectural advances that have revolved around Canterbury. No wonder these sights are one of the UNESCO world heritage sites in the UK.

3. City of Bath

Bath – What is now an elegant spa city, was once a thermal spa founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD. This city in South West England became famous due to its natural hot springs.

It, later on, became the centre of the wool industry during the Middle Ages. It was under the reign of George I, II, and III that the city was further developed.

The city’s rich historical background and structural ruins have added it to the list of world heritage sites in the UK. The ruins of the Temple of Sulis Minerva and the baths complex are among the famous structures in the area and are also a great reminder of Bath’s humble beginnings as a spa town.

4. Ironbridge Gorge

This majestic Ironbridge in Telford, Shropshire was built to link the industrial town of Broseley to the mining town of Madeley and the industrial centre of Coalbrookdale. 

Ironbridge Unesco Heritage Site

Aside from its industrial significance, the iron bridge was also the first of its kind in the world. It became the symbol of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.

5. Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City

The historic Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City has been witness to the growth of the world’s major trading centres of the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Liverpool UK

The docklands were used for the transport of people (such as slaves and migrants), which contributed largely to the growth of the British Empire. Because of its role in history, Liverpool became a leader in innovative dock technologies, port management, and transportation systems.

6. Maritime Greenwich

Greenwich is known around the world for lending its name to the Greenwich Prime Meridian (at 0° longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time.

Royal Greenwich Observatory

Photo Credit: Christina Magtoto

Aside from these, this town in South East London is also known for its maritime history, and the scientific and artistic developments that transpired in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

It is the historical buildings in the area and the park they are set in that has made it known as one of the London heritage sites. Among the notable buildings in Greenwich is the Queen’s House, the Royal Naval College, and the Old Royal Observatory.

7. Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

It is the unique mix of the medieval Old Town and the neoclassical vibes of the New Town that gives Edinburgh its distinctive character. Edinburgh has been the capital of Scotland since the 15th century.

Calton Hill in Edinburgh

It is the remarkable urban planning of these two towns that have greatly influenced European design and has pushed the whole area to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in England.

The medieval “fishbone” street pattern is still evident in Old Town with its narrow pathways and the High Street, the broadest and longest street, at the centre. The New Town, on the other hand, is surrounded by neo-classical buildings created by world-class architects. The extensive planning and great architectural artistry of the New Town  has greatly impacted urban architecture and planning throughout Europe. 

8. Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret’s Church

The Westminster Palace along with Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret’s Church are one of the most famous structures in England. They have been symbols of power and of the monarchy in England. 

London Westminster Abbey

The palace and church were built by Edward the Confessor in the 11th Century AD in the heart of London next to the River Thames. The structures are a testament to Europe’s journey from being an ancient feudal society to become the modern democratic country that it is today. Nowadays, the palace and the church are continually being used as they were originally intended.

9. Stonehenge and Avebury

When it comes to famous megalithic structures, no one can miss Stonehenge and Avebury in Wiltshire. The mysterious circular arrangement of the menhirs still baffles historians to this day.

Stonehenge in Salisbury UK

Even if its function is yet to be discovered, this site has been recognized as one of the United Kingdom’s UNESCO world heritage sites as it provides a sneak-peek into prehistoric beliefs and architecture.

10. The English Lake District

Tourists who love the outdoors will truly appreciate the English Lake District in Northwest England. It is a mountainous area that showcases the output of human labour and nature working together. 

Lake District in the UK

The valleys in the area have been formed by glaciers during the Ice Age and were further developed by agriculture and pastoral use by its inhabitants, which is evident by the walls enclosing the fields. The lakes in the area reflect the gorgeous mountain landscape which further enhances the view. Locals have also built gardens, grand mansions, and parks in the vicinity to add to its splendour.

11. Tower of London

Built by William the Conqueror on the Thames around 1066, this majestic white tower was a symbol of Norman power. It was built to demonstrate the monarch’s influence in London and still stands to this day as a symbol of royalty. 

Tower of London in London UK

It was strategically placed on the River Thames to function both as a fortress and a gateway to the country’s capital. The tower has also witnessed notable events in Europe’s history, the execution of three English queens among them. The tower was the highest structure in the city until the 19th century.

12. Dorset and East Devon Coast

A great site to enjoy one of the best coastal views in Europe, the Dorset and East Devon Coast, or more popularly known as the Jurassic Coast, showcases rock formations dating back to the Mesozoic Era.

Durdle Door Dorset Jurassic Coast in the UK

Aside from its breathtaking view, the site has contributed greatly to the study of the Earth sciences because of its fossil sites and coastal geomorphological features. It is the first wholly natural UNESCO world heritage site in England.

13. Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast

Situated in Northern Ireland, this area of approximately 40,000 massive basalt columns along the sea coast has inspired Irish legends of giants striding over the sea to Scotland.

Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland

These natural rock formations have been the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. Most of these rock structures are hexagonal – creating a stunning view and further highlighting just how amazing nature can be. Aside from its tourism value, it has also been the site of 300 years of geological studies which have further pushed the field of geology. The causeway has come to be a symbol of Northern Ireland.

Top Activities in UNESCO Heritage sites in the UK

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