Astronomical Heritage Finder


In collaboration
with the

International Astronomical Union


World Heritage List

UNESCO’s World Heritage List (WHL) includes over 900 sites and landscapes distributed throughout the world, selected by UNESCO for having an outstanding significance that transcends cultural boundaries and will persist down the generations into the future. The majority are cultural properties, but some are natural places and a few are recognized in both respects. To be selected, not only must a site be important but also a plan must be presented and endorsed by the relevant country for its maintenance and exploitation.


The concept of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ (OUV), value that transcends cultural boundaries and will persist indefinitely into the future, is fundamental in UNESCO’s efforts to identify cultural sites worthy of inclusion on the World Heritage List. Basically, OUV is the term of recognition for the value cultural or natural properties need to manifest in order to be inscribed on the WHL.

Astronomical heritage offers a profound new vision that has important implications for the more effective implementation of the World Heritage Convention and for helping State Parties create credible nomination dossiers. It raises valuable new heritage concepts, combines different categories of cultural heritage in previously unrecognised and unexplored ways, and highlights hitherto unrecognised types of linkage between cultural and natural heritage. The principal aspects of this vision are applicable more broadly to science heritage in general, and indeed also to technology heritage.

Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative

ICOMOS–IAU Thematic Study

Preparing a nomination dossier
(logged-in users only)

See also:
The World Heritage List: What is OUV? by Jukka Jokilehto, Christina Cameron, Michel Parent and Michael Petzet, Hendrik Bäßler Verlag, Berlin, 2008 (ICOMOS Monument and Sites XVI)


Sites connected to astronomy that are already on the World Heritage List

Members of the IAU Working Group on Astronomy and World Heritage have examined the World Heritage List for sites that are connected to astronomy. The resulting list is shown below. What perhaps stands out most is that the great majority of the sites listed are not related to modern scientific astronomy or its history.

Country Established World Heritage Site With Possible Connections to Astronomy
Argentina Cueva de las Manos, Río Pinturas
Australia Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Bolivia Tiwanaku: Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture
Bolivia Fuerte de Samaipata
Botswana Tsodilo
Cambodia Angkor
Chile Rapa Nui National Park
China Temple of Heaven: An Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing
China Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor
China Longmen Grottoes
China Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang
China Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa
Columbia San Agustín Archeological Park
Columbia National Archeological Park of Tierradentro
Egypt Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae
Egypt Memphis and its Necropolis—The Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur
Egypt Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis
Ethiopia Tiya
Ethiopia Aksum
France Palace and Park of Versailles
France Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley
Greece Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae
Greece Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos
Greece Delos
Greece Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns
Greece Archaeological Site of Olympia
Greece Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus
Greece Archaeological Site of Delphi
Greece Acropolis, Athens
Guatemala Tikal National Park
Guatemala Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua
Honduras Maya Site of Copan
India Sun Temple, Konârak
India Ellora Caves
India Elephanta Caves
Indonesia Borobudur Temple Compounds
Ireland Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne
Iran Persepolis
Italy The Trulli of Alberobello
Italy Rock Drawings in Valcamonica
Italy Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata
Italy Archaeological Area of Agrigento
Kenya Lake Turkana National Parks
Korea Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites
Lebanon Baalbek
Mali Timbuktu
Mali Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons)
Malta Megalithic Temples of Malta
Mexico Rock Paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco
Mexico Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán
Mexico Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal
Mexico Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan
Mexico Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza
Mexico Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque
Mexico Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco
Mexico El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City
Mexico Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco
Mexico Ancient Maya City of Calakmul, Campeche
Norway Rock Art of Alta
Peru Río Abiseo National Park
Peru Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana
Peru Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
Peru City of Cuzco
Peru Chavin (Archaeological Site)
South Africa uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park
Sudan Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region
Sweden Rock Carvings in Tanum
Syria Site of Palmyra
Togo Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba
Turkey Nemrut Daǧ
United Kingdom Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
United Kingdom Maritime Greenwich
United Kingdom Heart of Neolithic Orkney
USA Mesa Verde National Park
USA Chaco Culture
USA Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
Uzbekistan Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures
Zimbabwe Matobo Hills
Zimbabwe Great Zimbabwe National Monument
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