China, which is home to some of the world’s oldest collections of cultural and natural attractions,has been recognized with a total of 47 World Heritage Sites. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated sites all over the world that are comprised of outstanding value to humanity and thus aim to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage. To date, China has the second most World Heritage Sites among all countries in the world, and for good reason as the country encompasses some of the most beautiful architecture and landscape known to man.
1. Great Wall of China
Undoubtedly China’s most famous site, The Great Wall of China was constructed over the course of numerous centuries, beginning in third century BC and ending in 17th century AD. Stretching over 13,000 miles, the wall begins in the east at Shanhaiguan and ends at Jiayuguan in the west. The wall is comprised of shelters, fortresses and watch towers, as it was created primarily to protect the Chinese states from its enemies. The wall is a testament to the truly amazing architecture used by the Chinese, standing strong for the last 2,000 years and counting.
2. Sichiuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries
Within the mountains of Wolong, Siguniang and Jiajin is the Sichiuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries. The giant panda, the animal which has become synonymous with China, has become an endangered species. This sanctuary spans across seven nature reserves and parks and serves to protect the animal from further harm. The sanctuary is the largest panda habitat in the world and also includes other endangered animals such as the snow leopard, red panda and clouded leopard. Not only are endangered animals protected here, but the sanctuary also protects plant life that is specifically used for medicinal purposes.
3. Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor
This cultural heritage site is one of the most significant places in all of Chinese culture. Serving as the resting place for Qin Shi Huang (First Emperor of The Qin Dynasty), the mausoleum was completed in 208 BC and was only recently discovered in 1974. As the mausoleum holds the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, it is surrounded by life-size replicas of The Terracotta Army, horses, chariots and weapons. The mausoleum was so well structured, archaeologists have yet to excavate the coffin of the emperor.
4. Lushan National Park
Religion has always been a vital part of China and its culture, Lushan National Park is specifically important as it is one of the spiritual centers of Chinese civilization. Located 4,835-feet-above sea level, the park sits atop the Yangtze River and Poyang Lake, culminating in a spectacular view above southern China. Along the mountainside are Buddhist and Taoist Temples, with many ruins, ancient buildings, waterfalls and more natural elements. Aside from being a spiritual center, the park has served as a tool for artists, writers and scholars to gain inspiration.
5. Mount Huangshan
Referred to as the “loveliest mountain of China”, the mountain is a top tourist destination for its fascinating sunsets. Located in the southern province of Anhui, Mount Huangshan is a mixed World Heritage Site for its natural beauty while also having a huge cultural significance. In the 16th century, a school of landscape painting named “Shansui” was formed on the mountain due to its natural features of granite peaks and sea of clouds which provided painters with the perfect destination.