South Korea.jpgMunseonggong Myo in Sosu Seowon, South Korea | Photo: Council for Promotion of the Inscription of Confucian Academies on the World Heritage List

Earlier this July, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held a meeting at the walled city of Baku in Azerbaijan to select its 2019 additions to its coveted list of heritage sites around the world. Of the 37 nominees, 29 prevailed.

It’s no ordinary feat to be part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Each site undergoes rigorous review. must be deemed as possessing an "outstanding universal value", and should meet at least one of the following criteria—playing significance in human history, a natural phenomena or beauty, a display of human creative genius, and a significant natural habitat for biodiversity, to name a few.

With Asia’s rich culture and colourful history, it’s no surprise that almost half—13 including Australia—of the newly inscribed sites are located in the largest continent in world. Azerbaijan, for one, had its own historic centre of Sheki with the Khan’s palace as part of the current 1,121 heritage sites.

A long-awaited recognition was handed to Iraq, as the ancient city of Babylon was finally inscribed as a heritage site. This once bustling empire still has majority of its structures unearthed, with only 18 per cent of the 10 sq. km having been excavated, which is why it took more than three decades before the United Nation’s cultural body decided to include this site on the list.

Jaipur.jpgCity Palace Museum in Jaipur City, India | Photo: AFP 

Meanwhile, recognised for their architectural beauty, South Korea’s nine neo-Confucian academies or seowon, Jaipur City in India and Bagan in Myanmar also received a nod from the international body.

Other new entries in Asia, including Australia, are: Dilmun Burial Mounds (Bahrain), Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City (China), Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohain Gulf of China, Phase I (China), Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto (Indonesia), Hyrcanian Forests (Iran), Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group: Mounded Tombs of Ancient Japan (Japan), Megalithic Jar Sites in Xiengkhuan-Plain of Jars (Laos), Budj Bim Cultural Lanscape (Australia).

This story was originally published on Philippine Tatler