World Her­itage sites pro­vide im­pres­sive his­tory les­sons

The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - Living - BY LYNN O’ROURKE HAYES Fam­i­lyTravel.com

The United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UN­ESCO) pro­tects and pre­serves sig­nif­i­cant and in­spi­ra­tional places around the world. Lo­ca­tions car­ry­ing the im­por­tant des­ig­na­tion of World Her­itage site pro­vide an im­pres­sive his­tory les­son as well as a vir­tual tour of many of the world’s most mean­ing­ful places. Here are five you and your fam­ily might like to visit:

1. STRAS­BOURG, FRANCE

The French city’s old town is an is­land – the Grande Ile – sur­rounded by canals and the River Ill. Fam­i­lies can get a unique view of this his­toric en­clave by pad­dling a ca­noe through the canals, in- clud­ing the chance to ma­neu­ver through a lock with the help of a trusted guide. You can’t miss the city’s Gothic cathe­dral, which rises high above Stras­bourg and was said to be the world’s tallest build­ing un­til 1874. Climb 320 steps to a view­ing plat­form for a bird’s eye view. And be sure to spend time in­side the cathe­dral, tak­ing note of the his­toric stained glass win­dows that sur­vived many war-torn years. Also of in­ter­est, in­side the cathe­dral, is the world’s largest as­tro­nom­i­cal clock. Con­sid­ered a Re­nais­sance mas­ter­piece, it was as­sem­bled by a team of artists, math­e­ma­ti­cians and tech­ni­cians, and also shows signs of the zo­diac, equinoxes and leap years.

Con­tact: www.ama water­ways.com; www. ad­ven­tures­by­dis­ney.com

2. ANGKOR WAT, CAM­BO­DIA

Fam­ily mem­bers who have seen the “Tomb Raider” films will par­tic­u­larly en­joy ex­plor­ing the Angkor Arche­o­log­i­cal Park, un­fold­ing deep within the Siem Reap prov­ince. While hun­dreds of arche­o­log­i­cal and artis­tic tem­ples and an­cient struc­tures re­main, the most fa­mil­iar (it’s on the Cam­bo­dian flag) is Angkor Wat. Built in the 12th­cen­tury to honor Vishnu, a Hindu god, the tem­ple’s bas re­lief gal­leries in­form mod­ern vis­i­tors of life in an­cient times. Also of note is the re­mark­able wa­ter sys­tem, in­clud­ing moats, canals and reser­voirs, that once pro­vided wa­ter and crop as­sis­tance for the thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ties. Vis­i­tors ar­rive via river cruises on the Mekong or a stop in Siem Riep where lodg­ing and tours are plen­ti­ful.

Con­tact: vikingcruises .com; tourism­cam­bo­dia .com

3. AMALFI COAST, ITALY

Nir­vana for artists, pho­tog­ra­phers and food­ies, the pic­turesque coastal area of­fers a sen­sual mix of cul­tural, nat­u­ral and his­toric won­ders. While the small com­mu­ni­ties were once only ac­ces­si­ble by mule, mod­ern­day train travel makes it easy to visit the en­chant­ing towns that spill to­ward the sea from their steep and craggy ori­gins. Dur­ing the warmer months, sail­boats dot the wa­tery land­scape and boat taxis pro- PRINTED AND DIS­TRIB­UTED BY PRESS­READER

vide ad­di­tional ac­cess.

Con­tact: raileu­rope .com; amal­fi­coast.com

4. SYD­NEY OPERA HOUSE, SYD­NEY, AUS­TRALIA

This iconic struc­ture, com­prised of in­ter­lock­ing con­crete shells, an­chors one of the world’s most fa­mous har­bors. Visu­ally stim­u­lat­ing and home to a menu of fam­ily-friendly per­for­mances and pro­grams, the ar­chi­tec­tural trend­set­ter de­buted in 1973. Whether you take in a walk­ing tour and ob­serve the opera house glint­ing in the sun­light or aglow af­ter night­fall, you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate its artis­tic vibe and global sig­nif­i­cance. Con­tact: syd­ney­opera house.com

5. MACHU PIC­CHU, PERU

Make your way to this ex­tra­or­di­nary arche­o­log­i­cal site just as the In­cas did. Choose from two- or four-day treks along the Inca Trail that cul­mi­nate in stun­ning views of the “lost city” where palaces, ter­races, walls and plazas cling to the moun­tain­side. It was not un­til 1911, that a Peru­vian guide led Yale pro­fes­sor Hi­ram Bing­ham to the an­cient site on the east­ern slopes of the An­des. Mys­ter­ies re­main as to how the In­cas were able to con­struct the com­plex more than 500 years ago and why it was aban­doned not long af­ter. Train trips are also avail­able from Cusco.

Con­tact: www.austin ad­ven­tures.com; www. fam­ilyad­ven­tures.com

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER Min­neapo­lis Star Tri­bune

Machu Pic­chu’s ci­tadel near sun­set with Huayna Pic­chu’s sharp peak loom­ing be­hind it is a World Her­itage site that of­fers a deep look at his­tory.

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