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Fort and Shalimar Gardens in Lahore


The magnificent Shalimar Gardens were built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1641 A.D. in the style of the Persian gardens. An important feature of this style of enclosed garden is water; the Shalimar Gardens have a total of 410 fountains in marble pools spread across the three descending terraces. The ingenious Mughal engineers were able to operate the fountains in a way that today’s scientists still cannot understand. The Shalimar Gardens used a canal that brought in water from present-day Madhpur, India, over 161 kilometers away. Sharing its spot on the list with the Shalimar Gardens is the Lahore Fort, a citadel in Lahore, Pakistan that was built by the Mughal emperor Akbar between 1556 and 1601. Representing a complete history of Mughal architecture, the fort has contributions from each successive Mughal emperor, as well as from the Sikhs and the British. The site has been placed on the UNESCO list as part of an effort to increase appreciation for the architectural masterpiece, and to help prevent further deterioration.


Samarra Archaeological City in Iraq


Samarra, which is located on the banks of the Tigris River, is one of the four Islamic Holy Cities of Iraq. Once the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, which stretched from Tunisia to Central Asia, the ancient city of Samarra has maintained its original city plan and contains traces of remarkably preserved architecture. The Great Mosque of Samarra, with its 52-m high spiraling minaret- the Malwiya tower, was designed to fit 80,000 worshipers and was once the largest mosque in the world. Sadly, the gold-domed Al-Askareyya Mosque, which contained the tombs of two ninth century imams, was destroyed during a bombing in 2007. Because of violence and hostilities, Samarra was placed on the endangered places list in 2007. Samarra is a fascinating archaeological site, much of which is left to be excavated, and a lasting testament to the wonders of the ancient Muslim world.


Historic Town of Zabid, Yemen

Zabid, the capital of Yemen from the 13th to 15th centuries, was known for the University of Zabid, a center of Islamic learning. As one of the oldest cities in Yemen, it is an interesting archaeological site with many historic buildings still intact. However, Zabid has been placed on the list of world heritage sites in danger because of the lack of effort the government puts into the site’s conservation. Many of the spaces are filled with newer concrete buildings while the souks are suffering the effects of age.

Galápagos Islands


The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of 19 volcanic islands situated 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador. The youngest of these islands are still being formed by volcanic eruptions. The incredible ecological variety of the island and the unique adaptations of its animal species inspired Charles Darwin to propose his theory of evolution by natural selection after his visit in 1835. In 2007 it was placed on the list of world heritage sites in danger because of threats of invading species and increasing tourism and immigration.


Bam, Iran


The ancient citadel of Bam in the Kernan Province of Iran was listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as well as the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2004. Bam’s history dates back to the Achaemenid Empire from the 6th to 4th centuries BCE, though many of the city’s remaining structures were constructed during the Safavid dynasty (1501–1736). In ancient times, Bam’s production of textiles and location at the crossroads of important trade routes helped the city flourish commercially. Because of its irrigation system of qanats, Bam has been able to harness the water resources of the oasis and is famous for its dates and citrus fruit. In 2003, a devastating earthquake led to over 26,000 deaths and caused massive damage to the mud structures, which were built using the Chineh technique.