UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Middle East

Did you know that the Middle East is home to almost 100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Middle East 02

Whilst these sites make a great “bucket list” of experiences for travellers to the Middle East, many are inaccessible due to their location or the impact of civil war.

Not all of these sites have the infrastructure to capitalise on tourism either, but they are definitely worth bearing in mind planning your Middle East adventures. Even if you cannot get to see these sites in person, learning more about these fascinating places before travelling is a great introduction to the region and its rich history.

Where we have stories about visiting these sites – especially tips for visiting with kids – we have provided links from this page.  Please let us know if there’s an article you would like to add.

What is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

UNESCO World Heritage Sites were created in 1978 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It was recognised that important sites around the globe should have a special designation to preserve the world’s cultural and natural heritage, in the collective interest of humanity.

These sites whilst administered locally – in most cases by the government of the country they are located in – are protected by international treaties.  In certain cases, they may receive World Heritage Funds to conserve the site.

As of the time of writing (last updated in April 2022), there are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage Sites globally (869 cultural, 213 natural and 39 mixed properties).

You can read more on the official UNESCO website about how a site comes to gain UNESCO World Heritage classification.

We follow their country listing conventions, though they classify the “Arab States” slightly differently from how we have classified the Middle East on our site (primarily, we include Turkey and Israel while excluding Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan & Morocco – hence they list only 88 World Heritage Sites in the Arab States).

Ephesus in Turkey
Ephesus in Turkey

Full listing of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Middle East

As of April 2022, the following sites fall under the international World Heritage Program.  (Note 21 of these sites are listed as in danger, designated ^)


  • Qal’at al-Bahrain Ancient Harbor and Capital of Dilmun
  • Muharraq Island, Qal’at Bu Mahir Fortress,
  • Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy

Read more about visiting Bahrain here


  • Abu Mena ^
  • Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis
  • Historic Cairo
  • Memphis & its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur
  • Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae
  • Saint Catherine Area
  • Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley)

Read more about visiting Egypt here

Sphinx and Pyramid
The Pyramid fields of Giza to Dahshur


  • Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran
  • Bam and its Cultural Landscape
  • Bisotun
  • Cultural Landscape of Maymand
  • Gonbad-e Qabus
  • Golestan Palace
  • Historic City of Yazd
  • Hyrcanian Forests
  • Lut Desert
  • Masjed-e Jamé of Isfahan
  • Meidan Emam, Esfahan
  • Pasargadae
  • Persepolis
  • Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region
  • Shahr-e Sukhteh
  • Sheikh Safi al-din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil
  • Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System
  • Soltaniyeh
  • Susa
  • Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex
  • Takht-e Soleyman
  • Tchogha Zanbil
  • The Persian Garden
  • The Persian Qanat

Read more about visiting Iran here


  • Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat) ^
  • Babylon
  • Erbil Citadel
  • Hatra ^
  • Samarra Archaeological City ^
  • The Ahwar of Southern Iraq

Read more about visiting Iraq here


  • Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee
  • Biblical Tels – Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba
  • Caves of Maresha and Bet-Guvrin in the Judean Lowlands as a Microcosm of the Land of the Caves
  • Incense Route – Desert Cities in the Negev
  • Masada
  • Necropolis of Bet She’arim: A Landmark of Jewish Renewal
  • Old City of Acre
  • Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves
  • White City of Tel-Aviv – the Modern Movement

Read more about visiting Israel here

Jerusalem (Proposed)

Old City of Jerusalem and its walls
Old City of Jerusalem and its walls


  • Al-Maghtas (Baptism Site Bethany Beyond Jordan)
  • Petra
  • Quseir Amra
  • Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa’a)
  • Wadi Rum Protected Area

Read more about visiting Jordan here


  • Anjar
  • Baalbek
  • Byblos
  • Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab)
  • Tyre

Read more about visiting Lebanon here

Baalbek Temple Lebanon
Baalbek, Temple of Bacchus, Lebanon


  • Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman (Nizwa)
  • Ancient City of Qalhat
  • Archaeological Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn
  • Bahla Fort
  • Land of Frankincense

Read more about visiting Oman here


  • Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem
  • Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines Cultural landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir ^
  • Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town ^

Read more about visiting Palestine here


Read more about visiting Qatar here

Saudi Arabia

  • Al-Ahsa Oasis, an Evolving Cultural Landscape
  • Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Mada’in Saleh)
  • At-Turaif District In ad-Dir’iyah
  • Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah
  • Rock Art in the Hail Region

Read more about visiting Saudi Arabia here

Historic Jeddah Saudi Arabia
Masjid in Historic Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


  • Ancient City of Aleppo ^
  • Ancient City of Bosra ^
  • Ancient City of Damascus ^
  • Ancient Villages of Northern Syria ^
  • Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din ^
  • Site of Palmyra ^

Read more about visiting Syria here

Türkiye (Turkey)

  • Aphrodisias
  • Archaeological Site of Ani
  • Archaeological Site of Troy
  • Bursa and Cumalikizik: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire
  • City of Safranbolu
  • Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape
  • Ephesus
  • Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi
  • Göbekli Tepe
  • Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
  • Hierapolis-Pamukkale
  • Hattusha: the Hittite Capital
  • Historic Areas of Istanbul
  • Nemrut Dag
  • Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük
  • Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape
  • Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex
  • Xanthos-Letoon

Read more about visiting Turkey here

cappadocia turkey World Heritage Site
Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia

United Arab Emirates

Read more about visiting the United Arab Emirates here


  • Historic Town Of Zabid ^
  • Old City Of Sana’a ^
  • Old Walled City Of Shibam^
  • Socotra Archipelago

Read more about visiting Yemen here

Have you visited any of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Middle East with kids? We’d love to hear more about your experience and share any important visitor information with our readers. Please contact us here to learn more. 

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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Family Travel Middle East
Family Travel Middle East

The Family Travel in the Middle East team of travel writers are all parents based in the Middle East, sharing first hand experiences and reviews from across the region to help you plan your next family adventure.

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