Borobudur temple Park in Java, Indonesia (Wikimedia Commons)

Every year, April 18 is observed as World Heritage Day, a celebration of humanity’s cultural monuments and sites. This year, however, the event falls on the grim backdrop of an ongoing pandemic that put large swaths of the world’s population under lockdown.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which has been orchestrating the celebrations since 1983, normally encourages people to visit historic sites on this day. But given the current circumstances, the organization is now inviting us to celebrate the occasion virtually under the theme of “Shared Cultures, Shared Heritage, Shared Responsibility.”

“Now, more than ever, the theme of Shared Cultures, Shared Heritage, Shared Responsibility is important as an expression of our global unity in the face of the ongoing worldwide health crisis,” ICOMOS says in a statement. Stressing the need to comply with local COVID-19 containment measures, the organization is encouraging people around the world to share images of monuments and cultural practices on social media under hashtags like #SharedCultures, #Sharedheritage, and #SharedResponsibility.

Luckily, the internet now offers the possibility of touring major world heritage sites virtually. Since it doesn’t look like air travel is going back to its normal course soon, we’ve compiled a list of spectacular world heritage sites that you can explore comfortably from home, courtesy of Google Earth.

Borobudur Temple

The famous Buddhist temple in central Java, Indonesia, dates back to the 8th century. It was restored with UNESCO’s help in the 1970s.

The Taj Mahal in India (Yann Forget/Wikimedia Commons)

Taj Mahal

This 1643 mausoleum in the city of Agra in India was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage,” according to the organization.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza (Mike McBey/Flickr)

The Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis in Egypt. It is also the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact.


Pompeii. Italy (Wikimedia Commons)

Explore the ruins of Pompeii in Italy, the ancient Roman city that was blanketed in volcanic ash in 79 CE.

The Palace of Versailles

The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles in France (Myrabella/Wikimedia Commons)

Constructed in 1682, the glorious palace was the royal residence for French monarchs from Louis XIV to Louis XVI.


The Monastery (El Dier) in Petra, Jordan (Diego Delso/Wikimedia Commons)

Take a guided tour through this wonderous Nabataean mountain city, located between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea in today’s Jordan.


Stonehenge (Wikimedia Commons)

The prehistoric monument in England remains a mystery. Who built it and how did they get those stones up there? Theories abound.


The Court of the Lions in the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain (Wikimedia Commons)

A feat of Islamic architecture, the Alhambra palace and fortress was the former rural residence of the emirs who ruled the region of Andalusia in southern Spain between the 13th and 14th centuries.

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...