Top 5 historical destinations for families

LYNN O’ROURKE HAYES
Last updated 11:13 28/05/2014

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The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, protects and preserves significant and inspirational places around the world.

Locations carrying the World Heritage designation provide an impressive history lesson as well as a chance to see some of the globe's most meaningful places. Here are five you and your family might like to visit:

ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA

Family members who have seen the Tomb Raider films will particularly enjoy exploring the Angkor Archaeological Park, unfolding deep within the Siem Reap province.

While hundreds of archaeological and artistic temples and ancient structures remain, the most familiar (it's on the Cambodian flag) is Angkor Wat.

Built in the 12th century to honour Vishnu, a Hindu god, the temple's bas-relief galleries give modern visitors a glimpse of life in ancient times.

There is also a remarkable water system, including moats, canals and reservoirs, that once provided water and crop irrigation for the thriving communities.

Visitors arrive via river cruises on the Mekong or a stop in Siem Reap, where lodging and tours are plentiful.

Contact: vkingcruises.com; tourismcambodia.com

AMALFI COAST, ITALY

Nirvana for artists, photographers and foodies, the picturesque coastal area offers a sensuous mix of cultural, natural and historic wonders.

The small communities were once only accessible by mule, but modern-day train travel makes it easy to visit the enchanting towns that spill toward the sea from their steep, craggy origins.

During the warmer months, sailboats dot the watery landscape and boat taxis provide additional access.

Contact: raileurope.com; amalficoast.com

SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

This iconic structure, made up of interlocking concrete shells, anchors one of the world's most famous harbours.

Visually stimulating and featuring 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: sydneyoperahouse.com

MACHU PICCHU, PERU

Make your way to this extraordinary archaeological 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 afterward. Train trips are also available from Cusco.

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Contact: machupicchu.org

TAOS PUEBLO, TAOS, NEW MEXICO

Continuously inhabited for more than 1,000 years, this remarkable community remains a pristine example of American Indian culture, trataospueblo.com dition and architecture.

UNESCO makes note of the Pueblo Indians' ability to retain meaningful, long-held traditions despite pressure from the outside world.

Close to 1,900 Pueblo Indians still live there full or part time in homes made of adobe bricks, with ceilings of vigas and latillas.

Take a walking tour of the area and uncover a rich history. View native arts and crafts, and observe a way of life rarely glimpsed in our high-tech world.

Contact: taospueblo.com

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