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    UNESCO World Heritage Sites are chosen based on their outstanding value to humanity and at least one of ten additional criteria.  whc.unesco.org/en/criteria

    Why sofa sojourns? There are several reasons for traveling from the comfort of your sofa. These visual forays allow us to explore places around the world, reminisce about former trips, learn about new ones and plan for the time when we can all travel again. Additionally, these edutourism adventures are a great learning tool for use in homeschooling. Based on the listed sites you can develop lessons and take virtual field trips. Many of the locations have a link for teaching materials to enhance the learning experience.
    Google Expedition

    Google Expeditions was designed to create an  immersive experience that easily blends with classroom activities. There are more than 900 VR expeditions from which to choose and all materials needed to embark on these sojourns are listed on the website.

    The Pyramids of Egypt

    The Great Pyramid, Khufu’s Pyramid, was the culmination of 400-years of development of construction technique. The earliest form of pyramid was a box-shaped, smooth-sided mud brick tomb (mastaba) built circa 3000 B.C. The Great Pyramid, situated on the Giza Plateau, consists of over 2-million stone blocks weighing from 2.5 to 15-ton base stones. The greatest difference in length of the 4 sides is 2-inches. It was a royal tomb built in the belief that the spirit of the pharaoh would ascend to the after-life from the pyramid’s apex. It is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to survive and in 1979 was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site

    The Sphinx             

    The Sphinx was constructed around 2500 B.C. It is 66-ft. high and was carved from the natural stone with rocks added around the base. It faces the rising sun and is 20-ft. in length. A temple is between its paws and bits of the original color can be seen near one ear. The nose was removed around the 8th-century and the royal beard is now in the British Museum.

    The Roman Coliseum

    The  620 by 513-ft. Roman Coliseum was completed around 70 CE and was financed by the Flavian emperors. It was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater but it is believed it became commonly recognized as the Coliseum because it was located near a colossal statue of Emperor Nero. The opening games were 100 days long and were overseen by Emperor Titus. The amphitheater was located adjacent to a ludus, a gladiator training school with passages that led to the arena. Animal and human contests were held and it is estimated that 1-million animals were killed in the arena. Animals were admitted through 30 trap doors. Up to 70,000 people were issued pottery tickets for the free games, paid for by the wealthy or the emperor. The emperor had a special box, slaves stood and others were seated by class. There were internal corridors and 80 arched entrances facilitating a 10-minute clearance of the entire arena. Listed as a UNESCO site in 1980.

    The Tower of London

    William the Conqueror began work on the Tower of London in 1077 and completed it 20-years later. Erected to guard the entrance to London, It was a wooden fortress until it was replaced by stone. The 18-acre complex has functioned as several things including a royal residence and prison for enemies of the state. The most visited sites are Traitor’s Gate, the Crown Jewels, The Tower Ravens and the Tower Green. The Traitor’s Gate was where prisoners were brought by boat. The Crown Jewels include the 530-carat Star of Africa, the world’s largest diamond, as part of the Royal Sceptre. Legendarily a minimum of six ravens are tended by a Beefeater, the Ravenmaster. It is said that should they desert the tower the kingdom will fall. The Tower Green was the site of royal executions, among them, Queens Anne Boleyn(1536) and Catherine Howard(1542) and Sir Thomas More (1534). Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in the tower from 1603-1605. The Tower was inscribed by UNESCO in 1988.

    The Island of Gorée in Africa

    Gorée Island was discovered in 1444 by  Denis Dias. Situated just 2.2-miles off Senegal’s coast, the 69-acre island provided an accessible harbor and was strategically located between the continents and from 1536 until 1848 was the largest slave-trading center on the African Coast. During those years control passed from one European nation, Portuguese, French, English and Dutch, to another. Documents prove that from 1763-75 over 103,000 Africans were transported from Gorée, giving some indication of how many Africans were taken from the area. The only remaining House of Slaves was constructed by the Dutch in 1776. The top floor was living and working space for the Europeans and the lower level was used to house slaves in crowded conditions. Slaves wore 11-lb manacles to hamper any runaways and ensure that they would drown if they attempted to escape by sea. Young women were confined to a cell where traders chose among them for their sexual pleasure. Other rooms housed men, women and children with a small dark room for the rebellious among them. The House of Slaves Museum is dedicated to interpreting the African experience as a captive. The Door of No Return is the major attraction. The enslaved were funneled through the door to waiting boats for the voyage that would separate them from their family, their home and their country. The island has been a UNESCO site since 1978.




    Renee Gordon has written a weekly travel column for the Philadelphia Sun Newspaper for the past fifteen years and has published articles on local, national and international travel in numerous publications. Her columns focus on cultural, historic and heritage tourism and her areas of specialization are sites and attractions related to African American and African Diaspora history. Renee has been a guest radio commentator on various aspects of tourism and appeared in a documentary, "The Red Summer of 1919". As an educator for thirty years she was an English teacher, event and meeting planner, served as an educational consultant and intern-teacher mentor. She contributed to textbooks on women's history and classroom management and has facilitated workshops on both subjects. Renee considers herself a "missionary journalist" and as such she continues to promote heritage and sustainable tourism.

    2013 Recipient of African Diaspora World Tourism Flame Keeper in Media Award for Travel Writing

    IABTW- International Association of Black Travel Writers
    PBJ - Progressive Black Journalists


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