Your take: The most important historic places of the new millennium

By Nicholas DeRenzo
October 3, 2012
Courtesy Time

TIME’s upcoming Great Places of History—Civilization’s 100 Most Important Sites (pre-order on, released October 11, $18.59) is the kind of coffee table book that will have you polishing up your bucket list and booking flights to far-flung locales. From the Great Wall of China and Easter Island to Auschwitz and Pearl Harbor, these 100 locations represent the highlights (and sometimes very lowlights) of the human experience—architectural wonders, battlefields, cathedrals, castles, universities, skyscrapers, and ancient mysteries.

What makes this list particularly interesting is its inclusion of a few newer spots (some built within the last decade) among the widely accepted classics. It may be too soon to tell if they’ll stand the test of the time, but it’s interesting to imagine that our new endeavors may eventually become the stuff of history.

Here are some of the new additions that caught my eye:

  • #74. Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Spitsbergen, Norway: A repository for seed varieties built inside a mountain in Arctic Norway in 2008, or as TIME calls it: “a Noah’s Ark for the world’s plants”

  • #89. The City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia, Spain: A futuristic cultural complex designed by famed architect Santiago Calatrava
  • #90. CCTV Headquarters, Beijing, China: The Rem Koolhaas–designed headquarters of China Central Television, built as a giant, cube-like loop of towers
  • #91. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The tallest building in the world, at 2,716.5 feet
  • #100. Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada: An annual gathering of countercultural artsy types in the Nevada desert that concludes with the burning of a 40-foot sculpture
  • To these, I would add the following, which didn’t make it onto the list:

  • Ground Zero/One World Trade Center, New York City: A symbol of America’s resilience
  • Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans: The worst-hit neighborhood during the Hurricane Katrina fiasco
  • Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt: The site of massive revolutionary protests leading to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, potentially changing the course of Middle Eastern history
  • Spaceport America, Sierra County, New Mexico: Okay, so this one won’t technically be completed until next year, but the world’s first commercial spaceport (that means sending average Joes—with above average bank accounts—to space!) will undoubtedly represent a giant leap toward making sci-fi a reality
  • Now it’s your turn: which sites from recent history would you add to the list?


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