BEST RATED HISTORIC SITES
Wachau/Melk Abbey, Austria
The medieval villages and monastery situated along the Danube River in Austria
's Wachau Valley haven't changed much through the centuries.
The region's devotion to preservation has earned it the title of best historic site in the fifth annual "Places Rated" Destinations Stewardship survey, announced this week by National Geographic Society's Center for Sustainable Destinations
An independent panel of 280 experts in travel-related fields from around the globe scrutinized 109 historic places, the theme of the 2008 survey. (Read about the best and worst rated islands from the 2007 survey
The experts scored how well the sites are enduring the pressures of mass tourism, ravages of nature, and development, according to the November/December 2008 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine
, on newsstands November 4.
In the undeveloped Wachau Valley, "tourist zones are low-key, and commercial establishments do not intrude on the visitor's experiences," one expert noted.
(Both National Geographic News and Traveler
are part of the National Geographic Society.)
Photograph by Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson/Keenpress