15 Cultural Landscape Examples (Human Geography)

cultural landscape examples and definition, explained below

A cultural landscape is a landscape that has cultural significance. The landscapes reflect the culture of the people who have lived there.

Cultural landscapes can give human geographers information about how a culture lives, what they value, and how they interact with the land.

Examples of cultural landscapes include golf courses, urban neighborhoods, agricultural fields, relics, and heritage sites.

Types of Cultural Landscapes

In 1992, UNESCO created three categories of cultural landscapes. These were:

  • Clearly defined landscape: These are landscapes conspicuously crafted by humans and that continue to be maintained as cultural sites. The Taj Mahal and urban gardens are examples of clearly defined landscapes.
  • Organically evolved landscapes: Organically evolved landscapes have evidence of human interaction with the land, but it has changed and developed over time. Interaction between the elements and the land is evident. An example is a relic wall such as Hadrian’s Wall, or even ancient farmland that has been, and still is, in use for thousands of years.
  • Associative cultural landscapes: These landscapes may not have clear evidence of human interaction, but nonetheless of cultural importance. For example, Uluru in Australia is a giant rock of importance to Aboriginal Australians because they practice ceremonies there. There isn’t evidence of interaction with the land, and yet it is highly significant to Aboriginal people.

Cultural Landscape Examples

1. Uluru (Australia)

Type: Associative cultural landscape

Situated in the heart of Australia’s Northern Territory, Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) is one of the country’s most iconic landmarks. The massive sandstone monolith has long been revered by the Aboriginal people of the region, who hold it to be a sacred site.

Uluru is believed to be the home of the spirits of their ancestors, and it features prominently in many of their stories and ceremonies.

In recent years, Uluru has also become a popular tourist destination, with visitors coming from all over the world to admire its majestic beauty.

While it is undoubtedly an impressive natural wonder, Uluru also holds great cultural significance for the Aboriginal people of Australia.

Related Article: Cultural Pluralism Vs Multiculturalism

2. The Great Wall of China (China)

Type: Organically evolved landscape

The Great Wall of China is one of the most iconic structures in the world. Built over 2,000 years ago, it stretches for over 13,000 miles across the countryside.

For centuries, it served as a barrier to protect China from invaders. Today, it is a popular tourist destination and a symbol of China’s rich history and culture.

The Great Wall is also significant for its architectural ingenuity. Its unique design – featuring watchtowers, battlemented, walls and staircases – is a testament to the skill of ancient Chinese builders.

In 2007, the Great Wall was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This recognition not only highlights its cultural importance but also underscores the need to protect this unique structure stretching across the Chinese landscape for future generations.

3. Machu Picchu (Peru)

Type: Organically evolved landscape

Machu Picchu is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, and it has a long history of cultural significance. The site was built by the Inca civilization in the 15th century, and it served as a royal estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti.

After the fall of the Inca Empire, Machu Picchu was abandoned and forgotten until it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911.

Today, Machu Picchu is a major tourist destination, and it is also an important symbol of Inca culture. The site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it continues to be a place of pilgrimage for many Andean people.

4. The Grand Canyon (United States of America)

Type: Associative cultural landscape

The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic natural landmarks in the United States. Carved over millions of years by the Colorado River, the canyon is a stunning display of geologic history.

It is also an important cultural site for many Native American tribes.

The canyon is home to a number of sacred places, including burial grounds and sites of religious ceremonies. For centuries, the tribes that have lived in or near the canyon have held it in high esteem, regarding it as a place of great power and mystery.

In recent years, the Grand Canyon has also become a popular tourist destination. Tourists can hike, camp, raft and otherwise explore the canyon’s vast expanse.

5. Stonehenge (Wiltshire, England)

Type: Organically evolved landscape

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England. Dating back to the Neolithic period, it is composed of rings of standing stones, each weighing several tons.

The purpose of Stonehenge is unclear, but it is believed to have been used for ceremonial or religious purposes.

Today, Stonehenge is a popular tourist destination and a symbol of British heritage. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the Wonders of the World.

Though its exact origins remain shrouded in mystery, Stonehenge continues to capture the imaginations of people all over the world.

6. The Taj Mahal (Agra, India)

Type: Clearly defined landscape

The Taj Mahal is more than just a tomb. It is an expression of love, artistry, and religious devotion.

Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is one of the most iconic buildings in the world. Its white marble exterior and intricate Islamic calligraphy make it a truly unique work of art.

But the Taj Mahal is also a powerful symbol of love and loss. For centuries, it has been seen as a monument to the ultimate sacrifice a man can make for his wife.

As such, it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, drawing visitors from all over the world.

7. The Easter Island Statues (Chile)

Type: Organically evolved landscape

The Easter Island statues, also known as Moai, have intrigued people for years. These monolithic sculptures are some of the most recognizable symbols of Easter Island. But what the cultural significance of these statues is not entirely cleary. 

The first theory is that they were created to honor deceased ancestors of the Rapa Nui. These indigenous people believed that the dead had a powerful mana, or spiritual energy.

By erecting statues in their honor, they could harness this energy and use it to protect their crops and ensure a good harvest. 

Another theory suggests that the statues were meant to symbolize power and prestige. The Easter Island inhabitants were fiercely competitive, and commissioning a statue was a way for ruling chiefs to show their wealth and status. 

8. The Giza Pyramids (Egypt)

Type: Associative cultural landscape

The Giza Pyramids are some of the most iconic structures in the world, and they have been the subject of numerous studies by archaeologists and historians.

These massive structures were built over 4,500 years ago, during the reign of the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt. It is generally believed that they were used as tombs for Pharaohs and their consorts. The Giza Pyramids are also considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and they continue to be a popular tourist destination today.

In addition to their historical significance, the Giza Pyramids also hold a great deal of cultural significance for the people of Egypt. They are seen as a symbol of the power and greatness of the Pharaohs, and they are revered as a sacred site.

9. The Great Mosque of Djenne (Mali)

Type: Clearly defined landscape

The Great Mosque of Djenne is the largest mud brick building in the world and a masterpiece of Sudanese architecture. Built in the 13th century, it is an important symbol of Islamic culture and a popular tourist destination.

The mosque’s towering minarets, graceful arches, and intricate details are evidence of the skill of its builders. It is also a testament to the strength of mud brick construction; despite being hundreds of years old, the mosque is still in use today.

For many visitors, the Great Mosque of Djenne is a reminder of the beauty and power of Islamic art and architecture. For Muslims, it is a place of worship and prayer, a sacred space where they can connect with God.

10. The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Italy)

Type: Clearly defined landscape

The leaning tower of Pisa is one of the most iconic structures in the world. For centuries, it has been a symbol of Italian culture and a source of national pride.

Today, it is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy.

Every year, millions of people from all over the world flock to see the tower, which leans at an angle of nearly four degrees due to its foundation being built on soft ground.

The tower has been carefully preserved and monitored over the years, and its lean has actually been slightly reduced in recent years. Despite this, it remains one of the most fascinating man-made towers that sits on a heritage landscape.

11. Angkor Wat (Cambodia)

Type: Clearly defined landscape

Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia and one of the largest religious monuments in the world.

Built in the 12th century, it was originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. However, it was later converted into a Buddhist temple, and it remains an important site of pilgrimage for Buddhists today.

Angkor Wat is also significant for its incredible size and scale. Spanning more than 162 acres, it is one of the largest religious complexes in the world.

Additionally, its intricate carvings and detailed stonework are without equal. As a result, Angkor Wat is considered to be one of the most impressive architectural achievements in human history.

12. Niagra Falls (United States and Canada)

Type: Associative cultural landscape

For centuries, Niagra Falls has been a popular destination for both Native Americans and European settlers. The falls were originally known as “Thundering Waters” by the Iroquois tribe, and they held the falls in high regard as a sacred site.

In 1678, Father Louis Hennepin became the first European to see the falls, and his description of them as “the most wonderful thing in nature” helped to increase their popularity as a tourist destination.

Today, Niagra Falls is one of the most visited natural attractions in North America, and its beauty continues to inspire wonder and awe. The falls also play an important role in the regional economy, attracting millions of tourists each year and supporting countless businesses.

13. The Acropolis of Athens (Greece)

Type: Organically evolved landscape

The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a hill in the city of Athens. The Acropolis includes the remains of several ancient buildings, most notably the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Erechtheion.

The Acropolis was originally built as a fortress to protect the city of Athens from invaders. However, over time, it became a symbol of Greek culture and civilization. The Acropolis was home to some of the most important temples and monuments of Ancient Greece.

Today, the Acropolis is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

14. The Lake District (England)

Type: Organically evolved landscape

The Lake District is a National Park in North West England. Covering an area of 885 square miles, the park is the largest of the thirteen National Parks in England and Wales.

It is also the second-largest protected landscape in the United Kingdom after the Cairngorms National Park. The area was designated a National Park in 1951, and it is now also a World Heritage Site.

The park is home to 12 main lakes, as well as numerous tarns, rivers, and waterfalls. The total length of coastline within the park is approximately 71 miles. The highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, is located within the park boundaries.

The Lake District has been a popular tourist destination for over 200 years, and it continues to be one of the most popular areas in the country for outdoor activities such as walking, climbing, and kayaking.

The area is also popular with photographers and painters due to its scenic beauty. The region was an important source of inspiration for the Romantic poets of the 18th and 19th centuries, including William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

15. The Lavaux Vineyards (Switzerland)

Type: Organically evolved landscape

The Lavaux Vineyards are a treasured cultural heritage site in Switzerland that is known for its stunning views and unique terraced vineyards.

The vineyards are located on the slopes of Lake Geneva and date back to the 11th century. They were originally planted by monks as a way to produce wines for religious ceremonies.

Today, the Lavaux Vineyards are a popular tourist destination and produce some of Switzerland’s finest wines.

The terraced vineyards are a sight to behold, and the wines produced here are renowned for their quality. They offer a unique glimpse into Switzerland’s rich history and culture, making them an essential stop for any traveler to the country.


Cultural landscapes can be found all over the world, and they often reflect the local culture and values of the people who live there. In many cases, cultural landscapes are also important historical sites, providing insight into the way different cultures have lived and changed over time.

As a result, it’s important for societies worldwide to protect and preserve cultural landscapes that reveal important information about culture and tradition. For example, Aboriginal groups have banned hiking up Uluru in order to preserve the giant rock which has special relevance to Aboriginal culture.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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