Avebury is second only to a site in Mexico in being the best heritage site in the world for visitors, according to a new report.
A panel of experts placed Wiltshire’s UNESCO World Heritage Site just behind Monte Alban in Mexico for visitor experience, outscoring famous sites such as Peru’s Machu Picchu, Egypt’s Pyramids and the Taj Mahal.
The heritage sites were judged on 25 criteria including visitor experience, the presentation and preservation of the site, the ability to learn from and engage with the site and the holiday appeal of the surrounding region.
Stuart Wheeler, cabinet member for heritage at Wiltshire Council, said the impressive monuments and the unique beauty of the stones and the surrounding landscape attracted more than 250,000 visitors each year.
“We have always known we have a wonderful piece of history on our doorstep and now we have official confirmation. Being placed second only to Mexico in providing visitors with the best heritage site experience in the world is a wonderful accolade.
“We work closely with our partners and all those who have an interest in this beautiful and historically significant rural site to ensure it is preserved and protected for many generations to come.”
Avebury is featured in the recent Which? Travel Magazine which refers to it as the “best-preserved and most impressive complex of prehistoric sites in Europe.” The report states a key attraction is the “quiet, bucolic setting, the lack of crowds and the ability to wander freely.”
Wiltshire Council provides funding for the Avebury World Heritage Site officer who works closely with partners to plan and coordinate the delivery of the management plan for this 25 square kilometre site. There are regular meetings with key players including the National Trust, English Heritage, Natural England, Visit Wiltshire, the local community, farmers and landowners.
Partners are currently working on the update of the World Heritage Site Management plan which provides a framework for the protection and presentation of this outstanding and well- loved Wiltshire and worldwide asset.
Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust archaeologist for the World Heritage Site, said: "The National Trust owns, manages and cares for over 1,600 acres of the Avebury landscape including the Stone Circle and many of its other iconic monuments. Our dedicated team of staff and volunteers work year round to ensure that it remains a source of inspiration and delight. So it’s wonderful to see that the very special qualities of Avebury have been recognised in this way."