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UNESCO World Heritage Photo Essay: the University of Virginia

Designed and established by Thomas Jefferson as a retirement project, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville is one of the architectural highlights on the East Coast of the United States.

Always bustling with students coming from and going to classes, UVA—as it is also called—is a lively place.

Together with Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, it has been designated World Heritage by UNESCO. It is one of only three man-made World Heritage Sites in the eastern United States. Knowing that the other two are the Statue of Liberty in New York City and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, you have a pretty good idea about how significant this university actually is.

Jefferson founded it in 1819 according to his principles of “useful science”, making it one of the world’s first non-sectarian (read: non-religious) universities. The star attraction at the University of Virginia is the so-called Academical Village. It has the striking Rotunda as its centerpiece while iconic column-lined student rooms and ten architecturally different pavilions line the lawn.

The University of Virginia is enormous, but visitors should just focus on the Academical Village. You can walk around this impressive area in about two hours and get a pretty good overview of the architecture at, the history of and the groundbreaking ideas behind this iconic American university.

Living in Charlottesville myself, a 30-minute walk from the University of Virginia, I’ve spent many an afternoon and evening strolling and photographing the university’s grounds. In this post, I’d like to give you an impression of what this UNESCO World Heritage-listed university looks like and share with you guys my favorite University of Virginia photos.

20 Beautiful University of Virginia Photos

Golden sunset over the Academical Village
Golden sunset over the Academical Village
Spring blooms at UVA
Spring blooms at UVA
The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville
The Rotunda at the University of Virginia
University of Virginia pavilion and gardens
All ten pavilion are backed by their own gardens, which are open to both students and visitors
Sunset over the Academical Village at the University of Virginia
Sunset over the Academical Village at the University of Virginia
Pavilion at UVA seen from the gardens
Pavilion at UVA seen from the gardens
Edgar Allen Poe's room at the University of Virginia
Edgar Allen Poe’s room at the Range
University of Virginia columns
Rows of column flank both sides of the Academical Village’s lawn
Pavilion at the University of Virginia
Pavilion at the University of Virginia
Gate at the UVA gardens
Small gates like this offer entry into the gardens, which are all enclosed by the Serpentine Walls
The Amphitheater at UVA is a popular event venue
The Amphitheater at UVA is a popular event venue
The Rotunda at UVA at night
The Rotunda at UVA at night
University of Virginia gardens
The University of Virginia gardens are a wonderful place to read and reflect
University of Virginia pavilion
There are ten Pavilions in the Academical Village, all featuring a different architectural style
The Dell at UVA
The Dell at UVA is another nice spot for an evening stroll
Spring at the University of Virginia
Spring is a time of abundant flowers at the University of Virginia
Late afternoon at The Rotunda, University of Virginia photos
Late afternoon at The Rotunda
Serpentine Walls at the University of Virginia gardens
Serpentine Walls surround the University of Virginia gardens
University of Virginia Chapel
University of Virginia Chapel
Nightfall at UVA's Academical Village
Nightfall at UVA’s Academical Village

Several of these University of Virginia photos are available for purchase in my photography portfolio. There are also a bunch of other Virginia photos in that particular gallery. So, make sure to pay a visit if you’re interested.

Have you ever been to the University of Virginia? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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