Mexico’s Top 10 UNESCO Sites

In Culture by

by Morgan Bogs

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is an organization that selects areas and landmarks as having great significance in culture and history. Mexico being a country populated with 35 world heritage sites with rich culture and historical value. These sites are protected and intended to educate visitors from all over about the history of natural and man-made creations. Immersing yourself into another country’s culture and history can greatly enrich your vacation experience. Here we list out our top 10 UNESCO sites that you should consider visiting during your next Mexico getaway. 

El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City

El Tajin is a site with great significance for Mesoamerican archaeology and is one of the best-preserved examples of a pre-Hispanic town from the Epiclassic and early Post Classic period. Roughly between 800 and 1200 AD, El Tajin was a large and significant city. The city was abandoned and submerged in the lush jungle before being rediscovered. The architecture is characterized by astonishing step pyramids. This archeological site in the northern part of Veracruz is known for its production of vanilla and other products, yet has a mysterious upbringing. 

Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila

The Agave region in the Valles Region of the state of Jalisco is one of the most important cultural landscapes in Mexico. Not only for the offerings of the land, but for the long-lasting tradition of tequila. The landscape includes fields and factories that bring the people of Mexico closer to the natural land. It is more than just the production of delicious tequila, but how the land has provided for families for hundreds of years. Just north of Amatitán, Jalisco, tours of the fields and distillation process are a must the next time you are visiting this area.

Historic Fortified Town of Campeche

Campeche is an example of a harbor town from the Spanish colonial period in the New World. The fortifications system of the town is an eminent example of the military architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was an important seaport at the time and was designed to defend against attacks from the sea. When visiting the town, you will see walkways with high stone barricades and multi-colored homes. More than 1,000 structures of the original architecture are still standing today.  

Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines

Founded by the Spanish in the early 16th century, Guanajuato became the world’s leading silver-extraction center around the 18th century. The town sits inside surrounding mountains and includes some of the most breathtaking church architecture in Central and South America. The town is full of tunnels, haciendas and mining facilities that reflect the excellent modifications of a man-made city. 

El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve 

Located in the Sonoran Desert about 40 minutes from the city of Puerto Penasco and the Sea of Cortez, the biosphere reserve is a relatively undisturbed protected area. To the east is a volcanic area with extensive black and red lava flows and desert pavement, accompanied with enormous steam blast craters. To the west is North America’s largest field of active sand dunes. Set up a tour and explore this desert oasis. 

Ancient Maya City and Protected Tropical Forests of Calakmul, Campeche

The site is in the central/south portion of the Yucatan Peninsula and includes the remains of the important Maya City Calakmul. The property is covered in lush tropical forests and was once the heartland where Maya civilization reached its climax. Being in the core of the second largest expanse of tropical forests in America, the area represents adaptation and management of the natural environment. What is left is the remains of the Mayan architecture and abundance of wildlife. 

Sian Ka’an

Sian Ka’an is a biosphere reserve in the municipality of Tulum in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It includes a mixture of cultural and natural wonders from the Mayan pyramids, pristine beaches, cenotes and the Riviera Maya. The natural wonder is a pristine location for all sorts of wildlife. There are plenty of tours to choose from like diving and snorkeling, to walking around the beautiful park.

Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesus Nazareno de Atotonilco

San Miguel de Allende is an early example of a rational territorial and urban development in the Americas, related to the protection of one of the main Spanish inland roads. The Sanctuary of Atotonilco is a remarkable architectural complex that illustrates a specific response, inspired by the doctrine of Saint Ignacio de Loyola. The town ultimately flourished in the 18th century and exhibits the evolution of trends and styles. The enchanting town is full of history and breathtaking architecture, and needs to be on your bucketlist.

Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco

Built in the 16th century by the Spanish on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the old Aztec capital, Mexico City is now one of the world’s largest and most densely populated cities. The city still holds thousands of buildings with historical significance, and some were built as early as the 16th century. Zocalo or the main plaza, is the largest plaza in Latin America. In southern Mexico City, a gritty neighborhood gives way to the famous canals of Xochimilco, the last remnants of a vast water transport system built by the Aztecs. Colorful boats take visitors on cruises while food vendors, artisans and mariachi bands float past.

Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan is a vast Mexican archaeological complex northeast of Mexico City. In the center is the Citadel, which can hold up to 100,000 people. What surrounds this is several pyramids with specific importance. Artifacts and ancient rituals were discover here by scientists, and most can be seen at a museum in the city. The abandoned city is open to the public and reveals the artistic wealth and urban design of the ancient inhabitants.

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Feature photo: Jeison Higuita on Unsplash

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