Mexico is a country in the continent of North America and is renowned for its vibrant culture, historic sites, gorgeous beaches, and delectable cuisine. Mexico is noted for its blend of indigenous and European, modern and traditional, urban and rural, and this has helped to shape the wonderful culture of the nation which is reflected in every sphere of the existence of this country, from food to art and from place names to architecture.
UNESCO recognizes and preserves World Heritage sites based on their significance to culture, history, or science. Mexico has been ranked first in the Americas and seventh in the world with 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Here are 10 Mexican UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
1.Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza
Listed year: 1988
The biggest pre-Columbian Mayan metropolis in the Yucatán Peninsula was Chichén Itzá. Grand pyramids, holy temples, and ceremonial cenotes abound in the old metropolis. The El Castillo step pyramid, sometimes referred to as the Temple of Kukulkan, serves as its focal point. The Mayan serpent god who snakes down’ the temple’s stone stairway at dusk on the spring or autumn equinoxes is the subject of this temple’s devotion. The stunning snake heads at the base make the shadow play even better. Stone monuments and artistic creations of the Maya and Toltec cultures reflect their understanding of the earth and the cosmos. Chichen-Itza is one of the most significant instances of the Mayan-Toltec civilisation in Yucatán due to the blending of Mayan construction methods with fresh components from central Mexico.
2. El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City
Listed year: 1992
El Tajin, a city in the state of Veracruz, had its zenith between the early 9th and the early 13th century. It is a Mesoamerican city ruin with massive monuments and stone pyramids dotting a verdant valley. The 18-meter-tall Pyramid of the Niches, which has seven layers of tiny window-like niches, is the most notable of them all (hence its name). There are 365 niches altogether, which corresponds to the number of days in the solar calendar. El Tajin has endured as a magnificent illustration of the magnificence and significance of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic cultures.
3. Historic Centre of Zacatecas
Listed year: 1993
Founded in 1546 following the discovery of a large silver vein. The town, which was constructed on the high slopes of a small valley, features stunning vistas and several historic structures, both civic and religious. The town’s centre is dominated by the cathedral, which was constructed between 1730 and 1760. It is remarkable for its symmetrical layout and the abundance of Baroque façades, where both native and imported ornamental features may be found.
4. Ancient Maya City and Protected Tropical Forests of Calakmul, Campeche
Listed year: 2014
The site is located in the central/southern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula, in southern Mexico and includes the remains of the important Maya city Calakmul, set deep in the tropical forest of the Tierras Bajas. For more than twelve centuries, the city was important to the history of this area. It is known for its well-preserved monuments, which depict life in an ancient Maya metropolis. The property is also a part of Mesoamerica, the third-largest biodiversity hotspot in the world, which includes all tropical and subtropical habitats from central Mexico to the Panama Canal.
5. Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System
Listed year: 2015
This 16th-century aqueduct, which connects the states of Mexico and Hidalgo in the Central Mexican Plateau, is an illustration of the interchange of influences between traditional Mesoamerican building methods using adobe and the European heritage of Roman hydraulics. The site has an arcade with the highest single level ever constructed in an aqueduct. Padre Tembleque, a Franciscan friar, founded the project, and the nearby indigenous populations helped build it.
6. Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl
Listed year: 1994
Located in the states of Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala, this is a serial property with 15 parts, built as part of the evangelisation and colonisation of the northern territories. They exhibit the architectural style used by the earliest missionaries, Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians, who converted the native populace to Christianity in the early 16th century and remain in excellent condition. The architectural style boasts of new features like open spaces which include wide atria and posa chapels, which then later proved to be influential throughout the Mexican territory and even beyond the borders.
7. The historic centre of Morelia
Listed year: 1991
Built in the 16th century, according to a checkerboard layout, Morelia is a distinguished example of urban planning combining the ideas of the Spanish Renaissance with the Mesoamerican experience. The city has major axes and streets that run well suited to the slopes of the central hill of the valley and open up in numerous urban squares and gardens. The Historic Center of Morelia World Heritage site includes 249 monuments of prime importance, of which 21 churches and 20 civil constructions crystallize the architectural history of the city, affirming a masterly and eclectic amalgamation of the medieval spirit with Renaissance, Baroque and neoclassical elements all reflected in the characteristic pink stone, along with abundant arcades and imposing towers and azulejos covered cupolas that dominate the city.
8. The historic town of Guanajuato and adjacent mines
Listed year: 1988
Guanajuato is a municipality located in north-central Mexico, founded by the Spanish in the early 16th century and during the 18th became famous as the world’s leading silver-extraction centre. Due to the prosperity of mines, one can find fine Baroque and neoclassical buildings in the city which eventually influenced buildings throughout central Mexico. The churches of La Compania and La Valenciana are among the most beautiful examples of Baroque architecture in Central and South America. The narrow and winding streets run in the city due to the difficult terrain many of which are partially or fully underground forming a series of tunnels. The historic centre of the churches and businesses was built predominantly using pink or green sandstone.
9. Luis Barragan house and studio
Listed year: 2004
Luis Barragan house and studio, alternatively known as Casa Luis Barragan, is the architect’s former residence in Mexico City. The house is a true reflection of his architectural style – minimalism with a blend of vernacular setting and the use of colours to pull focus on the forms and spaces formed by the use of planes. The house’s main facade is aligned with the street and practically blends in with the neighbouring structures exhibiting no relation to the personality of its interiors. The architect has playfully crafted the structure with the appropriate placement of windows controlling the amount of light and framing the views along with the colourful planes and the perfect material palette. Upon his death in 1988, Casa Barragan became a museum to be enjoyed by the public and was listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in 2004.
10. Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)
Listed year: 2007
The ensemble of buildings, sports facilities and open spaces in UNAM that date back 70 years, was envisioned by more than 60 architects, engineers and artists and displays a modernist architectural style with open courtyards, secret passageways and pavilions with references to local traditions, especially to Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past. It embodies social and cultural values of universal significance and is a combination of many things: bold geometry, openness, abstraction, humanistic design, permeability with nature, decaying masonry walls, and local lava rocks used as walls and pavers throughout the campus. The geometric volumes sit perfectly in sync with the indigenous landscape, adorning the campus with a fresh sense of space and humane touch.