The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) maintains a list of cultural and natural sites that are considered to be of outstanding universal value to humanity. Sites included on the list are under protection and preservation so that they may be enjoyed by the global community for years to come. Mexico has 27 cultural sites and 5 natural sites that are included on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites.
El Pinacate y Gran Desierto del Altar Biosphere ReserveThis extensive Biosphere Reserve in the state of Sonora covers over 4,400 square miles. It is comprised of two distinct areas, a volcanic system of which El Pinacate, a large dormant volcano forms a part, and the Great Altar Desert which has sand dunes reaching over 650 feet in height. The area has great biodiversity; it is home to over 1000 different species of plants and animals.
Camino Real de Tierra AdentroThe Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (the "Royal Inland Road") stretches along 1600 miles, and encompasses 55 sites, as well as five existing World Heritage sites. This road, which was used to transport silver extracted from the mines of Zacatecas, Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí, was actively used as a trade route for over 300 years, from the mid-16th to the 19th Century.
Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla in the Central Valley of Oaxaca
© Suzanne Barbezat
Lying on the northern slopes of Oaxaca's eastern valley (Tlacolula valley), this site consists of two Prehispanic archaeological complexes and a series of pre-historic caves and rock shelters, which offer evidence of the transition of nomadic hunter-gathers to early farmers. Corn cob fragments from one cave in this zone are believed to be the earliest documented evidence for the domestication of maize, and ten thousand-year-old seeds found here are considered the earliest known evidence of domesticated plants on the continent.
Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila
Photo courtesy Gobierno Municipal de Tequila
Located in the state of Jalisco
, the tequila producing region encloses a landscape of blue agave fields and four urban settlements, including the town of Tequila, within which are several large distilleries where the agave is fermented and distilled. Agave culture is seen as part of Mexican national identity. The town of Tequila can easily be visited on a day trip from Guadalajara
Ancient Maya City of Calakmul, Campeche
The ancient Maya site of Calakmul, in the state of Campeche, is located deep in the tropical forest. The imposing structures of this ancient city and its overall layout, characteristic of Maya cities, are remarkably well preserved and give a vivid picture of life in an ancient Maya capital. The commemorative stelae at Calakmul are outstanding examples of Maya art, and throw light on the political and spiritual development of the city. Read more about Calakmul
, the Maya civilization
, and other Maya archaeological sites
Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco
Located in the state of Morelos, the archaeological site of Xochicalco dates to 650–900 A.D., the period following the dissolution of the great urban centers associated with Mesoamerica's Classic period, Teotihuacan
, Monte Alban
and Palenque. This site is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a fortified political, religious and commercial centre from this period.
Archeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes
Sexto Sol/Getty Images
The archaeological site of Paquimé (also known as Casas Grandes) is located in northern Mexico, in the state of Chihuahua
. This site provides exceptional evidence of the development of adobe architecture in North America. Paquimé played a key role in trade and cultural contacts between the Pueblo culture of the south-western United States and northern Mexico, and the civilizations of Mesoamerica
. Read more about Paquimé
Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
The campus of Mexico's National Autonomous University (UNAM) in Mexico City
is an example of 20th-century modernism integrating urbanism, architecture, engineering, landscape design and fine arts with references to local traditions, especially to Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past. The campus is the result of the collective work of over sixty architects, engineers and artists who worked together to create the spaces and facilities, which were built between 1949 and 1952.
Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl
Fourteen monasteries, which are located on the slopes of the Popocatepetl volcano southeast of Mexico City in the states of Morelos and Puebla, are in an excellent state of conservation and are good examples of the architectural style adopted by the first missionaries (Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians) who converted the indigenous populations to Christianity in the early 16th century.
El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City
Inhabited between 800 and 1200 A.D., the Pre-Hispanic city of El Tajin
is located in the state of Veracruz. After the fall of Teotihuacan
, it became the most important centre in north-east Mesoamerica. Its cultural influence extended all along the Gulf and penetrated into the Maya region and the high plateaux of central Mexico. Its architecture, which is unique in Mesoamerica
, is characterized by elaborate carved reliefs on the columns and friezes.