Latin American UNESCO Sites

Latin American UNESCO Sites
UNESCO? What does that stand for you ask? And what does Hispanic Culture have to do with that? A lot! Stay with me as I reveal some of the worlds most treasured and historic areas, revered and protected, hailed and celebrated through the acknowledgement of being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our heritage, Hispanic Culture, is our story, the story of our ancestors and the roots of which we are, and we pass this on to those who come after us, our children. UNESCO stands for United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and their objective is to preserve the cultural and natural heritage as they are viewed “as both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration” not only to those who are descendants of that area but the world over.

Through the convention, they seek to “encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.” There was an international treaty drawn up called the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was adopted in 1972.

According to UNESCO, their mission can be simply stated as encouraging States Parties to sign the convention and participate by nominating sites for inclusion in the list as well as participation in the preservation of their local culture. UNESCO in turn offers various means of assistance to the individual States Parties to assist in this venture ranging from technical assistance to emergency assistance.

In Latin America the list is quite extensive and offers some of the most breath taking and inspiring glimpses into the history of the New World as it was in Pre-Columbus times, and a keen insight into the treasures we as Hispanics have to offer from our cultural coffers.


• Los Glaciares (1981) #
• Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis: San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Santa Maria Mayor (Argentina), Ruins of Sao Miguel das Missoes (Brazil) (1983, 1984) *
• Iguazu National Park (1984)
• Cueva de las Manos, Río Pinturas (1999)
• Península Valdés (1999)
• Ischigualasto / Talampaya Natural Parks (2000)
• Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba (2000)
• Quebrada de Humahuaca (2003)


• City of Potosí (1987)
• Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos (1990)
• Historic City of Sucre (1991)
• Fuerte de Samaipata (1998)
• Noel Kempff Mercado National Park (2000)
• Tiwanaku: Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture (2000)


• Rapa Nui National Park (1995)
• Churches of Chiloé (2000)
• Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaíso (2003)
• Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (2005)
• Sewell Mining Town (2006)


• Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena (1984)
• Los Katíos National Park (1994)
• Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox (1995)
• National Archeological Park of Tierradentro (1995)
• San Agustín Archeological Park (1995)
• Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary (2006)

Costa Rica

• Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park (1983, 1990) *
• Cocos Island National Park (1997, 2002)
• Area de Conservación Guanacaste (1999, 2004)


• Old Havana and its Fortifications (1982)
• Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios (1988)
• San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba (1997)
• Desembarco del Granma National Park (1999)
• Viñales Valley (1999)
• Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba (2000)
• Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (2001)
• Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos (2005)

Dominican Republic

• Colonial City of Santo Domingo (1990)


• Galápagos Islands (1978, 2001)
• City of Quito (1978)
• Sangay National Park (1983) #
• Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca (1999)

El Salvador

• Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site (1993)


• Antigua Guatemala (1979)
• Tikal National Park (1979)
• Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua (1981)


• Maya Site of Copan (1980)
• Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (1982)


• Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco (1987)
• Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán (1987)
• Historic Centre of Puebla (1987)
• Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque (1987)
• Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan (1987)
• Sian Ka'an (1987)
• Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines (1988)
• Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza (1988)
• Historic Centre of Morelia (1991)
• El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City (1992)
• Historic Centre of Zacatecas (1993)
• Rock Paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco (1993)
• Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino (1993)
• Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl (1994)
• Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro (1996)
• Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal (1996)
• Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara (1997)
• Archeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes (1998)
• Historic Monuments Zone of Tlacotalpan (1998)
• Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco (1999)
• Historic Fortified Town of Campeche (1999)
• Ancient Maya City of Calakmul, Campeche (2002)
• Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro (2003)
• Luis Barragán House and Studio (2004)
• Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (2005, 2007)
• Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila (2006)
• Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (2007)


• Ruins of León Viejo (2000)


• Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (1980)
• Darien National Park (1981)
• Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park (1983, 1990)
• Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá (1997, 2003)
• Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection (2005)


• Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue (1993)


• City of Cuzco (1983)
• Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (1983)
• Chavin (Archaeological Site) (1985)
• Huascarán National Park (1985) #
• Chan Chan Archaeological Zone (1986)
• Manú National Park (1987)
• Historic Centre of Lima (1988, 1991) 18
• Río Abiseo National Park (1990, 1992)
• Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana (1994)
• Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa (2000)

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

• Coro and its Port (1993)
• Canaima National Park (1994)
• Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas (2000)

Aside from the Latin American Sites, another part of our cultural heritage is found in Spain and to some of our countries, parts of Africa as well. Here are the sites found in Spain.


• Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada (1984, 1994) 21
• Burgos Cathedral (1984)
• Historic Centre of Cordoba (1984, 1994) 22
• Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid (1984)
• Works of Antoni Gaudí (1984, 2005) 23
• Altamira Cave (1985)
• Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias (1985, 1998) 24
• Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches (1985, 2007)
• Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct (1985)
• Santiago de Compostela (Old Town) (1985)
• Garajonay National Park (1986)
• Historic City of Toledo (1986)
• Mudejar Architecture of Aragon (1986, 2001) 25
• Old Town of Cáceres (1986)
• Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville (1987)
• Old City of Salamanca (1988)
• Poblet Monastery (1991)
• Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (1993)
• Route of Santiago de Compostela (1993)
• Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe (1993)
• Doñana National Park (1994, 2005)
• Historic Walled Town of Cuenca (1996)
• La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia (1996)
• Las Médulas (1997)
• Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona (1997)
• Pyrénées - Mont Perdu (1997, 1999) *
• San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries (1997)
• Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula (1998)
• University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares (1998)
• Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture (1999)
• San Cristóbal de La Laguna (1999)
• Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco (2000)
• Archaeological Site of Atapuerca (2000)
• Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí (2000)
• Palmeral of Elche (2000)
• Roman Walls of Lugo (2000)
• Aranjuez Cultural Landscape (2001)
• Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza (2003)
• Vizcaya Bridge (2006)
• Teide National Park (2007)

For finding the sites of African Heritage, depending of course on where your family’s roots or regional roots are from, you can easily find these sites through either contacting the UNESCO or by going to their website for further research.

Learning about what makes these sites so special is all a part of learning what our cultural as well as individual heritage is. Finding that the world treasures a part of your heritage is both affirming and positive and one of the best things to pass on to the future generations, the appreciation of our past which has created the wonderful culture that we all share and love, Hispanic Culture.

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