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Mexico's World Heritage Sites

Explore photos of Mexico's most historical destinations




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HISTORICAL HERITAGE SITES

Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque (1987)

Palenque

A prime example of a Mayan sanctuary of the classical period, Palenque was at its height between AD 500 and 700, when its influence extended throughout the basin of the Usumacinta River. The elegance and craftsmanship of the buildings, as well as the lightness of the sculpted reliefs with their Mayan mythological themes, attest to the creative genius of this civilization.


Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan (1987)

Teotihuacan

The holy city of Teotihuacan ('the place where the gods were created') is situated some 50 km north-east of Mexico City. Built between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D., it is characterized by the vast size of its monuments – in particular, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, laid out on geometric and symbolic principles. As one of the most powerful cultural centres in Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan extended its cultural and artistic influence throu ghout the region, and even beyond.


Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza (1988)

Chichen-Itza

This sacred site was one of the greatest Mayan centres of the Yucatán peninsula. Throughout its nearly 1,000-year history, different peoples have left their mark on the city. The Maya and Toltec vision of the world and the universe is revealed in their stone monuments and artistic works. The fusion of Mayan construction techniques with new elements from central Mexico make Chichen-Itza one of the most important examples of the Mayan-Toltec civilization in Yucatán. Several buildings have survived, such as the Warriors' Temple, El Castillo and the circular observatory known as El Caracol.


El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City (1992)

El Tajin

Located in the state of Veracruz, El Tajin was at its height from the early 9th to the early 13th century. It became the most important centre in north-east Mesoamerica after the fall of the Teotihuacan Empire. 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 frieze. The 'Pyramid of the Niches', a masterpiece of ancient Mexican and American architecture, reveals the astronomical and symbolic significance of the buildings. El Tajin has survived as an outstanding example of the grandeur and importance of the pre-Hispanic cultures of Mexico.


Rock Paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco (1993)

Rock Paintings

From c. 100 B.C. to A.D. 1300, the Sierra de San Francisco (in the El Vizcaino reserve, in Baja California) was home to a people who have now disappeared but who left one of the most outstanding collections of rock paintings in the world. They are remarkably well-preserved because of the dry climate and the inaccessibility of the site. Showing human figures and many animal species and illustrating the relationship between humans and their environment, the paintings reveal a highly sophisticated culture. Their composition and size, as well as the precision of the outlines and the variety of colours, but especially the number of sites, make this an impressive testimony to a unique artistic tradition.


Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal (1996)

Uxmal

The Mayan town of Uxmal, in Yucatán, was founded c. A.D. 700 and had some 25,000 inhabitants. The layout of the buildings, which date from between 700 and 1000, reveals a knowledge of astronomy. The Pyramid of the Soothsayer, as the Spaniards called it, dominates the ceremonial centre, which has well-designed buildings decorated with a profusion of symbolic motifs and sculptures depicting Chaac, the god of rain. The ceremonial sites of Uxmal, Kabah, Labna and Sayil are considered the high points of Mayan art and architecture.








Archeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes (1998)

Paquime

Paquimé, Casas Grandes, which reached its apogee in the 14th and 15th centuries, played a key role in trade and cultural contacts between the Pueblo culture of the south-western United States and northern Mexico and the more advanced civilizations of Mesoamerica. The extensive remains, only part of which have been excavated, are clear evidence of the vitality of a culture which was perfectly adapted to its physical and economic environment, but which suddenly vanished at the time of the Spanish Conquest.


Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco (1999)

Xochicalco

Xochicalco is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a fortified political, religious and commercial centre from the troubled period of 650–900 that followed the break-up of the great Mesoamerican states such as Teotihuacan, Monte Albán, Palenque and Tikal.




Ancient Maya City of Calakmul, Campeche (2002)

Campeche

Calakmul, an important Maya site set deep in the tropical forest of the Tierras Bajas of southern Mexico, played a key role in the history of this region for more than twelve centuries. Its imposing structures and its characteristic overall layout are remarkably well preserved and give a vivid picture of life in an ancient Maya capital.


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