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The Historic Fortified Town of Campeche retains many of the old colonial Spanish city walls and fortifications which protected the city (not always successfully) from pirates and buccaneers.

Campeche was founded in 1540 by Spanish conquistadores as San Francisco de Campeche atop the pre-existing Maya city of Canpech or Kimpech. Originally, the Spaniards lived inside the walled city, while the natives lived in the surrounding barrios of San Francisco, Guadalupe and San Román. These barrios still retain their original churches.

Visit January 2014

Campeche isn’t much more than a pretty face, polished up for tourism. Together with Queretaro that I visited earlier this trip, I would nominate it rightaway for deletion from the list. Already when reading the AB evaluation and the meagre nomination document, it becomes clear that this is a site among many – one of 2 preserved fortified Spanish ports in Mexico, and well then there’s Havana and Coro and San Juan and Portobelo and….

The historical area occupies only a small part of the modern city of Campeche. I had some trouble finding it, including my hotel which was located in the core zone (but had parking on site!). When you’re near you’ll be driving through narrow streets where a steady row of cars tries to get through and another row is parked by one side of the road. Driving in circles is made more pleasurable here by the pastel colours of the buildings that lighten up in the sunshine. Also noteworthy is how low some streets lie, and how high the pavements are. It’s like driving through a gutter.

I spent an afternoon, night and early morning in Campeche. I walked around town twice. The city “feels” very Cuban, although a more capitalist version as each and everyone of these pink/orange/baby blue houses is now occupied by either a shoe shop or a clothing store. And everyone has to get everywhere by car, it's not relaxed being a pedestrian. In an hour or so you’ve seen it all and walked along the city wall plus each of the forts which are no match for the formidable ones around Havana.


Frederik Dawson (Netherlands):
Campeche was the first true World Heritage Site listed Spanish colonial town I have seen in Mexico and in my life, as the result, I really had a good time in Campeche for its colourful houses and interesting designed churches. From early morning I drove from Chichen Itza and arrived to Campeche around 11 AM, the city of Campeche was really quiet and laid back, hard to believe its status of state capital city. I parked my car in the car park in front of the town wall. The wall was not impressive or beautiful, so I was a bit disappointed. But when I entered into the inner town, countless rows of colourful houses were pretty lovely to see.

I really liked that no next buildings painted in the same colours, so the whole town was like a candy town with door and window portals painted in white likes icing cake. Most of the buildings have only one floor, so Campeche was quite less urban. I tried to see the interior of some building, but most of them were really plain with no decoration at all. I walked around the town and really admitted that this town even it was really photogenic, there was nothing much to see actually. A lot of cars also parked along the streets, sometimes good for photo, but most of the time ruined the view. Then I went to the town main square, the cathedral was under renovation and closed. Then I decided to have lunch and went to try Pan de Cazón, a local specialty of tortilla and minced shark meat at lovely Marganzo Restaurant.

I finished my time in Campeche by drinking Hochata de coco and a glass of margarita before continued my trip to Uxmal. In my opinion Campeche is a lovely place to see for couple of hours, the town do not have any architectural wonder or masterpiece to be a highlight of my visit. But the town has its own charm especially for its colourful buildings. I wondered if I have seen more Spanish colonial towns before, my idea on this town maybe different, but since Campeche is my first experience on this kind of style, this town will always have a special place in my memory.
Date posted: November 2014

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Site info

Historic Fortified Town of Campeche
Country: Mexico
Inscribed: 1999
Cultural Heritage
Criteria:  (2) (4)
Category: Urban landscape, Colonial

Site history:
1999 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription

Site links

Official website:
»Patrimonio Histrico y Cultural

In the news:
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Related links:
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Related Forum posts:
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Getting there

This WHS has 1 location(s).


Lighthouses . Prison . Theatres .
Gulf of Mexico .
Human Activity
Botanical Gardens . Piracy . Sea Ports .
Religion and Belief
Cathedrals .
Built in the 17th century .
Built or owned by Spanish .

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