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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.


Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
I reached Campeche for the second time in May 2012.
During my first time, back in 1984, I only spent the night in that city but apart from the cathedral I did not see anything else, or atg least I do not remember anything else.
During this second journey I spent two days and had also time to visit the nearby Maya ruins of Edzna.
I walked a whole day in Campeche. My hotel was an old monastery close to the cathedral.
The houses were painted in sparkling colors. Most of them were ground floor buildings.
In downtown I saw a UNESCO sign indicating that I was in front of the Aduana Maritima (Maritime Customs Building). The walls around the city are very well preserved, as well as the gates.
Not far from Campeche, on the beach, there were several nice cafeterias by the beach offering seafood and tequila.
From Campeche, two days later, I continued my journey by bus until Cancun, from where I flew back to Barcelona, in my dear Spain.
Date posted: July 2013

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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 Histórico y Cultural

In the news:
Not available

Related links:
Not available

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 .

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