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Go UNESCO in Mexico

Mexico’s must-see UNESCO World Heritage sites

Sierra de San Francisco, Mexico is the UNESCO-designated home of a collection of pre-Hispanic rock paintings, dating from 1100 BC.
Home to 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Mexico is ranked sixth in the world for number of designated sites. While this makes it a fabulous vacation destination for history and culture seekers, it would obviously be a challenge to fit them all into one trip. So, until you can plan enough vacations to take them all in, here are a few of the must-see sites to start with.

Chichen Itza, Yucatan: One of Mexico’s most well-known sites, as well as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza shouldn’t be missed. Daytrips to this marvel of the Maya-Toltec civilization are easy from Cancun and the Riviera Maya, to take in highlights such as The Pyramid of Kukulcan, the Great Ballcourt and Temple of the Jaguars. Visitors may also want to spend a night in a nearby hotel, as there is much more to see at this amazing site.

Rock Paintings of Sierra de San Francisco: Though it’s not an easy site to get to, it’s worth the trip to see the stunning collection of pre-Hispanic rock art here that dates all the way back to 1100 BC. The rock paintings in Sierra de San Francisco are well preserved, featuring bright colors depicting ancient people and the animals they hunted. The Rock Paintings are located mid-peninsula, close to the border line between Baja California and Baja Sur, and about 186 miles south of Loreto (the closest international airport).

Historic Center of Puebla: There are more than 2,600 downtown colonial buildings in Puebla, ranging from 18th century mansions that now house museums to convents and churches covered in sacred art, baroque ornamentation and colored Talavera tiles. Travelers will want to tour structures such as the Cathedral Santo Domingo and Museum of No-Intervention, Fort of Loreto, but can also spend time in a variety of international shops and regional restaurants.

Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque, Chiapas: This off-the-beaten-path destination offers the Mayan ruins of the city of Palenque, surrounded by lush jungle. Visitors to the site can see excavated monumental structures including pyramids, plazas, temples, funeral crypts and observatories. Be sure to take in the Palace and Temple of Inscriptions. A visit to Palenque can be combined with a trip to Chiapas, where natural wonders such an magnificent waterfalls make it a worthwhile stop.

16th Century Monasteries of Popocatepetl: Clinging to the slopes of volcanic Popocatepetl are 14 well-preserved monasteries from the 16th century. At the height of the Franciscan, Dominican and Augustinian missionary influence in Mexico, there were more than 300 monasteries built in the region. These 14 share the same architectural style, made up of a church, atrium, courtyard and monastic quarters. This site makes a good daytrip from Mexico City,located southeast of the capital.

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