Amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South America

Internet Travel 2020-08-01 14:02:26

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South America dazzles in its cultural and natural diversity. This huge continent includes 12 sovereign states (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela), each with its own singular identity.

 The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has identified numerous South American natural man-made sites, areas, and structures and designated them World Heritage Sites, a landmark or region recognized as being of outstanding international importance.

 Click through this gallery for a definitive guide to what these are and where they're located.

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Location: Paraná
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 1986
Description: A world-renowned natural wonder, the park shares with Iguazú National Park in Argentina (same name, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, established 1984) one of the planet’s largest waterfalls. The surrounding habitats are home to many rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.3/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Quito
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1978
Description: The historic center of Quito is one of the largest, least altered and best-preserved historic centers in Latin America. The city was founded in 1534.4/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: San Juan and La Rioja Province
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 2000
Description: The unworldly appearance of the wind-eroded rock formations that texture this region, plus the fact that the parks represent the most complete fossil site of the Triassic periods (245-208 million years ago), endow the entire area with unique geological characteristics.Slideshow continues on the next slide

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Location: Arequipa
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2000
Description: Built on volcanic silla rock, the historic center of Arequipa is noted for its combination of traditional indigenous architectural styles with the new techniques of European colonial settlers, manifested in the city’s robust walls, archways, and vaults, as well as numerous courtyards.6/72 SLIDES© FShutterstock

Location: Ancash
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 1985
Description: Named after the tallest mountain in Peru (and Huascar, a 16th-century Inca emperor), the park harbors a unique biodiversity. It’s noted also for its 300 or so glacial lakes.7/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Cartagena
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1984
Description: The city’s fortress and defensive walls, constructed at the beginning of 1586, surround a historic center that mesmerizes with its ensemble of churches, convents, and a host of other colonial architecture featuring Andalusian design signatures.8/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Galápagos Province
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 1978
Description: Forever associated with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by means of natural selection, this remote archipelago is known for its large number of endemic species.9/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Paramaribo
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2001
Description: The Dutch settled here in the 17th century, and their cultural influence is apparent in the old quarter's unique street plan and traditional architectural design signatures.Slideshow continues on the next slide

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Location: Jujuy Province
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2003
Description: The site, a narrow mountain valley, was a caravan road for the Inca Empire in the 15th century. A pre-Inca fortification, Pucará de Tilcara, and the colorful Serranía de Hornocal mountain range (pictured) fall within its boundaries.11/72 SLIDES© iStock

Location: Federal District
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1987
Description: Planned by architects Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa in 1956, Brasília became the new national capital in 1960. It was chosen as a World Heritage Site due to its modernist architecture and uniquely artistic urban planning.12/72 SLIDES© iStock

Location: Cuzco
Criteria: Mixed
Year established: 1983
Description: One of the world's most recognized historic landmarks, this expansive mountain estate, established around the middle of the 15th century, is also the most familiar icon of the Inca civilization.13/72 SLIDES© Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Location: Machalí, Cachapoal Province
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2006
Description: The abandoned mining town of Sewell, located on the slopes of the Andes, once had a population of 16,000. However, its steep and remote location and the propensity for avalanches, earthquakes, and explosions eventually led to families moving out of Sewell and the town's subsequent decline. (Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY 2.0)14/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Pernambuco and Rio Grande do Norte
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 2001
Description: The site encompasses an environment essential as a feeding ground and reproduction area for numerous sealife, including endangered and threatened species.Slideshow continues on the next slide

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Location: Ingavi Province
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2000
Description: Excavation of this pre-Columbian site situated near Lake Titicara has revealed decorated ceramics, monumental structures, and megalithic blocks. Estimates date the foundation of the site at around 110 CE.16/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Morono Santiago, Chimborazo, and Tungurahua Provinces
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 1983
Description: An important refuge for rare species of the Andes, including the mountain tapir, the scenic park is equally distinguished for its two active volcanoes.17/72 SLIDES© iStock

Location: Pernambuco
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1982
Description: Among the standout buildings set within Olinda's historic center is the Convent of São Francisco, the oldest Franciscan convent in the country.18/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Santa Cruz Province
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 1981
Description: Comprising a chain of lofty peaks and pristine glacial lakes and glaciers, the park's name refers to the giant ice cap in the Andes, the largest outside of Antarctica, Greenland, and Iceland.19/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Oropeza Province, Chuquisaca Department
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1991
Description: Founded by the Spanish in 1538, Sucre's many old and classic buildings, and especially the religious structures, reflect the fusion of local and European architectural styles.20/72 SLIDES© iStock

Location: Cuzco
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1983
Description: The historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th-century Spanish conquest, Cuzco retains many buildings, plazas, streets, and churches from colonial times, and even some pre-Columbian structures.21/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso states
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 2000
Description: The Pantanal is a natural region encompassing the world's largest tropical wetland area.22/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Rio Negro Department
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2015
Description: The site encompasses the city’s Barrio Anglo, where a meat processing plant founded in 1863 and closed in 1979 stands. The well-preserved ruins of the industrial complex enclose a local history museum.23/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Minas Gerais state
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1980
Description: A major gold-producing city during the Brazilian Gold Rush, which started in the 1690s, Ouro Preto today is equally valuable for its large number of preserved Baroque churches, bridges, and fountains.24/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Potosí
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1987
Description: One of the highest cities in the world, Potosí was once the location of the Spanish colonial mint following the discovery of the New World’s largest silver reserves in the mid-16th century.25/72 SLIDES© iStock

Location: La Libertad
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1986
Description: Chan Chan served as the capital of the Chimú culture and was the largest city of the pre-Columbian era in South America. The Inca would eventually conquer the Chimú in 1470.26/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Viedma Department
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 1999
Description: The entire peninsula is an important nature reserve. Numerous marine mammals inhabit the coastline while the interior is home to an equally diverse array of land animals. The over 181 bird species recorded here include the Antarctic pigeon.27/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Tarapacá
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2005
Description: These two former saltpeter refineries located in the Atacama Desert are representative of the saltpeter (potassium nitrate) industry in northern Chile in the 19th and early 20th century.28/72 SLIDES© Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Location: Caracas
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2000
Description: Designed by Venezuelan architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva and considered a masterpiece of early 20th-century architecture and urban planning, the site includes the Grand Hall, noted for its acoustics, and a collection of famous artworks. (Photo: Wikimedia/CC0 1.0)29/72 SLIDES© Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Location: Falcón
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1993
Description: Founded in 1527, Coro is the surviving example of the fusion of Caribbean with Spanish Mudéjar (Muslim) and Dutch architecture. (Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)30/72 SLIDES© Flickr/Creative Commons

Location: Colonia
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1995
Description: The many Spanish and Portuguese colonial style buildings include the famous city gate and wooden drawbridge (pictured), as well as the early 19th-century Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento. (Photo: Flickr/CC BY 2.0)31/72 SLIDES© Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Locations: Misiones Province (Argentina), Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1983
Description: San Ignacio Mini (pictured) Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto, and Santa María Mayor in Argentina and the ruins of São Miguel das Missões in Brazil are set in a tropical forest in the land of the Guarani people. (Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY 2.0)32/72 SLIDES© Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Location: São Cristóvão
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2010
Description: Numerous early colonial-period buildings fringe this historic city square, examples of the typical Franciscan architecture of northeastern Brazil. (Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY 2.0)33/72 SLIDES© Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Location: Sipaliwini District
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 2000
Description: A pristine tropical rainforest ecosystem blessed with high biodiversity and a variety of endangered species distinguish this site. The reserve is home to Julianatop, at 4,199 ft (1,280 m) the highest mountain in the country. (Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY 2.0)

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Location: Bahia state
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1985
Description: Founded by the Portuguese in 1549 as the first capital of Brazil, the colonial old town has preserved an attractive collection of brightly colored Renaissance houses from the 16th to the 18th centuries.35/72 SLIDES© iStock

Location: Chiloé Province, Los Lagos Region
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2000
Description: A unique archaeological phenomenon in the Americas, the churches, built in the 18th and 19th centuries, are the most prominent examples of Chilota wooden architecture fusing European and indigenous traditions.36/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Paraná, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro states
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 1999
Description: Brazil's Atlantic Forest is remarkable for a high biodiversity with many rare and endemic species.37/72 SLIDES© Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Location: Bahia and Espírito Santo states
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 1999
Description: As with the Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves, this section of Brazil's Atlantic Forest includes forests made up of several ecoregions characterized by high biodiversity. (Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)38/72 SLIDES© iStock

Location: Maranhão state
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1997
Description: A prime example of a Portuguese colonial town, São Luís was, in fact, originally settled by the French in 1612, who called it San-Louise-de-Maragnan.39/72 SLIDES© iStock

Location: Huari Province, Ancash
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1985
Description: The Chavin culture developed in the Andean highlands between 1500 and 300 BCE. Archaeologists have described the site as "the birthplace of South American culture." It consists of a complex of terraces and squares cut from rock.40/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Congonhas
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1985
Description: Commissioned by the Portuguese in the 18th century and designed by sculptor and architect Aleijadinho, the sanctuary's basilica features 12 sculptures of old testament prophets around the terrace.

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Location: Piauí
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1991
Description: The park has the largest and the oldest concentration of prehistoric sites in the Americas. A number of rock shelters found in the area are illustrated with extraordinary examples of cave art and littered with stone tools and other ancient artifacts.

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Location: Central Brazil Plateau
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 2001
Description: Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas national parks, located in the country's Goiás state, exemplify the cerrado, one of the world's oldest ecosystems and an important refuge for species during climate change.

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Location: Rio de Janeiro
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2012
Description: Rio is recognized for its exceptional urban setting, and the site includes Tijuca National Park, the Botanical Gardens, Guanabara and Copacabana bays, Corcovado Mountain, and the iconic statue of Christ.

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Location: Cauca Department
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 2006
Description: Located in the East Pacific Ocean, the small island of Malpelo is home to a unique shark population. An oceanic island, Malpelo has never been connected with any other islands or the mainland.45/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Lima
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1988
Description: The Archbishop Palace, Goyeneche House, and the Basílica Cathedral are just three of the outstanding buildings that distinguish the Peruvian capital's historic center.46/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Bolivar
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 1994
Description: The impressive tabletop mountains, or tepui, that characterize the park are of great geographical and biological interest. Angel Falls (pictured), the highest waterfall in the world, is included in the site.47/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Caldas, Quindio, and Risaralda Departments
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2011
Description: Colombian coffee is renowned the world over for its quality and delicious taste. The 100-year-old coffee cultivation is emblematic of Colombian culture and has impacted social traditions in music, architecture, education, and cuisine.48/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Rio de Janeiro
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2017
Description: Built in 1811, this was the site of landing and trading of enslaved Africans until 1831. When the area was excavated in 2011, a large number of amulets and worship objects from Congo, Angola, and Mozambique were unearthed.49/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Bolivar Department
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1995
Description: The town is known for the preservation of its colonial architectural features, a fascinating mix of Spanish and Indian styles exemplified by the Santa Bárbara Church (pictured) and the San Juan de Dios Hospital.50/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Florida Province, Santa Cruz Department
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1998
Description: This pre-Columbian archaeological site consists of the remains of a town and a large sculptured rock almost totally covered with carvings of both Inca and pre-Inca origin.51/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Córdoba
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2000
Description: This former early 17th-century Jesuit settlement preserves a university (one of the oldest in South America), a church, residences, and five farming estates (estancias).52/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Inza, Cauca Department
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1995
Description: Several hypogea (underground temples or tombs) distinguish this site. They were created by the Tierradentro, one of the pre-Columbian cultures of Colombia, and most date from between the 6th and 9th centuries CE.53/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Madre de Dios
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 1987
Description: Around 1,000 bird species, over 200 species of mammals, and over 15,000 species of flowering plants have been recorded in this reserve, which protects diverse ecosystems.54/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Santa Cruz Department
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1990
Description: Comprised of six 17th- and 18th-century Jesuit settlements, the churches of which are the standout features, Chiquitos represents the blending of indigenous and European architectural traditions.55/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Azuay Province
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1999
Description: Listed for its many 16th-century buildings set in a grid-like layout, Cuenca's old quarter townscape is essentially an expression of the synthesis of different societies and cultures and a mirror of Renaissance design in Latin America.56/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Nazca
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1994
Description: Created between 400 and 650 CE and believed by archaeologists to have served a ritualistic purpose, the huge and impressive designs in the Nazca Desert include animals such as a monkey and a hummingbird (pictured).57/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Rio de Janeiro state
Criteria: Mixed
Year established: 2019
Description: This compelling cultural landscape includes the historic center of Paraty, one of the country’s best-preserved Portuguese colonial coastal towns.58/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Rio de Janeiro state
Criteria: Mixed
Year established: 2019
Description: Ilha Grande, a hotspot for biodiversity and conservation, is also noted for its scenic beauty, pristine tropical beaches, and rugged, verdant landscape.59/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Lima
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2009
Description: Caral is one of 18 complex urban settlements attributed to the Norte Chico civilization, which flourished between the fourth and second millennia BCE. The site features many monuments and pyramid structures.60/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Huila Department
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1995
Description: The park showcases the largest collection of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in Latin America.61/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Minas Gerais state
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1999
Description: Named after the fact that it was the center of diamond mining in the 18th and 19th centuries, Diamantina is characterized by its collection of Brazilian Baroque architecture.62/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Goiás
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2001
Description: Goiás was founded in 1727 by Bartolomeu Bueno da Silva and was the former state capital up until 1937. Its colonial heritage is seen as an excellent example of a European settlement in the interior of South America.63/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Belo Horizonte
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2016
Description: The buildings set within this urban project sited around an artificial lake were designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer in collaboration with the landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx and a number of Brazilian Modernist artists.64/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Chubut Province
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 2017
Description: Named for the massive alerce tree, one of the longest-living trees in the world, the park has the largest alerce forest in the country.65/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Paraguay
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 1993
Description: Two fine examples of the many Jesuit reductions (small colonies established by the missionaries in various locations in South America) built in the 18th and 19th centuries.66/72 SLIDES© Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Location: State of Amazonas
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 2000
Description: The largest protected area in the Amazon basin, the site is notable for its high biodiversity, range of habitats, and several endangered species. (Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY 2.0)67/72 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Location: Valparaíso
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2003
Description: A major stopover in the 19th century for ships sailing between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans via the Straits of Magellan, Valparaíso prospered as a magnet for European immigrants.68/72 SLIDES© Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Location: Santa Cruz Department
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 2000
Description: Situated where the Amazonian rain forests and the dry forest and savannas of cerrado (upland) meet, the park is listed for its almost pristine vegetation (Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)69/72 SLIDES© Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Location: San Martín
Criteria: Mixed
Year established: 1990
Description: The park is home to many endemic species, including the rare and endangered yellow-tailed woolly monkey (once thought to be extinct). (Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)70/72 SLIDES© Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Location: Caquetá and Guaviare Departments
Criteria: Mixed
Year established: 2018
Description: The largest national park in Colombia, and the largest tropical rain forest national park in the world, Chiribiquete's defining features include the tabletop mountains known as tepuis (pictured) and over 75,000 cave paintings, some more than 20,000 years old, believed to be linked to the worship of the jaguar. (Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Location: Antioquia and Choco Departments
Criteria: Natural
Year established: 1994
Description: Embedded in the Darién Gap, the break across the South American and North American continents, the park encompasses an extraordinary diversity of plant and animal species (it contains over 25% of the bird species reported for Colombia).

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Location: South America
Criteria: Cultural
Year established: 2014
Description: The Andean Road System was an extensive Inca communication, trade, and defense network of roads covering 19,000 mi (30,000 km) and built over several centuries.

See also: World Heritage Sites that could disappear anytime.

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