Things That Matter

These 24 UNESCO Heritage Sites In Latin America Will Trigger Your Wanderlust

Traveling the world is one of the most rewarding and spellbinding things someone can do. You are exposed to different cultures, people, food and ways of thinking. Experiencing global heritage connects you deeper with this world. Here are 24 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites to visit next time you make your way to Latin America.

1. El Tajín: Veracruz, México

UNESCO
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This area is one of the most important, pre-Columbian archeological sites in Latin America. It gives visitors and historians a vivid picture of what city life was like in Mesoamerica.

2. Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca: Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

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The intricate complex of forts and armament has been protecting the port of Santiago de Cuba since the mid 17th century. It is, according to UNESCO, the most complete and well-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture.

3. Canaima National Park: Bolívar, Venezuela

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You can find this park in the southern part of Venezuela along the border with Guyana and Brazil. It covers 3 million hectares, almost 12,000 square miles, and is predominately tepui mountain formations giving visitors spectacular views.

4. La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site: San Juan, Puerto Rico

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La Fortaleza was built in San Juan between the 16th and 20th centuries to protect the city and bay. The importance of the structure is that is shows the transfer of technology and architecture from Europe to the Americas.

5. Viñales Valley: Viñales, Cuba

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The valley is encircled with breathtaking mountains and the multi-ethnic villages around the area add to its majesty. The more important part of the valley is the unchanged agriculture practices that have grown tobacco for several centuries on the plains.

6. Churches of Chiloé: Chiloé Archipelago, Chile

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The 70 churches that make up the Churches of Chiloé were first constructed by the Jesuit Peripatetic Mission in the 17th and 18th centuries. The buildings were further enriched by use from Franciscans the following decade and represent a merging of Chilean and European culture at the time.

7. Sian Ka’an: Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo, México

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Sian Ka’an translates to “Origin of the Sky” from the language of the native people who first called this place home. The wetlands of the area contain tropical forests, mangroves, marshes, a barrier reef and around 300 species of birds.

8. Xochicalco: Miacatlán, Morelos, México

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The archeological site is home to structures built at the beginning of the Epiclassic Period after the fall of the Mesoamerica powerhouse political cities of the Classic Period. The site shows what it looked like to have a fully fortified city during these politically tumultuous times.

9. Catedral de León: León, Nicaragua

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Construction for the Léon Cathedral, aka Our Lady of Grace Cathedral, began in 1747 and lasted until the early 1800s. While it is located in Nicaragua, the style is in Antigua Guatemala Baroque style with hints of Spanish influence.

10. Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve: Honduras

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The reserve located in the north-eastern part of the Central American country is one of the most bio-diverse tropical forests in Central America. Not only does the reserve boast varied plants and wildlife, around 2,000 indigenous people still call this area home.

11. Cocos Island: Costa Rica

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Cocos Island National Park is the only island in the Pacific Ocean that has a tropical rain forest. Its biosphere of plant life and location in the Pacific Ocean lends itself to a very diverse marine life.

12. Tikal National Park: Tikal, Guatemala

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Located in the northern rainforests of Guatemala is this ancient Mayan citadel. The site was inhabited between 6th century B.C. and 10th century A.D. It is one of the major sites of the Mayan civilization.

13. Portobelo-San Lorenzo: Portobelo, Colón, Panama

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These ancient fortifications line a portion of the Caribbean coast of Panama. They protected the city of Portobelo, Colón, Panama from invasion by sea and are a magnificent example of 17th to 18th century military architecture.

14. Machu Picchu: Peru

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At 2,430 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu is one of the most impressive structures in the world. This Incan city is located in mountainous rainforests and gives visitors views and photos of a lifetime. It was abandoned in that 16th century when the Spanish conquered the country and stayed unknown to the world until 1911.

15. Tiwanaku: Tiwanaku Municipality, Bolivia

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This archeological site is the center of the Tiwanaku civilization. The indigenous population who lived here ruled over a major portion of the South Andes from 500 to 900 A.D. This piece of pre-Hispanic culture is one of the purest examples of an indigenous American culture.

16. Galápagos Islands: Ecuador

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The Galápagos Islands are composed of 19 islands just off the cost of Ecuador. The ecosystem is so diverse it is commonly referred to as a living museum showing the path of evolution. These are the islands that inspired Charles Darwin to pursue evolution.

17. Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves: Brazil

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The Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves is a protected forest that stretches from Rio Grande do Norte state in the north to Rio Grande do Sul to the south. It is one of the last living examples of Atlantic forest left in northern Brazil.

18. National Archeological Park of Tierradentro: Inza, Cauca Department, Colombia

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This park is home to the largest concentration of hypogea, underground temples or tombs, as well as statues of human figures. The structures date from the 6th to 10th century giving visitors a peak into pre-Hispanic culture in the North Andes.

19. Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue: Trinidad, Paraguay

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The ruins here are the lasting reminders of 30 Jesuit missions to the Río de la Plata basin during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was part of the European attempt to Christianize the indigenous people of South America.

20. Cueva de las Manos: Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

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Argentina is home to some interesting prehistoric art dating back to 13,000 to 9,500 years ago. The hand art that has been immortalized on the stone gives the UNESCO World Heritage site its name.

21. Joya De Cerén: Agua Escondida, El Salvador

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Joya de Cerén was a small farming village in 600 AD that was wiped out by a volcano eruption. Much like Pompeii in Italy, the Laguna Caldera volcano erupted and killed the village and perfectly preserved it. The people and artifacts are so well persevered, you can clearly see daily life in Central America at that time.

22. Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works: Región de Tarapacá, Chile

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Thousands of people from Chile, Bolivia and Peru worked and lived in this company town mining saltpeter to create fertilizer sodium. The town was operation for 60 years and created it’s own culture since the people were very isolated in one of the driest deserts in the world.

23. Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento: Uruguay

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Colonia de Sacramento was founded by the Portuguese in 1680 to resist the Spanish expansion in South America. The site is preserved because of its unique and historic architecture that was influenced by multiple groups of people. It is also strategically placed on the bay facing Buenos Aires, Argentina.

24. Belize Barrier Reef: Belize and Honduras

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The barrier reef stretches from Belize to Honduras is the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. The large ocean ecosystem is home to several threatened species including American marine crocodiles, manatees and marine turtles. It includes mangrove forests, sand cays, coastal lagoons and estuaries.

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A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Culture

A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

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It is important to be a responsible tourist. This means following rules, acting responsibly, and not violating sacred places. That is something one tourist learned the hard way when she climbed the Pyramid of Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá.

Here’s the video of a tourist running down the steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkán.

The Pyramid of Kukulkán is one of the most iconic examples of Pre-Hispanic architecture and culture in Mesoamerica. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. In 2017, more than 2 million visitors descended on the site.

Of course, #LadyKukulkan started to trend on Twitter.

You know that Twitter was ready to start calling out this woman for her actions. According to Yucatán Expat Life Magazine, the woman was there to honor her husband’s dying wish. The woman, identified as a tourist from Tijuana, wanted to spread her husband’s ashes on the top of the pyramid, which it seems that she did.

The video was a moment for Mexican Twitter.

Not only was she arrested by security when she descended, but the crowd was also clearly against her. Like, what was she even thinking? It isn’t like the pyramid is crawling with tourists all over it. She was the only person climbing the pyramid, which is federally owned and cared for.

The story is already sparking ideas for other people when they die.

“Me: (to my parents) Have you read about #ladykukulkan?
My Dad: Yes! (to my mom) When I die, I want you to scatter my ashes in the National Palace so they call you “Lady Palace,” sounds better, no?” wrote @hania_jh on Twitter.

READ: Mexico’s Version Of Burning Man Became A COVID-19 Super-Spreader Event Thanks To U.S. Tourists

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These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

Things That Matter

These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

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2020 will easily go down in manny of our memories as the year that just wouldn’t stop. As the year started, it all seemed to be sort of fine as the world came together to battle record-breaking Australian bushfires and worked to hopefully contain an outbreak of a strange new virus in China.

However, as the year comes to a close things have gone de mal a peor for the world in general, but for the Latino population in the United States and Latin America as a region in particular. Though it’s hard to realize just how much we all witnessed and experienced since so much of what happened seems like it was a lifetime ago.

Here’s a look back at some the defining moments from 2020 across Latin America.

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira kicked off the year hopeful with a history-making performance at the Super Bowl.

Yes, believe it or not, this happened in 2020. The pair put on what many have called the best half time show in Super Bowl history. They were also joined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales was forced into exile, only to return to the country in November.

After being forced into exile at the end of 2019 for attempting to illegally run in upcoming presidential elections, Morales spent a year abroad – first in Mexico and then in Argentina.

Mexico’s President AMLO made his first trip abroad to visit Donald Trump at the White House.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is a staunch populist and has long said his primary focus is domestic policy within Mexico. Therefore, despite two years in office, AMLO hadn’t left Mexico once. So it came as a surprise when his first trip abroad was a visit to the U.S. leader who had long disparaged Mexico, the government, and Mexicans – not to mention his trip came in the middle of a global pandemic.

Migrant caravans continued to make their way towards the U.S. despite interference from Mexico and Covid-19.

Migrants attempting to make their way to the U.S. isn’t unique to 2020. For decades, migrants have long banded together for safety in numbers along the treacherous journey to the north. However, they became larger and better organized in 2020, perhaps owing to the new dangers of Mexican interference.

Mexico’s AMLO vowed to stop migrants from reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, adhering to Trump’s request. It was also noteworthy because the caravans continued despite the Covid-19 crisis, which has hit the region particularly hard.

Peru saw three presidents in the span of a few weeks after massive protests.

Peru is facing one of the greatest crises the nation has faced. Just as the country seemed to be emerging from the worst of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has entered a severe political crisis.

The country’s elected president, Martin Vizcarra, was impeached and removed from office. His predecessor responded with a heavy hand to the protests that ensued resulting in his resignation less than 24 hours later. The government then had to find someone willing to take the job which proved to be a tough sell.

In fact, massive protests swept across Latin America.

From Mexico in the north to Cuba in the Caribbean and Chile in the south, protests were seen all across the region. Although each movement had it’s own stated goal and objectives, many were largely borne out of the same purpose: to fight back against corruption.

Brazil’s President Jaír Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 but it did nothing to change his approach to the pandemic.

Jaír Bolsonaro has long been compared to Donald Trump, with many calling him the Donald Trump of South America. The two were also strongly aligned in their responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, with the pair largely downplaying the severity of the crisis.

Then, Bolsonaro became infected with the virus and many hoped it would change his view on the crisis. It didn’t.

A growing feminist movement developed in Mexico, demanding protection from a shocking rise in violence against women.

Mexico has long been battling endemic violence and the country has continued to see record-setting rates of homicides. But it was the growing rate of violence against women, particularly femicide, that gained national attention.

Women banded together and started large nationwide protests. Over the summer, women in the capital of Mexico City occupied government buildings and destroyed many of the city’s most popular monuments to hopefully get their message across. Although the movement has gained more recognition by Mexicans, the government has still failed to address their concerns. Let’s hope things are different in 2021.

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