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Historic Fortified Town of Campeche

Historic Fortified Town of Campeche

Campeche is a typical example of a harbour town from the Spanish colonial period in the New World. The historic centre has kept its outer walls and system of fortifications, designed to defend this Caribbean port against attacks from the sea.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Ville historique fortifiée de Campeche

Le centre historique de Campeche est une ville portuaire de l'époque coloniale espagnole dans le Nouveau Monde. Elle a gardé son mur d'enceinte et son système de fortifications, mis en place pour protéger le port contre les attaques venant de la mer des Caraïbes.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

مدينة كامبيش التاريخية المحصنة

يُعتبَر وسط كامبيش التاريخي مدينةً مينائيّةً من عصر الاستعمار الاسباني في العالم الجديد. وقد حافظت على سورها ونظام التحصينات فيها لحماية المرفأ من الهجومات التي تتعرَّض لها من جهة بحر الكاريبي.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0



source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Исторический укрепленный город Кампече

Кампече – это типичный пример города-порта периода испанских колониальных владений в Новом Свете. Исторический центр сохранил внешние стены и систему укреплений, созданных для того, чтобы защитить этот порт Карибского региона от атак с моря.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Ciudad histórica fortificada de Campeche

Campeche es una ciudad portuaria caribeña de tiempos de la colonización española. Su centro histórico ha conservado las murallas y el sistema de fortificaciones creado para protegerla contra los ataques navales.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0


source: NFUAJ

Historische vestingstad Campeche

Campeche is een typisch voorbeeld van een Caribische havenstad uit de Spaanse koloniale tijd in de Nieuwe Wereld. Het historische centrum heeft zijn buitenmuren en het systeem van vestingwerken behouden. De havenstad is een verstedelijkingsmodel van een barokke koloniale stad, met een dambord stratenpatroon. De verdedigingsmuren rond het historische centrum markeren de invloed van de militaire architectuur in het Caribisch gebied en zijn een voorbeeld van de militaire architectuur uit de 17e en 18e eeuw. De Vestingwerken maken deel uit van een totaal defensiesysteem opgezet door de Spanjaarden om de Caribische zeehavens te beschermen tegen aanvallen van piraten.

Source: unesco.nl

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief Synthesis

The Historic Fortified Town of Campeche, located in the State of Campeche, was founded in the 16th century on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, in the Maya region of Ah-Kim-Pech by Spanish conquerors. It was the most important seaport at the time and played a major role for the conquest and evangelization of the Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala and Chiapas. Its commercial and military importance made it the second biggest town in the Gulf of Mexico, after Mérida. Due its port importance in the sea route: Spain, Havana, Campeche, and Veracruz; as point of embarkation of the natural riches of the peninsula and political differences of the kingdoms of the old continent, ring the second half of the 16th century, Campeche, like other Caribbean towns, was systematically attacked by pirates and corsairs in the pay of enemies of Spain; this is why a large-scale defensive system was installed. This military defensive system for mid-17th century was inadequate and poorly strategic so a new fortification, hexagonal wall, integrating eight bastions, four doors and walls, was authorized, with construction started in 1686 and concluding in 1704. Subsequently, to complete the system of fortifications, the redoubt of San Jose on the east Hill of the village and the redoubt of San Miguel on the west Hill, as well as the batteries of San Lucas, San Matias and San Luis, is mainly in the area of historic monuments, at both ends and facing the sea were constructed. 

The sea was the starting point of the Villa of San Francisco of Campeche and the construction of the military defensive system directed the urban growth and the development of this walled and baroque city. An urban chequerboard plan was chosen, with a Plaza Mayor facing the sea and surrounded by government and religious edifices. The walls enclose an irregular hexagon corresponding to the defensive belt encircling the town. The surrounding areas, named barrios, encompass religious buildings, civil and military architecture with Renaissance, Baroque and eclectics characteristics, emphasizing the military. In the 19th century, the town endowed itself with a fine theatre, harmonized with the urban fabric. A section of the wall was pulled down in 1893 to open up a space with a view of the sea, and the main square was turned into a public garden. In the 20th century, the traditional areas of the town centre were little affected by the modernization movement owing to a relative slackening of the economy.

The area of historic monuments is in the shape of an uneven polygon spread over 181 ha, including 45 ha surrounded by walls, with the town stretching out on each side, following the configuration of the coast and the relief. The protected group consists of two subgroups: area A with a high density of buildings of great heritage significance, and area B, which is not so dense but which forms a transitional and protective zone. The almost 1,000 heritage buildings include the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, several churches, the Toro theatre and the municipal archives, among others.

Criterion (ii): The harbour town of Campeche is an urbanization model of a Baroque colonial town, with its checkerboard street plan; the defensive walls surrounding its historic centre reflect the influence of the military architecture in the Caribbean.

Criterion (iv): The fortifications system of Campeche, an eminent example of the military architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries, is part of an overall defensive system set up by the Spanish to protect the ports on the Caribbean Sea from pirate attacks.


The inscribed property encompasses 181 ha which include all necessary elements to convey the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. The area of historic monuments is a coherent reflection of colonial architecture. The very well conserved system of fortifications illustrates military engineering during the period of Spanish colonialism in the Caribbean. The property maintains good conservation conditions which ensure the physical integrity of heritage buildings.


The area of historic monuments and the system of fortifications have a high degree of authenticity because of the small number of transformations and interventions. Restoration works make use of traditional techniques and materials.

The authenticity of the historical centre is, to a large extent, due to the continuity of a traditional family lifestyle, with manifestations of a rich intangible heritage, illustrated by local music, dances, cooking, crafts, and clothes.

Protection and management requirements

Legal protection is ensured by the 1972 federal legislation on Monuments and Archaeological Areas and by the application of regulations of 1975 under which all modifications to buildings must receive prior authorization. A Federal Decree of 1986 lists the area of historic monuments of Campeche and places it under the authority of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), to function as a regulator and to authorize any kind of intervention in historic monuments within the historical monuments area the exterior and interior of the historical monument.

 At the state level, the Coordination of Sites and Monuments of the Cultural Heritage of Campeche was created in 1998 for the management and protection of monuments in the city of Campeche. In 2009, the State Secretary of Culture was established, leaving such coordination as sub office working in the dissemination of tangible and intangible heritage activities.

At the municipal level, a number of prescriptions regulate the conditions for carrying out work. Conservation is regulated by the partial plan of development for the municipality of Campeche; The urban director program, the regulation for construction for the municipality of Campeche, updated and published in 2009; the Urban Image for the municipality of Campeche and the Partial program of preservation and improvement of the historical centre and traditional wards of the city of Campeche, published in the “Diario Oficial of the State of Campeche”, on 18 March 2005.

Currently, the Congress, through the National Council for Culture and the Arts and the Ministry of Social Development, allocates resources to the municipality for the implementation of projects centred on restoration, improvement of urban infrastructure, urban facilities and services, among others. The city of Campeche manages and administers these resources through the Bureau of Urban Development and the Bureau of Buildings and Services.

 It is important to delimit the surrounding areas around the historical monuments of the city of Campeche and protect the traditional neighbourhoods of Santa Ana, Santa Lucia and Chapel, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries which were excluded from the Presidential Decree of 1986. It is also important to establish regulatory measures for the urban corridors that give access to the heritage area, for the improvement and maintenance of the property.