Mexico’s World Heritage Sites

November 23rd, 2004

Xochimilco Gardens, Mexico City


Originally uploaded by Juan Rene

Ron Mader of has written an excellent and up-to-date guide to visiting the ‘floating gardens’ of Xochimilco in the current issue of Transitions Abroad magazine.

Ron highlights the efforts to conserve the agricultural beds called chinampas – “not mere historical artifacts but living examples of sustainable agriculture”, and a visit to support a breeding programme for the axolotl, an endangered salamander.

Filed in Mexico City, Mexico's World Heritage Sites

July 9th, 2003

Franciscan missions newest ‘world wonder’

The Mission at Landa de MatamorosOn Thursday, UNESCO announced that the five Franciscan missions of the Sierra Gorda (Querétaro) have been recognised as of “special interest” by the United Nations for their “richly decorated church facades”, and had given them World Heritage Site status.

Built during the last phase of the conversion to Christianity of the interior of Mexico in the mid 18th century, the diminutive settlements which grew around the missions at Jalpan de Serra, Landa de Matamoros, Tilaco, Tancoyol and Conca, have retained their provincial character. The Missions are located some 5 hours drive north from Mexico City.

I witnessed the last stages of a painstaking renovation over the past 12 months and am personally delighted these extraordinarily beautiful buildings will now attract wider attention.

Junipero SerraThe Missions joined 23 other newly inscribed natural and cultural sites on the World Heritage list. They included the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, south-west London – created in 1759 – one year after the tireless Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra left the Sierra on foot bound for California, Arizona and Texas.

Junipero Serra is still a well-known figure in California, for the missions he founded throughout the state two centuries ago – including those of Los Angeles and San Francisco – and his statue stands in the National Statuary Hall of the US Capitol in Washington DC and in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Mexico now joins Italy, Spain, France, India and China with 23 sites UNESCO feel are deserving of World Heritage status and protection.

Further thumbnail images of the Missions can be viewed here.

Filed in Mexico's World Heritage Sites, Querétaro state