Sights and sites visited by a single man exploring the world at human speed.
Front Page Articles World About Me Cause FAQ/Contact Other Sites
You are not logged in to access all the features. Login or Register - First time here? There's a special page for you!

In this section...

 Articles Search 
 Articles by Date 
 Articles by Keyword 
 Articles by Location 
Share this page

Articles By Keywords
58 articles found matching criteria.
Ouro Preto
Keywords: architecture, gold, mine, UNESCO, WHS
The name translates from Portuguese into "Black Gold", but that's not oil but real yellow gold that brought fortune and prosperity to that Brazilian city. It was added to the World Heritage Sites list in 1980 because of its exceptional baroque architecture and numerous major buildings, from churches to schools. It's located in the state of Minas Gerais, of which it was for a short while the capital. more...

Modern Ensemble of Pampulha
Keywords: architecture, art, Niemeyer, UNESCO, WHS
Today, I visited one of the new UNESCO sites of this year... it was added to the list merely 6 weeks ago. Althought, I had already planned to visit the site before it was officially accepted on the list. It's one of the new modern sites now making their way onto the list, representing recent human achievements and visions mostly in terms of architecture. The whole complex is merely 70 years old... but it was so innovative and showcase so many great architecture and art pieces that its inclusion on the list was obvious. more...

Keywords: Colonial, UNESCO
Ecuador got two magnificent colonial cities. I already talked you about Quito when I arrived in this country. Now that I'm leaving it, I stopped by the other major colonial city : Cuenca. There's a friendly revalry between the two cities as to which is the most beautiful. After spending two weeks in both, I can tell you they're very different and are both very interesting, for various reasons. more...

Isla de la plata
Keywords: nature, UNESCO
On my journey, in between official UNESCO World Heritate Sites, I also visit locations that are on the tentative list of the World Heritage. That way, if they are accepted later on the list, I will have already visited them. There's a park in Ecuador that is on that tentative list (where it was submitted by the country but not yet accepted officially on the list) that I visited a few days ago. The tentative inscription is both for natural and cultural reasons. This park has a mainland component and an island. In this first article of two, I'll tell you about the island. more...

San Agustin site
Keywords: pre-hispanic, UNESCO
The most visited archaeological site of Colombia is by far San Agustin. It's easy to observe when you arrive in the town which is filled with tourist services (information centres, tour companies, etc). It's also very easy to reach, with buses directly from the capital (Bogota)! The site boasts the largest collection of religious statues in South America, the art there is phenomenal and when you consider these were done over 1000 years ago. more...

Keywords: pre-hispanic, UNESCO, WHS
Although it's considered the second most important archeological site in Colombia, and receives far less visitors than the one in San Augustin, I believe this site is more important because of the complexity of the site. Both sites have similar statues but in Tierradentro they are placed in richly decorated underground burial chambers while in San Augustin they are showcased in an exterior environment. The Tierradentro thumbs were created around years 600 to 900, before their people apparently vanished. more...

Cultural Coffee Landscape
Keywords: coffee, UNESCO
The UNESCO World Heritage List doesn't include only ruins or natural reserves, it also includes cultural aspects that are closely tied to a specific geography. I remember with emotion my visit on the site of Grand Pré or the Tequila fields which are examples of that, so is the cultural landscape of coffee in Colombia. more...

Cartagena, the fortified city
Keywords: fortifications, UNESCO
The city of Cartagena was founded in 1533 and rapidly became an important port to transport the found riches of the New World to the Old One. That strategic mission also made her the target for many pirates throughout the centuries. To defend herself against those pirates, Cartagena transformed itself into a huge fortress with a huge wall protection. These fortifications were built over a period of 200 years. more...

Panama Viejo and Casco Viejo
Keywords: Colonial, UNESCO
The old historic town of Panama City is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Mainly because it's by far of course the oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast. But since the city was moved after its initial destruction, the actual UNESCO site includes two distinct locations, spread apart by 7,5 km, of different nature. more...

La Amistad Park
Keywords: nature, park, UNESCO
La Amistad (the friendship) is a huge natual bi-national park on the border of Costa Rica and Panama. Incidently, Panama also has a joint international park with its other neighbour (Colombia), which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. But don't cont on me to visit the Darien park, it's the most dangerous area in the region. Like most natural UNESCO sites in Central America, the access into the park La Amistad is very difficult and very few tourists go in there. That is good the preservation of the site, but hard to appreciate it. more...

Stone spheres of the Diquís valley
Keywords: pre-hispanic, UNESCO
Costa Rica has a total of four UNESCO World Heritage sites, including one (the park La Amistad) shared with Panama. But the three natural sites of the country are quite hard to access when you don't have a car... and there are no tours organized to visit them. The only cultural site is however very accessible... and I've visited it yesterday. more...

Southern Guatemala
Keywords: city, pre-hispanic, summary, tourists, UNESCO
After exploring the capital, I went to the Pacific Coast, to a colonial city shrine, to the mountains and to the other major lake of the country to complete my exploration of the country. That brought me from the beaches to the high mountains in the heart of the Mayan people. I think I've explored most of the country with these additional stops. more...

Cathedral of León
Keywords: architecture, church, Colonial, UNESCO
The second UNESCO site in Nicaragua is also in León, it's the imposing cathedral. This imposing structure is the largest cathedral in Central America and was used as base model to make the cathedral of Lima, in Peru. It's a complex mix of Spanish design integrating local materials, design and art. more...

León Viejo
Keywords: Colonial, UNESCO
Nicaragua has only two UNESCO World Heritage sites, both of them related to Leon, the historic former capital of the country. This first site was the first location of the city on the Western shore of the Managua lake. The original city had a very short but very troubled history. In 85 years of existence, it has known more than its share of both human and natural disasters. more...

First month in Guatemala
Keywords: Capital, itinerary, UNESCO
´I visited a total of nine towns and cities in Guatemala. I've covered the country from North to South and from West to East, before zipping through it East to West in a day. I visited the Pacific ocean front as well as the three largest lakes of the country, been from sea level to 2 300 metres (7 600 feet). Today, I'll tell you about the first half of my visits and give you my impressions about each location. more...

Joya de Cerén
Keywords: pre-hispanic, Ruins, UNESCO
Most of you have heard about the eruption of the Vesuvius in Italy that instantly converted Pompeii of ashes and preserved life as is for nearly two thousands years. But how many of you know that there are cities like that in America too? I didn't, but I visited one today. more...

New UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Keywords: UNESCO
The UNESCO World Heritage committee is having its annual reunion (in Qatar this year). Every year, it's the occasion to add new sites to the list. This year, they added 26 new sites (21 cultural, 4 natural and 1 mixed), in addition of expanding four others. more...

My Top 10 of the last year
Keywords: summary, UNESCO
When I present my journey to people, they usually ask me what I preferred so far. I find it impossible to answer that with a single answer. Why? Because I've had so many different and interesting experiences I cannot pick only one. Instead I present what I liked most in various categories, and that what I'll do here too, in no particular order. more...

Antigua Guatemala
Keywords: UNESCO
If the mythological Phoenix that was born again from the ashes of its predecessor was a city, it would be Antigua. That city was wiped out on many occasions by earthquakes of magnitudes estimated around 7.4 and 7.5 on current Richter scale. The first time was in 1717 which wiped out most of the city and killed hundreds of people. In 1773, another long series of earthquakes again destroyed almost all the city and at least 600 died right during the first quakes, with at least the same number in the following months due to starvation. After the 1773 quakes, Antigua lost its title of capital which was moved to current Guatemala City. Yet, despite those two horrible disasters, Antigua rose again to become a jewel of Central America. more...

Copán Ruinas
Keywords: Mayas, UNESCO
With the site of Copán, in Honduras, I conclude my visits of the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Maya world. I'm currently in Guatemala and I crossed the border for a few hours in order to visit this important site. As I mentioned last week after I visited Quiriguá, Copán is also a very important site to understand the Maya civilization because it is extremely rich in written history left behind. Copán is also sometimes referred to as the Paris of the Maya world because it was a city of arts and architecture. It represents what the Mayas did best in terms of those fields. more...

Keywords: Mayas, UNESCO
The last ruins I visited, Tikal, are by far the most visited in Guatemala. The ones I visited today are certainly the UNESCO site the least visited in the country. I was there at 10 AM, and I was the only visitor on the site... I encountered a few more visitors on my way out, an hour later. Quiriguá is not as spectacular as can be star sites like Chichen Itza or Palenque in Mexico... but its probably more important than any other Mayan site (exception made of Copán, Honduras, I'll visit next week). more...

Keywords: Mayas, pre-hispanic, Ruins, UNESCO
I like to go early on an archeological site to be there before the crowds and have a chance to take nice pictures without people in them. Usually the sites open at 8 AM and the bus tours arrive around 10, leaving me some time to do the visit and take pictures. In the case of Tikal, it's a lot different. There are tours to bring you there to watch the sunrise leaving Flores at 3 AM so we can enter the ruins park around 4 AM, to have time to cross the site and reach the pyramid for the sunrise viewing. There are a few groups who are there at the same time... so even though it's pitch black out there... you can have easily up to 100 people roaming the location. I had picked my date after watching the weather forecast... and today was a clear sky day with a few clouds. Unfortunately, I still wasn't lucky. more...

Belize Reef Barrier
Keywords: nature, UNESCO
When the famous captain Jacques Cousteau visited Belize and declared it the best place on earth to dive, he kick-started a huge travel and sports industry. Although the site is astonishing, it's now under peril because of issues with its conservation. It's the second natural UNESCO site I visit in a row, and this one is more spectacular by all accounts. more...

What I've seen in Mexico
Keywords: Biosphere, Historic, Mayas, monument, pre-Columbian, pre-hispanic, professional sport, pyramids, Ruins, summary, UNESCO
Mexico is a rich country in terms of history and people, even if it's not that rich in financial terms. It is the country in the Americas with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites sites (32), most of them (27) are related to history or culture. Its territory has been the home of very important civilizations for more than 3 000 years. Each of the major civilizations who occupied the current Mexico territory left important traces through their abandoned cities. In their apogee, many of those cities were amongst the largest of the world in their time. more...

Sian Ka'an
Keywords: Biosphere, UNESCO
I like nature, but I especially like grandiose nature demonstrations like canyons and mountains. I'm not much in the plain forest type, although I can appreciate it I'm not awed by it. I can certainly appreciate the value of a biosphere reserve for its contribution in preserving the local flora and fauna, but usually the best types of environments for that are marsh lands, which aren't very spectacular. Of course, there are the hundreds of animals and plants to appreciate but not being a zoologist, a bird watcher or a botanist they don't capture my interest unless they catch my photographer's eye. All this to say that if Sian Ka'an wasn't a UNESCO World Heritage Site I probably wouldn't have visited it. But I did enjoy the experience. more...

Chichén Itzá
Keywords: Mayas, pre-hispanic, UNESCO
I was looking forward with great anticipation my visit to Chichén Itzá. It's probably the most famous Mexican site outside the country (almost everyone has heard about it) and it's a major site in the history of the Mayas. It's in close distance from the Riviera Maya, so it's constantly flooded with tourists. I arranged myself to be there early in the morning, before the arrival of the bus tours. It was a nice visit, the weather was incredible and I really enjoyed my visit into this famous city. more...

Keywords: Mayas, UNESCO
Uxmal is the second Mayan site I've visited so far, and it's considered by the experts as the best of the design of that rich civilization. Since it's relatively close to the Riviera Maya flooded with tourists, there are many tours reaching Uxmal from major cities like Cancún. more...

Historic fortified town of Campeche
Keywords: Building, UNESCO
Campeche was founded initially in 1540 by the Spanish conquistadors. It was an important trade port because of all the richness in the area, especially the rare wood species. For a long time it was an imperative stop on the route Veracruz-Campeche-La Havana-Spain which governed the regional economy. But it was also very frequently attacked by pirates, which at some point even occupied the city for two months! It was then decided to fortify the city, building a massive protecting wall all around the town. more...

Keywords: maya, pre-hispanic, UNESCO
With Palenque, I really began my visit of the Maya territory. The Mayan empire was decentralized, as opposed to the centralized one of Teotihuacan. The Mayans had many regional capitals in what is today Southern Mexico and Central America. Palenque was their most Northern capital and was the political and economical centre of the area. It's apogee was between year 500 and 700, period during which most of the buildings were built. more...

Historical Centre of Oaxaca and Monte Albán
Keywords: city, pyramids, Ruins, UNESCO
This UNESCO site includes three locations in and around the city of Oaxaca. The first one is the old historical centre, then there is the magnificent Monte Albán and the small village of Cuilapan where the Dominicans set up a large monastery (which I didn't visit). I walked a lot within the old Oaxaca and this morning I spent almost 3 hours exploring Monte Albán. The site is very spectacular and on site, I learned something impressive about the site itself... it's been recently named the best UNESCO World Heritage site in the world by a panel of experts. more...

El Tajin
Keywords: pre-hispanic, pyramids, UNESCO
At first, I didn't plan to go to El Tajin, but after I met another traveller on the El Chepe train, I decided it was worth a look. And yes, it was worth it. It's a site quite different from other pyramids sites I've encountered so far in Mexico, because it's very densely packed, probably because of the surrounding hills and the pyramids are quite fragile and not accessible to the visitors. But overall, it's a very interesting site, that is easily accessible. more...

Historic centre of Tlacotalpan
Keywords: architecture, Historic, UNESCO
I didn't come to Veracruz only to enjoy the sea. I've come here because it's located between two very different UNESCO sites I wanted to visit. The first I visited was an historic city on a river south of Veracruz. I reached Tlacotalpan by regional bus in about 2 hours. What's special about this city is not the fact it was laid out according to the Spanish grid... it's not the fact it was still almost intact in terms of architecture and size compared to its plans dating back more than 450 years, it's not the fact that it represents a blend of Spanish and Caribbean cultures or the fact it's a river port (rare thing in Central America). What's stand it apart from the rest is it's the styles of the buildings, nothing like any other Spanish city I've seen so far in Mexico. more...

Mexican music
Keywords: Music, UNESCO
The UNESCO recognizes the mariachi bands as an Intangible Heritage of Mexico, like the celebrations of the Day of the Dead (on November 2nd). The modern mariachi band is usually composed of a trumpet, a contrabass, a violin and one guitar. They are all dressed up in a traditional costume which is usually black and sometimes white. more...

Historic Centre of Puebla
Keywords: architecture, UNESCO
Puebla was founded in 1531 and it's the first Mexican city built exclusively for the Spanish invaders, not on top of another city already established there. It's historical centre is extremely large, over an area of about 7 sq kilometres, it includes more than 2600 buildings and monuments spread over almost 400 city blocks. That location was chosen by the Spaniards as a starting point before climbing up the volcanoes valley between the Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes in order to reach the city of Mexico. more...

Keywords: pre-hispanic, UNESCO
Teotihuacan is one of the oldest cities in Mexico. Although the territory was occupied even before Christ, it was only around year 100 that it became a city. The city flourished and was a very important city for more than 500 years, until it was burned and abandoned around year 650. At its peak, Teotihuacan was home of more than 100 000 people! The name means “Where men convert into Gods” was the name given by the Aztecs who rediscovered the city around year 1400, who interpreted the site according to their own beliefs. more...

Keywords: architecture, UNESCO
At first, when I read a university was a UNESCO World Heritage site, I was surprised. But I thought, well, it's probably a series of very old buildings that played an important role in the history. I was even more surprised when I read the campus was built between 1949 and 1952! The reason why the main campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, in Spanish) was recognized is because it's a fine example of collaboration between architecture and art, as well as integration with nature and history. more...

Keywords: pyramids, UNESCO
It's name signifies “in the house of flowers” and it's a very important site for the pre-hispanic history of Mexico. It was built around year 650 and was burned and abandoned around year 900. But during its 250 years of existence, the site was an important trading post along many commercial roads in the Mesoamerica. It's location and isolation helped in preserving the site throughout the centuries, but also makes it difficult to reach for visitors. more...

Early16th century monasteries
Keywords: church, UNESCO
On the South East of Mexico city, on the corridor between Cuernavaca and Puebla lies a series of monasteries on the slopes of the Popocatepetl volcano. These monasteries were build in very early 16th century. There were more than a hundred of them around year 1600 by the Franciscans, the Dominicans and the Augustinians. Because of the various wars and the people migrations, most of them were destroyed... now only 14 survive and are still in use today, mostly as churches! more...

Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco
Keywords: history, UNESCO
I've walked on many occasions in the old Mexico City and today, I've been to the other part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is linked to it: the city of Xochimilco about 28 km South from Mexico City. The land now occupied by Mexico city used to be a lake. As early as the 14th century, the Aztecs had their capital on the same location, but Tenochtitlan was an island in the middle of a lake. Once conquered, the buildings of that half-a-million inhabitants city were destroyed, the lake was drained and the Spaniards built on the same site the capital of New Spain, using their classical grid pattern. more...

Monarch butterfly biosphere reserve
Keywords: nature, UNESCO
Mexico is the country in the Americas with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites. Although the great majority of its sites are cultural- or history-related, it counts 5 natural sites. One of them is the Monarch butterfly biosphere reserve, which is a delimited territory along the border between the states of Michoacan and Mexico (yes, there's a state called 'Mexico' in the country 'Mexico'). On this site every year hundreds of millions butterflies meet every year during the only butterfly migration phenomenon known to exist. more...

Historic Centre of Morelia
Keywords: history, UNESCO
Founded in the 16th century, Morelia is an outstanding example of the Spaniard city plans adapted to the relief of the location of the city. It's not extremely hilly... but it has one major hill in the centre of the city... and the layout was extremely well adapted to it. We find numerous plazas like in any Spaniard design and large avenues. Although the city has grown over time, the centre of the city remained mostly untouched, maintaining its structure and architecture. more...

Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro
Keywords: city, history, UNESCO
The city of Querétaro is now the capital of its state bearing the same name. But way before the Mexican Independence, Querétaro played a pivotal role in the development of the area. It was one of the first (and most important) settlement where both Spaniards and local population lived together. It's this co-habitation and the extraordinary preservation of this city built in the 16th century that is recognized by the UNESCO in 1996. more...

Fortified city of San Miguel and Sanctuary
Keywords: history, UNESCO
The UNESCO World Heritage site in San Miguel de Allende is divided in two locations. First, there's the city itself, which acted as a fort to secure the Camino Real (Royal Route), then there's a sanctuary called Sanctuary of Jesús de Nazarero located about 14 km north-east of the city in a little town called Atotonilco. That sanctuary is viewed as a bridge between European and native cultures and is also preserved for its great beauty. more...

Historic town of Guanajuato
Keywords: economy, history, UNESCO
Guanajuato was created around mines when silver was discovered in 1548 by the Spaniards. From late 16th it became one of the most important site of silver extraction in the world. By the 18th century, it was THE biggest silver-extraction site of the world, and kept its title basically until late 19th century. Even today, the region still produces silver, but in small quantities. That richness had major impacts on architecture and many important constructions still honour that rich past. The topography also played an important role in the design of the city, which is not along the grid pattern with a central plaza like most Spanish towns. more...

Historic centre of Zacatecas
Keywords: history, UNESCO
Visiting the old Centro of Zacatecas for a photographer is much like a kid being in a candy store. It's such a wonderful place to visit your eyes and your camera lens aren't wide enough. It's almost like travelling into the past as well since the historic centre has not really been altered in the last 300 years... its structure and streets layouts are the original ones. With the narrow streets along the slopes of the two main hills in the Northern part of the city, the very steep steps in between streets, the curves in the streets imposed by the topography and of course the buildings themselves. more...

Hospicio Cabañas
Keywords: Building, Charity, UNESCO
The UNESCO also recognizes buildings that were a landmark to history or that by their functions played an important social role in their environment that contributed to change the society. The Hospicio is one of those buildings. In late 1700s, the were waves and waves of weather problems plaguing Guadalajara (droughts, floods and frosts), a decision was made to build a large building to host orphans and other people in need. The innovation of the architecture selected made history, in addition to its role. more...

Agave landscape
Keywords: Agave, Landscape, UNESCO
In the plains of the state of Jalisco in central western Mexico, there is a plant we know as blue agave or tequila agave that is used to produce the famous tequila alcohol. But that plant has been used for various purposes for over 3 000 years. It's to honour this long tradition that the UNESCO recognized the area as part of the world heritage. The protection also includes the old tequila mansions and transformation plants. more...

Keywords: pre-Columbian, UNESCO
The site of Paquimé was an important centre for commerce between Mexico (coastal and south) and the pueblos of southwestern USA. The site was occupied most importantly from around year 700 to year 1475. The site was then deserted, and to this day it remains a mystery as to why. The site of Paquimé is one of the most extensive Pre-Columbian site in Mexico and the most Northern one by far. more...

Canadian Rockies mountains parks
Keywords: mountain, park, UNESCO
This UNESCO site is special because it doesn't include one national park like it's usually the case, but seven. The UNESCO recognises the extremely rich natural heritage found in the Canadians Rockies. The area concerned spans over the following Canadian national parks: Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho. It also includes the following British-Columbia provincial parks: Hamber, Mount Robson and Mount Assiniboine. more...

Olympic national park
Keywords: park, UNESCO
The Olympic National Park contains a large diversity of ecosystems, due to its particular geographic location. In the same park, you'll find glaciers, high mountains, wonderful lakes, temperate rain and lowland forests and some coast line. It's also the southern-most point where glaciers form at low altitude in the world. It offers a great location to explore nature and do outdoor activities. more...

Keywords: park, UNESCO
The main reason for me to take this group tour was to be able to explore this Yellowstone park. Not only was it probably the only major park in Western US I haven't visited yet, but it's also on the UNESCO World Heritage list. more...

St. Louis: wrap-up
Keywords: karma, tourists, UNESCO
Like Pittsburgh and Detroit I recently visited, St. Louis had its peak in the 1950s. Since, it has lost half of its population. The Arch was built as a symbol of what St. Louis was capable of doing and present a brilliant future. Yet, despite some efforts, the city is still struggling. Hopefully for the population, they have their sports teams and beer (St. Louis is home of the famous Budweiser). more...

Cahokia Mounds
Keywords: architecture, Historic, Landscape, UNESCO
Not all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites are spectacular or grandiose, even if most of them are. There are entries on that famous list that are there just because of their historical importance. Cahokia Mounds is certainly not the most spectacular site and unless you're an avid archeologist you won't find much to see in there, but there is some significant value to the site. more...

Independence Hall
Keywords: democracy, history, UNESCO
The main reason that brought me to Philly was to see and learn more about the Independance Hall, which is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The reason why it's listed though is not the common reasons like the beauty of the architecture, the location nor the history of the building. more...

Lunenburg, a double historical location
Keywords: Historic, UNESCO
After many reports due to the weather, I decided I had to go to Lunenburg no matter what the weather was. I would have preferred to see it during a nice sunny day to reproduce the postcard pictures everyone has in mind when thinking about this wonderful location.... but Mother Nature decided otherwise... so I had the modesty to accept it and roll with the punch. more...

Grand Pré... update
Keywords: Landscape, UNESCO
A few days ago when I visited Grand Pré... I was too involved with the history being told by the commemorative site there that I completely forgot that if the location is a UNESCO World Heritage Site wasn't for that reason. In the official documentation of the UNESCO, they do mention the deportation of the Acadians... but what was recognized is the landscape. more...

Grand Pré... commemoration of the Acadian deportation
Keywords: Historic, UNESCO
In 1755, after the English were fed up by the resistance of the Acadians (of French origin) in Nova Scotia that they decided to deport them all away to eliminate the problem they had. They moved thousands of people all over the nearby English colonies (area now known as New England). The site commemorates the events around this horrible stain of history. I was very touched by the visit. more...

Quebec City : oldest city in North-America
Keywords: Historic, UNESCO
Founded in 1608, Quebec City was for a long time the entrance point into North-America through the majestic St-Lawrence river. Nowadays, it remains the only fortified city left on the continent, with its walls not only visible, but still part of the life and identity of the city. When you walk in the old city, you’re amongst 300 years old buildings more...
Front Page
Edit Profile
Terms of Services
Privacy Policy
Articles Search
Articles by Date
Articles by Keyword
Articles by Location
Before this trip
This trip so far
This trip - next stops
About Me
Support Me
Heritage sites
Support Cause
Site Map
Other Sites
© 2019,