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Historic fortified town of Campeche
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2014-02-24 18:53:54 | Campeche, Campeche, Mexico
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.

Begun in 1686 and finished in 1704, that fortification protected the city and after a short while, the pirates left the area to other unprotected locations. Initially, the wall consisted of a large irregular hexagon of a perimeter of 2,5 kilometres. Today, only about 500 metres are left of those walls, the rest was demolished in various eras of economic problems. During my visit, most of the wall segment by the ocean was under renovation, so was part of the opposite wall. You can access the top of the fortifications on the inland wall, at the Puerta de la Tierra (Land door) and explore the structure, appreciate an bird's eye view of the old town and look up closely old military structures and equipment.

But what really stands out in Campeche is the thousand of so of old Baroque buildings inside the walls perimeter. Those buildings are extremely well preserved and most of them are still in use today. Everywhere you look, your eyes are filled with incredible pastel colours. But beyond the colours, if you look up a bit, you'll see rich decorations and ornaments... either on the balconies or along the roof rim. These ornaments were the expression of the richness of the trade city which was on its apogee in 18th century.

Street along the fortifications. The colors on the city wall are in fact reflections from the sun hitting the coloured house across the street.

I walked for hours and hours within the limits of those walls, always impressed and amazed by the colours and the rich architecture. I used my camera a lot to capture as much as I could of these wonders. My only complain is about the traffic. The streets are widely opened to the cars and trucks... which make the visit less enjoyable than if it was at least somewhat limited.

After walking in that old city for while, you exit by the sea side an go walk a bit on the malecon... enjoying the relaxing view of a calm sea. There are no beaches in Campeche... the city was always a trade and a fishing port, but you can still appreciate just sitting by the ocean and breath it in. At least I do :-)

That's the combination of this old fortified city (although the walls aren't totally preserved) and the remarkable conservation of the thousand or so buildings within it that the UNESCO recognized as being a part of the World Heritage in 1999.

Statue by the sea, in Campeche

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