UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Guatemala

Colonial monuments of Antigua in Guatemala attracts many of tourists to the country.
Colonial monuments of Antigua in Guatemala attracts many of tourists to the country.

Antigua's colonial monuments, Tikal's jungle and Mayan structures, and Quirigua's ruins have been inscribed as World Heritage by the UNESCO mainly because of the intact integrity of ancient history that is part of these sites. For example, Antigua Guatemala has many monuments and ruins dating as far as the eighth century. These ruins still stand as if untouched by generations of dynasties and human populations. The Tikal National Park represents an excellent attribute of nature where pyramids, palaces, churches, squares, and other structures exist peaceful in a quiet environment. Quirigua Ruins and Archaeological Park is a jungle-like place where history is recorded in the form of buildings that rose and fell in the Maya civilization.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Guatemala

Antigua Colonial Monuments And Ruins

Antigua, Guatemala’s capital was founded in the 16th century as Santiago de Guatemala. Antigua stands at an elevation of about 1,500 meters in an earthquake-prone area. Before this, the city had survived many natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, floods, and severe tremors for almost 230 years.In 1773, the city suffered a major earthquake, but the historical monuments and structures are still preserved as ruins. The authorities moved the capital to a safer location which then became the City of Guatemala, the modern capital and the first city became La Antigua Guatemala. Before the shift, Antigua served as a cultural, political, economic, religious, and educational center of the region.

Antigua design is an inspiration of the Italian Renaissance. Most of the surviving buildings bear witness to the colonial architectural design in the Americas. Preserved monuments in the city include Captain General Palace, Casa de la Moneda, La Merced, Cathedral, Las Capuchinas, Universidad de San Carlos, Santa Clara and others. Before the mid-1800s, the city lay abandoned, but when agriculture production of grain and coffee investment came, people started to move back. Antigua Guatemala is a place of historical memories with Spanish culture, the monuments bearing the Baroque style dating back to the 18th century during which the city served as a center for the exportation of religious statues and images to America and Spain. In 1944, Antigua Guatemala was declared a national monument and earned legal protection. In 1979, UNESCO enlisted it as a world heritage site. The National Council for the Protection of Antigua Guatemala formed in 1972 protects conserves, and these monuments.

Quirigua Ruins And Archaeological Park

Quirigua is an old Maya archeological site in south-eastern Guatemala covering about 1.2 square miles along on the lower sections of Motagua River. In the Maya Classic Period, Quirigua stood at a very strategic intersection place of many trade routes and then for unknown reasons, it entered a period of deterioration and decline.Most of the city’s ruins and monuments date back to the eighth century, but there are other pieces of evidence of dwelling from AD 200-AD 900. During this period, the city was renovated to suit the functions of the royal residences and its administrators. At the center is the Great Plaza, Maya’s largest public space. It has many monuments around it like the Plaza of the Temple and the Ceremonial Plaza which have elaborate pyramids, terraces, and remarkable staircases.

The monolithic stone statues are carved in stone. The structures have hieroglyphic texts that describe significant dates, celestial events like eclipses, political developments, passages of Maya mythologies, and other social and historical developments of the city. UNESCO inscribed these ruins and monuments a world heritage site in 1981. In general, these monuments and ruins of Quirigua represent outstanding corpus of Maya artistry that withstood the hands of time as that civilization finally ended.Quirigua Ruins and Archaeological Park benefits from the highest level of conservation derived from the state of Guatemala. However, the site is still prone to neglect and human developments. The ruins lie close to the Motagua River and its geological fault, making it vulnerable to natural disasters. There are protective measures against such unforeseen natural catastrophes.

Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park lies in Peten Province which is largely a forest region often called the Maya Forest extending from Mexico and Belize. The park comprises of 57,600 hectares of savannahs, wetlands, palm forests, and tropical broadleaf where architectural and artistic remnants of the Maya civilization dating back to the Preclassic Period in 600 BC to the final decline and collapse of the city in 900 BC are found. These diverse ecosystems harbor a broad range of fauna and flora. There are over 200 species of trees and other 2000 higher plants. Animals living in these habitats include Jaguar, Puma, monkeys, anteaters, and over 300 bird species.

Tikal which served a major pre-Columbian military, political, and economic center is a remand of the Maya civilization in the park. The urban center or around harbors monuments like palaces, temples, residences, Ceremonial platforms, terraces, roads, ball game courts, and squares. There are many carvings and ancient writings and inscriptions in these monuments. The main archeological zone in the park covers about 1200 hectares covering aguadas-historic water reservoirs and other residential houses. Tikal National Park is a unique world heritage site made up symbolic elements like pyramids living in a peaceful coexistence with nature. In 1931, Guatemala declared Tikal a national monument and a national park later on in 1955. In 1979 UNESCO declared Tikal as a mixed world heritage site. In 1990, UNESCO discovered Maya Forest Biosphere Reserve providing the country with an opportunity of preserving and conserving the park especially with the financial aid brought about by the international recognition.

Conservation Of The World Heritage Sites

With just three UNESCO world heritage sites, Guatemala has a lot to show regarding past civilizations, architectural design, and inscriptions. The Constitution of Guatemala protects these sites strictly. As such, most of them retain their original touch of artistry.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Guatemala

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Guatemala Year of Inscription; Type
Antigua Colonial Monuments and Ruins 1979; Cultural
Quirigua Ruins and Archaeological Park 1981; Cultural
Tikal National Park 1979; Mixed

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