Historic Fortified Town of Campeche (1999)

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Mexico 1990. Campeche. 450th anniversary of foundation.

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. 

In its justification for inscription the UNESCO states that 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.

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. 

  • Mexico 1990. Campeche. 450th anniversary of foundation. 

The Mexican state of Campeche lies on the Yucatán Peninsula in southeastern Mexico. Campeche is a humid, tropical state that is sparsely populated in most areas and contains some of Mexico’s most important petroleum resources. The state is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on the north and the west; by Belize and Guatemala on the south and southeast; and by the Mexican states of Tabasco on the west, and Yucatán and Quintana Roo on the east. 

Mexico 1940. Air Post. Set of two stamps commemorating the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Campeche.  Stamp #1 of two. Mexico 1940. Air Post. Set of two stamps commemorating the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Campeche.  Stamp #2 of two.
The state’s three principal cities -- Campeche, the state capital located in the northwestern corner of the state; Ciudad del Carmen, the state’s largest city and the site of a major naval station; and Champotón, an agricultural and fishing center just south of the capital -- all lie along the coast, where most of the population is concentrated. The interior of the state is sparsely populated, with few roads. The region was at the center of the civilization of the Maya and a number of Maya ruins are found in the north near the state of Yucatán. A large percentage of the state’s population is of Native American ancestry, largely Maya, and Campeche’s proportion of indigenous residents ranks it among the top 5 out of 31 Mexican states. 
  • Mexico 1940. City Arms of Campeche. 400th anniversary of the foundation of Campeche. 

In the 18th century the city of Campeche thrived as a port and monopolized trade on the Yucatán Peninsula. Campeche and the neighboring state of Yucatán have a long history of economic and political competition going back to the 1700s. Politicians and businessmen in the cities of Campeche and Mérida (in what is now the state of Yucatán) vied for control of the region throughout the early 19th century. A number of violent conflicts broke out during this period and the two cities alternated as capitals of the state of Yucatán. Campeche seceded from Yucatán in 1857, shortly after the approval of the 1857 constitution, and became a state in 1858. Campeche also had border disputes with Quintana Roo and lost some of its territory to that state in 1902. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage sites in Mexico (on this website). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Mexico-section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 08 aug 2006  
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