UNESCO Heritage Sites in Colombia Uncover Colombia
Tierradentro Unesco heritage sites


June 19, 2024, 8:34 pm

Colombia has nine official UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can visit some of them during your trip to Colombia.

1. Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia

Officially approved as a World Heritage Site in 2011, the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia is one of the most symbolic landscapes of all Colombia1. The Coffee Cultural Landscape includes parts of the departments of Quindío, Risaralda, Caldas and Valle del Cauca, and was declared a World Heritage Site due to the incredible preservation of traditional ways of life, mostly related to coffee production, and the unique Spanish-Antioquian architecture found in the region.

2. Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox

A bit off the beaten path, Santa Cruz de Mompox is a near perfectly preserved Spanish colonial town located in the department of Bolívar. The city proved to be extremely important during the Spanish conquest of Latin America due to its location on the Magdalena River, the most important River in Colombia, and was approved as a World Heritage Site in 1995. Visit to Mompox will surely transport you back in time.

3. National Archaeological Park of Tierradentro

Located in the department of Cauca and approved as a World Heritage Site in 19951, the National Archaeological Park of Tierradentro is an impressive and eye-opening historical site with some unbelievable examples of pre-Columbian human statues dating back to the 6th and 10th centuries2. In addition to these statues, the National Archaeological Park of Tierradentro is also home to the largest "pre-Columbian shaft tombs with side chambers" in the world2. The underground tombs and chambers are most definitely the most impressive part of the National Archaeological Park of Tierradentro.

4. Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments (Cartagena)

While Cartagena is perhaps one of the most visited cities in Colombia, many people may not know that the city itself is a World Heritage Site, due not to its beauty or charm, but to its extensive fortification system. In fact, Cartagena has the most complete and extensive fortification of any Latin American city, and for this reason was a key port during the Spanish conquest of Latin America3. As soon as you begin to explore the fortress walls still surrounding this colonial city, you will feel the power this city once held in the New World.

5. San Agustin Archaeological Park

San Agustín Archaeological Park is located in the department of Huila and boasts the largest collection of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in all of South America4. The collection found in the park dates back to the 1st to 8th centuries and is a stunning representation of the Northern Andean cultures and civilizations that once inhabited this area.

6. Los Katios National Park

Lying in the departments of Antioquia and Chocó, Los Katíos National Park served as an important crossing point for North American colonizers around 20,000 years ago, and it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1994, for its intense level of biodiversity, including a number of endangered animal and plant species5. Some of these species include: the Giant Pelican Flower, the Choco Tinamou, and the Rufous-cheeked hummingbird5.

7. Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary

The Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary is an amazing World Heritage Site. It includes Malpelo Island, found on the Pacific Coast of Colombia, and it is the largest no-fishing zone in the Eastern Tropical Pacific6. It is one of the few undisturbed marine environments left around the world and provides a crucial refuge for marine species such as the short-nosed ragged-toothed shark, the giant grouper, the billfish, hammerhead sharks, and silky sharks among others6. It has also been deemed one of the best diving spots in the world!

8. Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System

The Qhapaq Ñan, or "Great Inca Road," is a monumental network of roads built by the Inca civilization, stretching across six countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. In Colombia, this ancient road system holds significant historical and cultural importance, showcasing the advanced engineering and organizational skills of the Inca Empire.

In Colombia, the Qhapaq Ñan traverses the Andean region, connecting various pre-Columbian sites and facilitating the movement of goods. The Qhapaq Ñan in Colombia is characterized by its strategic construction, with carefully laid stone pathways, stairways, and drainage systems designed to withstand the region's challenging terrain and climate. Today, the remnants of this road system are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, symbolizing a shared cultural heritage across the Andean nations. 

9. Chiribiquete National Park – “The Maloca of the Jaguar”

Chiribiquete National Park, located in the Colombian Amazon, is one of the world's most significant and biodiverse natural reserves. Covering approximately 4.3 million hectares, it is the largest national park in Colombia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is renowned for its unique tepuis—flat-topped mountain formations—rising dramatically above the dense rainforest canopy.

Chiribiquete is not only a natural wonder but also a cultural treasure. The park is home to ancient rock art, with over 70,000 pictographs estimated to be up to 20,000 years old. These paintings depict animals, humans, and geometric shapes, offering invaluable insights into the early inhabitants of the region. The indigenous people, some of whom still live in voluntary isolation, consider Chiribiquete sacred, adding a layer of cultural and spiritual significance to its ecological importance.

The park's biodiversity is staggering, hosting an array of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic or threatened. Species such as the jaguar, giant otter, and harpy eagle thrive in this pristine environment. The park's dense forests and river systems support a complex ecosystem, making it a vital area for conservation efforts.

We hope you have the opportunity to include at least one of these spectacular places during your trip to Colombia.

Happy travels!

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Nidia Penagos

Nidia Penagos

Nidia started Uncover Colombia after feeling the tug to promote her native country through a positive perspective. What better way to do that than showing visitors the beauty and diversity of her homeland? She was well-aware Colombia didn’t have the best reputation and she wanted to change that. So in 2012, with the help of her Colombian husband and close group of friends, she laid the foundation to build a Colombian tour operator that offers unique adventures, safe experiences and utilises local knowledge on each and every tour. 

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