The first city in South America to be declared a World Heritage Site related to the Inca Empire

Every year, the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) updates its list of declared natural and cultural sites World HeritageHowever, only one of these places is the first city in South America to receive this title.

The Convention on the World Heritage Protection It was approved in 1972, but it was not until 1978 that the first sites were announced. Of these, six are located in America, and specifically two in South America.

In which country is the first city in South America to be declared a World Heritage Site?

In 1978, Ecuador became the first country to South America in having two of its sites included in the World Heritage List: the city of Quito, the country’s capital, and the Galapagos Islands, known for their giant tortoises, among other features.

According to the official website of the UNESCOthe city of Quito was incorporated for its historical architectural constructions that represent a specific era of humanity and for its great cultural importance. Despite having been shaken by an earthquake in 1917, Quito stands out as the best preserved and least altered historical center in all of Latin America.

According to several historians, the city was founded in the mid-16th century during the Spanish conquest, which displaced the declining Inca empire. However, there were already ruins of a settlement that predated the Incas.

Located at 2,850 meters above sea level, in the heart of the Andes Mountains. Photo: Pexel

What monuments does the city of Quito have?

Located at 2,850 meters above sea level, in the heart of the Andes mountains, The Ecuadorian city is the highest capital in the world and belongs to the province of Pichincha. Among its oldest and most important buildings, mostly religious, the following stand out:

  • 24 churches (including the Church and Convent of San Francisco, the Jesuit Church of the Society of Jesus and that of Santo Domingo).
  • 7 convents.
  • 6 chapels.
  • 6 monasteries.
  • 32 museums.
  • 13 places.

All of these buildings stand out for their cultural and historical value, and not only do they represent an aesthetic, but over the centuries they have incorporated Spanish, Italian, Mudejar, Flemish and indigenous influences.

What other South American cities are World Heritage Sites?

Although Quito was the first city in South America to be declared a World Heritage Site, it is not the only one in the region to have this recognition. In total, fourteen other cities also hold this title.

  1. Bolivia– Potosí (1987) and the historic city of Sucre (1991).
  2. Brazil– Historic city of Ouro Preto (1980), the historic center of Olinda (1982) and the historic center of Goiás (2001).
  3. Chili– Historic district of the port city of Valparaíso (2003) and the mining town of Sewell (2006).
  4. Colombia– Historic center of Santa Cruz de Mompox (1995).
  5. Ecuador– Historic center of Santa Ana de los Ríos in Cuenca (1999).
  6. Peru– Cuzco (1983), the historic center of the city of Arequipa (2000) and the Sacred City of Caral-Supe (2009).
  7. Surinam– Historic centre of Paramaribo (2002).
  8. Uruguay– Historic neighborhood of the city of Colonia del Sacramento (1995).

In addition to its colonial foundation in the mid-16th century by the Spanish, Quito has a history that goes back to earlier times. Photo: iStock

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