10 UNESCO sites in South America
South America is a huge continent rich in beauty and history. Many of the most amazing sites in South America are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Discover some of these unique places:
Machu Picchu, Peru
This historical construction is one of best known UNESCO Sites in the world. Machu Picchu in Peru is located in the middle of a tropical rainforest, and was a pearl of the Inca Empire. A popular tourist destination and one that is on many people’s bucket lists, Machu Picchu defies belief with its amazing architectural achievements and natural beauty. This unique place has been on the UNESCO list since 1983.
Easter Island, Chile
Rapa Nui to the locals (in Polynesian), Easter Island to everyone else in the world, this mythical island made it onto the UNESCO list only in 1995, but it has long been a popular destination for those wishing to experience the unique magic and mystery of this unique island and national park.
This chilean island in the southern Pacific Ocean is very famous for its stone head statues called Moai (when you look to a Moai statue you are drawn to its disproportionately large head, compared to body length). It was inhabited by a Polynesian society around 3,000 AD, who established ritual sites all across Rapa Nui, many of which are still there today.
This Inca city is located in Andes mountain range in the south of Peru. Known as the “birthplace of the world”, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
It was the capital of the Inca Empire and had a unique and unprecedented urban complexity, and this was preserved even after the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Cusco is notable for its well-preserved colonial and baroque buildings as much as for the pre-Hispanic settlement. This seductive historic city is a must-visit for every history lover.
Iguazu National Park, Argentina/Brazil
This national park straddles the border of Argentina and Brazil and is home to one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls, the Iguazu Falls. It has an extension of 67,720 hectares (167.34 acres) within the Paranaense Forest ecoregion, and it’s one of the most incredible places to visit in South America.
After becoming a national heritage, on October 09, 1934, Iguazu Falls was declared National Park by UNESCO.
Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
The Los Glaciares National Park is located in southern Argentine Patagonia and is home to the famous Perito Moreno glacier, one of the only glaciers in the world that is still advancing.
It’s an area of exceptional natural beauty, with rugged, towering mountains and numerous glacial lakes, including Lake Argentino, which is 160 km long. At its farthest end, three glaciers meet to dump their effluvia into the milky grey glacial water, launching massive igloo icebergs into the lake with thunderous splashes. Visiting this please is a unique experience in a lifetime.
The city of Cartagena is a major port founded in 1533, located on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region.
This unique place was listed in 1984, owing to its impressive collection of ports, fortresses and monuments. The city’s claim to fame is its heavily developed military fortifications, which are among the most complex in South America. The port city is located strategically on a bay, and it was one of the finest examples of military architecture of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Cartagena was also an important point for explorers looking for the New World.
Nazca Lines, Peru
The Nazca Lines are a collection of giant geoglyphs – designs or motifs etched into the ground – located in the Peruvian coastal plain about 400 kilometers south of Lima, Peru. Created by the ancient Nazca culture in South America, and depicting various plants, animals, and shapes, the 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines can only be fully appreciated when viewed from the air given their massive size.
Despite being studied for over 80 years, the geoglyphs – which were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994—are still a mystery to researchers and to the entire world.
Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
This collection of islands in the Brazilian Atlantic was incorporated into the UNESCO listing in 2001, and their waters provide a breeding ground for many marine species, including tuna, sharks and turtles. With pristine beaches and jagged volcanic peaks, the Fernando de Noronha islands are full of tidal pools and lagoons.
Nowadays, these islands are famous for being a very trendy destination between Brazilian celebrities.
Brasília was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its modernist architecture and uniquely artistic urban planning.
The Brazilian capital of Brasilia was built to be the capital in 1956, and under the masterful watch of landscape architect Lucio Costa and famed local architect Oscar Niemeyer the city became the gold standard in urban planning and architecture.
SEE ALSO: Tiwanaku: the Ruins of an Empire
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
This national park in Chile is famous for being a unique destination for trekking, attracting both amateur and professional hikers every year. Dense forests interspersed with rivers and streams open up into tranquil meadows, and imposing granite peaks rise up from behind the clouds. Definitely a must visit for adventure lovers.