Mexico City, Mexico

General Information

Regional secretariat

Administrative status

National capital and chief city of the Federal District

Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco

Registration Year


Historical function

Political and cultural

Location and site

Mexico City and Xochimilco are in the heart of the Anahuac Valley (Valley of Mexico). Situated at 2,250 m. above sea level, they are surrounded by high volcanic summits. The World Heritage Site includes the historic and archaeological areas of the Templo Mayor and Xochimilco.

Urban morphology

The Zocalo, a quadrangular esplanade in the historic centre of Mexico City, adjacent to Templo Mayor, was superimposed on the earlier urban square of Tenochtitlan, and the gardens of Xochimilco testify to the lacustrine works of the Aztecs. The heart of Mexico City was conceived according to a rectilinear plan, the arteries of which were traced on the earlier dikes. The new Spanish city possessed no ramparts as the waters surrounding it provided its defense. The colonial architecture of the centre of Mexico City presents a coherent ensemble which is enhanced by the use of “tézontle,” a vocanic material. The facades of the buildings that border the Zocalo Esplanade vary in style from Baroque (and Churrigueresque) to Neoclassical. The nearby ruins of the Templo Mayor testify to the different stages of the expansion of Tenochtitlan, as well as to its Aztec past.

Registration criteria

Criterion (ii) : From the 14th to the 19th century, Tenochtitlan, and subsequently, Mexico City, exerted decisive influence on the development of architecture, the monumental arts and the use of space first in the Aztec kingdom and later in New Spain.

Criterion (iii) :  With its ruins of five temples erected before the Great Pyramid, and in particular the enormous monolith of Coyolxauhqui, which symbolized the end of the old cosmogony and the advent of Huitzilopochtli, the tribal god of the Aztecs, the monumental complex of the Templo Mayor bears exceptional witness to the cults of an extinct civilization.

Criterion (iv):  The capital of New Spain, characterized by its checkerboard layout, the regular spacing of its plazas and streets, and the splendor of its religious architecture (Cathedral, Santo Domingo, San Francisco, San Jeronimo, etc.) and civil architecture (palace of the Marqués de Jaral de Berrio), is a prime example of Spanish settlements in the New World.

Criterion (v): Having become vulnerable under the impact of environmental changes, the lacustrine landscape of Xochimilco constitutes the only reminder of traditional ground occupation in the lagoons of the Mexico City basin before the Spanish conquest.

Historical reference

  • In 1325 the Aztecs, who settled in the Valley of Mexico in the 14th century, erected their capital, known as Tenochtitlan (later Mexico City), in the midst of the islands and swamps of the lagoon of Lake Texcoco. A holy city surrounded by ramparts was then integrated into the ensemble and a network of canals and floating gardens was laid out.
  • The heyday of this Aztec tribe, known as the Mexica, occurred in the 15th century, when the Empire, which had reached its maximum size, controlled trade routes extending as far as the Gulf of Mexico. This was also a time of religious reform, when human sacrifice was advocated.
  • In 1519 Cortés and his troops crossed the pass leading to the valley in search of gold. At that time, the city of Moctezuma II was the most prestigious centre in the New World. In collaboration with tribes who were hostile to the Aztecs following their religious reform, Cortés subdued and sacked Tenochtitlan in 1521.
  • The construction of the new capital, Mexico City, was undertaken following the Spanish victory on the site of the Tenochtitlan and its adjoining holy city. The drainage of the lagoon was not undertaken until the 18th century.

Source :

Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Registration Year


Historical function

Significant urban architectural icon of modernity in Latin America

Location and site

The ensemble of buildings, sports facilities and open spaces of the Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), was built from 1949 to 1952 by more than 60 architects, engineers and artists who were involved in the project. As a result, the campus constitutes a unique example of 20th-century modernism integrating urbanism, architecture, engineering, landscape design and fine arts with references to local traditions, especially to Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past. The ensemble embodies social and cultural values of universal significance and is one of the most significant icons of modernity in Latin America.

Urban morphology

The Central University City Campus of UNAM bears testimony to the modernization of post-revolutionary Mexico in the framework of universal ideals and values related to access to education, improvement of quality of life, integral intellectual and physical education and integration between urbanism, architecture and fine arts. It is a collective work, where more than sixty architects, engineers and artists worked together to create the spaces and facilities apt to contribute to the progress of humankind through education.

The urbanism and architecture of the Central University City Campus of UNAM constitute an outstanding example of the application of the principles of 20th Century modernism merged with features stemming from pre-Hispanic Mexican tradition. The ensemble became one of the most significant icons of modern urbanism and architecture in Latin America, recognized at universal level.

Registration criteria

Criterion (i): The Central University City Campus of UNAM constitutes a unique example in the 20th century where more than sixty professionals worked together, in the framework of a master plan, to create an urban architectural ensemble that bears testimony to social and cultural values of universal significance.

Criterion (ii): The most important trends of architectural thinking from the 20th century converge in the Central University City Campus of UNAM: modern architecture, historicist regionalism, and plastic integration; the last two of Mexican origin.

Criterion (iv): The Central University City Campus of UNAM is one of the few models around the world where the principles proposed by Modern Architecture and Urbanism were totally applied; the ultimate purpose of which was to offer man a notable improvement in the quality of life.





Sr. Martí Batres Guadarrama

Jefe de Gobierno
Ciudad de México

Plaza de la Constitución, número 2, Col. Centro, Del. Cuauhtémoc
Ciudad de México, México

+52.55 552.10028, 552.22855, ext. 100, 116
[email protected]

Sra. Anabelí Contreras Julián

Coordinadora de Promoción y Difusión del Fideicomiso
Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de México

Rep. de Brasil, número 74, piso 2Col. Centro, Del. Cuauhtémoc
Ciudad de México, México

5709-7828 Ext. 210
[email protected]