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The 5 World Heritage Sites closest to Puerto Vallarta

By Paco Morás

August 17, 2023

Exploring the cultural and natural treasures that lie near Puerto Vallarta unveils a captivating journey through history, architecture, and breathtaking landscapes. Within a relatively short distance from this vibrant coastal destination, a collection of remarkable World Heritage Sites awaits curious travelers. Each site holds a unique narrative that resonates with the rich tapestry of Mexican heritage.

From the iconic Neoclassical splendor of the Cabañas Hospice in Guadalajara to the agave-clad landscape and historic tequila facilities of Tequila, Jalisco, these sites offer a glimpse into the diverse facets of Mexico’s past.

The Historic City of Guanajuato, with its labyrinthine underground streets and ornate baroque architecture, provides a window into the era of silver extraction and prosperity. Meanwhile, the Historic Center of Morelia showcases a harmonious blend of Spanish Renaissance and Mesoamerican influences, boasting a distinctive urban design and an array of historic buildings.

Finally, the Revillagigedo Islands off the coast of Colima present an untouched natural sanctuary, a testament to the region’s ecological significance. Embark on a voyage of discovery as we delve into the captivating stories and beauty of the five World Heritage Sites that stand closest to Puerto Vallarta.


Cabañas Hospice – Guadalajara, Jalisco

Distance: 281 km / 174 miles

Neoclassical building that served as a home for orphans from 1810 to 1980, Hospicio Cabañas is today one of the most emblematic buildings in Guadalajara. It stopped its operations during the war of independence and was used by the royalist army as a citadel. It resumed its normal operations in 1828 once again under the command of the clergy.

It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO during the XXI session of the World Heritage Committee in 1997. Today, it is the venue of the Cabañas Cultural Institute.


Agave landscape and old industrial facilities of Tequila – Tequila, Jalisco

Agave landscape in Tequila, Jalisco

Distance: 311 km / 193 miles

Declared a World Heritage Site in 2006, the landscape covers an area of 38,658 hectares between the Tequila volcano and the deep valley of the Rio Grande de Santiago. The landscape also contains industrial facilities reflecting the growth of tequila consumption in the nineteenth to twentieth centuries. Currently, the agave culture is seen as part of the Mexican national identity.

The site is also a witness of the Teuchitlán cultures which transformed the Tequila area from 200 to 900 years AC, through the creation of terraces for agriculture, housing, temples, ceremonial mountains and fields to play ball.


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Historic City of Guanajuato and nearby mines – Guanajuato, Guanajuato

Guanajuato Chruch

Distance: 601 km / 373 miles

Registered as a Cultural Heritage in 1988, the city was founded by the Spaniards at the beginning of the 15th century and became the first world center of silver extraction in the 18th century. Its mining past has been embodied in the “underground streets” and the impressive mining well of the “Boca del Infierno”, 600 meters deep.

The architecture and the ornamental elements of the baroque and neoclassical buildings of the city, built as a result of the prosperity of the mines, exerted a considerable influence on the constructions of a large part of central Mexico.


Historic Center – Morelia, Michoacán

Morelia Cathedral and downtown area

Distance: 616 km / 383 miles

Built in the 16th century, Morelia combines the ideas of the Spanish Renaissance with the experience of Mesoamerica. It has a straight lining, which creates the effect in which there is always sun on a sidewalk and shade on the opposite sidewalk. Well adapted to the slope of the hills, the streets of Morelia still follow their original path. More than two hundred historic buildings reflect the architectural history of the city.

Morelia was the cradle of many important figures in independent Mexico and has had a relevant role in the history of his country. It should be noted that the Historic Center of Morelia is the only one in Mexico that does not have a main square (Plaza Mayor). It was declared World Heritage Site in 1991.


Revillagigedo Islands – Colima

Distance: 815 km / 506 miles

Located 887 km off the coast of Manzanillo, the Revillagigedo archipelago is one of the most important Natural Protected Areas in the state of Colima. It is one of the most recent Heritage Sites in the list, declared so just 3 years ago.

The first island to be discovered by the Spanish navigator Fernando de Grijalva in 1533 was the island of Santo Tomás (now Socorro). San Benedicto was discovered in 1542 and baptized as “La Anublada” by Ruy López de Villalobos. In 1779 the last two islands were discovered, Santa Rosa (Clarion is the current name) and Roca Partida by José Camacho. They were occupied by order of the Count of Revillagigedo, who gave him the name they carry today.





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