The capital of the state of Campeche is one of the oldest Spanish colonial ports of the continent.
As early as 1540, the Spaniards founded their city on the remains of the existing Mayan settlement of Kimpech or Canpech. After numerous raids by buccaneers and pirates such as Francis Drake or Henry Morgan, the harbor town has been fitted with a closed ring of fortifications, known as Baluartes, since 1686. Four city gates formed the only accesses to the historic city center.
Campeche owes its status as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage to this well-preserved and closed architectural ensemble. Nevertheless, Campeche, unlike Mérida in neighboring Yucatán, is (still) not a tourist city. It ows their relative prosperity to the oil occurrence far out in the Gulf of Mexico.
Besides the two Spanish fortresses Fuerte de San José and Fuerte de San Miguel, which are located outside the center of the city, you will be able to see many of the sights in one city tour: four of the six bastions can be visited of which the Baluarte Nuestra Senora de la Soledad is the most interesting. The interior is home to the small but extremely fine Museo de la Arquitectura Maya, with a collection of stelae and other artifacts of the Río Bec, the Chenes and the Puuc region. The buildings of secular and spiritual power are located around the central plaza: the Cathedral Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción, the old shipyard, the customs building and the former mansions of the most important conquistadors. The lovingly restored Casa 6, a building from the 17th century, which now houses a cultural center is well worth a visit (free of charge). The Mansión Carvajal is a splendid piece of 19th-century bourgeois architecture. Characteristic are their moorish arches and a large marble staircase.
Most noteworthy among Campeche’s churches are the Iglesia de Guadalupe (1575 – 1660) and the 17th century Iglesia de San Román, as well as the church of San José, which now serves as an exhibition space.
As one can expect from a harbor town, the local gastronomy has to offer some excellent seafood restaurants where fresh produce is offered.