Campeche is a little known colonial city in Mexico and has been mostly bypassed by visitors to other places in the Yucatan. It was at one time one of the most important ports in New Spain. As such, during the colonial era it suffered more than 21 major pirate attacks by the likes of John Hawkins, Henry Morgan, Sir Francis Drake, Diego the Mulatto, and others.
In an effort to counter the pirate attacks, a wall was built around the city. It took over 24 years to construct the 2,560 meters of polygon shaped wall. There were three entrances on the land-side and one on the sea. Additionally, there were at least four major forts built in this area.
In the 1970’s oil was discovered offshore. Now this city and state are the major producers of oil in Mexico providing 70% of all the oil in the country.
What was our interest in visiting Campeche you may ask? We learned it was a beautiful colonial city and unlike Merida, it is on the water. In the 1990’s it was declared a World Heritage Site. This city has not been settled by hundreds of gringos and there are many old colonial homes for sale. We thought we’d have a look see.
The city wall is undergoing a major renovation. Roads around the city center are torn up and work is progressing slowly.
As in all these colonial cities, there are many churches, all catholic. Of course the church in Spain had a great interest in exploring new lands to spread the message. This effort was supported by the kings who controlled the purse strings.
Campeche had several churches in the historic central barrio. Most, yet not all, are in the simple Franciscan style.
So, what were our impressions of Campeche? It’s a lovely colonial city, it’s been restored well, there’s a great effort to maintain the historical buildings and culture. There were two big hospitals in the centro area and many doctor offices. It seems like a great place. However, the in shore waters are very polluted and not swim-able. That’s a big downer. It’s also quite expensive to fly from Seattle to Campeche.
Check Campeche off! Here’s a few more pictures.