The 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Peru

As of 2014, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has 1,007 World Heritage Sites around the globe. Peru, a multi-ethnic nation, is the proud keeper of twelve. From ‘lost cities’ and national parks to road systems, Peru will always capture the hearts of people discovering the wonders of the world.

Here is a glimpse of the twelve World Heritage Sites found in Peru.

1. Qhapaq Ñan, or Main Andean Road

With the help of five countries–Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, and Ecuador–this unique road system in Peru is now included in the World Heritage List.

To be able to trade goods and communicate with other communities, the Incas built a web of roads crisscrossing from the peaks of the Andes to the coastal area. The road system covered rainforests, valleys, and deserts. In 2014, UNESCO approved the nomination to include the Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System in the Heritage list. The process took thirteen years.

2. Sacred City of Caral-Supe

According to experts, the start of civilization in the Americas started in the Sacred City of Caral-Supe. Based on their findings, Caral-Supe is highly developed and some of its architectural designs are complex. Caral-Supe boasts of six large and complicated pyramidal structures. The city became part of the UNESCO list in 2009.

Plaza de Arequipa
Plaza de Arequipa. ©Wikiwand

3. Historical Center of Arequipa

The mixture of colonial and native architecture techniques is the main reason UNESCO included Arequipa in the Heritage list in 2000. The source of pride of this historic center is the unique archways, courtyards, vaults, and the Baroque structures found around the city.

4. Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana

Experts simply call them the Nasca lines. They believe that these “lines” or “scratches” were made around 500BC and AD500. Who scratched them and what for? Nobody knows. The lines and geoglyphs are mind-boggling even to the archaeological masters. UNESCO named the Nasca lines a Heritage Site in 1994.

5. Rio Abiseo National Park

One can find this unique national park in the San Martin Region in Peru. It is home to different species of flora and fauna. The main reason UNESCO included the Park in the Heritage list in 1990 is because of the yellow-tailed woolly monkey. Experts discovered the rare monkeys residing in the park and that they are endemic to the place.

lima peru
The historic center of Lima at night. ©Martin St-Amant

6. Historic Center of Lima

In 1535, Francisco Pizarro established the Historic Center of Lima, a very popular tourist destination in Peru today. The place is also called “La Cuidad de los Reyes” or “The City of Kings.” UNESCO included the center in Peru’s Heritage List in 1988.

7. Manú National Park

With a reserve that’s around 1.5 million hectares, Manú National Park is home to over a thousand bird and primate species, making it one of the protected areas with the highest biodiversity. Fortunately for all the species residing in the park, UNESCO added Manú National Park in the Heritage list in 1987.

A panel in Chan Chan. ©MacAllen Brothers

8. Chan Chan Archaeological Zone

Built in 850 BC, Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimu Kingdom. According to studies, it was the largest city in pre-Columbian America. Around 30,000 people resided in the city at one time. The place had its own reservoirs, ceremonial and burial chambers, and temples. This uniquely structured city became part of the UNESCO Heritage List in 1986.

9. Huascaran National Park

The Huascaran National Park is proud of its unique biodiversity, glacial lakes, and Peru’s highest mountain, the Huascaran. Aside from horseback riding and trekking activities, tourists will enjoy the parks eco–tourism activities. It was in 1985 that the Huascaran National Park became a World Heritage Site.

10. Chavín de Huantar

A former place of worship, Chavin showcases a unique appearance. With terraces and squares and dressed stones, the site became a meeting place of people with different religious, ideological, and cultural background. Because of the unique contribution of Chavin to the religious world, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1985.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

11. Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu or “Old Peak” became one of the best heritage sites in the country because of its rare location. The sanctuary, built during 1450, is 2,430 feet above sea level and is in the middle of a tropical forest in Urubamba Valley. Mentioning Machu Picchu makes people remember the Incan empire. The outside world learned about the place only in 1911. In 1983, UNESCO made the sanctuary a World Heritage site.

12. City of Cusco

Peru received its first World Heritage Site because of an ancient Incan city called Cuzco. In the 1500s, the Spaniards conquered the city, but decided not to destroy the extraordinary structures built by the Incans. Instead, they added other structures with Spanish influence. In 1983, UNESCO added Peru for the first time in the Heritage list.

About Author

Aleah Taboclaon is a solo traveler and freelance editor and writer. She's backpacking solo in South America for two years. Read her solo travel tales and tips in and follow her trips on Instagram (aleahphils).


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