Did you know that Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM) campus in Mexico City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007? It may seem weird that a university campus could receive this recognition, but if you learn more about the history of the UNAM and everything that surrounds it, the designation makes actually perfect sense.

History of the UNAM

The Unam is Mexico’s principal university and was founded on September 21, 1551 and was called the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico. In April 1910, shortly before the Mexican Revolution it became the National University of Mexico, when Justo Sierra, educator and first rector, presented the Constitutive Act of Higher Education, and then presented the large project for the university itself, under the presidency of Porfirio Diaz. IN 1929 the university received its autonomous status, which gives it the freedom to define its own curriculum and manage its own budget without interference from the government. 

The UNAM Campus

The university’s present campus, which is known as C.U. (Ciudad Universitaria), is a large and very unique place, with many attractions for visitors and locals to enjoy like a natural reserve, a botanical garden, a variety of musea, a stadium, and more.  

The campus was designed and built in the late 1940s and early 50s by a large team of a variety of different professionals, including architects, artists and engineers. The UNAM is considered an example of a large disparate group of professionals working together and a symbol of modernity of post-revolutionary Mexico.

The campus design has many green spaces and large open-air areas  making it a good spot to spend a day. One of the best-known features of the campus is the mosaic on the wall of the library building, which was created by Mexican architect and artist Juan O’Gorman (who also designed Diego Rivera’s house studio). The campus also has a mural by prominent Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros and a mosaic by Diego Rivera decorating the exterior of the university’s Olympic stadium.


1. Visit the UNAM Campus and be impressed of the size of this huge university terrain.

2. Walk around in the Espacio Escultorico which is a sculpture garden, the majority of which is made up of huge, abstract pieces, and is set within the ecological reserve. 

3. Go to the archaeological site of Cuicuilco, right next the UNAM. It will give you some insight into the area’s ancient history and geology.

4. Do you like science? Then visit the interactive Universum Science Museum which is located on the grounds of the UNAM. 

5. Visit the several other museums, including MUCA (Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Artes), the University Museum of Science and Art, which hosts a variety of temporary exhibits, mainly multimedia artwork by Mexican artists.

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