Central America Independence Day: 9 Best World Heritage Sites To Visit On Your Next Vacation!

Nicaragua
NICARAGUA // LA CATEDRAL DE LEON // UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE: 2011: We celebrate Central America's independence day with some of its most beautiful World Heritage Sites. First on the list is La Catedral de Leon, which is considered the largest and oldest cathedral in Central America. Located in Leon, Nicaragua, it was built more than 150 years ago and has a fusion between Baroque and Neoclassical architectural styles. Renowned poet Ruben Dario is buried in the cathedral. Creative Commons

Central America is having a fiesta as September 15th marks the independence day for Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. In 1811, independence movements broke out in El Salvador in reaction to events in the Peninsular War, and again in 1814 after the restoration of Ferdinand VII of Spain. Both revolts were easily suppressed and the political unrest was subsumed into the general political process in the Spanish world that led to the Spanish Constitution of 1812.

Between 1810 and 1814, the Captaincy General elected seven representatives to the Cádiz Cortes, in addition to forming a locally-elected Provincial Deputation. In 1821 a congress of Central American Criollos in Guatemala City composed the Act of Independence of Central America to declare the region's independence from Spain, effective on 15 September of that year. That date is still marked as independence day by most Central American nations. Spanish Captain General, Gabino Gaínza, sympathized with the rebels and it was decided that he should stay on as interim leader until a new government could be formed.

Independence was short-lived, for the conservative leaders in Guatemala welcomed annexation by the First Mexican Empire of Agustín de Iturbide on 5 January 1822. Central American liberals objected to this, but an army from Mexico under General Vicente Filisola occupied Guatemala City and quelled dissent.

When Mexico became a republic the following year, it acknowledged Central America's right to determine its own destiny. On 1 July 1823, the congress of Central America declared absolute independence from Spain, Mexico, and any other foreign nation, including North America and a Republica system of government, was established.

In honor of the beautiful Central American countries that are celebrating their big day, we share nine of the most breathtaking sites to visit if you ever visit Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador. All of these landmarks have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, so you know they're worth visiting and worth your selfie! Check them out below and felices fiestas, everyone!

Guatemala GUATEMALA // ANTIGUA GUATEMALA // UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE: 1979: Did you know that the vibrant Antigua Guatemala was built Antigua was built in an earthquake prone region, 1,500 m above sea level? The cultural site preserves its principal monuments as ruins after the region was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. Creative Commons Costa Rica COSTA RICA // COCOS ISLAND NATIONAL PARK // UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE: 1997: Behold, one of the best places in the world to encounter pelagic species such as sharks, rays, tuna and dolphins. This natural site is only island in the tropical eastern Pacific with a tropical rainforest. Creative Commons Honduras HONDURAS // MAYA SITE OF COPAN // UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE: 1980: Discovered in 1570 by Diego Garcia de Palacio, the Maya Site of Copan is one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization, functioned as the political, civil and religious centre of the Copan Valley. Creative Commons El Salvador EL SALVADOR // JOYA DE CEREN ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE // UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE: 1993. Located in La Libertad department in El Salvador, this cultural site holds the remains of a pre-Hispanic farming community buried under an eruption of the Laguna Caldera volcano around 590 AD. Creative Commons Guatemala GUATEMALA // TIKAL NATIONAL PARK // UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE: 1979: The site is the ruins of an ancient city found in a rainforest in Guatemala. Tikal is also one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. Creative Commons Nicaragua NICARAGUA // RUINS OF LEON VIEJO // UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE: 2000: Founded on June 15, 1524 by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, Leon Viejo was the original location of Leon, Nicaragua. Between 1594 and 1610 the area suffered frequent volcanic activity causing to city to move to its new location, about 20 miles west. León Viejo is the only 16th-century, colonial city in America that has never suffered city-planning alterations during its history. Creative Commons Costa Rica COSTA RICA // STONE SPHERES // UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE: 2014: The spheres, locally known as "las bolas," is an assortment of over three hundred petrospheres in Costa Rica. They are commonly attributed to the extinct Diquís culture and are the best-known stone sculptures of the Isthmo-Colombian area. Creative Commons Honduras HONDURAS // RIO PLATANO BIOSPHERE RESERVE // UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE: 1982: This natural site is located in Las Mosquitas, Honduras and is a reserve with a lot of endangered species and some of Honduras largest sections of forest. UNESCO placed the reserve on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2011. Creative Commons

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Maria G. Valdez

Maria was born and raised in Dominican Republic, where she began her career in journalism covering human interest stories, entertainment, beauty and wellness for a national magazine. She moved to New York City to study Musical Theatre, but went back to journalism after graduating in an attempt of becoming the Latina Carrie Bradshaw. She has an unhealthy obsession with JLo and claims to be Sofia Vergara’s long-lost daughter, and has tried a crazy amount of treatments to keep looking young. She became a Zumba instructor for fun.