Chiribiquete: From “Sistine Chapel of the Amazon” to a World Heritage Site of UNESCO

The 'Jewel of the Crown' in the Colombian Amazon, from June 2018, will become the 'Jewel of Humanity'

Chiribiquete: De “Capilla Sixtina de la Amazonia’” a Patrimonio de la Humanidad de la UNESCO

The forty-second meeting of the World Heritage Committee is taking place in Manama Bahrain. For this year's session, Colombia presented the Chiribiquete Natural National Park to UNESCO, to be analyzed and chosen by the committee as a World Heritage Site.

Leer en español: Chiribiquete: De “Capilla Sixtina de la Amazonia’” a Patrimonio de la Humanidad de la UNESCO

The application is made to be declared as a mixed site, both natural and cultural. The evaluation of Chiribiquete took place last year in the month of October by the two technical advisory bodies of UNESCO, which are Ikomos – for the cultural part – and IUCN – for the natural part -. "To our great joy and fortune, the concepts of the two technical advisory bodies were positive, recommending to the UNESCO committee that it should be included in the list of the world heritage site of Chiribiquete," affirmed Julia Miranda Londoño, general director of Natural National Parks.

The committee is composed of 21 countries, which will listen to the technical concepts of both IUCN and Ikomos and will make the respective analysis to register Chiribiquete in this mixed list if they consider it correct.

Only days are left for the declaration of the National Natural Park, which has almost tripled its size in the government that ends in Colombia. The official explained that "the UNESCO technical committee is at this moment studying and taking considerations about the World Heritage sites in danger, then they will study the declaration of the cultural sites, then the natural ones and finally they will consider the mixed sites".

For Colombia this recognition is very important, because the Park has an exceptional universal value both from the natural point of view, as well as the cultural, the endemism, the biological diversity and the little or no human intervention. These characteristics make it a supremely special place, from the cultural point of view, it is considered 'the Sistine Chapel of the Amazon', for its pictograms and archaeological evidences that date back more than 10 thousand years and that rest on the walls of his tepuyes," said Miranda Londoño.

This distinction generates an international commitment on which Colombia will have to respond to humanity, since it implies a greater degree of protection for the largest protected area in Colombia and that as of July 5, 2018 will have more than one and a half million of hectares of virgin forests. They harbor a biological diversity still unexplored in its entirety and a history that will still be studied.


Towards the decade of the 1940s, an important American botanist named Richard Shultes spotted the tepuyes from afar. However, he did not reach them and they were forgotten for decades until 1986, when the former vice minister of environment and current director of the Natural Heritage Foundation, Carlos Castaño Uribe, held the position that currently holds Julia Miranda, went to Visit the areas of the National System of Natural Parks in the Amazonian trapeze. Upon his return, the plane in which he was traveling to San José del Guaviare, had to be diverted by a large storm over the jungle, and so the 38 tepuyes were appearing little by little before the astonished sight of the occupants of the aircraft .

Its tepuyes, elevations up to 900 meters high with vertical walls that end in dense plateaus of jungles, are one of the most imposing attractions that has this "jewel in the crown". As described by Luz Marina Mantilla, director of SINCHI, Institute of Scientific Research of the Amazon, they are part of one of the oldest geological formations in the world. The Guyanese Shield and particularly in this point, meander hundreds of rivers and pipes, among the most important are the Apaporis, the Mesay, the Macaya and the Ajaju.

Read also: When we make the earth tremble

More than 70 thousand pictograms that tell stories, they worship the animals and the civilizations that inhabited this part of the Amazon, they become one of the most relevant elements for anthropologists and archaeologists from all over the world who appreciate this cultural wealth sheltered by many centuries in the caves and walls of the tepuis.

But perhaps the most striking of these pictograms is that thanks to carbon 14 tests it has been established that some of them date back more than 20 thousand years. Although some are just a couple of decades ago, some of those that were analyzed among the 75 collected tests showed that the most recent are 1962. For this reason, it is estimated that the murals can still be nourished by the three indigenous peoples that are presumed to hide in the dense jungles remaining in voluntary isolation.

Chiribiquete is the 'Jewel of the Crown' in the Colombian Amazon, but from June 2018, it will become the 'Jewel of Humanity'.


Latin American Post | Alberto Castaño
Translated from "
Chiribiquete: De “Capilla Sixtina de la Amazonia’” a Patrimonio de la Humanidad de la UNESCO "

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button