Founded in 1540 on the ashes of the Mayan settlement Ah Can Pech, San Francisco de Campeche is a beautiful colonial town and port on the north-western edge of the Yucatan Peninsula. Its history stretches back centuries to that of an important trading centre between the old and new worlds and played a key role in the Spanish conquest of the Yucatan. Today, the original architecture has been beautifully preserved and its historic centre a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. Colourful townhouses, churches and colonial mansions sit upon cobbled streets behind the port’s impressive fortifications - over 500 metres of defensive walls interlinked with forts, ramparts and gateways that defended the town against the unwanted attention of pirates and corsairs. Just outside the city, the Maya site of Edzna provides an impressive contrast to Campeche’s colonial splendour. Travel further afield towards the border of Guatemala and you discover the magnificent site of Calakmul, a breathtaking Mayan complex that rises high out of Mexico’s largest, protected jungle reserve.