Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia – UNESCO Heritage in Micronesia



Nan Madol is a series of more than 100 islets off the south-east coast of Pohnpei that were constructed with walls of basalt and coral boulders. These islets harbour the remains of stone palaces, temples, tombs and residential domains built between 1200 and 1500 CE. These ruins represent the ceremonial centre of the Saudeleur dynasty, a vibrant period in Pacific Island culture. In 2016, listed in UNESCO Heritage list.


Located in in the Madolenihmw district of Pohnpei state, in the Federated States of Micronesia in the western Pacific Ocean.

About Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia

1. The outstanding monumental megalithic architecture of Nan Madol is demonstrated by the wall construction using massive columnar basalt stones, transported from quarries elsewhere on the island, and laid using a distinctive ‘header-stretcher technique’.

2. Nan Madol bears exceptional testimony to the development of chiefly societies in the Pacific Islands. The huge scale, technical sophistication and concentration of elaborate megalithic structures of Nan Madol bear testimony to complex social and religious practices of the island societies.

3. The remains of chiefly dwellings, ritual/ceremonial sites, mortuary structures and domestic sites combine as an outstanding example of a monumental ceremonial centre illustrating the period of development of chiefly societies from around 1000 years ago, associated with increasing island populations and intensification of agriculture.

4. Nan Madol is an expression of the original development of traditional chiefly institutions and systems of governance in the Pacific Islands that continue into the present in the form of the Nahnmwarki system under which Nan Madol is traditionally owned and managed.

5. The property is authentic in terms of location and setting, intangible culture, spirit and feeling, materials, form and design. The overgrowth of the stone structures and their state of conservation means that many of them are unable to be seen, rendering authenticity vulnerable.

Best Time to Visit

The best months to visit Micronesia are December to March when the rainfall and humidity are generally lower. However, regional variations are to be expected.


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