Maaah… Yucatan is so beautiful
Making history from 65,000,000 BC
Ah, how quiet Yucatan is. A hammock, a small marquee and enjoying the cool weather in the afternoon… Surely nothing ever happens here, right?
As calm as you see it, the state of Yucatan has gone through: a meteorite (yes, a meteorite), Ice Age settlers, Mayan culture, a conquest, caciques, pirates, emancipation, adherence to the republic , another independence… Oh and a caste war.
That’s right, Yucatan, like this first quiet and calm, but in secondary school he had his vago phases.
The biggest part is that each of these phases has left its mark on the state, enriching its history and culture, which is why today we can enjoy its tranquility while surrounded by its beauty.
Let’s start at the beginning, or backwards forwards… 65 million years ago…
1.- Chicxulub Crater
Yes, the same thing he told her until the age of the dinosaurs. Well, they say. The Chicxulub crater is located near the northwest of the peninsula and has a diameter of 180 km, and there are many craters that have an impact in the world. It is a meteorite that forms an average of 11 km in diameter and is also responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.
To tell the truth, there is not much to see in this area in terms of the crater, since the direct impact was on the water. Without embargo, one of the secondary effects of it are the hundreds of beautiful cenotes that will form in its diameter and all around the peninsula. So every time you’re cooling off in one of these heavenly spots, you know it’s a good story to tell your nearest dinosaur fanatic.
It might interest you: 7 questions to ask yourself when visiting a cenote for the first time
2.- The Mayapán League
Long before Batman recruited his band of vigilantes, Ah Mekat Tutul Xiu, leader of the Tutul Xiúes managed to establish a relationship of peace and alliance between three of the most important Mayan cities in the Yucatecan lands. The Tutul Xiúes, the Itzaes and the Cocom were powerful and wise Mayan peoples who, united, came to control practically the entire Yucatán Peninsula and some areas of Central America.
Its main cities, the segment you heard, son:
- Perhaps the most famous of the Mayan archaeological sites due to its designation as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Chichén Itzá is proof of Mayan wisdom, of their astronomical and mathematical advances, as well as a great testimony to their way of life. Although different towns passed through its history, during the period of splendor of the League of Mayapán it was home to the Itzaes. Hence the origin of its name: Chichén (mouth of the well) Itzá (of the water witches).
Also read: How to get to Chichén Itza?
- During this same period, Uxmal was home to the Tutul Xiúes, whose leader was responsible for the union of cultures. If you are wondering how influential they were in achieving this alliance, suffice it to say that they are the people who introduced the cult of Quetzalcóatl to Mayan culture. Uxmal is only about 60 km from Mérida and its buildings are among my favorite Mayan architecture.
- The city of Mayapán was the headquarters of the meetings of this league. During this period, it was home to the Cocoms, who brought with them a strong Toltec influence. The power of this city was such that when it dissolved the League of Mayapán and caused the flight of the Itzaes, they went on to govern the whole of the North of Yucatan and in their splendor reached a population of 12,000 inhabitants. Its nature as a seat and powerful city is visible in the distribution of its city and its buildings.
Today, Mérida is the most important city in Yucatán. It is the capital of the state and has close to a million inhabitants. Merida, moreover, is one of the safest cities in all of America and multiple international events have been held there.
Historically it is equally relevant, because it was founded in 1542 by Francisco de Montejo and one hundred Spanish families on the site of an abandoned Mayan population. Hence, it became an important point for colonialism and over time its relevance has only been increasing. That is why today we can see its influences in architecture.
Later, already in independent Mexico, during the period of henequen’s heyday, known as the era of green gold, Mérida was an important headquarters in the production and work of this material. This allowed the enrichment of the zone and the progress that was reflected in its advances in public students, trams and other technologies of the time that were still foreign to other states of Mexico.
Also read: The guide you need to travel through Yucatan
This period of prosperity was another of those that influenced the development of Mérida as we know it today. During the longest period, it is said that the “afrancesamiento” of the city, receiving strong French influences in its architecture and development, same as we can see today in iconic places of the city such as Paseo de Montejo.
Paseo de Montejo
- It is the most important avenue in Merida. Inspired by the French boulevards (especially the one on the Champs Elysées) and is surrounded by large trees, a chamelón and numerous roundabouts. In the latter you will find important monuments that will narrate the history of the city and the state. In its wide banquettes, locals and tourists spent time enjoying the view of the impressive cases, mansions, palaces and museums that were occupied by wealthy characters from the history of the city. In addition, it is an excellent place to find a place to sit and enjoy an ice cream to cool off the characteristic meridian heat.
Other important symbols of progress are four in Merida and one in the cathedral of Sant Ildefonso.
Cathedral of Sant Ildefonso
- Also called the Cathedral of Yucatán, it was the first cathedral in continental America (ie on land), being only the one in Santo Domingo older than this one. It was built between 1562 and 1598. Its history, like that of Mérida, has not been without adventures. In fact, during the conflicts of the 19th century, the Cathedral was the victim of multiple lootings among which many works of art, altarpieces and even an organ were lost. Today, the Cathedral is still standing and has been restored at different times, with a pedestrian walkway “Pasaje de la Revolución” next to it, which results in a very attractive part of the promenade.
One of the most important cities in Yucatan. Declared Pueblo Mágico in 2012, Valladolid is full of history in each of its convocations.
It was founded in 1543 (also by Francisco de Montejo) and appeared as a protagonist in a couple of historical events in Mexico. To begin with, it was an important point for the Mayan Indians during the caste war in 1848, but it was also here where the Rebellion of Valladolid took place (obviously) in 1910. If the date sounds familiar to you, that’s because, in fact, it was Considered one of the first sparks of the Mexican Revolution. In this rebellion, different groups face the re-electionist policies of the Porfirist dictatorship.
Valladolid’s main square is shaped in the traditional way of Mexican towns. A park in the center surrounded by colonial buildings, delicious places to eat and spend the afternoon and, of course, an imposing church.
Church of San Gervasio
- It is located in front of the park in the main square and today it is much admired by locals and tourists due to its characteristic architecture of the colony. Sin embargo, muchas veces goes unnoticed the important historical burden that this seat has. History says that in 1703 it was completely remodeled for bloody reasons. After an unfortunate event known as “the crime of the mayors”, two characters took the church as a refuge while they were being chased by the town, which ended up finding them desecrating the church to end their lives. To forget this episode, he collapsed and built again.
- Then, in 1848, during the Caste War, this church was a strategic point for the recovery of the city. The tops of their towers were used important to place the canyons, giving an advantage to the defenders.
You may also like: 5 Yucatan beaches you didn’t know existed
Another historic site in Yucatan that you should not miss. Its great relevance must be a living display of the different cultures that have permeated Mexico over time. It could be seen as a living timeline and that is why it is also known as the “City of Three Cultures”, as it brings together its cultural emissions from pre-Hispanic, colonial and contemporary Mexico.
- The archaeological zone of Izamal remained a secret for a long time. Without embargo, its historical importance is obvious, well there you go to the date: Izamal was known as “The city of the hills”, but why? If the Yucatán Peninsula is a plain… Well, it turns out that, before their discoveries, the five pyramids in its archaeological area were completely covered by vegetation. Their size was such that people considered them natural hills. The size of its buildings and its network of sacbés (white roads used by the Mayans) are testimony to how important this city must have been at the time, which, today it is estimated, was around 550 AD
- There are problems with the most iconic places in Yucatan and the most iconic places in Izamal. Its characteristic yellow colors contrast with the sky and the images are spectacular. Without embargo, it is not only the colors that distinguish it. The closed atrium of the convent has 75 arches that form an impressive corridor and surround an explanation of more than 7,800 meters. This makes the Franciscan convent of Izamal the second largest in the world, behind the Plaza de San Pedro!
As we have already seen, today Yucatán is characterized by its beauty and tranquility, but it is full of history. If we want, we are lucky enough to enjoy it on afternoon walks or comfortable cultural visits. Visit the historical sites of Yucatan as if enjoying a movie in much more than third dimension, you can be in the places of the events.
I must have missed several historical places in Yucatan to mention. Do you have some in mind?
Let me know in the comments!
Lee: How was the Yucatan Peninsula formed?
Luckily I was born in Mexico. Explore the world and travel for art and deportees. Finding refuge in nature