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Three Things About the Yucatán

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This installment of Three Things About the Yucatán is courtesy of Manuel Holden-Ayala,  Yucatán.travel

sacred sinkhole or cenote at Hacienda Selva Maya
Yucatán, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Yucatán, is one of Mexico’s 31 states. Cenotes, underground springs, provide fresh water for the entire Yucatán Peninsula. Photo by Deb Roskamp

1. Question: What are some of the “things” or activities that the people of the Yucatán do for fun?

the El Castillo pyramid at Chichen Itza
El Castillo rises 79 feet above the main plaza at Chichen Itza. Its 365 steps represents the number of days in the solar year. Built at the peak of the Maya classical period over 1,000 years ago, it is one of the greatest Maya cities of the Yucatán Peninsula. Photo by Deb Roskamp


Here in the Yucatán we are most famous for our Mayan Culture and the way that this has been expressed through Archeology and Gastronomy. Chichen Itza was recognized as a wonder of the world by UNESCO in 2007 and is well worth visiting either during the day or at night. At night you can view the Light and Sound show which projects the History of the Mayan Civilization onto the pyramid itself. We also recommend that when you visit you try the Cochinita Pibil; Shredded Pork cooked by being buried underground. Delicious!

2. Question: What’s one thing the public probably does NOT know about the Yucatán?

monastery on top of a Mesoamerican pyramid, Izamal
The Franciscan convent San Antonio de Padua in the ‘Yellow City’ of Izamal claims the largest atrium in the Americas (only the Vatican is said to be larger). The monastery was built on an enormous Maya pyramid, once the tallest in the Yucatán. In 1963, preaching in Spanish from that very monastery, a sombrero and serape-clad Pope John Paul II issued these words: “I ask for your pardon for what we did to the indigenous peoples in the name of the cross.” Photo by Deb Roskamp


In the Yucatán one can also locate the oldest Church on the mainland of the American continent. The beautiful church of San Ildefonso was built in 1562 and completed in 1598. The Franciscan sect of the Catholic Church built the vast majority of the churches located in the state and this influence has led a unique religious culture which gave birth to many colorful festivals and holidays.

3. Question: Share some aspect of what the Yucatán has contributed to the world.

Xcaret in Playa del Carmen
The gigantic stage of the Gran Tlachco Theater in Playa del Carmen, features more than 300 actors and artists in period costumes, complete with live musicians and singers, representing the history, legends and traditional dances from the different cultural regions of Mexico. Photo by Deb Roskamp


For a long time the State of Yucatán was cut off from the rest of the country and for 4 days was actually independent!  It developed a culture very unique and different to the rest of Mexico known as the Jarana and Trova which have now spread to all of the countries of Latin America. Famous Artists like Armando Manzanero have helped in spreading this beautiful music and making the Yucatán not only famous for its food and history but for its colorful sounds.

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