Chichén Itzá: a compulsory visit from Playa del Carmen to one of the most important archaeological centres in the world

Chicén Itzá photo. A master piece of the Mayan ruins. Mayan archaeological.

Chichén Itzá is located at 133 miles of Playa del Carmen, but it is almost compulsory to find a way to visit this impressive Mayan city which is possibly the best preserved. In Playa del Carmen there are several agencies that organise the tours. For example, the company Cancún All Tours offers trips from Playa del Carmen on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 54 euros for adults and 45 for children (plus 10% for taxes). This trip include transport in a luxury bus, breakfast, lunch, water and other drinks, the tickets to visit the sites…

Cancún Travels also offers trips from Playa del Carmen, with a wide range of several ways of travelling, so we recommend you to visit their website for more information. And, surfing the Internet, we can find loads of offers to get to Chichén Itzá from Playa del Carmen. We can even rent a car or go on our own. There are also buses from the station of the Fifth Avenue.

Chichén Itzá is situated on the Yucatan Peninsula, southeast of Merida, the capital of the State of Mexico. Its name means “at the mouth of the wells of Itzá”. This archaeological site has been declared World Heritage by the UNESCO in 1988 and, recently, in a private survey on the Internet, with no official value, was voted as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. Until the year 325, Chichén Itzá was a small village with structures made of straw and wood, but it started to get rich and be fuelled by people from other villages till it became one of the most prominent Mayan cities in its history. The first big monuments were built dispersedly and when the city was organized they were connected by a wide network of stone ways that can still be admired nowadays.

The majority of the most important monument is found in the Gran Explanada ( ) of Chichén Itzá, in the middle of which stands the impressive Kukulkán’s Pyramid, a four corner pyramid, possibly built around the year 800, on which there is a temple; and is sustained by a square base measuring 60 yards by side and 78 feet tall. In the center of each side rises a monumental stair way leading to the top of the structure. The stairways are flanked by stone balustrades and the stairway on the northern side we can admire two enormous and beautiful plumed serpent’s head, which are the effigies of the god Kukulcán.

Some experts agree on saying that these ruins, although clearly Mayan, show the remarkable influence of the Toltec, who were their neighbours from the north. The best periods to visit this impressive monument are the equinox of March and September, at specific times of the day; the sunlight bathes the western balustrade of the pyramid’s main stairway. This causes seven isosceles triangles to form imitating the body of a serpent 37 yards long that creeps downwards, something which those who built the pyramid had in mind and that shows the surprising level of mathematical knowledge for that period.

Francisco Cenamor

The Fives USA blog about Playa del Carmen & the Riviera Maya, Mexico

Archaeological excavations of El Meco, an antique and important port of the ancient Riviera Maya

At approximately 37 miles from Playa del Carmen there are the archaeological excavations of El Meco, which, even tough they are not open to the public, can be visited requesting a permit from the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History.)

Therefore, this is the perfect place for lovers of Mayan history and archaeology since there are no guided tours and we must go on our own. It is not difficult to get there, we only have to get to Cancun and from there travel some miles to Punta Sam. The transportation options are the usual ones: bus, van, taxi or rented car. And there is also an air taxi service between Playa del Carmen and Cancun.

If you wish to stay there for some days this is not a problem since there are many hotels in Cancun as well as in Puerto Juárez. Most adventurers can use the camping site.

El Meco is the current name of this region, since (as with many other towns) the Mayan name of this city is unknown. It is believed that the current name comes from an inhabitant who, during the XIX century, had a coconut ranch on the coast and the place was named referring to his limp.

Located in the continental zone of Isla Mujeres, it has the highest building of the archaeological excavations near Cancun. This building is known as The Castel, a quadrangular basis with four sections and a temple in the higher part. This building is surrounded by two smaller buildings that seem to have been a temple and an administrative building.

The central park of excavations has many other buildings. One of them has a long string of columns inside. The best preserved building of the lot is a little temple north of the park.

The road from Puerto Juárez to Punta Sam has divided the antique Mayan city in two and the zone near the coast is practically unexplored. There we can see the remains of a pre-Hispanic dock.

 

And precisely this dock is the one that gave importance to this city since it was a shipping area for the important religious and commercial activities of Isla Mujeres.

Recent studies have shown that in this area there was a primitive fisher’s town which apparently disappeared in the year 600 A.D. and that was uninhabited until 1000 or 1100, when a new city emerged, possibly for the service of Chichén Itzá, and one hundred years later it became the head bridge of Isla Mujeres.

Francisco Cenamor

The Fives USA blog about Playa del Carmen & the Riviera Maya, Mexico

Note: Feel free to visit our sponsor: The Fives Resort & Private Residences in Playa del Carmen

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Welcome to the Riviera Maya, a paradise for relaxing in a natural environment

The Riviera Maya is one of the most heavenly places of the Caribbean. It is located in Mexico, on the eastern end of the Peninsula of Yucatan. Some 74.56 miles of beaches that separate a sea of a bright turquoise color from luxuriant forests.

In the last years important and modern buildings have been developed in the area to facilitate a relaxing and welcoming stay to visitors. Besides, you will find many activities: long strolls on the beautiful beaches of soft sand, excursions to the forest and other interesting ecological trips, visits to the impressive archaeological sites excavations, scuba diving and other water sports, visits to the cenotes, peculiar source water deposits, and visits to typical villages of the surroundings.

One of the main advantages for visitors is the great variety of alternatives that are offered to tourists, for the independent traveler as well as the most demanding or the most adventurous sportsperson and the one that seeks peace and relax. And this is due to the fact that there is a wide range of lodgings at the traveler’s disposal, from a solitary lodge in the seashore to the luxury services of the hotel chains offering all the services, to the variety of small hotels that can be found in the villages of the area.

For those who love nature, it is not difficult to visit the numerous and luxuriant forests of the Riviera Maya. In those impressive forests, you can observe different species of flora and fauna that are only found in the area. Besides, you can spend the night there thanks to a network of bungalows established for this purpose. It is also possible to visit one of the best preserved biosphere and almost intact reserves: the ecologic paradise of Sian Ka’an. Not to forget the ecologic and recreational activities organized in the parks of Xcaret and Xel-Há.

From the marinas you can also easily access the abundant submarine nature to practice scuba diving or snorkeling along the bright coral reefs. For those who wish to devote their visit to scuba diving, it is mostly recommended to do the so-called “Tour of the jungle” which includes immersion in the Nohoch Nachich, the center of the subterranean rivers that cover the Peninsula of Yucatan.

Combining rest and activities on the beach with cultural activities is another of the interesting tourist offers of the Riviera Maya. The small surrounding villages and hamlets are characterized by their picturesque popular architecture, but of course, the most impressive is the accumulation of archaeological remains, a legacy of the attractive and mysterious Mayan Empire. In the depths of the immense forest, there is the pre-hispanic town of Coba, constructed intentionally among five lagoons and inhabited until the XV century. You can also visit the old walled city of Tulum, situated on the highest peak of a cliff and that shows the architectural remains of the XIII to the XVI centuries.

The most important urban enclave of the area is Playa del Carmen, a cosmopolitan and welcoming city equipped with the most modern facilities of assistance to citizens. Its streets are full of malls were you can shop as well as important restaurants and leisure areas. There are also other well-equipped towns on the Riviera Maya such as Puerto Aventuras, Akumal and Tulum, the ultimate bohemian city, where there is a fusion between the different languages of the visitors and the Mayan dialects of the peaceful inhabitants.

Finally, reaching the Riviera Maya is not troublesome at all since it is only some miles from the modern international airport of Cancun, where planes arrive from the most important cities of the planet.

All in all, the Riviera Maya is a heavenly place where to enjoy a wide range of ecologic tourism and relax at the reach of all pockets.

Francisco Cenamor

The Fives USA blog about Playa del Carmen & the Riviera Maya, Mexico

Note: Feel free to visit our sponsor: The Fives Resort & Private Residences in Playa del Carmen