The Mayan Riviera

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Mayan Riviera.

Mexico is a country with many different weathers, landscapes, environments and people.

In the south east part of Mexico you’ve got the states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo, where the Rivieran Mayan is located, extending from the coast to some 40 km inland.

In the coastal side you’ve got many beaches with white sand as it is part of the Caribbean Sea. In Cancun there are many luxury hotels and several activities that can be practiced such as jet skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving (Cancun has the second longest barrier reef system in the world) jungle tours, swimming with dolphins, etc..

If you are afraid of speaking Spanish don’t worry, as tourist are important for this region almost everybody speaks English (and if they don’t, Mexican people are friendly and will try to understand your signs). To move you can rent a car or take the bus (if you go by car is really easy to visit the sites, since many of the archeological and touristic sites are in the same road.

About the weather, it’s nice the whole year and the hurricane season is in the winter. Because of the qualities of the soil, despite of having a rainfall average of 1.5 meters per year there are no external rivers, as all the water infiltrates to form underground rivers. The results of this are the cenotes and all the rivers that are found in several natural parks (such as Xel-ha and Xcaret). If you visit Xcaret, there’s a show at night (it’s included in your ticket) that it’s worth it,  it shows the history of Mexico in the last 1000 years.

Cenote

Cenote

If you are interested in ancient civilizations, you’ve got plenty of sites to visit as the Mayans were located in the south of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.

There are many sites where you can find ruins, the most famous are:

Tulum

Tulum means rampart/wall, and it’s the name that was given to the city once it was in ruins. Before the name was Zama, which meant dawn. This was an important center for the worship of the Descending god.

Tulum

View of Tulum (temple + beach)

The city was protected on side by the sea cliffs, and on the landward side by a wall that averaged between 3 to 5 meters. On the corners there are rests of a few structures that could have been some kind of towers. In the northern side of the wall you can see a cenote which provided the city with fresh water. As a tourist you can visit the three major structures; El Castillo (the castle), the Temple of the

Tulum Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God. If you go to toward the cliff, you can access the beach through a stairs and have a look to the impressive view of the sea.Compared to other Mayan archaeological sites it’s very compact as everything is close. It’s also one of the best preserved ones. If you want to go there you can take a bus or arrive by car.

Chichen Itza

This is the biggest site in Yucatan. It’s about 1 hours from Cancun, in the state of Yucatan. This was one of the biggest Mayan cities, and from what we find in the Mesoamerican literature this could have been one of the mythical great cities, with the most diverse population in the Maya world. About 1.2 million tourists visit them every year. The name of the city means”at the mouth of the well of the itza” (itza was the dominant class in that region before the Spanish conquered Mexico).Just like in the case of Tulum, Chichen Itza had 2 Cenotes that provided fresh water. One of them is called the sacred cenote, and it was in this one where many sacrifices took place to please their rain god Chaac.

There are several monuments:

The castle:

Pyramid during the equinox

Pyramid during the equinox

It’s a huge pyramid, with a snake head at the bottom. During the spring equinox the shadow on the stair takes the form of the body of the serpent, which was supposed to be their god Kukulcan descending from heaven.

The great ball court:

Court

This is the largest and the best preserved court in Mesoamerica. According to what the historians say, they used to practice some kind of matches between men. The ones that lost were killed, and the ones who won were sacrificed to honor their gods. The goal was to pass the ball through a small ring. The players weren’t able to touch the ball with their hands, and they were able to use their hips and feet only.

Temple of the Warriors:

It consists of a large stepped pyramid fronted and flanked by rows of carved columns depicting warriors, showing the cultural contact between two regions.

Thousand columns:

1000 Columns

It’s located next to the temple of the warriors, and it’s a series of exposed columns with bas-relief carvings of around 40 personages, gods, serpents and other animals.

The observatory temple:

Observatory

This building is called the caracol (snail), and it’s a round building on a large square platform. If you look through the windows, you can see that their aligned to astronomical events such as the path of Venus.

 

2 thoughts on “The Mayan Riviera

  1. ricardo says:

    Ahh I watched that movie a long time ago!! So i had a look at the pictures and yes, the game is the same one as the one we see in the movie.
    If you visit the Xcaret park, in the night show they do a representation of the game (they actually put a court in the arena, with 2 teams of people playing, and with a ball in fire (I think this is only to make it more impressive hehe)). In Yucatan there’s actually a city called “El dorado”, but i don’t think it’s the same one as the one in the movie.

  2. Amit K says:

    Wow! Breathtaking pictures!! Very nicely written too.. If I remember correctly the ball court is the same that’s there in the movie The Road to El Dorado… Is el dorado the same as Yucatan? or some other place? Is it a real place or a mythical one?



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