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Valladolid: Magical Town

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Valladolid is without a doubt, the most important city in the east of Yucatan; in the ancient Mexico, already was the center of the first order population for the Mayan civilization. Valladolid emerges like a city of the first order, founded on May 28th, 1543 by Francisco de Montejo “The nephew”, it became a reference for explorers and adventurous people to know the great Mayan culture. It´s vocation was already written by its great historical weight from the remote past, from the viceroyalty era and the contemporary past: A Mayan city, a Spanish city, a Mexican city and cradle of the revolutionary ideology of the 20th century.


Strategically located between Merida and Cancun city (only an hour and a half from each one, travelling on the highway), it’s only 40 kilometers from Chichen Itza (One of the Seven Wonders from the Modern World) and 26 kilometers from the archaeological area Ek Balam. It’s also located an hour and a half from the Riviera Maya, near other touristic circuits: to the north, Las Coloradas, Rio Lagartos and San Felipe; to the east, Coba, archaeological site and the Caribbean.

What to see in Valladolid?

Valladolid has many interesting and picturesque places to visit. This colonial city is full of Maya culture and traditions that you can’t miss. The following are some of the most interesting places to visit

Xocén, el Centro del Mundo Maya

Xocen is known as the center of the world, a special place of the contemporary Mayan culture. Its temple of the Tun Cross is one of the most impressive places in the Yucatan peninsula to experience the syncretism between Mayan beliefs and Catholicism. 

In Xocen there are two main temples: the one in the town square, the Catholic one and the Tun Cross. Xocen is a unique and mystical place that you have to visit.

Iglesia de San Servacio

It is located on the south side of the main square and was ordered to be built by Father Francisco Hernandez on March 24th, 1545. In 1705 it was demolished by order of Bishop Pedro de los Reyes Ríos, as a result of its 

desecration in the so-called “Crime of the Mayors”. In 1706 it was rebuilt as we see it today, and to prevent the altar of the new temple from having the same position in which it was wronged, it was given a new orientation. For this reason, the church is directed to the north and not to the west, like most of Yucatecan temples of the colonial era that look to Rome.

During the month of October, festivities are held in honor of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar in which different guilds of the city participate.

Cenote Zací

Photo: yucatan.travel

It is a partially collapsed cavern of about 45 meters in diameter, and from the ceiling of the cenote or vault there are some stalactites that are formed over time by the mineral residues carried by the water. The flora of the cenote includes poplars, ferns, orchids and other plants; the rocks inside have algae and outside they are covered with moss. The depth varies, from 25 and 30 meters in its shallowest parts to more than 100 meters in the deepest ones. Regarding the height of the vault, in relation to the water mirror, it is calculated at 29 meters, and it is variable between the rainy season and the summer. Its fauna is composed of swallows, bats, catfish and a great variety of insects such as dragonflies, beetles, snails, etc. It has a restaurant where you can enjoy the typical dishes of Valladolid and Yucatan.

Salón de los Murales, del Palacio Municipal

Photo: valladolid.mx

The Palacio Municipal is located on the eastern side of the main square and it was completed in 1864. The building is a true gem due to the arches and carved stone columns, as well as its colonial balconies. In the main corridor there are four murals by the Yucatecan painter Manuel Lizama, which represent different stages in the history of Valladolid, from the Conquest to the times of the First Spark of the Mexican Revolution.

La Calzada de los Frailes

Built in the 16th century, this road was used to connect the town of Valladolid with the Indian village of Sisal (currently one of the most popular neighborhoods in the area).  This type of roadway was known as the Sacbe-Ob which means “White Road”.

During the conquest, the Spaniards lived in the center of the city and decided to build this road to separate themselves from the Mayan community.

Museo de San Roque

Founded in 1575 as a hospital by order of Mayor Diego Sarmiento de Figueroa, in what was the Convent of San Roque. In 1910 “The crime of the Mayors of Valladolid” took place.

Today it houses a small collection of regional art and tools for the exploitation of chewing gum. It has operated as a regional art museum since June 4, 1985.

Ex Convento de San Bernardino de Siena

Photo: yucatan.travel

The name of Sisal is a contraction of the Mayan word ziiz-ha, which is translated into Spanish as “cold water”. Construction began in 1552 under the direction of Fray Hernando de Guevara, Francisco de la Torre and Fray Juan de Merida.

The facade has a long-arched corridor with walls over 50 centimeters wide and a carved stone entrance. In the upper niche, above the tabernacle, there is an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The architectural complex consists of a church, a chapel, a former convent, an atrium and an orchard. It occupies an area of 14,121 square meters.

Iglesia de Santa Ana

Photo: yucatan.travel

Its main feature is the bell tower. It is believed that it was built in the 16th century and that it was exclusively for the Indians, since all the trades, except for the mass, were in the Mayan language. Its patroness saint is Santa Ana (mother of the Virgin Mary) and there is also San Joaquín (father of the virgin).

The construction is composed of an atrium, a temple and a sacristy. The temple is made of masonry, with a single body, with smooth walls and a facade, and the door frames are made of carved stone. The altarpiece in the background supports the niche that keeps the image of the patron. Next to the main altar, the figures of two saints stand out: Saint Dimas and Saint Judas Tadeo. And in an old chest the funeral ark of the Christ of love of this temple is kept.

Calzada de los Frailes

Valladolid is a city located in eastern Yucatán. Famous for its cobblestone streets and colonial buildings. This emblematic destination is full of interesting stories. Within this history is the famous Calzada de Los Frailes, an avenue that amazes its facades and historical legacy.

The Calzada de Los Frailes was built in the 16th century and was used to connect the town of Valladolid with the Indian village of Sisal (currently one of the most popular neighborhoods in the area).  This type of roadway was known as the Sacbe-Ob, which means “White Road.”

During the conquest, the Spaniards lived in the city’s center. They decided to build this roadway to separate themselves from the Mayan community. At the end is the former Convent of San Bernardino de Siena, which functioned as a center for converting the community as a whole to Christianity.

Currently, the Calzada de Los Frailes is an avenue with a lot of history. Although it is not very long, its surroundings are very colorful. On it, you can find houses, restaurants, boutique hotels, and even some museums worthy of being considered for good selfies. It is undoubtedly the most colorful and lively spot in Valladolid.


The magical town of Valladolid is an ideal place to visit. Because of its geographical location, this place is known as “the pearl of the eastern Maya” where you can enjoy places full of tradition and Mayan culture.

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