the second largest town in the Yucatán state and the oldest town at 464 years old.
The town has conserved all of its provincial charm and colonial flavour. In the main area, the Indigenous women sat in rows opposite the
church offering their colourful embroideries to those passsing by, the majority of which had been hand-stitched. In the park, great flowering trees have been planted and are surrounded by wrought iron entrance gates. Here you can also taste various fruits that have been freshly prepared, delicious appetizers or other typical treats.
The San Gervais Church majestically overhangs the square. The Church was built with stones from the ancient Mayan temples; such was the case in the whole of Yucatán. Also above the gate, you can appreciate the sculpted body of a Mayan serpent that has been incorporated into the Franciscan architecture.
The old San Bernardino convent became the Museum of the cultural heritage of Valladolid (open every day from 9am to 6pm, entrance fee 30$, free for locals on Sundays) and the Town Hall which hosts the beautiful murals of Manuel Lizama recounts the town history which was founded on the 28 May 1543 by Francisco de Montejo, el Sobrino (nephew) by the old Mayan town of Zaci.
Having been the theatre for various warrior events throughout its history, it is also called the Heroic Town. It was also here that the Caste War of Yucatan broke out in 1847 and also where the first trigger of the Mexican Revolution occurred on the 4 June 1910.
The animation of Zócalo and the old San Bernardino convent or the Sisal are the two places to visit outside of the Zaci well which is also a part of Valladolid. Partially covered by a huge stone vault, this well contains deep green water and has the benefit that it can be practically cicumvented at water level. However, the small route has been replaced by a cement pad! Hundreds of bats have sought refuge within these caves. (open everyday from 8am-5pm, free entry).
The old San Bernardino convent is at the end of la calzada de los Frailes, one of the most beautiful streets in Valladolid (take street 41 then 41A coming from the Cathedral).
If you have time, you can visit the San Roque Museum located behind the Tourist Office. This museum is free and recounts the history and the culture of Valladolid and its region.
If you would like to spend some time sunbathing, choose the X'Kekén (Dzitnup) well and the Samula just several kilometres from Valladolid open 7am-6pm for just a few pesos $.
Hardly 10 km from Valladolid, the Dzitnup well is of great beauty. The deep blue water is a very important source for the neighbouring human consumption. The name Dzitnup comes from dzitmop, dzit means "alone" and mop refers to a type of plant belonging to the palm family, therefore "place of the lone palm".
Valladolid is a good stop off point before visiting Chichén Itzá and is much less expensive than Cancún and by far much nicer too.
City map of Valladolid :
There are many "cenotes" distributed in the whole State.
The most famous are the ones in X'Kekén (Dzitnup), Ik'kil,
Bolonchocol and Kankirixche.
There are also many underground caves beneath Yucatán. There
are linked with a net of tunnels. These caves were and still are
sacred places for Mayan people. The most important caves are in
Loltún, Calcehtok and Balankanché; they are part of
the "archaeological routes" such as the Puuc
Route (Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, X'lapac and Labná) and the
Eastern Route (Izamal, Chichén
Itzá, Valladolid, Ticopó,
Yaxunah and Ek'Balam).
State map of Yucatán :
On the side road Valladolid-Chichén Itzá (123km), near to the Dolorès Alba Hotel (122km), the caves are open to the public everyday from 9am-5pm.
In 1959, En 1959, Humberto Gómez, an explorer who worked as a guide at the Chichén Itzá archealogical site rediscovered the caves treasures. It took him approximately 8 hours to make his way to the end of the route, where he discovered treasures that had been hidden by the Mayans in this very place 800 years earlier.
Dr Wyllys Andrews of the "National Geographic" was responsible for the inspection of this discovery and was clearly impressed by the sight: The drops of water destilées by hundred of stalactites and stalagmites reflected the glimmers of light. At the centre of this enormous vault he discovered an impressive stalactite that the weather had brought together with the earth just like a robust plant at the foot of which he could admire a large quantity of ceremonial objects that are also of significant archaeological value.
Balankanché symbolises the ‘jaguar’s throne’. It comes from the Mayan word Balam ‘jaguar’, a term which was also used for describing priests who had a distinctive title and et de canché, "siège" (kan, "high", and che, "wood").
The cave formation process is very similar to that of wells, the only difference is that caves the phenomenon is only produced in the places where the ground water is very deep. This is also the reason for cavities formed thousands of years later remaining dry due to filtration and landslide.
These caves cover an area of 1km² and have one entrance with a series of passages and galleries which run through to water level, 28 metres below the surface. Every now and again, you come across underground chambers throughout the passageway.
It was but several years after this discovery when Balankanché opened all to the public, who are now able to admire the beauty and the mystery that is evoked by the ceremonial objects that are exhibited here where they were found.
The site offers guided tours, light and sound shows, a small museum and a cafeteria.
Entrance fees: $42 for all visitors. The museum is open from 9am to 5pm. Guided tours available in Spanish: 9h/10h/11h/12h/13h/14h/15h/16h, in English: 11h/13h/15h, in French: 10h.
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