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Other Sights in Campeche

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We had circled the path of the old fortifications which once protected the city, and taken a trip into the jungles of the interior to visit Maya ruins, but it wasn’t until our final hours in Campeche that we spent much time exploring the city itself.

Campeche Church

Comprising a five-by-eight grid of streets, the center of Campeche hasn’t changed much since the fortifications were erected in the early 1700s. We ambled along the roads, climbing up onto the exaggeratedly-elevated sidewalks when a car would pass by, and directed ourselves to a few of the city’s sights.

First up, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which took nearly two centuries to complete. The baroque facade is impressive, but inside it’s much the same as any cathedral. It does, however, have a small museum full of macabre religious relics, the best of which is a black wood and silver coffin holding a Jesus corpse.

Mansión Carvajal

Nearby the cathedral, we stopped in at the Mansión Carvajal. This baroque residence was built by one of the city’s most important businessmen and is today home to government offices. Visitors are free to wander through, although there’s nothing specific to see here, apart from the interesting architecture.

San Jose Church Campeche

Across town, we sought out the Ex-Temple of San Jose, which is most notable for the lighthouse sticking out of its roof, and for the blue and yellow tiles of its exterior. During our visit, this former Jesuit convent was hosting an exhibit of modern art.

On the southern side of the Plaza Grande, visitors can tour the Centro Cultural Casa 6. This colonial-era home doesn’t have the most inspiring name, but it’s filled with authentic period furniture and does a good job of illuminating how the upper crust of the eighteenth century lived.

We only had a brief taste of Campeche, and were left wanting more. Its cobblestone streets, colorful houses and colonial architecture are hard to dislike. To experience the city at the relaxed pace that it seems to encourage, you’d need at least three or four days. Perhaps even 91.

Locations on our Map: Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception | Mansión Carvajal | Ex-Temple of San Jose | Centro Cultural Casa 6

List of hotels in Campeche

More photos from the Cathedral
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More photos from the Mansión Carvajal
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More photos from San Jose
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More photos from the Centro Cultural Casa 6
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January 26, 2014 at 10:13 pm Comments (0)

Dzibilchaltún – The City of Writing on the Rocks

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The longest continuously-inhabited Maya city on the peninsula, the site of Dzibilchaltún is found just a few minutes outside of Mérida. The Maya occupied this spot from roughly 500 BC to AD 1500, and left behind ruins which, though badly eroded, are a wonder to behold.

Dzibilchaltún
An eroded stele, and the Temple of Seven Dolls in the background

Dzibilchaltún means “City of Writing on the Rocks”, and was the name bestowed by the Spanish in 1689. Only recently did archaeologists uncover the original name of the city, Ch’iy Chan Ti’Ho, but the Spaniards picked a suitable replacement; although today the detail has been lost from most of the ruins, this was indeed a place in which the Maya did a lot of writing on rocks. A couple of the more important stele, or hieroglyph-inscribed columns, have been preserved in the onsite museum.

Having just visited the Casa Catherwood, we were in high spirits for our visit to Dzibilchaltún. The ruins are fascinating, particularly the Templo de Siete Muñecas. Found at the end of the town’s main sacbé, or road, this temple is named for seven small clay dolls which were buried inside, presumably as an offering. The building was probably built as an observatory; it’s aligned so that, during the spring equinox, the sun will appear to rise through its doors.

Not far from the temple, we found the ruins of an entire city, including remnants of houses and even a pyramid which we were able to ascend for a view over the forest canopy. You can hire a guide to introduce the various features of the city; we passed on this, but were second-guessing our decision throughout the day. There isn’t a lot of explanation on the ground and it would have been nice to have an expert on-hand to point out the different facets of the ruins.

Dzibilchaltún Cenote

One area for which we needed no explanation was the Xlacah Cenote. Hundreds of cenotes pockmark the Yucatán Peninsula, but this was the first we had seen. These pools are the result of sunken caverns or sinkholes in the limestone terrain, which have filled with fresh water from underground cisterns. They’re popular places for swimming, and were historically used as a clean water source.

Apart from the ruins and the cenote, Dzibilchaltún has an excellent museum preserving some of the relics found here, such as the seven clay dolls from the temple. We spent almost as much time in the museum as out among the ruins. Less than twenty kilometers from the city center, Dzibilchaltún makes for an easy day trip from Mérida.

Location on our Yucatán Map

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November 27, 2013 at 12:06 am Comments (2)
Other Sights in Campeche We had circled the path of the old fortifications which once protected the city, and taken a trip into the jungles of the interior to visit Maya ruins, but it wasn't until our final hours in Campeche that we spent much time exploring the city itself.
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