Mayan History

March 05, 2014 No Comments
Tulum Mayan Ruins. Cozumel Tulum Mayan Ruins. Cozumel

In the heart of Cozumel’s shopping district, pick up some knowledge at the Cozumel Museum, housed in a former luxury hotel on the main avenue. Exhibitions showcase the island’s natural environment and detail its long history, which dates to as early as AD 300.

Relics of ancient Mayan settlements are scattered throughout the island. The Maya believed this was the home of Ixchel, the goddess of love and fertility, and Mayan women from the mainland pilgrimaged to the island to pay tribute to her at the temples. Legend has it that the goddess sent swallows as a sign of her gratitude, leading to Cozumel’s original name: Ah-Cuzamil-Peten, Mayan for “Land of the Swallows.” Outside of San Miguel, much of the island remains in an undeveloped natural state that the ancient Maya would recognize if they visited today. Relics of ancient Mayan settlements are scattered throughout the island of Cozumel. The Maya believed the island to be was the home of Ixchel, the goddess of love and fertility, and Mayan women from the mainland pilgrimaged to the island to pay tribute to her at the temples. Legend has it that the goddess sent swallows as a sign of her gratitude, leading to Cozumel’s original name: Ah-Cuzamil-Peten, Mayan for “Land of the Swallows.” Outside of San Miguel, much of the island remains in an undeveloped natural state that the ancient Maya would recognize if they visited today.

Located about a 15-minute drive from the cruise terminal, San Gervasio is the largest Mayan archaeological site on Cozumel. It contains more than 60 remarkably well-preserved temples and shrines. Their secrets remain forever hidden in the mysterious hieroglyphics that are still visible on the walls.

The most spectacular of Cozumel’s Mayan ruins are found on the Mexican mainland at Tulum, an ancient city surrounded by a 16-foot-high, 25-foot-thick wall. Visiting Tulum is a full-day trip complete with a 45-minute ferry ride to and from Playa del Carmen. The tours don’t leave much time for even a quick trip around Cozumel, but they tend to be worth it: dozens of stone structures, shrines, and temples are evidence of a once-prosperous Mayan settlement that flourished from AD 1200 to 1520. Tulum’s largest building, El Castillo, sits on the edge of a 40-foot-high cliff overlooking the water. There’s a small beach next to one of the temples. Gazing up at the ancient ruins while floating in the Caribbean Sea is a timeless experience that will be remembered forever.

Adults may prefer to sign up for the Tequila Tasting Seminar at Discover Mexico, a new park designed to showcase the best of Mexican culture to travelers visiting Cozumel. The grounds feature scale models of the country’s top attractions, including the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City and the Mayan ruins at Tulum.


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Explore the archaeological ruins and relics of the walled city of Tulum. After, relax at a private beach club on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera.

Hold on tight for a deep-water dorsal pull and boogie-board push. Then, encounter extremely gentle manatees.

Venture to a seaside terrace at Stingray Beach for the Interactive Chocolate Workshop. Learn about chocolate’s Mexican origins, sip wine as you sample, and make your own cocoa bar.


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