The Pearl of the east that holds a magical town
Steeped in history, witness to countless battles for freedom, and in defence of its people, today Valladolid will offer you a peaceful and magical journey through a heroic city.
In ancient times, Valladolid was named “Zací” by the Maya in order to honour their chief and patriarch “Anhsaciual”, which in the Mayan language means “White Hawk” and who was elevated to deity status by his people. Today we can still admire the statues and masks that represent this deity. In ancient times, Valladolid was also a stop in the journey of traders and pilgrims that used to travel the white roads that lead to places such as Chichén Itzá, Ek Balam, Cobá and Yaxunah—the pre-Columbian cities of the Yucatán peninsula.
Around 1000 BC, many groups of people, from places as far as modern day Guatemala and El Salvador established their home here. They chose Valladolid because it was a trading post, and because of its proximity to water, including the water wells (cenotes) “Zací and Saamal”. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived there were still 19 Maya chiefdoms, including “Chetumal, Campeche, Cuzamil (today Cozumel) and Kapul”.
The Spanish conquistador “Francisco Montejo” nicknamed “The nephew” (to differentiate him from his Uncle of the same name) established the village of Valladolid on May 23rd 1543, close to a Maya settlement called Chouac-Há. One year later, and after subduing the local Maya group of “Cupules” and taking over their capital, he was forced to move Valladolid to the Zací region, due to a long period of bad weather and also an outbreak of yellow fever.
There are not enough historical records that describe the fall of “Zací” as a city. But what has become clear is, after fighting against the conquistadors in numerous battles, the surviving Maya remained hateful of their Spanish oppressors. In 1847 different ethnic groups of Maya from the south and east of the Yucatan peninsula took to arms and rebelled against the white population, formed of “Criollos”(Spanish born in Mexico) and “Mestizos” (mixed race), in a social movement called “Guerra de Castas”. Later, in 1910, there was another armed movement that was the precursor to the rebellion against the then president of Mexico “Porfirio Díaz”, later known as “The Mexican Revolution”. Because of this, Valladolid is known as the "Heroic city".
What you should not miss in Valladolid
Because of its important roll throughout Mexican history, because of its archaeological vestiges and colonial buildings, because of its cultural richness that can be seen in the local artisan handcraft that still retains traditional Mayan customs, skills and techniques and because of its cuisine that is extensive as it is exquisite, Valladolid was awarded the title of “Magical Town” in 2012 by “The Mexico Tourism Board” (STM).
Must-do activities in Valladolid:
- A visit to the local “Donato Bates” market to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at good price and to taste the regional specialities such as: Cochinita Pibil, Longaniza Asada, Lomitos and Escabeche oriental.
- You can buy either in the “Mercado de Artesanías” (Handcraft Market) or in the “Centro Artesanal Zací” (Zací Handcraft Centre) saddlery pieces as well as stonework, jewellery or if you prefer instead textiles with embroidery, traditional garments like huipiles or guayaberas and also hammocks. It is important to mention that the first textile factory in Mexico was established here in the XIX century.
- You must visit the cenotes Zací, Ik´Kil, Saamal y Samula. You can also stroll through the local park “La fuente de La Mestiza” or admire the church of “San Servacio” and the convent of “San Bernardino de Siena”.
- Other attractions close to Valladolid you can visit include, the natural reserves “Rio Lagartos” and “Punta Lagunas”, the sand dunes of “Las Coloradas” with beaches of white sand and pink lakes and finally, the archaeological centres of Ek Balám and Cobá, among others.
To discover the Maya and also the colonial face of a city that was a witness throughout history of innumerable battles for freedom and to protect its people and land, today Valladolid offers national and international visitors tours and excursions in a peaceful and magical atmosphere within a city that is located only two hours away from Cancún.
Go Chichen offers attractive and varied tour options around the most interesting areas of beautiful Chichen Itza. Whether you depart from Cancun, Merida or the Riviera Maya, our tours can be tailored to your schedule and budget. For more information, please visit Tours and Admissions.