Valladolid, Mexico
valladolid church

Valladolid is a colonial town that bears the mark of being called the “Heroic City” because of its role in the struggles between the colonists and the local people of Mexico. It lies between Cancun and Merida.

It used to be called the Mayan name Zaci. However, when the Spaniards came to claim the city, it was renamed Valladolid and the Mayan temples were destroyed to make way for the cathedrals.

What distinguishes Valladolid is its simple elegance and Colonial style, including the detailed stonework of the building facades. This is contrasted with the sight of the majority of the population wearing Mayan dress.

Buildings and squares

  • San Gervasio Church – Here, you can see the cannons that were used to retake the city from the Indians during the Caste War.
  • San Bernardino Convent – This Franciscan style building is one that will awe you with its dimensions.
  • Main square ("Zocalo") – For a slice of the colonial life, the Zocalo is the place you could visit. Look for the Spanish coats of arms placed over the doorways. Here you can also shop for Mexican dresses and get a taste of the antojitos, such as the panuchos, tostadas and salbutes.

Cenotes in Valladolid

There are some cenotes in and near Valladolid. Cenote Zaci is a semi-open well that is home to a rare species of fish, a black eyeless fish called the “lub.” This sinkhole is entrance to a cavern with stalactites and stalagmites. It is located just two blocks east of the Zocalo. The Cenote Dzitnup (also called Cenote Xkeken) is just a short rive west of Valladolid. This cenote features a ray of light coming from a hole in its ceiling which is reflected in the clear blue waters. Its mystical beauty has made it one of the most photographed cenotes of the Yucatan. Cenote Sammula is a recent addition, but is also beautiful in its own right.

Rio Lagarto

This flamingo-filled nature reserve is located around 80 kilometers north of Valladolid, and is a place where pelicans nest and breed. Although one is not allowed to go into the nesting area, one can still see the flamingos flying over the estuary.

Ek Balam Ruins

“Ek Balam” means “dark jaguar” in Mayan. It is situated approximately 18 kilometers north of Valladolid. Ek Balam has a set of well-preserved pyramids with intricate details. There is a ceremonial stucco doorway depicting an underworld god with a gaping mouth. The central pyramid is also tall; in fact, it's taller than the highest in Chichen Itza.

How to get to Valladolid

There are buses serving the route from Playa del Carmen to Valladolid. You can also drive from Playa del Carmen to Valladolid. This is a 2.5-hour trip. Here are driving directions: Head south to Tulum. After passing the ruins of Tulum, turn right to Coba. Drive straight ahead until you get to a T-crossing. Here take a left, soon you will reach the outskirts of Valladolid. Just follow the directions to go to Zocalo.

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