What are the first images that come to your mind when someone mentions Cancun? Probably, you picture yourself lying on the beach, enjoying a fresh drink under the sun or maybe swimming in the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. Even if all this sounds absolutely tempting, Cancun is also a city that represents an important part in Mexicos history and it is interesting to explore this part as well. So, do you wonder how can you do that? Come and see the unique Mayan ruins of El Rey and other nearby sites too!
Get to Know Cancun
Nowadays, the city of Cancun is seen as a gorgeous destination located in the state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatan Peninsula that boasts very luxurious hotels in the Hotel Zone, stunning beaches, pristine waters, lively nightlife, fun activities and excellent food. But, few people know about the importance of Cancun in the era of pre-Columbian Mexico. Cancun is also called the entrance to the Mayan gate since ancient civilizations used the city mainly as a port to enter into other Mayan cities. In fact, historians and archaeologists have found evidence that suggest that ancient tribes lived here as far back as 1800 B.C. Fortunately, today, Cancun (and in surroundings areas) there are many archaeological sites that, even if they are not intact, you learn about how was life before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. One of the most significant place is Las Ruinas del Rey, a site set in the middle of the Hotel Zone.
The Most Famous Ruins of Cancun
So, one of the best sites in Cancun to learn more about the pre-Columbian history and culture of Cancun, and of the Yucatan Peninsula in general, is Las Ruinas del Rey (The Kings Ruins), an archaeological site located in the famous Hotel Zone just a short walking distance from the Hilton Club at Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 19 and 6,2 miles south of Cancuns Convention Center. Moreover, these ruins were given that name because during an excavation a mask and a skull honoring the Mayan Sun God were found. Besides, the skull seemed to have belonged to a person of a high-rank and it was decorated with a copper axe, a bracelet and accesories made of bone and shells. It is believed that this royal tomb was originally named Kin Ich Ahau Bonil which means The King of the Sun Face. Apart from the Mayan tomb, El Rey is also made up by 47 different structures such as platforms and temples that are remains of old religious buildings and markets.
Other Gorgeous Nearby Ruins
Aside from Las Ruinas del Rey, close to Cancun, there are other equally important archaeological sites. One of them is Coba, another Mayan city set almost 55 miles east of Chichen Itza and about 27 miles northwest of the site of Tulum. This ancient Mayan ruins, whose name means waters stirred by the wind, were built around two lagoons, is approximately 30 square miles in size and is the home of the Ancient Pyramid where people can climb its 120 steps. This Ancient Pyramid called Nohuch Mul (it means large mound in Mayan language) is the tallest at Coba; furthermore, it has more than 130 feet in height. A further interesting Mayan site is Tulum, which is located 81 miles south of Cancun. These ruins are the only ones built on the beautiful coast and is one of the few that is protected by a wall. Similarly to the other Mayan cities, Tulum fulfilled a specific purpose: it was a seaport for Coba where jade and turquoise stones were commercialised. In addition to this, the wall of Tulum, which is 2572 feet long, served to protect the Mayan population from invaders and it encloses the city on three sides. Also, the wall 22 feet thick and it is between 10 and 22 feet high. Other remaining structures of Tulum are El Castillo (The Castle), The Temple of the Frescoes and The Temple of the Descending God.
All in all, Cancun can offer you so much more besides sun, drinks, beaches and sea. Although it may seem so tempting, dare to explore the historical side of Cancun not many people are aware of. So, what are you doing on your next vacations? Come to Cancun and get ready to live an incredible experience.
Image: Flickr by júbilo haku