The state of Campeche, Mexico lies at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico’s Coast. It’s bordered by the states of Tabasco and Chiapas to the West, Yucatán and Quintana Roo to the East, and the countries of Belize and Guatemala to the South. The tropical state contains a great many things that residents are proud of and visitors come from far away to see. We are very blessed to live in such a beautiful (though hot) area. Continuing in the spirit of Cinco de Mayo and the National Travel month of May, Here is our list of the
Top 10 Things to See in Campeche:
Cities and Sights:
- Campeche City – One of the last remaining walled cities in the Caribbean and Mexico, Campeche City is overflowing with Mayan and European history, pirate stories and legends. It is an official UNESCO World Heritage City.
- Campeche’s Forts – On either hill outside of the city sits a fort that was built for protection from pirate attacks, but never actually saw battle because they were too far removed for the cannons to reach their targets in the Bay. Both house museums open to the public.
- Hacienda Uayamon – A cattle settlement during the 16th century, Uayamon reached its peak during the late 1800’s when its produced sugar cane and henequen. It was a model of 19th century hacienda technology and social progress with electric power, its own railroad, a hospital and school for its workers. Today the main house holds a grand hotel. It is located just 16,7 miles northeast of Campeche City.
- Becal – This little town is known for it’s art of hat-making. Local artisans use sisal fibers to weave many different styles of hats and accessories. The time our family spent exploring, seeing the homes of families who have harvested and processed the materials, and then sat in the caves they carved beneath their homes to create the incredible woven hats, and other decorations to sell was both educational and awe inspiring. The work ethic, generational relationships and family loyalty as well as the great skill involved in their craft has been the start of many conversations for our family. See photos of the process here.
- Palizada – The town of Palizada gets it’s name from the logwood that was cut there ages ago, and from which they now carve pieces of art. The town is very colorful, has a beautiful river front boardwalk area, and even a “Liberty Park” complete with a replica statue of New York’s Statue of Liberty.
- Cenote Azul – Cenotes are fresh water wells or water filled underground caves. The cenote azul, located in the town of Miguel Colorado, 65 km away from Campeche City, this cenote is 250 meters wide. It is an “open cenote” (others in the area are found in underground caves) with activities like hiking across the jungle, ziplines, kayaking and swimming in its crystal waters.
Campeche’s Mayan Ruins:
- Edzná Archeological Zone – Edzná means “the city of the wise water men”. It lies 60 km from Campeche City. The city flourished during the Classic period, and was a contemporary of Palenque. By 650 A.D. there is evidence the city was inhabited by as many as 70,000 Maya.
- Calakmul Archeological Zone – Located in the southeast corner of Campeche, only 35 miles from Guatemala, Calkmul is another center of Mayan civilization. The urban zone occupies an area of 42 square miles—twice as large as Tikal in Guatemala—and comprises more than 6,700 structures, one of which is the tallest pyramid in Mexico.
- Balamku Archeological Zone – This one is still on our bucket list. It is home to the Jaguar temple and surrounded by jungle, this pre-hispanic Mayan site is important for some very famous artwork that has been preserved there.
- Becan Archeological Zone – Becan contains structures that are among the largest in the state, rising more than 100 feet thanks to the ornamental towers that characterize Rio Bec architecture. Becan’s is also unique for it’s dry moat which encircles the entire city and measures more than 46 feet wide, 13 feet deep and 1.4 miles in diameter. In the 1600’s the Spanish had fortified their port city, Campeche, against marauding pirates. Between one and two millennia earlier, the Mayans, too, had sought to protect themselves from their enemies through an even more massive “wall.”
We can’t decide which of these is our favorite. Which would you most like to see?