Valladolid Mexico: A Magical Town in Yucatan Not to be Missed
The colonial Magical Town of Valladolid Mexico, in the Yucatan Peninsula, has splendid architecture, beautiful cenotes, archaeological sites, ecological parks, and much more.
Valladolid was founded on May 28, 1543, by the conquistador Francisco de Montejo, who drew the town’s plan and named it to honor the Castilian city of the same name.
In 1833 the first yarn and fabric factory to use steam-powered machines in Mexico was installed in Valladolid, and in 1848 it fell into the hands of the indigenous people in the middle of the Caste War.
In 1910, Valladolid Mexico, was the scene of the precursor movement of the Mexican Revolution.
Where is Valladolid Yucatan?
Valladolid, also called “La Sultana de Oriente,” is located in the northern sector of Yucatan, about 100 kilometers from the Caribbean Sea.
It has about 53,000 inhabitants and is the most populated city in the state, just after Merida and Kanasin.
The nearest major towns are Cancun, 158 km away; Merida, 162 km away; and Kanasín, 156 km away.
The ancient Mayan city of Chichén Itzá is only 50 km from the Magical Town.
What kind of weather can I expect?
This Magical Yucatecan Town has a warm tropical climate with a rainy season that extends from May to October.
With an altitude of only 25 meters above sea level, the average temperature in the city is 26 °C.
Spring, summer, and autumn are hot, with 28 °C and peaks above 30 °C; winter cools down to 19 or 21 °C between December and February.
Valladolid Mexico, best things to do and see
This colonial city stands out for its civil and religious architecture.
Among the Christian buildings is the Church of San Servacio, the Temple and former convent of San Bernandino de Siena, the Church of Santa Lucía, the Temple of Candelaria, and the Church of San Juan.
The most distinguished civil constructions and spaces are the Main Square, the Casa de Los Venados, the Municipal Palace, the Calzada de Los Frailes, the San Roque Museum, the Casa Cantón, and the Parque de Los Héroes.
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Other archaeological and tourist interest sites are the Mayan site of Ek Balam, the nearby Cenotes, the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, the beach town of El Cuyo, and some old haciendas.
The main square of Valladolid, or Francisco Cantón Main Park, is a sizeable tree-lined space with ironwork benches and pleasant walkways built on the site of a Mayan pyramid.
The plaza was laid out in the middle of the 16th century during the founding of the town and has a beautiful Spanish railing, protected landscaping, and a central fountain with a monument dedicated to the mestiza vallisoletana.
The Mestiza was sculpted in 1924 by artist Manuel Cachón Cimá and wears a Yucatecan terno, the typical regional costume of three pieces: fustán, hipil, and jubón.
Visit the Church of San Servacio
The Catholic Church’s architectural tradition establishes that the church’s entrance must face west.
However, this Valladolid temple in front of the Main Square has its current entrance facing north due to a dramatic historical event.
On the night of July 15, 1703, Fernando Hipólito de Osorno and Pedro Gabriel Covarrubias were murdered inside the church by order of the mayors Ruiz de Ayuso and Fernando Tovar.
The event went down in history as the “Crimen de Los Alcaldes” (Crime of the Mayors), and the church was remodeled as atonement, changing its entrance.
However, the entrance of the original façade was preserved with the images of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
Explore la Casa de los Venados in Valladolid Mexico
This immense 1700-square-meter house museum is owned by John and Dorianne Venator, an American couple who, after buying it, took ten years to renovate and refurbish it to exhibit more than 3,000 pieces of Mexican folk art, the most extensive collection in the country in private hands.
It is housed in an old colonial mansion in the historic center, next to the Municipal Palace. It opens daily from 10 AM, charging a modest fee to finance charitable works.
Admire the Temple and former convent of San Bernardino de Siena
This religious complex in the Sisal neighborhood is Valladolid’s central architectural symbol.
It was built in 1552 under the direction of the architect and Franciscan friar Juan de Mérida.
The temple was erected for religious and defensive purposes, with walls up to 3 meters thick, making it a medieval fortress in the Franciscan style.
The convent facade has a porch with semicircular arches, with two chapels on the sides.
Inside the main altarpiece, several sculptures in niches and the remains of some original frescoes stand out.
Visit the Templo de Santa Lucía and San Juan
The Sicilian martyr, patron saint of the blind, is venerated in the church of Santa Lucía in the Valladolid neighborhood of the same name.
The church of Santa Lucia was built at the beginning of the 17th century and is located in front of a cozy park frequented by the locals for its quiet and familiar atmosphere.
The height of its vaulted ceiling is distinguished in the sober temple, and a simple belfry crowns the facade with three clearings for the bells.
The frames of the doors present carved ornamentation with vegetable motifs.
The temple of San Juan and its slender twin towers topped by quadrangular pyramidal pylons is located on 40th Street, in front of San Juan Park.
The main facade has a semicircular arch with a quarry stone frame, a coral window, and three small circular windows, also with quarry stone frames and a railing that connects the two towers.
There is a Solomonic-style altarpiece decorated with vegetal motifs, a baptismal font, and some niches with images in the interior.
The Municipal Palace of Valladolid Yucatan
This two-story building was erected in the 14th century and remodeled in the 19th century, built in the image and likeness of the Royal House of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The mustard-colored building has a long arcade of semicircular arches supported by stone columns.
The central balcony has a double Tuscan colonnade, with the opening crowned by a skirting board.
On the upper floor are oil paintings of the revolutionaries shot during the First Revolutionary Spark in June 1910.
Corridors are carved with the city’s coat of arms in one of the buildings.
What is the interest of the Calzada de Los Frailes?
Calzada de los Frailes is one of the most beautiful and picturesque streets of Valladolid Mexico.
Its colonial facade houses harmonious colors bordered in white, flanking the cobblestone pavement.
The street was built in the XVI century to communicate the city’s center with the Barrio de Sisal, particularly with the temple and former convent of San Bernardino de Siena, located in that neighborhood.
Walking along this street, from one end to the other, is like returning to when the parishioners circulated in horse-drawn carriages, notwithstanding the automobiles that the current owners park in front of their mansions.
Tour the San Roque Museum in Valladolid
This building, located on 40th Street, one block from the cathedral, was in the 16th century a religious complex made up of an abbey and a church, later becoming the first hospital in the city.
In the 1980s, the building was restored and converted into a regional history museum, particularly Yucatecan and Valladolid Mexico.
The main archaeological piece on display is a carved stone snake head brought from the archaeological site of Ek Balam, also including handicrafts and documents.
It is open from 8 AM to 8 PM and offers free admission.
What is the history of Casa Cantón?
This large house in the historic center of Valladolid is one of the most historic in the city.
At the beginning of the 19th century, it was the residence of Don Roque Rosado, who was the town attorney.
In the 1830s, the house became the property of Pedro Sainz de Baranda y Borreiro, a Mexican patriot who participated in the famous Naval Battle of Trafalgar as a subject of Spain and later defeated the Spanish in Veracruz during the Mexican War of Independence.
In 1863, the house passed into the hands of General Francisco Cantón Rosado, and his nephew, Delio Moreno Cantón, a notable liberal, writer, and journalist from Valladolid Mexico, was born there.
Admire the Heroes’ Park
This beautiful wooded park, with green areas and rose bushes, is linked to several characters who were the protagonists of historical events in the city.
There lie the mortal remains of Fernando Hipólito de Osorno and Pedro Gabriel Covarrubias, the officials assassinated on the night of July 15, 1703, inside the temple of San Servacio in the episode known as the “Crime of the Mayors.”
Claudio Alcocer, Atilano Albertos, Máximo Bonilla, and José Kantún, the Valladolid revolutionaries who started the Mexican Revolution in the city, were shot in the Parque de Los Héroes.
Ek Balam Archaeological Zone near Valladolid Mexico
This Mayan archaeological site is located 30 km from Valladolid and is one of the most relevant of the late classic period.
Among its main buildings are the Acropolis, the Oval Palace, the Twin Pyramids, and the ball game court.
The Acropolis has a floor plan of 146 by 55 meters and a height of 29 meters, being the most important structure.
Its plaster frieze, more than 2,000 years old, is extraordinarily well preserved, and the decoration features an open-jawed door, the fangs of a monster, and a sovereign on his throne.
The mural paintings are of fantastic realism.
Explore the Valladolid Cenotes
According to Mayan mythology, at the bottom of the beautiful Cenote Zací dwell the souls of Hul-Kin and Zac-Nicte, a couple in love; nevertheless, people bathe in its crystalline and refreshing waters without any setback.
Cenote XKekén is 2 km from the city and is also known as the Blue Cave since it is located in a subway cavern through whose vault the sun’s rays enter.
The sun’s rays create a beautifully luminous effect in the turquoise-blue waters.
Where is the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve?
About 105 km north of Valladolid is the Ría Celestun Biosphere Reserve, an ecotourism paradise facing the Caribbean Sea, home to 340 birds, 50 mammals, and 95 reptile species.
This semi-enclosed body of water is the natural habitat of the beautiful Mexican pink flamingo.
Visiting the estuary will allow you to admire hundreds of thousands of these birds, which dress the landscape pink.
In 1986 this reserve became the first in Mexico to obtain Ramsar Site status, including the most important wetlands for biodiversity in the world.
What can I do in El Cuyo, Yucatan?
Within the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve is the fishing village of El Cuyo, a picturesque town full of coconut, palm, and ceibo trees.
The beach of El Cuyo has fine sand and is an ideal place to practice your favorite water sports.
Another attraction of El Cuyo is its spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
At the pier, you can ride a speedboat to go to Holbox Island on an adventure that is a journey of an hour and a half.
The most romantic visitors usually make bonfires to watch the starry sky and enjoy the fresh air with pleasant company in the evenings.
Take a tour of the main Haciendas
In the vicinity of Valladolid, some old Yucatecan haciendas have been conditioned as excellent ecotourism parks to enjoy different entertainment.
Hacienda La Guadalupana is a 7-hectare space where you can practice hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, sport fishing, and extreme sports.
The park has a large and elegant restaurant for 300 people. Hacienda San Miguel was founded in the 16th century and now has equipped cabins, palapas with hammocks, and places for outdoor entertainment.
Also, if you want to grab a souvenir, remember that local artisans make beautifully embroidered huipiles and other pieces, such as the typical Yucatecan guayabera (A traditional piece of menswear shirt distinguished by its four front pockets and two vertical stripes of pleating and embroidery).
They also work in stone and wood carving, jewelry, saddlery, and basketry of natural fibers. In front of the Francisco Cantón Main Park is the Zací Regional Crafts Center, where you will find a wide variety of pieces to take home authentic souvenirs of the Magical Town.
Every house in Valladolid Mexico has an old history. The Centro Regional de Artesanías Zací was originally Casa Cural, Escuela Modelo, Cátedra de Ejercicios Militares, and a private residence.
What are the favorite foods of the people of Valladolid Mexico?
Residents are big eaters of traditional Yucatan Foods like the frijol con Puerco (beans with pork), puchero de gallina (chicken stew), and pipián de Venado (deer stew).
They also sink their teeth into salbutes, panuchos, and papadzules, without forgetting the stuffed cheeses and cochinita pibil, which they prepare in earth ovens known since pre-Hispanic times.
The symbolic drink is xtabentun, a Mayan liquor prepared with the xtabentún flower, a plant similar to anise, and bee honey.
The desserts are yucca candy with honey, cocoyol in syrup, and candied pumpkin.
Each Valladolid Yucatan neighborhood has festivities in honor of its patron or eponymous saint.
Among the liveliest is the Feria de la Candelaria, in the community of the same name, a festival celebrated before and after February 2, the day of the Virgin of Candelaria.
The feast of San Servacio is in October, having as the main scenario the temple of the historical center.
Between June 3 and 4, the First Spark of the Revolution is celebrated, with a simulation commemorating the taking of the main square by the revolutionary forces.
The Cultural Autumn is between October and November, with artistic and cultural events in central park, the Casa de la Cultura, and other venues.
Valladolid Yucatan Hotels
- Zentik Boutique Hotel in downtown Valladolid Yucatan is a small hotel with first-class services and an exquisite breakfast
- On Calle 40 in front of Parque San Juan is the Hotel Posada San Juan; it is located in a beautiful colonial-style building, and its clients describe it as impeccable
- The Candelaria Hostel is located on 35th Street in front of the park of the same name and is distinguished by its clean but straightforward atmosphere and low rates
Where to eat
- Yerbabuena del Sisal is a nice restaurant with a terrace located in front of the former convent of San Bernardino de Siena, which serves Mexican and international food prepared with organic ingredients
- El Mesón del Marqués is the restaurant of a hotel of the same name and has some typical Yucatecan dishes on its menu, such as the cochinita pibil and panuchos
- If you feel like eating classic tacos with freshly made tortillas, you should go to MAQtacos, which also offers Spanish and Mexican food
- El Atrio del Mayab specializes in Yucatecan food
I hope that your visit to Valladolid Mexico meets all your expectations and that this guide will greatly help you in the Yucatecan Pueblo Mágico.
Stay safe and healthy. Vamonos!