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The Yucatan and Its Capital City of MeridaAugust 1, 2008 By: Joe Pike Home-Based Travel Agent
MÃ©rida offers travelers history, beautiful beaches and local hospitality
The Yucatan in Mexico is one of those perfect destinations in the world that has the amenities to keep just about every type of traveler—from children to adults, couples to singles—satisfied.
That's because this hot spot has the perfect combination of history, beaches, natural beauty, great cuisine and the hospitality of its people.
The Yucatan is no small region, so let's help you get started by recommending a trip to Mérida, the capital city, where old meets new, and traditional style and modern urban development can all be found. If you are looking for postcard-perfect photo ops, Mérida is the ideal departure point for excursions to the main archaeological sites, cities and colonial towns.
In the Yucatan, you can find everything from simple boarding houses to the most luxurious hotels and restaurants. The countless attractions include many archaeological sites, such as Uxmal (World Heritage), Chichen Itza (World Heritage and Wonder of the World), Dzibilchaltun, Ek Balam and many others, all relatively close to Mérida. In fact, the Yucatan State has more than 2,000 archaeological sites to visit and discover.
Lately Home-Based Travel Agent has told you a lot about ecotravel, and the Yucatan is a prime example. For lovers of ecotourism, this ancient land of the Mayans offers locations where sunlight filters through rocks, illuminating cavernous vaults and cenotes (underwater caves). The Yucatan Peninsula lacks rivers and other surface waters as the ground is limestone and very porous. Rainwater filters straight through penetrating cracks, forming caves and underground rivers, many of which are interconnected.
The Yucatan comes with ecological reserves and UNESCO sites such as Celestun, where the most exotic species of the region exist side by side, such as pink flamingos in El Palmar and Rio Lagartos.
Visitors shouldn't miss the colonial cities such as Valladolid and Izamal. Izamal is known as the City of the Three Cultures, for the pre-Hispanic, colonial traces of its past, as well as contemporary influences. Izamal offers Mayan pyramids, colonial-style buildings, horses and buggies and the famous Convent of San Antonio de Padua, built over one of the Mayan pyramids and currently the second largest in the world after St. Peter's in the Vatican—it was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1993.
Last but not least, visiting the Haciendas of the Yucatan is an incredible experience. Tourism representatives told us that the haciendas were built in the 17th century. According to the Yucatan Tourism Board, some of these haciendas began to process henequen fiber. This was exploited on a grand scale, turning it into a highly profitable business that lasted until the beginning of the 20th century.
Today, it is interesting to walk around these old haciendas, which have fortunately been saved and been converted into hotels, restaurants, luxury tourist stops and museums.