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I was beyond excited to arrive to the city of Campeche after my road trip around the state. I left Bacalar at the end of April, drove through Calakmul, Candelaria, drove around the impressive Laguna de Termino, down to Miguel Colorado until I finally reached the multicoloured fortified city. It was an adventure, not without small “accidents”, but I loved every minute of it. And as one of my favourite Italian writers said (my translation) ” To travel means also to stay open and be ready to face any kind of circumstances and become a little fatalist ” ( cit. Pino Cacucci – “Campeche” – )
I do believe in it. It is the best part of travelling, the one that makes you think and grow.
When I arrived in Campeche I didn’t know that it was a Unesco World Heritage Site, since 1999, I was just fascinated with the ancient walls and coloured houses, witness of an intense and vivid history. I rented an apartment as I needed some private space to do some writing beside exploring the city and I was so looking forward my own kitchen where I could make good salads and cook some veggie. I was tired of street food. Despite the amount of work I had to do and the heat, I decided to go out and explore the city. I would have worked at night, but I wanted to catch the blue light of the Sunset and get some good pictures, besides wandering around the city and discover its beauty.
I was not disappointed. I had seen colonial cities before, Merida, Valladolid, Izamal, in Yucatan, but Campeche, despite the proximity to them, has something different,unique. A particular energy that goes beyond the wall and its history or maybe just because of that.
I was walking through the chequerboard of histoical centre, fascinated by the pastel coloured walls, the baroque architecture of the old buildings the unexpected creativity manifested in the interior design of coffe’ shops and restaurants, and the churches.
I spent there about 5 days and despite of the work I managed to explore the city and its surrounding and here I am telling you the 5 highlights that I found.
1)Visit the landmarks of its peculiar history
It’s historic Fortified Town has been build by the Spanish founders, when they realised that it needed an extra protection from the enemies coming from the sea. In fact for being a harbour town and the second most important commercial centre, after Merida, it was the most haunted by the aggressive pirates and corsairs in the caribbean sea.
Later on, at the beginning of the 18th century in order to reinforce the protection, another two forts were built in addition to the hexagonal walls, the redoubt of San Jose on the east Hill of the village and the redoubt of San Miguel on the west Hill, as well as the batteries of San Lucas, San Matias and San Luis, examples of the military architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries. (SOURCE – UNESCO SITE)
Among others historical building you must visit, Plaza Mayor, overseen by the magnificent Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, several other churches, scattered around the historical centre, the Toro theatre and the municipal archives.
2)Walk around the coloured buildings and stop in the fancy cafes and artistically decorated bars.
The historical centre is full of pretty little restaurants, in particular calle 59 which connects the 2 main doors of the city, Puerta de Mar y Puerta de Tierra. On the side of Puerta de Mar you will see also the tourist office where you can get information on local events and other curiosities you might have. On the Puerta de Tierra, they normally have a night show in the week end around 7 pm where local actors will narrate their history. But check with the tourist office as they may change schedule according to season.
3)Enjoy the sunset from the Malecon, the seaside road that run across the city.
Beautifully designed to favour runners and bikers, you will have a path for each one beside the one for those who just want to stroll by and enjoy the view. So if you are a runner this is your place. You will have an amazing time running by the see, especially at sunset, when temperature is bearable, the sun is setting and the sky is painted with the most amazing colours. If you are not a runner, you will still love the walk.
4)Browse around the local market
That was an experience, full of colours. The market is very crowded so watch the purse, but you will enjoy watching the locals chatting singing, dancing and making deals over products of any different type.
The fruit and veggie stalls were my favourites, so nicely organize in many different patterns of shapes and colours and precise order. If you need anything…just go to the Market and you will find it.
5) Stay in the charming haciendas
Right in town, by the “Puerta de Tierra” in Calle 59 is located the Hacienda Puerta Campeche, a Starwood Luxury collection signature. It is a cute little jewel in the historical city, to make your stay even more enjoyable with a full immersion in history and luxury. If you haven’t heard about the haciendas in the Yucatan peninsula, you can check out this post. Similar to that within the same group of Haciedas of the Luxury Collection is the stunning and elegant Hacienda Uayamon located at 30 minutes distance from the city.
6)Visit the magnificent Archaeological Site of Edzna’
I was speechless! I thought I had seen all the best archaeological sites but after Edzna’ I had to add one more on my “favourites” list. I think they are all on that list though 😉 – You will be left in beguilement by the magnificent and the grandeur of the Acropolis. Walking around those huge perfect buildings you will feel like being taken back in time. Try it and let me know. Sit on the first stairs looking at the main square and shout. Hear the eco talking back to you. That’s the way they used to communicate one another. Through perfect architecture tricks.
What is the meaning of Edzna’ ? Itzá is the name of one population, the Chontal who were living in the city. For this reason the neighbouring inhabitants were referring to them as the “Itzaes” and Edzna means Casa de los Itzaes (Itzae’s home). This site has been populated from 400 ad to 1450 ad. when it was abandoned. The archaeological discovery brought to light numerous painted facades that represented gods and mythological creatures in various colors, which reflects a typical architectural characteristic from the “Peten” . Also you can find hints of the Chenes, Puuc, and Tardios, all different lineages of the mayan populations . (SOURCE – INAH)
How to reach Edzna’
It’s located 55 km south of Campeche you can get there by car through Route 180 and 261. It is well indicated. Or you can get there by public transportation either from Champoton or Campeche.
Interesting video from the UNESCO site on the history of Campeche
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