Yucatan State is home to many natural and cultural attractions, including archaeological sites, haciendas, cenotes, and wildlife. It is located in the northernmost part of the Yucatan Peninsula. The Gulf of Mexico lies to the north, and the state is bordered by the states of Campeche to the southwest and Quintana Roo to the northeast.
The state capital, Mérida is nicknamed the White City and is a social and cultural hub. The city has a population of about 750,000 and has a rich cultural life that celebrates its diversity through free concerts, performances, and other public events. Take a walking tour of Mérida.
Colonial Cities, Convents, and Haciendas
Sisal fiber, used to make rope and twine, was an important export of Yucatan from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. This was a very successful industry at that time and brought wealth to the state, which is evident in the architecture of the colonial city of Mérida, as well as the many haciendas you will find throughout the state. Many former henequen haciendas have been remodeled and now serve as museums, hotels and private residences.
Yucatan State is home to two Pueblos Mágicos, Valladolid, and Izamal. Valladolid is a charming colonial city located 160 km east of Merida. It has lovely civil and religious architecture, including the 16th century fortified convent of San Bernardino de Siena and the 18th-century Baroque cathedral of San Gervasio, among many other monuments.
If Mérida is the white city, then Izamal is the yellow city: many of its buildings are painted yellow. Izamal is one of the oldest cities in Yucatan and was built where the ancient Mayan city of Kinich Kakmo stood. In ancient times the town was known as a center for healing. The town has an archaeological zone as well as notable colonial buildings such as the San Antonia de Padua Convent.
Yucatán state has approximately 2,600 fresh-water cenotes. Celestun Biosphere Reserve is home to the largest flock of American Flamingos. It is a 146,000-acre park located at the north-western tip of the state. Rio Lagartos National Wildlife Refuge.
The entire Yucatan Peninsula and beyond was the homeland of the ancient Maya. In Yucatan state, there are over 1000 archaeological sites, only seventeen of which are open to the public. The largest and arguably most important ancient site is Chichen Itza, which besides being a UNESCO World Heritage site was also selected as one of the New World Wonders.
Uxmal is another important archaeological site. It forms part of the Puuc Route, which comprises several sites all of which share a similar style of architecture and decoration. The legend of this ancient city's founding involves a dwarf who outwitted the king and became the new ruler.
Ethnic Maya forms a large percentage of the Yucatan State's population, many of whom speak Yucatec Maya as well as Spanish (the state has about a million speakers of Yucatec Maya). The Maya influence is also responsible for the area's unique cuisine. Read more about Yucatecan Cuisine.
Yucatan's Coat of Arms
Yucatán's green and yellow coat of arms features a deer leaping over an agave plant, a once-important crop in the region. Adorning the top and bottom borders are Mayan arches, with Spanish bell towers on the left and right. These symbols represent the state's shared Mayan and Spanish heritages.
Yucatan has been named the safest state in the country. According to the state governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco: "We have been named by INEGI as the safest state in the country for the fifth consecutive year, particularly in the case of homicide which is the offense that hurts most, Yucatán is the lowest, with three per 100,000 inhabitants."
How to get there: Merida has an international airport, Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport (MID), or many people fly into Cancún and travel by land to Yucatan State. Search flights to Merida. ADO bus company provides bus service throughout the area.