Saturday 30 June 2018

MEXICO: Valladolid Is Less Touristic, But Has More Historic Significance And Charm

Valladolid is a small city in the state of Yucatan. Located about a 45 minute drive from the east entrance of Chichen Itza.

It offers an alternative base for the ruins, while having its own charms as well, although further from the ruins than the town of Piste, Valladolid is less tourist-oriented and has more historic charm.

Valladolid is a city located in the eastern part of the Mexican state of Yucatan. It is the seat of Valladolid Municipality.

As of the 2010 census the population of the city was 45,868 inhabitants the third-largest community in the state, and that of the municipality was 74,217.

The municipality has an areal extent of 945.22 km² (364.95 sq mi) and includes many outlying communities, the largest of which are Popola, Kanxoc, Yalcoba, and Xocen. Valladolid is located approximately 160 km east of the state capital Merida, 40 km east of Chichen Itza, and 150 km west of Cancun.

On August 30, 2012, Valladolid became part of the Pueblo Magico promotional initiative led by the Mexican tourism department.

Named after Valladolid, at the time the capital of Spain. The name derives from the Arabic expression Ballad Al-Walid, which means city of Al-Walid, referring to Al-Walid I.

The first Valladolid in Yucatan was established by Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Montejo's nephew on May 27, 1543 at some distance from the current town, at a lagoon called Chouac-Ha in the municipality of Tizimin.

However, early Spanish settlers complained about the mosquitos and humidity at the original location, and petitioned to have the city moved further inland.

On March 24, 1545, Valladolid was relocated to its current location, built atop a Maya town called Zaci or Zaci-Val, whose buildings were dismantled to reuse the stones to build the Spanish colonial town. The following year the Maya people revolted, but were put down with additional Spanish troops coming from Merida.

Valladolid had a population of 15,000 in 1840. In January 1847, the native Mayans rioted, killing some eighty whites and sacking their houses.

After a Mayan noble was shot by firing squad, the riot became a general uprising. It was led by Jacinto Pat, batab of Tihosuco and by Cecilio Chi of nearby Ichmul.

The city and the surrounding region was the scene of intense battle during Yucatan's Caste War, and the Ladino forces were forced to abandon Valladolid on March 14, 1848, with half being killed by ambush before they reached Merida. The city was sacked by the Maya rebels but was recaptured later in the war.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, Valladolid was the third largest and most important city of the Yucatan Peninsula, after Merida and Campeche.

It had a sizable well-to-do Criollo population, with a number of old Spanish style mansions in the old city. Valladolid was widely known by its nickname The Sultana of the East.

It is worth noting that principal sites are very well marked with bi-lingual signage, making this a truly hospitable place for English speakers. The local police are very friendly, speak English well and are happy to give directions.

Valladolid is a great city to spend the day exploring the history and culture the Yucatan peninsula has to offer.

From colonial era churches and architecture to natural wonders like cenote notable sights to visit in Valladolid are the colonial era cathedral Ex-convent and church Convent of San Bernardino de Siena named after saint Bernardino of siena which was built by Franciscan missionaries between 1552 and 1560.

Located in the Sisal neighbourhood and a short 10-minute walk from downtown it also has a wonderful park where you can sit and enjoy tranquility and peacefulness. In downtown Valladolid, you can find the cathedral of San Servacio located in the main square of the city.

Valladolid has a chessboard like street grid and at the city center it’s a plaza with a park square in the middle surrounded by stores where you can enjoy a walk and purchase souvenirs, food or refreshments.

Located a couple of blocks from the heart of the city is the Cenote Zaci, a landscaped freshwater cenote or underground sinkhole in which you can access the inside and explore its cave. There is also a restaurant in the premises of the Cenote Zaci and artisans selling handcrafts.

Valladolid is a popular base for visiting nearby major Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza and Ek' Balam, as well as Cenote Ik Kilso.

Places to visit in Downtown Valladolid

- Cathedral of San Servacio o Gervasio

- Main center park - Francisco Canton Rosado

- Municipal Palace or Palacio Municipal

- Cenote Zaci

- House of the Culture or Casa de la Cultura

- House of the Deer or Casa de los Venados

- Mercado de Artesanias or Handcraft Market

- Centro Artesanal Zaci or Handcraft center Zaci

- Bazar Municipal

- Museo San Roque

- Parque de los Heroes or Park of the Heroes

- Las 5 Calles

Sisal Area

- Temple and former Convent de "San Bernandino de Siena"

- Calzada de los Frailes

- Park of Sisal (parque de Sisal)

Candelaria Area

- Church of Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria

- Park of Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria

- Ex Telar - La Aurora

- Municipal Market or Mercado Municipal - Donato Bates Herrera

Santa Lucia Area

- Church de Santa Lucia

- Park de Santa Lucía

San Juan Area

- Church de San Juan de Dios

- Park de San Juan de Dios

Other Places

- Cenote Suytun

- Cenote Xkeken

- Cenote Samulha

The typical dish of the region is Lomitos de Valladolid which is a pork dish in fresh tomato sauce; Cochinita pibil meat marinated in achiote, which comes from the Bixa orellana bitter orange, and spices, wrapped in Banana leaf and barbecued or baked in a pit.

Lechon al horno, bistek de cazuela, relleno negro which is turkey cooked with a paste of charred chillies and vegetables with bits of hard-boiled eggs, frijol con puerco and chicken in escabeche.

Valladolid is also known for its Longaniza which are a type of pork based salami sausage with traditional condiments. Local traditional candies are based on materials from the region such as honey, coconut, corn and others.

Traditional ice cream is very popular and a must have on your visit. The most common flavours are coconut, corn and fruits of the region as guanabana or Soursop, mamey or Pouteria sapota Sapote and others.

The climate in the Yucatan peninsula is hot and dry. There is also tropical rain with hot and predominate trade winds most times of the year.

Valladolid features a tropical wet and dry climate. The city lies in the trade wind belt close to the Tropic of Cancer, with the prevailing wind from the east.

Valladolid's climate is hot and humidity is moderate to high, depending on the time of year. The average annual high temperature is 33 °C (91 °F), ranging from 28 °C (82 °F) in January to 36 °C (97 °F) in May, but temperatures often rise above 38 °C (100 °F) in the afternoon in this time.

Low temperatures range between 18 °C (64 °F) in January to 23 °C (73 °F) in May and June. It is most often a few degrees hotter in Valladolid than coastal areas due to its inland location and low elevation.

The rainy season runs from June through October, associated with the Mexican monsoon which draws warm, moist air landward. Easterly waves and tropical storms also affect the area during this season.

Valladolid has a structured road service which makes it easy to travel around. Travellers driving through the peninsula have the option of taking the federal road or the toll route and both roads go through Valladolid.

In the city there are taxi services at reasonable rates and public transportation which is popular for students and locals but not recommended for tourists.

There is an Autobuses de Oriente bus terminal situated in the heart of the city which serves to the travellers going to all mayor cities in the Yucatan peninsula, such as Merida, Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum as well as archeological sites such as Chichen Itza Coba and Ek' Balam

Valladolid is just off the toll highway (180D) between Cancun and Merida; the exit is about 3 mi/4.8km north of the center of town. The old highway (180) runs east-west through the centre of town as Calle 39 westbound and Calle 41 eastbound as one way streets.

Highway 295 runs north-south through the centre of town as Calle 40 northbound and Calle 42 southbound as one way streets going south towards Chetumal and north to the toll highway (180D) and Ek Balam.

Both highways run right through the centre of town on one-way streets, forming the four sides of the central town square - Parque Francisco Canton.

Frequent collectivo vans and ADO buses connect Valladolid to Cancun in the east, Merida in the west (2 h 15 min), and Tulum in the south (1 h 30 min). The bus stations are at:

Terminal de Autobuses the main bus station, Calle 39 No. 221, Centro NE corner of Calle 39 & 46, for first class (ADO, ADO GL) and second class services find Oriente, Mayab.

Old Terminal de Autotransportes de Oriente or Del Centro Terminal, Calle 37 por 54. Second class bus station for Autocentro, Mayab and Oriente.

The rest are taxi stands along the street or in parking lots for taxis and colectivos which are shared ride taxis/shuttle vans to/from other surrounding towns and villages. They are generally quicker and more reliable then second class buses.

Unlike buses that operate on a fixed schedule they wait for more people and leave when full. They are:

Sitio de Taxi UnTrac, Calle 37 entre 42 y 44. Taxis and colectivos the shared ride vans or taxis going up to Ek Balam and Hunuku.

Taxi-Colectivos to Ek Balam, Calle 44, entre 35 y 37. 30min to the car park of the sight.

Colectivos & Taxis to Tizimin, Calle 40, entre 35 y 37. Behind the Estacionmento Centro along door post at left if going north.

Valladolid is small enough to make walking a reasonable choice within town. To explore the city you can also rent bicyles at a reasonable rate. Other alternative choices are taxis. Be aware the drivers do not speak English.

More places you may wish to see

Parque Fransisco Canton Rosado, the central town square, is surrounded by pretty colonial style buildings that maintain much of their historic character.

The Catedral de San Gervasio, located on the south side of the town square.

Cenote Zaci. A spectacular sinkhole located in a public park only few hundred meters from the central plaza, this cenote is traversed by a walking path that passes under a curtain of stalactites in an overhang area. Come early if you want to avoid the tour buses. 30 MXN.

The Calzada de los Frailes - Calle 41A located a 10 minute walk south from the town square. This street consists of colonial homes with great architecture. It commences at the cinco calles and it ends at the park of the ex-convent San Bernardino de Siena.

The Ex-Convent San Bernardino de Siena, located in the neighbourhood of sisal approx. 10~15 minute walk south from the town square. This 15th century ex-convent and church is situated around a public park where you can sit and enjoy tranquility.

The Museo de San Roque located a few hundred meters from the central plaza. This museum contains mayan and colonial artifacts as well traditional items.

Valladolid due to its tranquility and sleepy, small town charm previously was thought to be just a one-day getaway. But because of its central location, it is a wonderful hub from which to explore the entire northern Yucatan peninsula.

It is a major crossroad of north/south and east/west highways. Tourist facilities are readily available from a wide variety of lodging options, many restaurants and street-food choices and lots to do, see and buy.

Day trips in any direction can take you to varied locations as the beaches of Tulum on the Caribbean or Rio Lagartos on the Gulf of Mexico to see flamingos and crocs, explore numerous Mayan ruins including Chichen Itza, Coba, Ek Balam, Ake, Mayapan, Uxmal and many more.

Almost 50 colonial churches can be visited via day trips.You can visit many of the 3,000 cenotes within the area and at least ten are close enough to go by bicycle. Many of them are open for swimming.

Numerous caves and caverns can be explored on foot while some cenotes and wet caves can be explored by SCUBA. All of the small villages surrounding Valladolid are the homes of the Mayan people and their language, culture and food.

Arrangements can be made to visit them in their homes. Nature preserves offer opportunities to view birds, animals and plants.

Buy wood carvings and traditional clothing and bags made from henequen from the vendors on the central Plaza and the grounds of Cenote Zaci, Hand made shoes and sandals at the central Plaza.

Visit Yalat Boutique right at the Main Square, the place is filled with original artwork, fine jewelry, and is dedicated to master works and fine Mexican artcrafts including exquisite ceramic Jainas and Maya vessels that are exquisite.

Visit the Coqui Coqui Perfumery and Spa in the Calzada de los Frailes on the way of the Convent. All the perfumes they sell are from the yucatan peninsula, amazing fragrances as the agave or the flor de mayo. Also a very nice garden.

Casa de los Venados, Calle 40 #204. Private residence / with a Mexican folk art collection of approx. 3,000 Museum quality pieces. American owners, when they are in residence, very generiously show people the collection.

Places To Eat

El Meson de Marques, a hotel located on the north side of the town square, offers dining beside a charming interior courtyard, with excellent food. Entrees in the $M 50 range.

Casa Italia is a small and charming Italian restaurant on the south edge of the square in Candelaria, four blocks north and one block west of the main square. Their pizzas, baked in a wood-fueled oven, are wonderful and inexpensive.

Taberna de los Frailes, Parque Ex-Convento San Bernardino (Barrio de Sisal). 11am to 11pm. Serving contemporary cuisine utilizing Mayan herbs and spices surrounded by Valladolid’s 16th century Ex-Convento de San Bernardino. Full service bar, VIP areas, groups, parking, credit cards. US$10-50.

Restorante la calzada, calzade de Los frailes. A very nice mid-range priced restaurant with healthy options. Mexican fondue, super tacos and sea food options as well. Also includes full bar. Open late.

Wabi Gelato, 197a calle 41, Valladolid, Between calle 38 and 40, 60m from the town square. 12h-22h (weekdays), 11h-22h saturday and sunday. This little family-run ice cream shop offers delicious homemade ice creams.

The flavours change with seasons and inspiration of the very friendly swiss and mexican owners, but are always issued from local and creative ingredients. Vegan options available. 30-100 pesos.

Maruja Cafe, Bar y Galeria, Calle 41 #202A - South side of the main Plaza. 8am to 10pm. Full service bar, great Mayan organically grown coffee & chocolate, deli style menu, outdoor sitting overlooking the main park. Credit Cards.


AAA Hostel La Candelaria. A friendly well kept Hostel about 5 minutes walk from the main square. Located at the Candelaria park, just 3 blocks from the ADO busstation. Very well managed, extremly clean and provides a lot of updated information.

It has an excellent garden to relax and good kitchen facilities - 2 kitchens, one inside and one in the garden. Mixed and girls dorms, private rooms with cable tv, lockers and locks are provided, all year hot shower, continental breakfast included fruitsalad, yoghurt, coffee, tea and bread and free internet (Wi-Fi).

It offers bikes for rent, which is a good alternative for going to the cenotes of Dztitnup and Samula. Good and safe place to explore the surrounding countryside.

Casa Quetzal, Calle 51 No. 218 entre 50 y 52 col. Sisal, Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico. Four-star Boutique Hotel offering various spas and therapeutic massages. Yoga and Chi Kung classes offered. From ~US$ 75.00.

Hostal Kinbe, Cnr Calle 38/Ave 41. Very clean. doubles from 120 Pesos.

Hostal Cinco Estrellas, Calle 41 No 213, entre Calle 44 y 46. Kitchen, free drinking water, big lockers, little pool, very clean. dorm bed from 120 Pesos.

Hotel Maria De La Luz. Friendly and well kept. It is located on the main square. You can get a double with A/C for US$50. The restaurant opens up to the square and has great food. US$6.50-$10.

Hotel Santa Lucia, about 6 blocks north of the main square. A two floor hotel with a variety of rooms ranging from a Single with no A/C for about US$20 up to a Quintuple with A/C for about $90.

Hotel Tunich Beh, near downtown on Calzada De Los Frailes. Eight air-conditioned guestrooms and a swimming pool with a small palapa by the side. 450 Pesos per night.

Casa de los Pianos, Calle 21x18, frente al parque central, 97796 Uayma, Yucatan. A beautiful house with everyday room cleaning and breakfast. You can get rooms up to 3 persons, 30 EUR per night and room.

Casa Hamaca Guesthouse, Parque San Juan, Calle 49 #202-A entre 40 y 42, 4 blocks south of the main square in the historic district. checkin: noon; checkout: 11:00AM. A charming guesthouse for the wealthy independent traveler or small groups. Eight Mayan/Yucatan-themed rooms.

All rooms have AC, ceiling fans, screened windows, original wall murals, walk-in showers with pressurized hot water, WiFi and a Mayan hammock. All Mayan-speaking staff. Full breakfasts included. On-site secure parking. Massage available. Plunge pool. Authentic, friendly, helpful.

TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice award winner for 2013. TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence for 2010,2011,2012 and 2013. TripAdvisor ranked as #1 bed and breakfast in Valladolid, #4 in the entire Yucatan peninsula and #11 in the country of Mexico. Lush, jungle-like gardens in the center of the city. USD$80-150.

Casa del Mayordomo, Calle 46, #189, Esquina Calle 35, Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico. Small Boutique Hotel with green areas in the heart of Valladolid From ~US$ 46.00.

Valladolid has a good modernised bus station near the main square which connects it with the surrounding towns and tourist destinations. There are frequent services to all major destinations. Main companies are ADO and Oriente.

Cenote Dzitnup. Two amazing sinkholes, Samula & Xkeken located a few km south of the city, just before the town of Dzitnup. A big tourist plaza has been build around these crystal clear cenotes, but the tours only get there in the afternoon. 60 MXN to visit one or 90 MXN for both.

Collectivos from town are available for 20MXN per person.

Visit the Maya ruins of Ek Balam, an impressive archaelogical site about 25 minutes drive north of Valladolid, one-way cab fare $17 USD. You are allowed to climb the tallest ruin which has been partially restored. This gives you a 360° view of the surroundings.

Chichen Itza, the largest and most famous ancient Maya site in Yucatan, is to the west; Valladolid is close enough to the ruins to be a convenient base.

You can take a collectivo, simply stand next to the main bus station, 30-40 min; $12 USD; also all of the Oriente buses to Merida stop in Chichen Itza - 60-90 min, $2 USD one way.

Cancun and the popular tourist coast of Quintana Roo is to the east.

Further west than Chichen are another charming small Yucatecan city, Izamal, and beyond that Merida, the Yucatan's capital and largest city.

Tourism Observer

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