Mexico’s Riviera Maya,which lies on the Yucatan Peninsula along the country’s Caribbean coast,allows visitors to get a glimpse into the world of the ancient Mayan civilization,which ruled this part of the world for more than 2,000 years. Here,the famed ruins of the Chichen Itza Archaeological Zone,along with those found at Uxmal,Coba and Tulum,provide plenty of opportunities for adventure and exploration.
The ancient Mayan empire originally encompassed the states of Yucatan,Campeche,Chiapas and Quintana Roo in Mexico. Their culture was complete with a complex written language that produced scores of manuscripts,many of which were eventually burned by the invading Spaniards. The Maya drew their water from the region’s many freshwater sinkholes,known as cenotes,and devised elaborate ball games that often ended with ritual sacrifice.
According to an article that was originally published by the LA Times,the Yucatan Peninsula is a great place to learn about how North American civilization looked before the Spaniards arrived. Here,the Great Temple of Uxmal lies just 50 miles south of Merida and reaches 120 feet into the sky. Visitors are still allowed to climb the temple’s steeply pitched steps,from which you can get a great view of the nearby Pyramid of the Magician,the Nunnery Quadrangle and the House of the Governor.
However,the pyramid at Chichen Itza,which lies around 120 miles to the east,is now off limits and viewable only from the ground. Still,the site’s Temple of Kukulcan,also known as El Castillo,makes Chichen Itza well worth the trip,and don’t forget to take a look at the sacred cenote that is located here.
In the area near the sea close to Coba,which lies about 135 miles east of Merida in Quintana Roo near the popular beach town of Tulum,you will find some of the most gorgeous Riviera Maya real estate that is available today. The site at Coba is so large that researchers have yet to uncover most of it and tourists often rent bikes just to travel from one part of the site to another. Here,one of the main attractions is the Nohoch Mul pyramid,which is open for climbing and has 120 steps.
Finally,the ruins at Tulum are much more compact and boast the only seaside Mayan pyramid in Mexico. Tulum also has a unique eco-chic vibe and is poised to become the next big vacation hotspot in the Riviera Maya,especially after contractors break ground on the region’s new international airport,which will be built in Tulum in the very near future.