Stretching 80 miles along Mexico’s only Caribbean coast,south from Cancun through Playa del Carmen all the way to Tulum,the Riviera Maya is home to unparalleled natural beauty,as well as the world’s most fabulous pyramids and extensive ancient Mayan archaeological sites. All of this,combined with the Riviera Maya’s beautiful white-sand beaches,clear turquoise Caribbean water and the world’s second-largest barrier reef,have all helped make it one of the best places to vacation.
“Archaeological sites in the state of Quintana Roo have seen an increase in the amount of domestic and foreign visitors,” writes the Riviera Maya News. “The busiest sites were in the north like Tulum,Coba and San Gervaiso.”
According to Adriana Velazquez Morelet,from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in the state of Quintana Roo (where the region’s archaeological sites can be found),there were at least 82,455 domestic visitors and 200,472 foreign visitors to the ancient Mayan sites that are open to the public in the Riviera Maya between July 14 and Aug. 13 of this year.
The large,pre-Columbian city of Chichen-Itza,which lies two hours inland from Cancun and the Riviera Maya,remains one of the most-visited sites in Mexico today. Home to the enormous Mayan pyramid of Kukulkan,this popular ancient site is making headlines once again. This time,it’s for the discovery of an enormous subterranean cavity located 20 meters below the pyramid,which is also known as El Castillo,reported a team of experts from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
“It may confirm that the Mayas included symbolic maps of their cosmology in their temples and sacred sites,” stated archaeologist Guillermo de Anda.”The cenotes that surround the pyramid could represent the four points of a compass. The river at the center might represent the center of the Maya’s universe,which they thought of as a tree with roots reaching below ground.”
Another recent discovery involves a team from the National Institute of Anthropology,which announced last Thursday that they have found an unusually high number of medicinal plants used by the Mayans to treat snake bites,stomach infections and fevers growing near a structure known as the Governor’s Palace at the ancient pre-Hispanic site of Uxmal. Also located west of Cancun,but two hours farther south of Chichen Itza on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula,Uxmal is a UNESCO cultural heritage site and is definitely worth the four-hour trek from Cancun and the Riviera Maya.