VALLADOLID – Perl of the East: A 20 minutes drive from our Chichén Itzá Hotels, Valladolid was founded in 1543 on the ancient Maya city of Zaci, and “The Perl of the East” is a welcoming city, full of history and a place Yucatan is truly proud of. For centuries it has been recognized for its rich Spanish legacy, made tangible in the temples and old parishes.
Valladolid has an exceptional Colonial flavor. Walking through its streets with their brightly painted houses, the churches and, of course, the Convent of San Bernardino of Siena is like walking directly into the past.
The Franciscan presence is palpable here, as it is all over the peninsula. In the heat of the day the laurels in the Main Square offer shade to locals and travelers alike; the birds gather and fill the air with their calls as the day draws to a close. Located the east of Yucatan, Valladolid was the scene of rebellions and battles between conquerors and conquered.
The submission of the rebel Cupuls in the east was finally attained by a nephew of the conqueror. Also named Francisco de Montejo, he set up camp around a lagoon which the local inhabitants called Chouac-Ha. This site would be the operational base from which the Spanish subdued the Cupuls and overpowered their capital, Zacihual.
The name means “white Gull” and symbolizes the warlike qualities of the Zaci community. Lying 50 km. from the coast, this was an important political and religious center and residence of the hierarchy of the Cupul family.
Crushing them was a difficult task for the Spanish soldiers, nevertheless on the 23rd. of May, 1543, Captain Francisco de Montejo “El Mozo” finally founded the village which he called “Valladolid”, in homage to the Spanish city of the same name.
Among its attractions is the imposing Convent of San Bernardino, with its majestic proportions and discreet Franciscan style. The main altarpiece was worked in wood painted in gold, with sculptures and motif that give it an unmistakable Baroque feel.
The virgin of Guadalupe is found here, the most worshipped by Mexicans: she is approximately 400 years old.
San Gervasio church with its glorious towers, brandished the cannons which served to recover the city in 1848, from the hands of the rebel Indians who started the Caste Wars. The streets proudly conserve this glorious past.
The Municipal Palace and the Temple of San Juan of God can also be enjoyed. Nearby, the Zaci cenote, a deep fresh-water deposit which once supplied the entire population, now serves as a restaurant and natural pool.
Leather and henequen handicrafts can be found in the establishments throughout the city, along with hammocks, weavings from different plant fibers, and stone carvings.
There are numerous restaurants where the delicious local cuisine can be tried: among the specialties are oriental escabeche (a spicy marinade), turkey in sak-kol, smoked sausage and the typical tender pork loin, all of which make Valladolid a vibrant example of the provincial flavor of our Mexico.