The history of the Mayan culture is thick in the jungles west and south of Cancun. Most, if not all of these ruins are from the Mayan civilization that once populated the Yucatan Peninsula. Some of the ruins are small, and some are very large. They are all very interesting, and show us a small door to a very advanced civilization.
Chitzen-Itza is a grand-daddy of Mayan ruins in Mexico. It is located approximately 120 miles northwest of Cancun, about 3 hours by car or bus. The site covers approximately 6 square kilometers. The largest ruin is El Castilla (the Castle) and the 91 steps up the side of this pyramid lead you to one of the most grand views in the Yucatan! There are many other buildings on the site, including the Observatory. Tours are available from most hotels in the Cancun area.
Located 25 miles northwest of Tulum, Coba is one of the more recent ruins to be discovered in the Yucatan. There are tours to Coba from many of the hotels in Cancun, and tours can also be arranged in Tulum.
DEL REY RUINS
The ruins at Del Rey are special very several reasons. First of all, they are the closest ruins to the Cancun tourist area, so they are very easy to get to. They are also further north and east than most of the ruins in the Yucatan, and are located directly on the south end of the Nichupte Lagoon.
It's no coincidence that the ruins at Tulum are one of the most often used for tourism photos for the country of Mexico. These classic ruins are situated perfectly on a low hill above the azure Caribbean, splashed with pockets of sandy beaches and jungle terrain. For a nominal fee a guide will take you through the site and explain the history of this very special Mayan site. Watch out for friendly iguanas! Swimming in the ocean here after your tour is a great way to cool off.
Uxmal is the site of one of the largest Mayan cities on the Yucatan Peninsula. It is not usually as crowded as the more popular ruins in the Yucatan, but it is very interesting.
Discovered in 1841 (don't mention this fact to the local Mayans!) the Yamil Lu'um archaeological ruins are the closest ruins for the average Cancun tourist to visit. They are located next to the Sheraton Hotel, on the highest point on the mostly flat Cancun Island. The temple is in ruins (hence the name 'ruins') just up from the beach, but is still well worth a visit. These stone ruins were built between 400 to 700 years ago and were probably used as watchtowers along this Caribbean navigational route.
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