Historical city of Izamal

Photo by Can Sarica.

Historical city of Izamal (Izamal, Mayan continuity in an Historical City) is part of the Tentative list of Mexico in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Izamal is an important Mayan urban centre dating from 600 to 800 B.C. on which a colonial city was built. There are nearly 80 pre-Hispanic structures, including the pyramid of Kinich Kak Moo, the third largest in Mexico in terms of volume. The most famous colonial monument is the franciscan convent of San Antonio de Padua. Izamal has maintained its political, economic and religious importance for the different peoples that have inhabited it since pre-Columbian times.

Map of Historical city of Izamal

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

Community Reviews

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Don Irwin

USA - 28-Feb-19 -

Izamal means place of the Itza.  According to Mayan mythology Votan sent his son Itzamna to bring civilization.  On his death a pyramid and temple were built over his grave and he was worshiped as Itzamatul.  It was after Chichen Itza, the greatest ceremonial center in Yucatan.  Fray Diego de Landa arrived in the 16C and ordered the destruction of the pyramid and the construction of the Franciscan convent of San Antonio de Padua over the leveled remains the pyramid, as was typically done throughout Central and South America by the Spanish.   The convent was built between 1549 and 1562.  The enclosed atrium is the second largest after Saint Peters in the Vatican.  The pyramid that was torn down must have rivaled the one in Uxma.

Izamal is the called the yellow city 'ciudad amarilla' as every building is painted yellow.  It's a very pretty town and makes for a wonderful day trip from Merida by public bus.  It is a local bus and so you must go to a different bus station than the one for the ADO busses.  We had no problems.  One can ask for directions at the hotel you are staying at.

We like to stay a week in one location and take day trips.  Merida is fantastic for that.  There are plenty of good hotels and restaurants.  On Sunday the historical area is pedestrian only and there are vendors and musicians in the zocalo.  In addition to Izamal one can get an excursion to Uxmal and Chichen Itza.  There is also an excursion to Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, a restored sisal plantation which is really excellent, the flamingos at Celestun and the Ruta Puuc if one likes Maya ruins.  In Merida there are 2 excellent museums on Paseo de Montejo, a small regional museum with pre columbian artifacts and a former private residence with furnishings from the 19C.

It is questionable whether Izamal deserves WHS. The church is a typical Spanish colonial church and we've seen far better.  But, there is a lot of history associated with it and Fray Diego de Landa.  It does make for a simple and memorable day trip.  Often times, one gets into the mindset of bagging WHS and misses out on other things.  The hacienda above and Izamal are 2 such places.

We also had lunch in Izamal at a restaurant I consider the best I ever ate at in Yucatan.  Any guide book will have the name of it.  There is also a Mayan pyramid 2 blocks north of the convent which is worth a look.  You can climb to the top for terrific views.

I've never been to Cancun and probably never will.  If you want Cancun then go.  If you want something else then Merida might be the place for you.

Full Name
Historical city of Izamal (Izamal, Mayan continuity in an Historical City)
Archaeological site - Pre-Columbian Urban landscape - Colonial
2008 Added to Tentative List

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Historical city of Izamal: Historical city of Izamal (Izamal. Mayan continuity in an Historical City) (T)
WHS 1997-2024