Valladolid, the gateway to colonial Yucatan

Filed under: Places to Visit - by Louise Hennessy

It is incredible how much the architecture changes once you cross over the state line from Quintana Roo into Yucatan. Cities really become cities, rather than giving the impression of having cropped up hurriedly around the demands of tourism. And you don´t even have to go very far, just an hour or so away  you can enjoy the contrast in scenery that Valladolid offers….

It was so lovely to soak up the hustle and bustle of a colonial-style city with its high pavements and aligned shop-fronts and buildings. Unlike the overall yellowness of Izamal, the centre of Valladolid has a variety of colours to its buildings,the general theme tending to be pastel tones, with an array of pinks, corals, greens, and so on.

The Francisco Cantón Rosado Park, in the heart of Valladolid, is picturesque,  full of life and packed full of the high-pitched cheeping of birds at dusk, the sound of which is constant and fascinating!  There are a number of stalls for you to sample tempting snacks such as elotes (corn-on-the-cob prepared with crumbled cheese, mayonnaise and chilli powder),  marquesitas (crunchy rolled-up crêpes with a choice of sweet fillings, like nutella or caramel – strangely but traditionally paired with Edam cheese); and even Don Inés’ natural coconut ice cream. We loved the idea of wandering round trying whatever took our fancy, and it’s a good thing we were peckish!

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Main Plaza ©Isabella Biava


We searched in vain for an unoccupied kissing seat (to take a picture rather than a kiss!) but unfortunately, the only one available was baking hot from the sun, and also required a removal of bird droppings before we were able to pose. The park is a wonderful spot to take in the true ambiance of downtown Valladolid,  and as such, you can easily stay there for a good while without getting bored. The abundance of shade provided by the trees also makes it the perfect haven from the sun-beaten streets and the heat reverberating off the walls, not to mention a respite from the constant movement of traffic around each side of the park.

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Iglesia ©Isabella Biava

To our delight, our Sunday afternoon visit meant that we came across a small tent, housing stalls with hand-made leather sandals. Valladolid is, in fact, renowned for its good quality and low-cost sandals unique to the zone, and the hardest thing to do was to avoid buying one of each pair! We also came across a fair few handicraft stalls, as well as being lucky enough to take in an event with folkloric dancing, where heavily  made-up, yet beautiful, local girls arrived, donning traditional white dresses, embroidered with bright flowers.

Another claim to fame of the city is the abundance of high-quality gold for sale, which generally goes by its weight. The tiny gold merchant we visited was full to bursting with locals, a fact which underlined that it must be good stuff. We did however, need to ask someone to point us in the right direction to find a gold shop, although this particular one was very close to the centre.

An obvious point of interest is also, of course, the cathedral, which we would recommend just peeping into, as it is considered disrespectful to sight-see within the church. We truly believe the best time to see it in all its glory is early evening, when it is lit up in such a way that takes your breath away. It really is a treasure of Valladolid.


Cenote Zaci - ©Isabella Blava

Cenote Zaci – ©Isabella Biava


Hailed as a principal attraction is the Cenote Zací,( one of the many natural water sink-holes of the region) which is a short walk from the centre. We were however, disappointed to find that swimming was out of the question, though quite honestly we had no intention of doing so, given the stagnant and murky appearance of the water, not to mention the hundreds of catfish within! The restaurant at this particular cenote however, is known for good quality Yucatecan-style food and is worth visiting.

We could go on for ages, but its fair to say that, all in all, for those of us who enjoy our dose of culture, architecture and history, Valladolid is a lovely place to visit, with various convents, ex-convents, churches and museums dotted throughout. Furthermore, once you fancy a refreshing dip after all that cultured stuff, there are some wonderful nearby cenotes where it IS possible to swim.

So, what are you waiting for? Your concierge will be only too glad to help you organize a trip! Contact us to now more!

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