Riviera Maya boasts of an impressive lineup of archaeological sites of great historical importance. While Coba, Chichen Itza and Tulum are the most famous ones, there are other sites also which may be smaller but still pack a punch when it comes to relevance and importance to the student of history and culture. El Meco is a Mayan ruin site about 5 kilometers from the tourist city of Cancun.
El Meco sits just north of Cancun and is easy to access. Since there are no organized tours for this relatively unknown and less popular site, you have to Rent a car or hire a taxi to reach El Meco.
Historically speaking, the city of El Meco dates back to the 3rd or 4th century AD. It started off as a small fishing village. El Meco was later abandoned. It was again inhabited around 1100 AD. It then blossomed in to a large coastal town and center of commerce owing to its proximity to Isla Mujeres. It retained its glory till the Spanish conquistadors arrival in the 16th century.
The actual site is locked between the sea and the lagoon. It has 14 structures with 13 of them surrounding the main 12.5 meter Mayan pyramid. Also known as ‘El Castillo’, it can be hiked till the summit from where one can have great views of the sea and lagoon. The other smaller structures are believed to have been used for religious ceremonies, administrative functions and commercial operations.
El Meco significance lay in the fact that it was in a close proximity to Isla Mujeres hence it became departure point for the Mayas sailing to Isla Mujeres. It also became an important navigational reference point for boats.
El Meco is certainly a nice break for tourists in Cancun who may not feel adventurous enough to visit Chichen Itza or Tulum. A lot can be learnt about the life and culture about Mayans when you visit sites like these. The sheer vision, hard work and skills required to construct these magnificent structure showcase Mayan civilization’s glory and development.
Riviera Maya is treasure trove for the lovers of archaeology as there are many sites around. Playa del Carmen is the perfect base for all the explorations to the neighboring towns such as Akumal, Tulum or Pureto Morelos.
I will be posting more about the other ruins in Mexico in my upcoming articles so stay tuned!