A city within a city, 72 kilometres east of Merida, Izamal was once one of the largest cities in the Mayan empire. Five large, pre-Colombian structures still remain as a testament to its origins, such as the Kinich Kak Mo pyramid, Itzamatul and Chaltun Ha. And with stones borrowed from sites such as these, the Spanish built their colonial town here in the 16th century complete with plazas, avenidas and a large Franciscan monastery, San Antonio de Padua.

A pleasant and placid town today, where the Mayan language is still spoken as much as Spanish, Izamal remains a popular pilgrimage site for many Roman Catholics. The town is also home to a large mescal distillery too, harvesting agave to make the main ingredient used in tequila.

Take a traditional horse carriage ride down its ‘calles’, then wander through the impressive atrium and interiors of the Monastery, stopping to admire its frescoes, stained glass windows and the city’s patron saint: the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (“Our Lady of Izamal”).

What to do

  • With one of our expert local guides, take a detailed historical tour through the centuries from pre-Colombian times to the Colonial and the present
  • Horse carriage rides through the town
  • Tours of the mezcal distillery