During our April 2014 trip to the Yucatan, we took a daytrip from Mérida to the Mayapan ruins. On the way back, we stopped over in Acanceh to check out the pyramids and churches in the downtown.
Acanceh is located about 20 kilometers south east of Mérida. You can get there via second class bus out of the Noreste station, or by taking a collectivo. The town provides an interesting contrast: a town square with a Mayan pyramid on one side, and a Catholic church across from it. While Acanceh isn’t the only place to find Mayan ruins inside a town (Izamal comes to mind), I’d never seen a town with a pyramid right on the town square.
The Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de la Natividad dates to the 16th Century, and is currently painted a brilliant yellow. The contrast of the yellow, along with the day’s deep blue sky, made for some beautiful pictures. The interior of the church was quite austere, as is typical in the smaller Yucatecan churches.
In the photo above, you can see a smaller chapel on the left. This one is dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
This is a very simple chapel accessed by a series of steps. Inside there are a few pews, and a framed picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The Virgin of Guadalupe is probably the most celebrated religious icon in Mexico, and can be seen everywhere. Traditional accounts say that the Virgin appeared to a peasant, Juan Diego, near Mexico City in 1531.
The chapel dates to the 16th century.
The Mayan city of Acanceh was formed sometime around 200-300. It covered about five square kilometers, and had many structures. Probably the most impressive is the one known today as the “Palace of the Stuccos”. Large stucco reliefs of Mayan gods are found along the top edge, and have been carefully preserved.
A steel roof carefully covers the stuccos on the pyramid above. You can pay admission, and the caretaker will let you in. Once inside, you can climb the front, or go around the back where there is an actual staircase to the top.
Multiple stuccos can be viewed. They are quite large, and in reasonably good shape. It appears that the noses of many of them are missing, though otherwise they seem complete. They are quite large and impressive.
If the caretaker is to be believed, these are some of the finest and largest stuccos to be found in the Yucatan!
The representations are of various Mayan deities.
We enjoyed our brief stop in Acanceh. It was a quiet town with friendly people who seemed happy to see a couple of tourists. We took a short tour on a tricycle cab, and then caught a collectivo back to Mérida. The collectivo stopped in the main square, which was almost like a giant parking lot. Here are a few more photos from Acanceh. Please click any image on these pages for a larger version!