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Mayan Ruins on Cozumel Island
Yes! You CAN get a glimpse of the ancient Mayan culture without traveling to mainland Mexico!!

Why come to the island of Cozumel and not enjoy what it has to offer with regard to Mayan history and culture?

Cozumel is home to numerous Mayan ruin sites scattered all over the island which are both excavated and non-excavated. Among these excavated or partially uncovered sites are San Gervasio, Castillo Real and El Cedral. Obviously, there are glamorous, trendy, touristy parts of Cozumel but by visiting these quaint yet important ruins sites one gets a better sense of the ancient Mayan history and culture of the island.

By understanding the long history of the indigenous inhabitants of the island one can see that there is still plenty of rich Mayan culture left here on Cozumel that needs to be preserved for the enjoyment of generations to come.

Cozumel was one of the most important ports-of-trade for the Post-Classic Putun Maya seafarers. The island was a major producer of honey and contained the most important pilgrimage destination on the Peninsula's east coast. Women from through out Mesoamerica traveled Cozumel to worship at the shrine of Ix Chel ("She of the Rainbow"), goddess of childbirth and medicine.


At least 24 archaeological sites have been discovered on the island of Cozumel which was occupied by the Maya from AD 0 forward. The island's indigenous population grew signicantly after AD 800 and reached its peak in AD 1400.


Most ruins on the island are of the "oratorio" type: small square buildings, low to the ground with short doors that led early Spaniards to believe the places were once inhabited by dwarfs (a now discredited myth).



San Gervasio
In terms of importance in the Mayan culture, Cozumel's San Gervasio Ruins are a more significant site than Tulum. Tulum was simply a coastal "watchpost" if you will where as San Gervasio contains the temple built to honor the godess Ix Chel. Visitors can experience first hand the mysteries of Mayan culture here at the largest archeological site on the island. A strategic location from both a commercial and political point of view, San Gervasio was also a sacred place for the Maya women.

Ix Chel is the Mayan godess of fertility and rain. In ancient times, every Mayan woman was expected, at least once in her lifetime, to make the journey to Cozumel from the mainland to make offerings to Ix Chel for her family's fertility and crop sustenance. Inhabited from 200 AD to the Spanish conquest, San Gervasio was the sanctuary of the Goddess Ix Chel as well as an important commercial, political and cultural center. Engravings at the site relate to events all over the Mayan world.
Castillo Real - Area closed due to current environmental conditions
We also have our own coastal watchtowers around Cozumel that served the same purpose to the Mayan warriors as Tulum: keeping watch for approaching enemy tribes. Castillo Real is one coastal watchtower that has managed to survive hundreds of years despite the decline of the Mayan rule over the Yucatan peninsula. Castillo Real is located on the northeast shorline of Cozumel.

Due to the sand road access and recent environmental controversies, it's only possible to see this site as part of a buggy or jungle jeep tour IF AT ALL. Since all rental car contracts forbid going off-road or down sand roads on the island, the jeep tours offer the most practical and safe way to see this remote part of the island.
El Cedral
Once the hub of Maya life on Cozumel, this was the first site found by Spanish explorers in 1518, and the first mass in Mexico was reportedly celebrated here. These days, there's little evidence of its past glory. It is believed to be hundreds of years old and faint traces of the original paint and stucco are evident. El Cedral is different in shape from the typically small and low structures found on the island, suggesting it was used for major ceremonies. Nearby is a green and white cinderblock church, decorated inside with crosses shrouded in embroidered lace.

During the 1800's, El Cedral was used as a jail. Today, the area is occupied by a small farm settlement. Every May there is a fair held at this location called Festival de Cedral Read More About Festival de Cedral, with several days and nights filled with traditional ceremonies, dancing, music, bullfights and a cattle show.
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 Design Your Very Own Custom Mainland Tour!
Tired of visiting the sights as part of the "herd?" Not seeing an excursion that exactly fits how you'd like to spend your day on the mainland? No problem! COZUMELINSIDER can custom design a mainland excursion just for you and your group! From US$168
 Cozumel Punta Sur Ecopark, Lighthouse & Snorkeling
Cozumel's largest natural eco-park featuring a lighthouse to climb, Mayan ruins to see, coves to snorkel, a nautical museum, sea turtle nesting areas, a crocodile sanctuary an enormous mangrove lagoon where Spoonbill Flamingos nest and Egrets go hunting daily along with a multitude of other animal species that call the park home. Experience Cozumel's wildlife up close personal here! Adult $ 125 / Child $ 115
 Cozumel Design Your Own Island Tour!
Have a big group and want to charter a bus or van to do your own thing? Not seeing an excursion that exactly fits how you and your family would like to spend your day here in Cozumel? No problem! Design an island sightseeing excursion just for you and your group! From US$ 300 for 4.5 Hours!
 Cozumel Marine Turtle Observation & Baby Liberation Events with FP&M
Sign up for an observation and education session about Cozumel's nesting sea turtles and the volunteer brigades that help in their conservation. Learn about these amazing creatures in the Fundacion de Paques & Museos program and help release hatching baby turtles as they make their way to the sea. From $ 40 - 70 / person donation

Cozumel Design Your Own Island Tour!

Design Your Very Own Custom Mainland Tour!
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My family and I have returned to Cozumel many times - it's a favorite destination and we have watched it change over the past 20 years. The Cozumel Insider is a great publication - it's a wonderful way to keep up with the news about one of our favorite islands. We are preparing to visit again this August and the Insider has shown us some different activities to try, as well as helped to bring us up to date with local political and ecological happenings. We're delighted to see the interest in wildlife conservation throughout the area. Keep up the good work on this terrific site. D. McClean ~ unknown

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