To be honest, before I entered the museum, over lunch, I googled the difference between Aztecs, Maya and Inca’s. For I knew they were all tribes or population that once lived in Central and South America but I had no idea who lived where and why and how. And how all the Spanish conqueror stories fitted in.
Living in Cancún at the moment I live among Maya people. And when I move to Mexico city I will be on the former Aztec territory. And the Inca’s, well I visited them around 1978 when I travelled in South America, for they mainly lived on the west coast region of that continent.
Long story short: Mayans were trading people with a high civilized standard, and social and economic structure. Aztecs were more people from war and blood.
Now when it comes to the Spanish, they arrived here in 1500 something and had little to nothing to do with the archaeological sites I visited these last few days. For those civilisations were long gone by then.
Either I got my history mixed up, or I was fed a lot of bullshit in paintings of Spanish meeting people in feathers and golden masks, either way, I was surprised by the artefacts I found in the Maya Museum in Cancun
It is a pleasant place to visit, this museum in the middle of the busy hotel zone. The entrance fee is 75 pesos per person and worth every peso. The place is very spacious, light and informative. Upstairs are the exhibitions, either to be reached by elevators or walkways circling up. The exhibition is divided into 2 large rooms, 1 overlooking the bay and the distant hotels of the tourist area. The other is more enclosed by trees and vegetation.
There is plenty of pots, incense burners, cornerstones and jewellery to give you a good impression of how civilized the Mayans were. Information boards explain about trade routes, the Spanish invasion, and the location of settlements and cities. Which were quite plenty to my surprise.
There is also this huge exhibition of Giant portraits of people that lived or fought during La Guerra de Caste (1847-1901) in the Yucatan area.
Very impressing stories are told beside the photographs in both Spanish and English. The faces of the people tell stories of their own and I loved walking among them. Some wise words were spoken there and then. And it is worth reading them and to take them with you on your journey.
Especially the one about all people feeling special due to religion or believes, feeling chosen and therefore having the need to be heard, to share and even to conquer. IT was a plea for understanding the oppressors but also a plea for the freedom fighters.
For more information about that long war please click here, the link will take you to Wikipedia and open in a new screen.
Once finished in the upper exhibition you follow the signs to the outside grounds. There are the ruins of San Miguelito. A little Maya civilisation settlement and the remains of a pyramid. All with lots of explanation about the way of living, the purpose of the building and artefacts found there.
Cancún in those days was merely part of a bigger scene, and not at all as big a hub as it is now. And while busses and other traffic rushes by behind the fence and the green garden muffles the sounds and sight of surrounding hotels, I cannot help but wonder how it would have been, living here in those days.
It sure must have been a lot quieter back then, no planes filled with tourist flying over, that is for sure
The Museo de Maya Cancún is open daily from 9.00 till 17.30 and tickets are sold until 16.30. It is closed on Monday and the specify that Benito Júarez’s birth is observed and opening hours will differ on that day.
There is no food or drinks available in the museum so make sure to bring water to drink. The little museum shop offers nice souvenirs and lots of history books for both children and adults.
Not yet enough from the Mayan Civilisation and culture? Take a bus in the direction of the airport and get off at Playa Delfines and visit the El Rey Archaeological Zone.
Videos from the walk outside the museum building over the actual archaeological site among the ruins ending at the pyramid.
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Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.