Located in the southern part of the state, on the way to the Puuc Route, Oxkutzcab is a laid-back small city, with nice people – many of whom speak Maya – and it’s also part of the Convent Route. Here you can find peace, nature, convents, and, of course, delicious local gastronomy.
It’s the main citrus producer of Yucatán, with exports to the USA and Europe. It’s the ideal place to buy fresh fruit: how about some limes to prepare a delicious soup? You will also find oranges, grapefruit, sugar apples, and exotic dragon fruits, everything at affordable prices in the picturesque town market “20 de noviembre.” With an unusual façade that displays a mural as tribute to gastronomy and Yucatecan traditions, it’s the epicenter of local life. You will find a setting full of colors and sounds, and the beauty and variety of the fruits will inspire you to take lots of photos. Prepare yourself to hear people speaking in Maya, and try to learn a few words.
Don’t miss the old train station, built in 1949 in a Puuc architectural style, with carved stones taken from nearby pre-Hispanic buildings and haciendas. Today it is the Cultural Center of Oxkutzcab and has a photo exhibition in the main hall of some of the station’s evolution, with some construction and operational facts. In the adjacent rooms, they offer dance and guitar lessons, and other artistic activities.
Another historical building that you should see is the Tuscan style San Francisco de Asis ex convent and church, finished in 1699. Since 2011 it has been included in the Convent Route, and during the façade restoration the original white color was changed to a colonial yellow, as you can see today. Part of the convent has been maintained, as well as the bell tower, the cloister arcade, and some bedrooms. The chapel is now the church orchard and still holds the graves of the first Franciscans who lived there.
Another place that will delight you is the chapel of the Virgen del Pilar, built in 1697 and located in the southern part of Oxkutzcab. A beautiful stone arch will receive you, marking the entrance to the path and the stone stairs that take you to the top of the hill where the church is located. When you get to the top you will see a stone esplanade, and the little chapel in the middle, painted red, with a simple interior but with a panoramic view that makes the climb worthwhile.
You must be hungry by now. One option is the Príncipe Tutul Xiú restaurant with its traditional Poc Chuc, Relleno Blanco or Negro, Panuchos, and traditional fruit syrup desserts.
If you still have energy and want to keep visiting places, you can go to the amazing Hacienda Tabi that is located in the town of Ticul, but you must enter from Oxkutzcab. Or go to the Loltún Caves, only 8 km away.
Oxkutzcab is a place with plenty of attractions and things to see for a whole day, and also as a jumping off place for the Maya world’s archaeological sites and caves.
Oxkutzcab, the state’s orchard, is located 110 km from Mérida.
It is part of the Convent Route and is on the highway that takes you to the Puuc Route.
By Violeta H. Cantarell
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