The roads of southern Yucatán take you to Tekax, a city with many stories to tell, moments in history that go back to the time of the Guerra de Castas (Caste War), and local legends that just might turn this into your new favorite place to visit
Tekax is located on the highest point of the peninsula, and is also referred to as the “Sultan of the Mountain.” It takes just over an hour and a half to drive from Mérida, and it has a series of attractions for different interests: history, landscapes, Maya communities, gastronomy, caves, and plenty of adventure! (see pages 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 of this edition).
Start your visit at the Palacio Municipal, a building that once served as a trade center on the ground floor, and a residence on the second floor. It has over 14 arches that were built at different times in history. From the second floor, you’ll have a great view of Tekax’s Centro Histórico, main park, church, and market.
It was the site of many important meetings during the Guerra de Castas, and today houses government offices, among them the Municipal Tourism Office.
A Look at Our Past
Travel back in time by visiting the park. It’s completely enclosed with French-style decorative gates (it’s one of only two such enclosed parks in the state, the other is in Valladolid), and has eight access points, benches, and wrought-iron lamps imported from Europe. It’s not hard to imagine what it looked like back when it was lit up with kerosene lamps.
Across the street, the Franciscan church (and former convent) was built with stones from Maya temples and is dedicated to San Juan Bautista. On its façade you can still see the coats of arms of the first families that came to Tekax.
You’ll also want to see the three-story house, a unique construction in stone that witnessed historical battles and is still lived in today. You can visit the inside and if you book ahead of time, you can even hear about the part this house played in history, straight from the original owners’ descendants.
Get to know more about Tekax’s cultural, social, and sports history at the new Museo de la Fotografía (Calle 50 x 59), and visit the handcraft store next door.
A View from the Top at La Ermita
Get ready to walk up 80 meters of stone steps to see the chapel dedicated to San Diego de Alcalá de Henares. From the top you’ll have an incredible view of the city, perfect to watch the sunset and admire the Yucatecan landscape like you’ve never seen it before – from the top! “San Dieguito,” the nickname given to this saint by locals, is said to be responsible for many miracles, such as saving a boy from a lit oven.
Visit Hacienda Santa María, a former sugar cane plantation, and tour its magnificent gardens.
Get to Know More:
- Tekax was an important region for cane sugar production.
- It’s the birthplace of Ricardo Palmerín, who wrote the music for “Peregrina,” a song dedicated to Alma Reed.
- The church of San Juan Bautista is the second largest in the state after Catedral de San Ildefonso in Mérida.
- On the front door of the three-story house you can still see machete marks from the Guerra de Castas.
- You have to try the Us tacos, the Cochinita Pibil made by “El Alacrán Torres,” and a local snack known as Waj tu kit (also known as Kiwiwua), it’s a soft tortilla stuffed with beans and served with tomato sauce.
Editorial by Violeta H. Cantarell
Photography by Arturo Sánchez, Óscar Góngora and Andrea Mier for use in Yucatán Today.
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