Xcaret houses the ruins of a Maya city which reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries.
History of Xcaret
Located in Mexico’s Quintana Roo region, Xcaret was then known as Ppole and is said to have been of great ceremonial importance, as evidenced by its wealth of temples, homes and monuments.
It’s believed the site was first settled between 200 and 600AD, but most of the buildings visible today date from about 1000 years after that. Xcaret was strategically located near the sea, but not directly on the coast – possibly because of swampy ground. As a result, it is surrounded by defensive walls.
Xcaret was a port city, and historians and archaeologists believe it was one of the most significant and active ports on the Riviera Maya. Some have also raised the idea that it was where pilgrims came for purification before going to the island of Cozumel to worship the goddess Ixchel.
Xcaret was still occupied when the Spanish arrived in the early 16th century, and they built a chapel there in 1548, implying they believed the settlement was important. The walls of this chapel are still visible today.
The ruins of Xcaret are located within the wider Xcaret Park, which is privately run as a tourist venture. Day admission is for the whole park (including the ruins), and is steep at around £70 per person. If you’re going, you’ll want to make the most of the other attractions to get your money’s worth. The ruins alone aren’t worth the park’s admission fee.
Getting to Xcaret
Xcaret is on the Riviera Maya, about 75km south of Cancun and just outside the town of Playa del Carmen. Buses run frequently along the Riviera Maya, or you can hire a taxi. Day trips also run to the wider Xcaret Park from Cancun.
Among Mexico's endless coastline, vibrant and modern cities, and tasty cuisine are a number of ancient historical cities. Here's our pick of 10 of the best the country has to offer.
Among Mexico's endless coastline, vibrant cities, fragrant cuisine, and stunning nature are a number of fascinating historical sites. Here's our pick of 10 of the best the country has to offer.