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One of the many reasons why the Mexican Caribbean is so popular with American tourists, aside from the beautiful beaches and lively nightlife, is the fact that it is home to some of the best-preserved ruins of the bygone Mayan civilization.
Ruined sites like Chichen Itza and the Tulum fort beckon million visitors every yearbut they are merely the tip of a much larger iceberg, as most Maya settlements still lie beneath modern Mexican cities, undiscovered.
Every year archaeologists come across exciting new discoveries, and very soon, for the first time in history, not just one, but four mayan ruins that have recently been revitalized will be open to the public, and best of all, they can be visited from Cancun.
Two more segments of Tulum
In fact, the first two ruins on the list are located in Tulum, which is already a very popular place among Mayan enthusiasts. While the ‘Castillo’ landmark on top of a cliff overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea had always been accessible, other structures in the surrounding area were out of limits.
Either as a result of ongoing conservation efforts or security risks, some of the most impressive Mayan civic buildings in the archaeological zone could not be seen up close or explored by visitors, especially Nauyacas and cresteríasas it was baptized by the Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
Like Castillo, they are Mayan sites located on the mountainous coast of Tulum. Although they are as beautiful and mystical as the iconic Castle, they remained sealed while explorations and archaeological development took place.
If you’ve walked around the walled city a lot in the past, you’ll have noticed that visitors can’t access Structures 55, 56, 57, and 59, which encompass both monuments and a vast collection of ancient artifacts. This will change in the coming months..
Although an exact opening date has not yet been offered, it could coincide with the launch of the Mayan Train in December. Archaeologists and other environmental experts have been working together to clear the area of invasive plants and build support structures before the first influx of tourists.
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Further down the coast, the third Mayan attraction with a launch date set for the near future is Ichkabal, near Quintana Roo’s capital Chetumal, a lesser-known coastal gem in the deep south of the state that most American tourists tend to overlook in favor of Cancun.
The opening of Ichkabal will help diversify Chetumal’s tourist offer, however, according to historians one of the most impressive Mayan citiesmainly because it has not suffered severe destruction upon the arrival of the Spanish.
Instead, it was effectively abandoned in the early 16th century and slowly reclaimed by nature without suffering much interference or desecration from European settlers. It was colonized as early as 400 B.C. C. and includes a large number of sacrificial chambers, smaller stepped pyramids and beautiful religious temples.
Ichkabal is the furthest from Cancun, at a six hour tripbut the inauguration of the Mayan Train will surely improve connectivity around the Yucatán peninsula less and will close the existing gap between Cancún, in the north of Quintana Roo, and Chetumal and other cities in the south.
It will receive its first visitors once the Mayan Train is fully operational, in the summer of 2024.
A historic ruin adjacent to Chichén Itzá, one of the seven wonders of the modern worldChichén ‘Old’ is an extensive compound that once belonged to Mayan elites, one of the largest discovered in Mexico to date.
It is made up of several villas and interior courtyards once shared by the wealthiest Maya, and was one of the last to be discovered by archaeologists. Since it was found, it has been under the administration of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (NIAH).
They carried out extensive restoration and research work in the area in order to establish their origins and how important they were to the ancient Maya. Since then, numerous structures have been unearthed, including a ‘Stucco Temple’ from AD 650
Chichén ‘Old’ is attached to the main city of Chichén Itzá, where you can see the iconic Kukulcán Castle, and will be accessible to tourists as soon as September 2according to AMLO himself.
The Mayan Train will boost connectivity throughout the Mayan world
As you can see, history buffs and Mayan culture enthusiasts have a lot to be desired when visiting the Mexican Caribbean this year.
The inauguration of the historical sites is not the only thing that should excite them: the launch of the Mayan Train will make traveling throughout the territory a lot less complicatedas all the tourist hotspots including all the important towns located in the Mayan ruined cities will be included in the railway map.
As we have said on numerous occasions, this is Mexico’s Tourism Renaissance, and the revitalization of Mayan heritage and the implementation of such ambitious infrastructure projects as the Mayan Train are just the beginning.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com