Campeche: the best kept secret in Mexico

Campeche, in the Yucatan Peninsula, is a colonial jewel with interesting sites in its surroundings and tropical climate beaches

Beaches in Campeche
Beaches in Campeche

Cheerful, colorful, carefree, the city of Campeche is a strange unknown, despite being one of the most beautiful and best-preserved colonial jewels in Mexico. A town located in the Yucatan Peninsula, just a couple of hours from the coveted Riviera Maya, whose life runs discreetly, away from the jaws of tourism, attentive rather to the little things that, it is clear why here they look happy.

In Campeche, definitely, good vibrations are to be felt. On silent walks under their pastel-colored houses. In the tumult of the main square, crowded with children, pigeons, shoeshine boys and women who sell handicrafts in the shade of centenary ceibas.

The walls echo their past here. The bars are lively and the nights taste like tequila and mezcal. That is why this picturesque city has given rise to the word Campechano, the one we use to express simplicity in the treatment, plainness, pure cordiality.

Sunset in Campeche
Sunset in Campeche

Campeche, which has the title of World Heritage, is a magnificent example of the colonial baroque that, beyond its beauty, holds the record of Mexico in terms of safety in its streets. A network arranged in a grid, as mandated by the viceregal canons, and fastened by an imposing fortification that today retains seven of its bastions converted into museums (archaeological, piracy, painting, etc.) in which you can discover curiosities such as the jade mask, considered one of the most beautiful relics of the Mayans. But also Campeche is an urban treasure full of leisure possibilities, exciting sites in its surroundings and relaxed beaches to soak up its tropical climate.

To get to know this city means to lose yourself aimlessly through intramurals with no other goal than to admire those facades that look impeccable because they are repainted every year with the only condition that the color is not equal to that of the neighbor. Facades that hide fresh and flowered courtyards, and that sometimes are charming hotels, other cultural centers such as the 6th House, and as many trendy places as Luan, where they serve brunches with an ecological vocation.

Campeche is the place to discover why Mexican cuisine is, together with the mariachis, the Intangible Heritage of Unesco. Here the palate is well taken care of since the beginning of time. Proof of this are restaurants such as La Pigua, with its fresh seafood offer, or the Cenaduría de San Francisco, where, under pretty arcades, a curious peck of Yucatecan delights is served (panuchos, lime soup, etc.). There is no lack, of course, the traditional style canteens, such as the so-called Colonial Corner Room, in which scenes from the original Sin film were filmed, with Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie.

For the night, which in Campeche can be seen incombustible, you have to go to Calle 59 and let yourself get infected by the party in the purest Mexican style. Because this straight line (the one that connects the Puerta de Tierra with the Puerta del Mar) is flanked by bars and terraces, from places to see and be seen, to improvised tracks to move the skeleton up until the dawn.

But, despite the late-night, early rises will be necessary. Because the magnificent sites in the surrounding area have yet to be discovered. There are more than two thousand distributed throughout the state, of which only 16 are open to the public.

Mayan ruins in Campeche
Mayan ruins in Campeche

These two are essential. Calakmul, one of the largest cities in the Mayan world declared a World Heritage Site (nothing could be more magnetic than going through this dense scenery where jaguars swarm and climb to its majestic pyramids) and Edzná, where one perceives the technological complexity and the social advance of what was one of the most intelligent civilizations in history.

7 THINGS THAT ONLY CAMPECHE HAS

Campeche has corners that will enchant you: from its beautiful colonial port, to the majestic natural reserves and several Mayan ceremonial centers.

Its gastronomy is a delicious fusion of Mayan, Spanish and Arabic food; its beaches invite you to rest, but if you are more intrepid you can do water sports, such as windsurfing and diving.

And if this is not enough, in Campeche you will find beautiful gardens and buildings from the 18th century, which make this state one of the richest in history, traditions, and culture. Here are seven reasons why you should visit.

Dogfish Bread

This peculiar delicacy can be one of the main reasons to visit Campeche, since during October, in the city of Champoton, a great celebration is organized around this dish. The so-called "pan de cazón" is prepared with tortilla, beans, chili and, of course, dogfish. Tasting it is a must when visiting the coast of this state.

House of Murmurs

It's a big house of the 17th century placed in one of the most ancient neighborhoods of the city. This is the private residence of chef Patrick Cros, who opens its doors on certain nights to become a private restaurant where only one reservation a day is received. The menu is five-course, and offers contemporary French cuisine, using local products.

Vasconcelos Customs

Inspired by traditional Mexican cuisine and regional dishes, this restaurant located on 59th Street, a few steps from Puerta del Mar, offers a rich variety on its menu. Special mention should be made of a spectacular dessert: the apple cinnamon cheesecake, which is a family recipe.

Calakmul

It is located in the southeast of the state and is a protected natural area, catalogued as the largest tropical reserve in Mexico. It is located 90 km. on the highway Escárcega-Chetumal. This area has ecosystems of great importance, richness and fragility, is a unique region that combines a tropical reserve with the Mayan civilization. The vestiges of its ancient city and its well-preserved jungle are recognized by UNESCO as the only Mixed Heritage of Humanity in Mexico.

Edzná

This area, which means House of Itzaes, is located 61 kilometers southeast of Campeche City. Edzná had numerous religious, administrative and housing buildings distributed in an area of approximately 25 km2. Its architecture is influenced by the Puuc, Petén and Chenes styles.

The House of Crafts Tukulná

Its name means House of Thought, and here you will find exhibition rooms with the various types of natural crafts of the state, such as Tepakán pottery, works made from bull horn, hammock weaving, the making of jipi hats and other palm articles. It is located in construction that dates from the eighteenth century, rebuilt in 1993.

Jipijapa Hats

Bécal is a town located in the north of the state, on the border with Yucatán. Here you can admire one of the most beautiful traditions of Campeche, which is the hand-made elaboration of the jipi hats. These are woven inside limestone caves, as the humidity favors the jipi palm to keep them flexible and not to break.

By Mexicanist With information from MSN