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Chichén Itzá a concert venue again? Not so fast

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Placido Domingo entertained an audience at Chichén Itzá in 2008. Photo: Getty


Mérida, Yucatán — If the Foo Fighters can play the Acropolis, why can’t concerts be held at Yucatán’s ancient sites?

Since 2012, when the current state administration stepped in, officials have held off allowing sites like Chichén Itzá be used as a backdrop for a musical performance.

State Secretary for Tourism Promotion Saúl Ancona Salazar told Desde El Balcón that private companies are asking to make Chichén Itzá a tour stop once again.

Only INAH and the Federal Secretariat of Culture can grant permits to allow concerts there.

The Greek national opera perform at the archaeological site of the Olympion Zeus in Athens during an free open air concert in 2014. Photo: Getty


Placido Domingo and Armando Manzanero performed at the site in 2008. Sarah Brightman sang there in 2009 and Elton John followed in 2010.

Before Elton John’s concert, part of the stage collapsed during construction, injuring three workers. INAH, which is in charge of the country’s pre-Hispanic sites, said there was no damage to the 1,200-year-old Mayan ruin. The stage was put up at a distance from the pyramid and temples precisely to avoid any potential damage.

A Paul McCartney performance was planned in 2012, but canceled, ostensibly over legal reasons.

The former Beatle’s show was scrubbed because it was found to be too close to state elections, and as a state-subsidized show, would be seen as influencing voters. But at the same time, a petition circulating asked that concerts end at the ancient and fragile site.

The current tourism chief says concerts are not necessary to develop state tourism.

“In this state administration we have not done any concerts in the archaeological zones, I do not think they have been necessary for tourist development in these years,” declared Ancona Salazar.

He said that the Ministry of Tourism has not had to resort to such shows in Chichén Itzá to attract visitors, as they have organized other international events — such as Cirque du Solei and the Rock and Roll Marathon — “that have given us good results.”

With information from USA Today

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