Pisté is the gateway to the world-famous archaeological site of Chichén Itzá.
But the town is more than just a place to drive by or stay the night. It’s a thriving Yucatecan town with a long history and complicated legacy.
During antiquity, Pisté was a part of Chichén Itzá’s outskirts, stretching out several miles in every direction from the archaeological park that exists today.
Today, few archaeological remains survive in Pisté, the major exception being its chapel and surrounding grounds.
Pisté’s chapel was built in 1619 by the Franciscan order and was named after John the Baptist. But in 1754, the chapel was re-consecrated by Friar Miguel Leal de las Alas as Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepción, or Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
The chapel was destroyed during the Caste War, though the exact date is unknown. What we do know is that in the 1850s, the Catholic temple was already burned out.
During the 2010s, archaeologists began preliminary archaeological investigations at the chapel as it was known that stones from Mayan temples belonging to Chichén Itzá had been used in its construction.
As it turns out, the entire chapel appears to have, in fact, been built using ancient carved stones from Mayan structures, which have been made readily visible after its reconstruction.
During the excavations, archaeologists also discovered the foundations and walls of what appeared to be ancient structures beneath the cement of a 20th-century park.
Some archaeologists have suggested that the foundations show evidence dating back at least 1,000 years, which would point to a repurposing of an ancient Mayan construction rather than a construction of new architecture using ancient existing materials as was previously thought.
Excavations and restoration on the chapel and its surrounding area wrapped up in late 2021. In September 2022, the Catholic temple was repurposed as a museum telling the story of the Caste War and Pisté’s role.
If you go
Getting to Pisté from either Mérida or Cancún is easy. Just follow the multiple signs to Chichén Itzá.
Staying the night in Pisté is a good idea, as this will make it easier to get to Chichén Itzá just as it’s opening at 8 a.m. and avoid the crowds.
The town is full of hotels and restaurants ranging greatly in price to accommodate visitors and locals working at the archaeological site.