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Yucatán declares 3 new heritage sites

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
The San Francisco de Padua convent in Izamal is one of three new additions to Yucatán’s list of recognized heritage sites. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht.

In a unanimous decision, Yucatán’s legislature officialy designated three new heritage sites.

The new heritage sites are the San Francisco de Padua convent in Izamal, the Mayan Theater in Xocén, and the traditional coso artesanal in Tizimín.

Heritage sites in Yucatán receive financial resources from municipal and state coffers to aid in their conservation and promotion. The program is similar to the Pueblos Magicos initiative run by Mexico’s federal government to promote tourism.

These three new heritage sites now join the likes of other famous landmarks and institutions in Yucatán such as Merida’s San Ildefonso Cathedral, the Teatro Peón Contreras, and the archaeological site of Dziblichaltun

San Antonio de Padua, the second largest Catholic atrium in the world. Photo: Courtesy

The Franciscan convent of San Antonio de Padua was built in the 16th century using stones and other building materials taken from a Mayan pyramid that once stood in the same location. Its open-air atrium is second in size only to Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican.

The city of Izamal is known to Yucatecos by the moniker Ciudad de las Tres Culturas — the City of Three Cultures. This makes reference to the city’s Maya and colonial past, which over several centuries fused into a contemporary mestizo identity.

In 1993, the convent came into the limelight when Pope John Paul II chose its atrium to hold a public mass. During this time the convent, along with most homes and businesses were painted with the colors of the Vatican’s flag — yellow and white — to commemorate the visit of the pontiff. 

The convent of San Francisco de Padua is one of the most iconic and recognizable structures, not only of Izamal but of the entirety of the state of Yucatán.

Performers at the Mayan theater in Xocén. Photo: Courtesy

The Teatro Maya de Xocén is an outdoor theater which focuses on presenting dramatic renditions of Mayan history and myth. 

The theater has featured productions such as Momentos Sagrados Mayas, which features 300 actors and dancers from surrounding communities.  

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, productions at the outdoor theater have been put on hold, but organizers hope that the show will be allowed to return soon.

The massive traditional coso, or bullfighting ring, in Tizimín. Photo: Courtesy

The coso artesanal of Tizimín refers to a massive bullfighting ring that is built using materials extracted from the surrounding jungle.

Although these kinds of structures can be found elsewhere in Mexico, the coso in Tizimín is considered to be one of the largest in the country. According to some estimates, it is second in size only to the petatera in Colima. 

Although the structure may look unsafe to people not familiar with it, the construction is quite solid and is routinely inspected by city officials responsible for its upkeep. The coso is a central part of the city’s annual Fiesta de Reyes, which runs from Dec. 28 to Jan. 19.

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