Discovering La Ciudad Amarilla - The Yellow City: A Guide to Izamal, Mexico
If Santorini is famous for its sky blue and white combination, today we will talk about the most yellowish city in the world. Just before you enter the town of Izamal, Mexico, you'll be greeted with a burst of yellow and even orange hues on the buildings and structures. The colors are so bold and bright that people call it La Ciudad Amarilla - The Yellow City. And let me tell you, the vibe in Izamal is just as groovy as the colors. It's a place where tradition meets modernity, where locals and visitors alike come together to celebrate the rich history and culture of this beautiful city.
Why is Izamal yellow? It's a mystery that has puzzled historians, tour guides, and visitors for years. Some say it was painted yellow to honor the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1993, but that theory doesn't hold up because Izamal was already yellow before the pope's arrival. Another popular theory is that Izamal was painted yellow as a tribute to the Mayan sun god, Kinich Kak Moo. Maybe the locals just really like the color yellow, who knows? One thing is for sure though, the Yellow City of Izamal is one-of-a-kind and definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Mexico.
Izamal is one of Mexico's many "Magic Towns" or "Pueblos Mágicos," a government program designed to preserve Mexican destinations with rich cultural histories. With 132 such towns in the program, Izamal stands out as a must-visit location for travelers who want to experience authentic Mexican culture.
The town's origins date back almost 2,000 years, when the Maya founded it. Based on the legend, the city is named after the ancient Mayan god Itzamná. With such a fascinating history and unique atmosphere, it's no wonder that Izamal is regarded as a true gem in Mexico's cultural landscape. After knowing a bit about the city, how about looking at the most famous attraction of The Yellow City, Izamal, in Mexico?
1.Pay a Visit to Convento de San Antonio de Padua
Let's start your Yellow City Izamal adventure off right by checking out the ex-convent De San Antonio de Padua. Admission to the grounds is free, but you won't want to miss out on the Chapel of Our Lady and the little museum, both accessible for a small fee.
The Monastery of St. Anthony of Padua is a Catholic church that was constructed in 1561 on top of an ancient Mayan worship center - the Pap-Hol-Chac, which was the tallest pyramid in the pre-Hispanic Mayan town, as part of an effort to convert the Maya people to Catholicism. This location was carefully chosen to give the monastery an impressive view that could be seen from afar. As soon as the monastery opened, it became a significant place of pilgrimage after Fray Diego de Landa introduced a statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception from Guatemala. The Virgin Mary image was considered miraculous, and Our Lady of Izamal became the patron saint of Yucatan. To top it off, Pope John Paul II even blessed the statue during his visit in 1993! Today, the church is still active and stands as one of the oldest Catholic churches in the Americas, attracting visitors from far and wide.
2.Wander in The Yellow-Painted Streets
The top must-do activities in Izamal are soaking up the sunny vibes of the Yellow City, strolling around the charming streets, and snapping tons of Insta-worthy pics. So grab your camera and start exploring!
3. Visit Capilla de Los Remedios
One more yellowish attraction at the Yellow City, Mexico! If you take a leisurely stroll around the main square in Izamal, you will discover the true beauty - La Capilla de Los Remedios, or Remedies Chapel in English. It's situated right across from a peaceful park adorned with a charming fountain and towering palm trees. The church is painted in a lovely shade of yellow and boasts an impressive facade with two bell towers. If you're lucky enough to catch it when it's open, take a moment to step inside and bask in its beauty. But even if you can't, you can still admire its quaint architecture from the park. Don't miss out on this hidden gem!
4.Reach The Top Of The Kinich Kak Moo Pyramid
One of the coolest things you can do in Izamal, Mexico, is visiting the Kinich Kak Moo pyramid, which was built in honor of the Mayan god of the Sun. "Kinich Kak Moo" actually means "the macaw with the face of the burning sun" - pretty cool, right? This pyramid is one of the tallest Mayan structures on the entire Peninsula and even taller than the famous Chichen Itza! So, you can imagine how important this place was to the Mayans.
The climb to the top of the pyramid can be a bit exhausting but worth it! Once you reach the top, you'll have an amazing view of the area. And, unlike other pyramids, you can climb all the way to this one! Just be careful on the way down, as the staircase is a bit uneven.
The Kinich Kak Moo pyramid is just a short walk north of Izamal's main square. And, the best part? There's no entrance fee! So, grab your camera and get ready for an adventure!
5. Explore Izamal Cenotes
Mexico is famous for its cenotes. These natural swimming holes throughout the Yucatan Peninsula offer a cool respite from the day's heat. One of the best cenotes near Izamal is Cenote Chihuan, located just a 40-minute drive away form the city center. This cavern cenote boasts crystal-clear water and the chance to spot some catfish while you swim. It's the perfect spot for a day trip or a quick dip before heading back into town.
6.Enjoy Local Food
Izamal is heaven for foodies, and you'll find various delicious local dishes to try out during your visit. Let's dive into some of the must-try food items in Izamal. First, we have the famous Poc chuc, a marinated pork dish served with refried beans and tortillas. The meat is grilled to perfection and served with fresh salsa and lime wedges, making for a mouthwatering combination of flavors. Another local favorite is Cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish cooked in a banana leaf with a blend of aromatic spices. This dish is incredibly tender and flavorful and is usually served with pickled onions, lime wedges, and tortillas.
You can only leave The Yellow City if you have tasted Panucho. It is a Yucatan specialty, a tortilla topped with refried beans. Additional toppings are left for the customer or cook to decide based on their preferences. The choices are endless, from crunchy cabbage, juicy tomatoes, creamy avocados, and spicy onions to tender shredded chicken, succulent fish, and tangy pickled hot peppers. Yummy yummy!
Frequently Asked Questions About The Yellow City - Izamal in Mexico?
Where is the Yellow City - Izamal, Mexico- located?
Izamal, also known as the Yellow City, is located in the state of Yucatan in Mexico. It is situated approximately 254 km from Cancun and 70 kilometers east of the city of Merida, which is the capital of Yucatan state.
Is Izamal - The Yellow City - worth visiting?
Yes, definitely. Izamal, also known as the Yellow City, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and designated one of Mexico's Magical Towns (Pueblos Mágicos). The Magical Towns program selects towns based on their natural beauty, cultural significance, rich history, and preservation of original architecture. Izamal meets all of these criteria with its stunning colonial architecture, ancient Mayan ruins, and vibrant cultural traditions.
Is Izamal Mexico safe for tourists?
If we follow the latest news, is totally safe visiting The Yellow City Izamal, Mexico. According to the U.S. State Department, the whole Yucatán State is among the safest states in Mexico.