If you visit or live in or around the Playa del Carmen area, exploring the neighborhood ruins can prove to be an adventurous day. There are several historic Mayan sites scattered throughout the city. We have stumbled on few of them by simply walking through the sleeves of vegetation that separate communities, streets and buildings.
The Mayan civilization was a very dominant culture here on the Yucatan Peninsula and down through Central America. When the Spaniards conquered the Americas, they attempted to destroyed the Mayan religion and all the attributes associated with it. Fortunately they didn’t totally accomplish their mission and a few of the ceremonial structures where spared.
Today we are able to visit some of these sites that have been preserved and reconstructed for our viewing. To get to some of these sights, we needed to walk along rock paths that cut through some heavy foliage (shown right). Playa del Carmen is well known for its inner city jungle like landscape.
The cleared pathways and stairs carved out of rock allowed us to maneuver the jungle’s treacherous environment. Needless to say that getting to some of these archaeological sites are rather difficult and are not suitable for individuals who have certain disabilities. On a few occasions we had to climb over small boulders and above ground roots (pictured below) to reach another path leading to some of the ruins.
After walking up and down a few flights of rough stairs, climbing over rocks and breathing in some very heavy air, we made it to our first site. These ruins are not offered by any “Guided Tour or Excursion companies” that I know of. They are not labeled and/or promoted like the more publicized destinations namely Tulum, Xcaret or Chichen Itza. There are no posted signs telling you about their historical origins, who discovered them or what you are exactly looking at. The only provided information is what you see, is what you know.
As far as I have been told is that the ruins have been restored and are maintained by non-profit organizations and city funded projects. These particular ruins (pictured above left and below) are clustered together in a partially cleared area in a gated community that borders PDC named PlayaCar.
The following photos are ruins that are within approximately a five acre circumference of each other.
Some of the ruins are in disarray and dire need of repair. I am hoping that they will get the attention they solely deserve very soon. We took the time to study the sites and imagined how they looked in their created moment.
After spending approximately 30 minutes roaming the acreage, we headed to another site that was in a very unlikely location, and that is off one of Playa del Carmen’s main thoroughfares.
We got back out onto the street and headed north into the city. Fifth Avenue is a very popular pedestrian only street where vacationers and tourist feed their thirst for food, drink and shopping. We kept going north until we got to Calle 4 Norte (4th street North) and then hung a right towards the beach and its Caribbean water.
We walked about a half block to a driveway like alley that was between two commercial buildings. There it was, among several other structures and across from an entrance to a popular beach bar. The site stood alone baring its soul for all to see. This ruin had obviously been reconstructed within the last few years. The site takes priority and remains in its original location and can not be moved or disturbed. It is amazing to see such an archaeological structure like this in a place least expected. However, who would have ever thought that the prehistoric La Brea tar pits -which are constantly being excavated for dinosaur bones, would reside in downtown Los Angels, California!
Author: Anthony Scopel
Photography: Anthony Scopel
Associate Editor: Maureen Scopel
Technical Mastering & Support: Matt Kemper
We as a human race must preserve as much of our past as possible so we will never forget where many societies began.