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Exploring the Mayan Ruins of El Meco
El Meco Ruins in Puerto Juarez
Only 5-minutes drive from the city of Cancun, El Meco is a must-see archaeological zone near Punta Sam. The site is made up of three “plazas,” with additional structures off-site that are closed to the public due to their location on private property. Archaeologists and care-takers have uncovered 18 structures between public and private land including the tallest pyramid in the Cancun area and second tallest in all of the Yucatan Peninsula, after the main pyramid at Chichen Itza.
The main pyramid, El Castillo, is the point of focus of El Meco. The temple pyramid stands at 40 feet and conceals a smaller temple inside that can be accessed through the back. The pyramid is bookended by two smaller ruins; a small temple and a larger one with an intact stairway and altar, dating to a later construction nearly 400 years after the first structure built at El Meco at around 200 AD.
The grounds are home to many large trees offering share on a sunny Cancun day. The ruins are also home to large friendly iguanas who climb the steps of El Castillo; the envy of tourists who are unable to do so.
There is a nominal fee of 55 pesos (approximately $3 USD) to enter the grounds making this an inexpensive way to spend an hour with the family looking at Mayan ruins so close to Cancun.
Getting to El Meco Ruins and El Castillo
Since the ruins are a bit off the beaten path, just outside of the Cancun Hotel Zone, we recommend taking a taxi or hiring a driver for the day. Unfortunately, El Meco does not offer tours in English (only in Spanish), so hiring a local guide through a site like TripAdvisor is a solid option to learn the history of the location and get access to transportation with ease.
Fun Near El Meco:
Check out all the fun things you can do in the Nichupte Lagoon.
More About The El Meco Ruins:
El Meco is a small but interesting Mayan archaeological site located just outside Cancun, Mexico. The ruins are believed to have been built during the Late Classic period, around 600 to 900 AD, and were occupied until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.
The most impressive structure at El Meco is the main pyramid, which is over 40 feet tall and features a small temple at the top. Visitors can climb to the top for sweeping views of the surrounding jungle and coastline. Other notable structures include a ball court, a temple dedicated to the rain god, and several smaller pyramids and buildings.
One of the unique features of El Meco is the presence of a natural cenote, or sinkhole, which is believed to have held significant spiritual and religious significance for the ancient Mayans. The cenote is now dry, but visitors can still see the circular depression in the ground where it once existed.
In addition to the archaeological site, El Meco is surrounded by lush jungle and is home to a variety of wildlife, including howler monkeys, iguanas, and a variety of bird species. Visitors can take a guided tour of the ruins and surrounding jungle, or explore on their own with the help of informational signs located throughout the site.
Overall, El Meco is a fascinating and relatively undiscovered gem for anyone interested in Mayan history or nature. It is also easily accessible from Cancun and makes for a great day trip or addition to any itinerary in the area.