Built by the Spanish Conquistadors in the mid-sixteenth century, today Campeche stands as Mexico's only remaining walled city. It is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, largely thanks to the magnificently preserved walls and gates, as well as its splendid baroque Spanish architecture, large imposing forts and old cobbled streets. It is wonderful base from which to explore the nearby ruins and the Celestun nature reserve, just to the north of the city.
On the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, west of Merida, is the small town of Celestún and its natural lagoon of salty water next to the sea. Step on a boat to reach the interesting local flora and fauna, and get up close the flamingo bird population, pink in their colour due to the shrimps they find to eat in the shallow water. You can also take a short walk in the mangroves, where you will discover the impressive crystal-clear sweet water ascending right out of the underground into ponds.
Chicanná, Becán and Calakmul are Mayan archaelogical sites located in dense jungle in the state of Campeche on the Yucatán Peninsula. They are easily explored within a day or two, thanks to the Highway 186 which links them together.
Chicanná is thought to have been a more exclusive residence for the rulers of the local populations and is today noted for its blend of various Mayan archaeological styles from the time, with intricate details decorating the facades of relatively small pyramids. Nearby Becán was the ruling centre of the region, as evidenced in its grand plazas and two monumental pyramids. Calakmul is part of an extensive Biosphere Reserve and home to one of the tallest pyramids in Mexico, it was also considered to be a city of great importance and a large population.
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