Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 5 - Ticul and Campeche Fort Fun

After a two night stay in the small town of Ticul, (which was a great place to stage ourselves out of for the past two days), we left today for Campeche.

The best part about Ticul itself was the bed and breakfast we stayed in, the wonderful "Posada el Jardin". The rooms and the property were beautifully maintained by the owner Roman and we cannot recommend this place highly enough.

If you ever find yourself in this part of the Mayan world, consider this place for lodging. Check out Posada el Jardin's website at: http://www.posadajardin.com/

After a 2.5 hour drive to Campeche from Ticul, Josh and I stopped first at the Fuerte de San Miguel and Museo Arqueologico de Campeche. The Fuerte (fort) de San Miguel is south of Campeche and was built in the late 18th century by the Spanish. It sits perched on one of the largest hills in town and has a moat and drawbridge system. The moat is seen empty in the above photo.

The Museo Arqueologico de Campeche is housed inside the Fuerte de San Miguel and was full of unique Mayan artifacts from around the state of Campeche. This recreated burial site was on display with jade ornamentation and intact Mayan skeleton.

This was one of many stellae on display in the Museo from the Mayan ruin site of Becan.

This clay figurine of the Mayan rain god Chaac appeared in fairly good condition considering it is at least 1,500 years old.

These unknown clay figurines of gods came from the Mayan ruins of Calakmul.

In accordance with the Mayan beautification tradition of cranial modification, this skull was flattened when the individual was very young (almost newborn) by strapping a wooden board to the person's head.

Atop the Fuerte de San Miguel, Josh orders one of the Spanish cannons to fire. Campeche was known for ongoing issues with pirates, some of which were hired as privateers by England and France. The combination of forts, city walls, and bastions built by the city of Campeche to protect itself worked (most of the time) to keep the pirate issue (somewhat) under control

When in Campeche, do as.......

The city of Campeche has turned the remaining bits of the city walls and bastions into museums and botanical. The Baluarte Santiago, or Santiago Bastion, now houses one of Campeche's botanical gardens, the aptly named Jardin Botanico Xmuch'haltun. The botanical garden is surrounded by 8 foot-thick limestone walls and houses over 200 different native plants species.

Following the Campeche city walls and bastion system around town, we found ourselves atop the Baluarte San Pedro and Museo y Galeria de Arte Popular. The number of churches counted in one photo from this point of view was three. And that was a minimum for any given vista of Campeche.

For $0.75 each, Josh and I could walk atop the city walls of Campeche. The guard at the city wall entrance unlocked the small gate and away we went, once again having the place to ourselves. To unlock the small gate when we were done, I had to ring the large church bell atop the guard station to find the guard with the key.

The views from atop the city walls were amazing. The city of Campeche is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city truly maintains all structures, walkways, and facades in the downtown area and it shows.

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