El Meco is an ancient Mayan site near Cancun where you can see a pyramid, many buildings, and iguanas. Just 5 kilometers north of Cancun, this is the closest ruins and historical site to the city. Popularly referred to as Meco, it is 650 meters in length from north-south and 200 meters from east-west. However, only a small portion is open for tourism, as excavation work is still conducted here.
Located between an expansive lagoon and the coast, El Meco consists of 14 structures. At the center is the 12.5 meters or 41-foot high Mayan pyramid. This is the closest pyramid you can see from Cancun. El Meco is a small site by size, but it has been looked after very well. The excavation work started here in 1997.
This used to be a small fishing community and religious center. Many ceremonial rituals were held at El Meco during the Mayan times.
El Meco – Quick Facts
|El Meco||Ancient Mayan site in Cancun|
|Distance from Cancun||5 kilometers north of the city.|
|Location||Caribbean Sea on one side, and a lagoon on the other.|
|Timeline||First inhabited in 300 AD. Abandoned and populated later.|
|What to see||The plaza, pyramid, Castillo, many structures.|
El Meco has the only Mayan pyramid in the Cancun area.
The El Meco Ruins
Many have claimed that it was an energetic and spiritual power site. Historically, it is the same as the sites in Tulum. Meco was both a religious and commercial center, mostly for trade with the island of Isla Mujeres, which is just across the sea. So there was an important port here.
People used to live here in 300 AD. But El Meco was abandoned. Many moved here again in 600 AD, primarily for fishing and trading.
The tallest structure was surely an important vantage point to look over the surrounding areas, survey the ships, and control maritime movements. However, you cannot climb the pyramid, because excavation work is still being conducted. The main structure is 41 feet or 12.5 meters high. Visit this link for more information on the history of El Meco.
- There is a plaza for Chaac, the rain god.
- There is also a Castillo or temple/castle.
- See the serpent heads in the Castillo. It is the same style you will find at Chichen Itza.
- You will find many shrines where offerings were made.
- Structural foundations had wooden rooftops.
- This is the only Mayan archeological site open to the public where ceremonial rituals used to take place.
Mayan rituals are held here even now on the 21st. The ceremony starts with smoke cleansing, which was a must in pre-hispanic custom. It starts at 8 AM.
Must-Sees And Dos In El Meco
- The pyramid – 41 feet or 12.5 meters high
- Castillo with 4 bodies, square base, and serpent heads
- The plaza for Chaac, the rain god
- Structure 8 – Long building with many columns
- Structure 5 – Administrative building
- Palace – West of the Castillo with columns for administrative and political activities.
- Replica of Mayan rituals on the 21st of every month at 8 AM.
- El Meco is 5 kilometers north of Cancun.
- There are 14 structures. Half of them are open to the public.
- You cannot climb the pyramid.
- It will take you an hour to see the site.
- Open between 8 AM and 5 PM.
- Entry fee – 35 pesos or about $3.30.