Mayan Zone

“A window to the cultural identity of the Mexican Caribbean”
Located in the heart of the state of Quintana Roo, the Mayan zone is made up of small communities dedicated to agriculture. Inhabited by the descendants of the Mayans, which were once called “cruzoob”, rebels of the Caste War of Yucatan. Their territory expands to the municipalities of Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Jose Maria Morelos, both represent the cultural identity of the Mexican Caribbean and are important historical sites due to their involvement in the Caste War of Yucatan in 1847. The communities of the Mayan Zone were witnesses for more than half a century to the wars between the Mayan people and the government at the time.


The name Sian Ka’an comes from the Mayan word which means “place where the sky is born”. This is the ideal site for nature lovers who are looking for adventure, like walking through the jungle admiring the animals and vegetation of the area. The ancient Mayans used the lagoon as part of their commercial routes, today it is possible to swim or row in the still waters of the lagoon. The landscape is filled with the most beautiful colors that will make anyone fall in love with it. The biosphere reserve of Sian Ka’an is the third largest of Mexico and protects more than 500 thousand hectares of the tropical ecosystem of the state of Quintana Roo. The reserve hosts low and medium jungles, savannahs and other forms of vegetation. It is also home to a portion of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world. More than 800 species of plants and more than 360 animals make of the reserve their home; among those animals are the jaguars, pumas, ocelot, spider monkey, howling monkey, crocodile and several types of turtles.


Due to its centric location, approximately 69km south of Tulum, between the Riviera Maya and The Great Mayan Coast, it is a great start the journey of the State. Hosting more than 90% of the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve, with 2 of the 4 access to the reserve. Home to 3 of the 4 ceremonial centers of the ancient Mayans, conserving their culture and millenary traditions. The municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto offers history, culture and all of the services required to enjoy your visit. Felipe Carrillo Puerto was officially founded in 1850, October 15, under the name Noj Kaj Santa Cruz. It was the capital and the sanctuary of the “cruzoob” during the Caste War of Yucatan, where the “talking cross” was born. For more than half a century the main battles of the Mayan community against the government took place in the area. The 21st of May of 1851 the Coronel Juan Manuel Novelo Mora, after running away from a persecution from the Yucatan Peninsula arrived at the Mayan town and renamed it Santa Cruz. He chose this name because the people of the town worshiped the Three Crosses. According to the “Diario Oficial” from the 1st of August of 1934 (Merida, Yucatan, Mexico) Santa Cruz is renamed under a presidential decree and is named as Felipe Carrillo Puerto, honoring the socialist ex-governor Felipe Carrillo Puerto. The ex-governor helped the Mayans of Quintana Roo establish the first “Cooperative Chewing gum Society” and was an avid defender of the indigenous rights. Some of the noteworthy attractions of the municipality are:

Casa de la Cultura

What is known today as “Casa de la Cultura” used to be the home to the Mayan general Venancio Puc until 1862. The house also functioned as headquarters to the second government of the ancient Noj Kaj Santa Cruz Balam Naj. The “Casa de la Cultura” was built between 1854-1856, at the same time the church of Noj Cah Balam Nah was also being built. The rebel Mayans, having captured several professors, intended the rooms in the house to be used as classrooms so the children of the chiefs and Mayan generals would be taught. There they would punish men and woman captured in Yucatan when they disobeyed the law of this sacred town. Its construction was strategical due to its location being so close to the church of Balá’an Naj, since the Mayans took turn guarding the Three Crosses, since 1854 to 1900 and from 1918 to 1929. Nowadays the house is used to teach Mayan, guitar, dance, crafts, and there is an exhibition room for art and cultural events.

Pila de los azotes

This site was built during 1864-1870, when the general Crecencio Poot was governor of the Mayan town. Throughout his leadership this place was used to punish those who would break the law and customs of the Mayan people. The practice of lashing dates back to 1915; in which the guilty was conducted through the doors of the church, would kneel down in front of the Cross with his arms extended towards one of the two guards present. He would enter while receiving from the other guard twelve lashes. Finishing the punishment, the convict in front of the cross would pray several prayers to be free of guilt. To the foreigner, the same punishment would apply, but it would not be in the church, they would be punished in the “Pila de Azotes”. If the crime committed was adultery, each of the convicts would receive 50 lashes, afterwards the partner of the adulterer would pour sour orange juice inside the wounds of their partner.

Museo Chan Canta Cruz Balam Nah.

This museum used to be a boarding school for underprivileged kids. Located in the city of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, street 68 S/n Downtown; this place is now dedicated to exhibiting the vestiges of the Mayan Zone and the history that surrounds the beautiful city of Felipe Carrillo Puerto. The museum has 5 rooms, each room is named after a heroes of the Caste War of Yucatan. The museum hosts recreational spaces, washrooms, and four museum guides which are free of cost. There are also summer courses for children who wish to learn more about the culture. The museum also has cultural programs for local schools so the children can learn more about their city. Young adults and teenagers can become involved with the museum through social service programs and residence. The museum is open to all audience from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 3pm.


Come and experiment a real Mayan community in which the inhabitants are willing to open their hearts and homes to the visitors. It is a great opportunity to get to know personally the people and their traditions, customs, and craftsmanship. The people in the community safeguard their ancient traditions which are an important part of their Mayan legacy.

LAGUNA AZUL DE SEÑOR (Blue Lagoon of the Sir)

Located 7km from the town of Señor, it is an ideal place to realize water-based activities and tours on canoes. You can’t miss the opportunity to experience the beauty of the lagoon and the cenote, as well as a tour through the jungle to appreciate the wildlife and vegetation.

MUSEO DE LA GUERRA DE CASTAS (Museum of the Caste War of Yucatan)

The Museum of the Caste War of Yucatan is located in a restored building of the XVIII century. In this museum paintings, sculptures, tools, archeological pieces and documents related to the indigenous movements against the Spanish can be seen.


Less than an hour’s drive away towards the northeast of Felipe Carrillo Puerto you will find the village of Tihosuco. One of the aspects that distinguish Tihosuco is its monumental church and the convent of the “Divino Niño” (divine child), which is located in the center of the village, west of the main plaza. This settlement is rich in history, culture and traditions; it has a museum dedicated to the Mayan Socialist War or Caste War of Yucatan. In this museum you can appreciate magnificent paintings, weapons used during the historic events, documents and original pieces.

RUTA DE LAS IGLESIAS (Route of the Churches)

Xcabil y Huaymax, dos pequeñas comunidades místicas

Continue your journey towards these two small settlements that will give you a warm welcome. Xcabil and its church dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe and within to the Three Crosses. Huaymax and its church dedicated to the Virgin of the Candelaria. Find more of the Mayan culture that lives through these communities full of magic.

Discover more churches in Sabán and Sacalaca

Your journey continues through Sabán and Sacala, part of the six Mayan communities that form the Route of Churches. In Sabán you can visit the church dedicated to Saint Peter Apostle and its Mayan rites like the hanal pixan. In Sacalaca visit the Communitarian Museum and get to know the “Danza de los Pastores”. Sacalaca has two colonial churches, one honoring San Francisco and the other one honoring the Virgin Mary. Discover beautiful embroidery made by Mayan woman and enjoy typical food like “relleno negro” and “pipian de frijol”.


The territory that is occupied by the town if Jose Maria Morelos used to be inhabited since the arrival of the Spanish by the indigenous Mayans in the territory if Cochua. Its actual population remounts to a campsite where the first people that established there came from other states in Mexico with the purpose of exploiting wood and chewing gum.


During the 365 days of the year many traditions take place in the Mayan village in honor of their saints. Among the main traditions the ones that stand out are the “Party to the Three Kings”, “Carnival of Spring” and the “Three Crosses”; in which pilgrimages, prayers, guilds, offerings, bull runs and planting of the “Yax-che” or tree of life, take place. The taste of the typical food, like “Relleno Negro”, can’t be absent.