The history of the northern region of the Yucatan Peninsula is a fascinating tale of both Mayan and Hispanic peoples. Cancun is recognized as the gateway to the Mundo Maya, an enormous geographic region that includes five Mexican states (Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco, and Chiapas), and five countries (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador).
Historical evidence indicates the presence of a Mayan culture at least as far back as 1800 B.C., with the Mayans rising in prominence between 200 B.C. and A.D. 1000. The ancient Maya referred to themselves as the children of the Mayab or inhabitants of the Land of the Chosen. Their settlements were extensive in the Yucatan Peninsula and stretched southward into Central America. Part of the excitement of a visit to Cancun is its accessibility to a world gone by. Remains of the ancient Mayan civilization are scattered throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Some, like the archaeological site called “El rey”, at the Sheraton Cancun Resort and Towers, are right in Cancun.
“El Rey” is located walking distance from the Hilton Club (Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 19). El Rey, known to some as the playground of the ancient Mayans, had its peak during the Post classic period (A.D. 1250-1630). The site includes plazas outlined by buildings and platforms that are connected by a 220 yard path. It is named after a skeleton that was found on the site, thought to be that of a king (El Rey is Spanish for “the king”). El Rey is open to tourists from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance fee is $50. Pesos. Next to the Sheraton, Cancun Resort and Towers, in the highest point in mostly flat Cancun, lies Yamil Lu’um. The site consists of two small temples that were likely used as watchtowers and lighthouses between 500 and 700 years ago.