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Campeche, Mexico
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Mexico: Campeche
May 2012

Campeche

 

A peaceful, colourful Mexican town.

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The seated figure on this waterfront monument represents the indigenous people with a Franciscan on his right and a conquistador on his left.
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Convento di San Roque

 

At Campeche we saw the sea of the Gulf of Mexico for the first time. It was still very hot though, so the cool air of the Hotel Plaza Campeche was very welcome.

Hernandez de Cordoba landed with his conquistadors at the trading village of Ah Kim Pech in 1517 to take on fresh water. This was the first time the Spanish had set foot in Mexico.

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Zocalo with the colourful "Tranvias".
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The brightly restored interior of Convento di San Roque.
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Marganzo's where I had very good fish in Mole de Olla – a specialty sauce made with chocolate and spices.

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We saw many bronze sculptures like this around the city representing ordinary people from times past.
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Fisherman, Puerta de Mar.

 

The village became the city of Campeche as it grew and prospered. It was fortified in the 1660s after it was devastated by pirate raids when many of the inhabitants were slaughtered.

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The water seller.
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The old city walls at Baluarte de la Soledad.

In more recent times Campeche sank into obscurity until the coming of the oil boom and tourism.

The old city walls can still be seen. The Baluarte de la Soledad now houses the Museo de la Escultura Maya - nicely cool!

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Puerta de Mar - the Sea Gate.
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A Spanish Galleon crest on the Puerta de Mar - the Sea Gate.
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A carving from a building commemorating the life of an important ruler, this represents the sun god K'inich Ajaw. The wings are thought to represent the movement of the sun across the sky.

Chunhuhub, Campeche 600-900 A.D.
Museo de la Escultura Maya, Campeche

 

 

Many of the exhibits have explanations in English which form the basis of captions here.

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Mayan buildings in this region were often decorated with masks representing a long-nosed deity; he could be the Mountain God and the temple represents an entrance to the underworld; or Itzamnaaj who created the world. Miramar, Campeche 600-900 A.D.
Museo de la Escultura Maya, Campeche. Several gods are depicted with long noses, the most famous is the rain god, Chaac.
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This carved column shows a scene from courtly life: the ruler of Bakna on his throne watches a dwarf dance - two trumpeters can just be seen lower left. Bakna,

Campeche 600-900 A.D.
Museo de la Escultura Maya, Campeche
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The colourful painted houses and quiet back streets, laid on a grid plan around  the central area, the Zocalo, with its 16th century Franciscan cathedral, now feel safe and peaceful.

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We had drinks one evening at Viejo de Los Arcos on the first floor of this building, principally for the view of the illuminated cathedral - the cocktails were rather on the small side!
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Solid silver altar and lectern in Campeche cathedral.
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Colours of the Cathedral.

There isn't a huge amount to see, this is a place to spend a day wandering around slowly, appreciating the colourful buildings and seeking out cool bars and restaurants.

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Colourful Calle 59 leading to Puerta de la Tierra.
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Colourfully painted low-level buildings line the Calle 59 leading to Puerta de la Terra on the south side of the city. Impressive battlements lined with cannon guard the gate.

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A gap in the stonework above the gate allows missiles (perhaps even boiling oil according to an old man who insisted on showing us around!), to be used to deter attackers.

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Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins, both described as corsairs, were active in this part of the world.
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Salon Rincon Colonial

 

We found a great bar here just across from the gate - the Salon Rincon Colonial. The swinging saloon bar doors lead into a cool interior vibrant with the chatter of locals.

 

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Salon Rincon Colonial
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