Bacalar, Quintana Roo State
The town of Bacalar was a Mayan settlement in Pre-Colombian times and was the first location in the Yucatan that the Spanish Conquistadors were successful in capturing and holding possession of against fierce opposition from the Indian natives in 1543. The settlement was later named Salamanca Bacalar in 1545.
In the 17th Century the town was besieged and sacked by Pirates which resulted in the Spanish constructing a fort for the protection of the town and populace. The structure was completed in in 1729 and named Fortress de San Felipe Bacalar. Today the Fort houses a small but excellent museum which explains the history of the area from discovery through settlement by the Spanish and the Colonial period, ending with the subsequent incorporation of the Bacalar into the modern State of Quintana Roo. The fort affords the visitor panoramic views of Laguna Bacalar’s magnificent colours!
The town of Bacalar is quiet and sleepy but the beautiful Lagoon beckons the traveler to swim and sight see the turquoise waters. It is a wonderful place to slow down and relax around the ‘Lake of Seven Colours’ and is a great hub for visiting several Maya ruins in the area.
Campeche, Campeche State
The Maya fishing village of Ah Kim Pech was first sighted by the Spanish in 1517 but was successfully defended against the Conquistadors. It was not until the 1540’s that the site came under Spanish control and was named Villa de San Francisco de Campeche.
Like many Spanish outposts in New Spain, Campeche came under constant pirate attacks and in 1663 the settlement was nearly destroyed . This prompted the inhabitants, with aid from the Spanish Crown, to construct fortress walls around the city core complete with eight bastions or ‘Baluartes’. Much of this structure still survives and the Baluartes now contain museums, gardens and galleries.
Today Campech is beautiful old city with narrow cobbled streets, fine Colonial mansions, charming houses painted in pastel colours and a treasure trove of historical sites to explore. Located on the Gulf Coast, Campeche is quiet retreat with a gorgeous setting and a great place to explore nearby ruins and deserted beaches from.
Merida, Yucatan State