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Mexican Magic Town by Kim Youdan


On from the archives…This time last year I had returned from 3 months living in Mexico dicovering the Yucatan peninsular and trying my damnedest to learn Spanish. One of the highlights was a trip to Izamal, one of Mexico’s Magic Towns.

From June 2017:

When I first arrived in Mexico and heard about Magic Towns I was like a kid in a candy shop! I couldn’t wait to learn more and plan a visit. I then discovered Izamal and my heart jumped – a town painted yellow? YES PLEASE!

Jim and I hired a car and off we went. A road trip too…this day is going to be a winner I thought; it didn’t disappoint.

The yellow city, Izamal, nicked named La Ciudad Amarilla, sits about three hours drive from where we are staying in Play Del Carmen. It was great to get out and about in the Yucatan peninsular and visit some older parts of the region.

A Little History Lesson

“What makes a town magical? According to the requirements to be considered magical by the Mexican government, the town or city must be small with rich historical tradition. It must be near other touristically interesting sites or large cities, be accessible with good highways and roads, and there must be willingness by the locals to develop the project.

What makes Izamal a magical town? Just enter the town and that question will be answered. The first thing that any visitor notices is that the town is painted yellow… all the colonial buildings, the market, the huge convent, everything! The next things that stand out are the cobblestone streets and the iron lampposts that give the town a tranquil ambiance.”

Thank you Yucatan Today, I couldn’t of put it better myself – thats why I didn’t!

So why? You may be thinking is Izamal painted yellow?

You might be surprised to know that this information isn’t readily available in the town or online. I did find one source to give the big secret away, thank you to Earth Trippers who did their research and got to the bottom of this conundrum.

I’ve para phrased a little in the following paragraph to give you the jist:

Izamal was looking a little tired and out of shape when Pope John Paul II announced he’d make a visit in the summer of 1993. The whole town sprang to attention and decided that the colour of corn, sunshine and the Vatican flag would be best.

A Little More History

Aside from the European influence in architecture there are also many Mayan ruins in this area and the large ‘Convento de San Antonio de Padua’ is actually built upon, and uses stone from a Mayan pyramid. Popul-Chac once stood where the convent now stands.

Izamal was historically a Mayan pilgrimage site, this tradition remains but in our era the yellow city is now a Catholic place of worship attracting Catholics throughout the year.

Even the cars are trying to fit in around here…

Now to top off the whole day we decided to make the most of our road trip and stop at Valladolid on the way back to Playa Del Carmen. I didn’t realise until we had parked up that Valladolid is the second and only other magic town in the Yucatan peninsular – our lucky day!

I hope I’ve inspired you to travel a little more and explore. Please reach out to me if you have any questions about Mexico, it’s a fabulous country with so much to see and experience!

Kim Youdan

Kim Youdan


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