Campeche

Campeche is a state located on the western side of the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico. It borders the country Guatemala to the south and the country Belize to the southeast, and to the west lays the Gulf of Mexico. With a size of less than 58,000 square kilometers, Campeche make up no more than 2.6& of Mexico’s total area.

The state capital, which is named San Francisco de Campeche, was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in the late 1990s. The city is normally referred to simply as Campeche or Ciudad de Campeche.

The state is home to roughly 900,000 residents of which approximately two-thirds live in urban areas along the coast. Financially and population vise, the state has gone through both booms and busts. In the Mayan era, it was the home of several notable cities. During the colonial period, the city of Campeche was financially prosperous, since it was an important port. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, the situation in Campeche deteriorated. The state was originally a part of the province of Yucatán, but split off in the mid-1800s, chiefly due to political disagreements with the city Mérida. In the 1970s, Campeche became more prosperous again, since petroleum had been found offshore, turning the cities Campeche and Ciudad del Carmen into important centers for the local oil industry. Before the oil boom, less than 220,000 people resided in the state.

Language

campecheThe majority language in Campeche is Spanish.

Examples of indigenous languages spoken within the state are Maya, Chol, Tzeltal, and Q’anjob’al. Over 90,000 people speak here at least one indigenous language, and roughly 14% of those do not speak Spanish. Maya is by far the most widely spoken of the indigenous languages in Campeche, with over 70,000 speakers in the state. Chol is spoken by roughly 10,000 people here, while Tzetal and Q’anjob’al are spoken by less than 2,000 each.

In the 1980s, Mennonites of German descent arrived to Campeche from Mennonite settlements in other parts of Mexico. They spoke Plautdietsch, and Campeche now have approximately 7,000 Plautdietsch speaking residents. Plautdietsch is a dialect of East Low German with notable Dutch influence.

Religion

Data from the year 2010 show that roughly 60% of the Campeche population identified themselves as Catholic. Among those who were not Catholic, a majority belonged to Evangelical or Protestant Christian churches.

Short facts about Campeche

Country Mexico
Size 57,507 square kilometers

22,204 square miles

Highest elevation 390 meters

1280 feet

Capital San Francisco de Campeche
Largest city San Francisoc de Campeche
Municipalities Calkiní
Calakmul
Campeche
Candelaria
Champotón
Ciudad del Carmen
Escárcega
Hecelchakán
Hopelchén
Palizada
Tenabo
Population 899,931 (2015)
Demonym Campechano (masculine)

Campechana (feminine)

Time zone Standard: CST (UTC -6)

Summer DST: CDT (UTD -5)

Travel to Campeche

There are several different airports that you can fly into if you want to visit the state of Campeche. The biggest and most popular option is Campeche international airport.

Things to do

Campeche offers a lot for you to do.  It offers fantastic beaches, stunning nature and historical archeological sites to visit.  Everyone can find something to do when they visit Campeche.

  • If you want a more historical trip then you can visit some of the many museums in the area and historical sites such as Balamku and Calakmul.
  • If you just want to enjoy a nice vacation in the sun then you spend your time on the beach drinking umbrella drinks. At nights you can visit a restaurant, bar, nightclub or casino.
  • If you are a nature lover then you can dive on fantastic reefs and visit unspoiled forest such as Calakmul biosphere reserve.

Museums

Examples of museums in Campeche

Name Location Info
Museo Arqueológico del Carmen (MAC) Ciudad del Carmen Archaeological museum
Museo de las Estelas Mayas Ciudad del Carmen Mayan steles (monuments)
Camino Real Archeological Museum Hecelchakán Archaeological museum
Museo Fuerte de San Miguel Campeche An old fort has been turned into a museum

Beaches

Examples of popular beaches in Campeche:

  • Mar Azul in the capital area
  • Playa Bonita in the capital area
  • San Lorenzo in the capital area
  • Bahamita by Ciudad del Carmen
  • La Maniagua by Ciudad del Carmen
  • Playa Caracol by Ciudad del Carmen
  • Playa Norte by Ciudad del Carmen
  • Sabancuy by Ciudad del Carmen
  • Acapulquito in Champotón
  • Costa Blanca in Champotón
  • Payucán in Champotón
  • Sihoplaya in Champotón

Caves

Several caves can be explored with local guides. Examples of such caves are Chuncedro, Xculhoc and Xtacumbilxuna’an.

Mayan sites

There are a lot of Mayan sites to explore in Campeche. Compared to the more famous Mayan sites in other parts of Mexico, e.g. Tulum and Uxmal, the Campeche sites are more of a hidden gem and they do not attract as many visitors, so you are unlikely to have to deal with crowds during your visit.

A majority of the sites are located in the forested interior of the state, but that doesn’t mean that the coast is devoid of them. Quite the contrary actually, since there are over 55 archaeological sites along the coast.

Examples of Mayan sites in Campeche

Calakmul

This archaeological site, which extends over 70 square kilometers, was once one of the main cities of Mesoamerica, with numerous temples and palaces. It is believed to have been populated from around the year 1,000 BC and have reached its peak population around the year 600 AD. The temples built in the city was chiefly devoted to ancestor worship.

In 695 AD, the city was conquered by Tikal, after which it deteriorated. Later, it was looted by grave robbers. Of the estimated 6,000 structures that once existed here, only six have been restored.

In Maya, the name Calakmul means twin heaps.

Calakmul is found in the Petén region, in the forested interior of Campeche.

Edzna

Edzna was one of the most important ceremonial centers during the pre-classic Maya period, i.e. 300 – 900 AD. Several Mayan temples have been built in Edzna, bordering a large acropolis.

The architecture here show influence from both Petén, Chenes and Puuc. The most notable construction is the Pyramid of Five Floors/Stories, which was excavated in the 1940s.

The Edzna archaeological site is located not far from the state capital, in a region called Los Chenes.

Isla de Jaina

This Mayan site served as a burial site for the elite, and a large number of ceramic figurines have been excavated here. Isla de Jaina is a small limestone island separated from the mainland by a tidal inlet. You need special permission to visit.

Haciendas

Here are a few examples of notable haciendas in Campeche.

Name Info
Hacienda Blanca Flor Located in Hecelchakán

One of the bloodiest battles of the Caste War of Yucatán (1847-1901) took place here.

Hacienda San José Carpizo Located in the Champotón municipality.

Founded in 1871, it became one of the most important cattle raising haciendas on the Yucután Peninsula. Was in continuous use until the 1940s when it was abandoned by its workers.

Today the Hacienda San José Carpizo is said to be owned by a binary options millionaire who will bring it back to its former glory. We do however think that this is an uraban legend.  The ownership has been unclear since 1941 which has led to a lot of myths about this Hacienda. But many people wish a new rich owner would restore the hacienda.

Hacienda San Luis Carpizo Located in the Champotón municipality.

In the late 1990s, this hacienda was restored by the Mexican Army and it is now home to the Marine Infantry School.

Hacienda Santa Cruz Located in the Nunkiní community, between Calkiní and the capital

Was built by cattle raisers in the mid-1700s.

Hacienda Tankuché This hacienda originally grew palo de tine (dyewood), but later shifted to growing Henequen which is a type of agave. The henequen mill was in operation until the 1980s.
Hacienda Uayamón Located near the capital.

Has its origins in the 1500s. In 1685, the hacienda owner was killed by the Dutch pirate de Graaf.

Today, the hacienda has been turned into the Hotel de Gran Turismo.

Colonial-era churches

Many churches built during the colonial era are still present in the state, including the Cathedral of Campeche, formally known as Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción which means Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. This is the main Catholic church building in the state capital and also the main church for the diocese. The cathedral is located in front of the city’s Constitution Square, and is a baroque style building with neoclassic features. It’s history goes back to 1540 when the building of a catholic church was started by the Spanish conquistadors who had just occupied the city, but it wasn’t granted the rank of cathedral until 1895.

Other examples of colonial-era church buildings in the state

Name Location Info
Iglesia de San Francisco Campeche The church was built here in the 1500s, but the current building is from the 1600s.

This is one of the very first spots where a Christian mass was held on the mainland of the Americas.

The Church is located near the old stockmarket.

Iglesia de San Francisco de Asís Hecelchakán A church and former monastery.

The Franciscans commenced construction here in the 1500s.

Iglesia de San Diego Apóstol Nunkiní, Calkiní Built in the late 1500s and early 1600s
Iglesia de San Luis Obispo Calkiní A church and former monastery.

Built over a Mayan temple in the 1600s.

Has an original Baroque altarpiece from the 1500s.

Iglesia de Asunción Dzitbalché Built in the 1700s
Iglesia de Guadalupe Bécal, Calkiní Built in the 1700s
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen Ciudad del Carmen Built in the 1700s
Iglesia de Sagrado Corazón de Jesús Sabancuy, Carmen Built in the 1700s