Yucatán’s Colonial Heritage

In 1517, a Spanish expedition led by Francisco Hernández de Cordoba set foot in the land of the Maya, he was followed by fellow countrymen Juan de Grijalva and Hernán Cortés in 1518 and 1519, respectively. Cortés landed on Cozumel but soon continued his journey west, lured by tales of Aztec gold. After the fall of the Aztec Empire, the conquistadors returned to the Yucatán Peninsula and by 1542, they had vanquished the Maya and founded the city of Mérida. Their churches and convents, mansions and haciendas (estates) still grace the landscape today in and around the colonial cities of Mérida, Izamal and Valladolid and a host of smaller villages throughout the area.