Embraced by Mayan temples in Chichen-Itza, one of Yucatan's most splendid archaeological Maya centers, the hacienda is located just a few walking steps from the site's south entrance gate.
Background and ecology
The Hotel Hacienda Chichen is a unique Colonial Historic landmark built in the 16th Century. Guests will enjoy the serene and relaxing nature of this exquisite Colonial Boutique Hotel with its Maya Jungle Reserve, Bird Refuge, and lush tropical gardens, all of which give this property a true paradise eco-cultural ambiance, full of native birds and exotic fruit plants. Hacienda Chichen owners are committed to ecologically sound practices to preserve the historic legacy of this precious property. While updating the guestrooms in 2005 to install state-of-the-art eco-friendly systems, extreme care was exercised to preserve each cottage's unique country style charm and comfort.
All over Yucatan, you will find haciendas as silent remainders of Yucatan's Colonial heritage. Their European facades and architectural features range from Colonial to Neo-Classic. Since their establishment by the Spanish Crown in the XVI Century, the haciendas have operated within a self-contained socio-economical system. During the Colony haciendas were a mix of cattle-ranches and corn plantations, managed by Spaniards as grants or "encomiendas."
The presence of a Catholic chapel within each hacienda gave Spaniards a powerful ideological control over the Mayan natives. Most haciendas are named after a Catholic Saint and a Mayan local site, as in "San Antonio Tehuitz." Rarely, the Mayan site was the only one represented in the name, such in the case of "Hacienda Chichen-Itza."
After Mexico's Independence, the haciendas became the private property of the families that had the encomiendas. These landlords, or "hacendados", ruled within a rigorous social structure known as Castas. In the XIX Century, many landlords resided in Merida and owned more than one hacienda.
The layout of all haciendas integrate a main well or "noria" to the main structure or building, called "El Casco," a main plaza, a Catholic chapel, a jail, housing for farmers, and stone fences that surrounded vast amounts of land, including the corrals. Virtually all haciendas had a main arched gate, which served both as a beautiful entrance and a visual record of the family's wealth.
In the XIX Century, most haciendas operate as large sisal plantations, due to its massive demand worldwide. By then, landlords had incorporated an engine house, a sisal leaf processing area, a trolley system, and a warehouse to their haciendas' original layout.
The production and industrialization of sisal or "henequen," a natural fiber use for rope-making and other goods, brought incredible wealth to the hacienda landlords until 1939, when Mexico's agricultural reform was legally issued and land was divided into small parcels, called "ejidos," for the use of farmers.
For further information about the hacienda's role in the socio-economical and religious development of Yucatan, we suggest these two books to you. "The Mayan People," by Alberto Ruz, Editora Salvat, and "Architectura de las Haciendas Henequeneras" coordinated by Arq R. Ancona, University of Yucatan.