Moving through the Yucatan Peninsula seeing, feeling and tasting the history of the area is a precious vacation. Traveling into the depths of history, embracing the culture and deeply understanding the diverse history of the area could take a life time.
Well we have learned how to shorten that learning by not only traveling through the area, but staying at legendary hotels and accommodations that deepen your understanding of Mexico. Haciendas are a large part of learning the good, bad and the ugly of the European influences and conquests that shaped the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Spanish landed in the Yucatan in the mid 1500s for the sole purpose of developing a New World. The cities of Merida, Campeche, Valladolid, Izamal, and so many others were part of the New World development. Like any historical conquest, there are positive aspects and some very dark secrets. The walls of Yucatan Haciendas hold the entire history of this European take over.
No one has forgotten the dark years of the Hacienda, like no one has forgotten the history of American Plantations. But the Hacienda, its architecture, its role in local agriculture, its role in the development and continued support of religion, is none the less a part of Yucatecan history. Restoring and preserving aspects of the Hacienda is what local owners, boutique hotel chains and families want to showcase to interested travelers and visitors. The food culture of the Yucatan grew out of the Hacienda years. Local dances, music, and traditions became entrenched in the lives of communities as they worked their way through the 1800s. Merida was built by Hacienda Owners, specifically the monumental buildings on Paseo Montejo. Haciendas today have been purchased by local families and boutique hotel chains to build a history of Mexico and share the community, the recipies, the local farm to table produce we now enjoy today.
The Hacienda was originally built for luxury. Restored Haciendas have revived that luxury. European owners were looked upon like royalty, staying at a restored hacienda makes you feel like royalty. The architectural details are just the beginning. First class service, beautiful gardens, glorious cenotes or pools, coupled with freshly grown and harvested produce make your stay at the Hacienda a dream come true. The peace and quiet, starry nights, and close proximity to historical sites makes Haciendas a worthwhile hotel to check out.
The walls of the Hacienda will share the dark past of slavery, poverty, revolutions, and wars. But this historical tension is what makes Haciendas so fascinating. Wrongs are being made right by new owners. This dark past is not carried into the 21st century. If anything, the dark past that was hidden is not part of the contemporary history of Mexico and North America, including Cuba. This dark past should not be hidden but shared and made right through local visitors.
Haciendas are legendary, not just as architectural icons, but as historical centers, cultural makers and where we can understand the local culture so much more.