Valladolid, the Sultaness of the East


Valladolid, the Sultaness of the East

Named after the then-capital of Spain, Valladolid was founded in 1543 by the nephew of the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo and was initially located near Chouac-Ha lagoon. However, the rampant mosquitoes made life impossible for early inhabitants, who petitioned to move the colony further inland. Two years later, Valladolid was relocated to its current site, built with and over the stones of the ancient Maya city of Zaci-Val.

Until the early 20th century, Valladolid was one of the largest cities on the Yucatán Peninsula, alongside Mérida and Campeche, and was known throughout Mexico as the Sultaness of the East. Although its economic influence has since diminished, its cultural significance has never waned. Indeed, from its colonial-era buildings to its cenotes located within the city itself, Valladolid encapsulates the entire Yucatán Peninsula.

If you enjoy touring churches, you won’t want to miss Valladolid. The San Bernardino de Siena convent, built by Franciscan missionaries shortly after the city's founding and located in what is now the Sisal neighborhood, is a marvel and unique among ancient Maya stone structures. You can also visit the Cathedral of San Gervasio in the city center, as well as the Zaci Cenote just a few blocks away. Even in the Yucatán, it's rare to find a cenote within a city!

Valladolid’s many restaurants highlight authentic Yucatán cuisine. Don’t miss the traditional dish called lomitos, made with pork and tomato sauce, as well as the many sweets made with local ingredients such as honey, coconut, and corn—flavors you can only find here!