It’s obvious why Izamal, a small, tidy, and charming town near Merida, is called “the yellow town,” but it’s also got a unique mix of Mayan and modern charms.

You can see why Izamal is called the yellow town.

Exploring Izamal, Mexico

The Monastery Basilica of San Antonio de Padua and Izamal itself have been important pilgrimage sites since the 1500s thanks, in part, to a spate of “miraculous” healings which were simultaneously attributed to the basilica’s Virgin Mary statue and to the Mayan god of healing, Itzam Na, to which the Mayans built their own pilgrimage shrine in Izamal. The town and it’s church remain important and even Pope John Paul II paid a visit in 1993.

The exterior of the huge Monastery Basilica of San Antonio de Padua which Pope John Paul II visited in 1993.

Inside the Monastery Basilica of San Antonio de Padua which Pope John Paul II visited in 1993.

In 2002 Izamal was named a Pueblo Magico, joining the select group of Pueblos Magicos in Mexico which includes towns which the government has deemed architecturally and culturally important.

The exterior of the huge Monastery Basilica of San Antonio de Padua which Pope John Paul II visited in 1993.

In addition to the overall charm and yellowness of the place, Izamal is also home to Mayan ruins just steps from the main plaza. The main pyramid to Sun God Kinch Kak Mo is enormous with a base that sprawls over two acres with 10 levels of construction on top of it which some archaeologists consider to be the highest Mayan structure in the Yucatan.

Here’s more about travel in Mexico