A must-see on any visit to Yucatan is Izamal, a beautiful small city full of tradition. Of the various colonial cities in Yucatan, Izamal is specially fascinating because it offers an unique mixture of three cultures.
The first thing visitors notice in Izamal is that the buildings in the historic downtown are all painted yellow with white trim; not one or two houses but all of the buildings. Under the bright yucatecan sun, Izamal shines like a golden jewel in the midst of the surrounding sea of vegetation.
In the center of the town is the imposing San Antonio de Padua convent, built atop what was the ancient Pap Hol Chac pyramid. Its atrium, the largest in Latin America, hosted the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1992 and is currently scenario for the Light of the Maya light and sound show (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 20:30 h.). San Antonio de Padua is the center of the town festival held in June, and the Virgin of the Immaculate Concepcion is honored in December.
Izamal is also home of monumental ancient Maya structures, the largest being the Kinich Kak Moo pyramid. Standing high above the plain, the plaza o the upper portion was probably the site of rituals and ceremonies honoring the god Itzamna.
Izamal is a member of the Pueblos Mágicos program of the Federal Secretariat of Tourism. Just 75 km (45 miles) east of Merida, Izamal can be reached by car in about 40 minutes taking the Merida-Cancun highway east and taking the Hoctun exit. By bus the trip takes about 90 minutes.