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Filled with wonderful colonial architecture and nestled in the state of the same name, Campeche is one of Mexico’s hidden gems. The city is adorned with 18th century buildings, quaint churches and cobbled streets that weave through the old town.
Those seeking historical edification can start a tour within the walls of the old city. Here you’ll find some of Campeche’s excellent architecture, which is best enjoyed on a tram ride, with commentary in English and Spanish. Riding through San Roman, you’ll see the church with the Black Christ, a two-metre high ebony sculpture brought from Italy in 1575.
Two of four main gates in Campeche, the Puerta de Mar (Sea Gate) and the Puerta de Tierra (Land Gate), are still standing, along with the bastions and fortresses which have since been transformed into interesting museums. Down at the old port are high walls and bastions which were once a deterrent against the many ruthless pirates that terrorized the area.
At Fort San Miguel, there’s an informative museum which is home to artefacts documenting the fort’s history and explores themes related to Mayan history. For a great view of the city, head to the Fort of San Jose, where you’ll also find a small exhibit of 16th century weapons.
The state of Campeche is packed full of fantastic archaeological sites, easy to get to from Campeche. The historic Mayan settlements, including Edzná, Becán, Xpuhil and Calakmul, are all worth visiting. Additionally, Campeche is located 196kms southeast of Merida, a charming colonial city, and 471kms northeast of Villahermosa, near the hugely popular, fascinating Palenque ruins.
The drive along Highway 180 from Merida is an interesting one, passing near Halacho, a basket-making village, and Becal with its Panama hat weavers. Turn right at Tenabo to reach Campeche. Aeromexico makes daily flights to Campeche from Mexico City. Campeche Airport is a few kilometres out of town. There are flights from destinations across North America to Mexico City.