Pueblos Magicos: Bacalar, Quintana Roo is One of Mexico's Many Magical Villages
In Mayan, Bacalar means “the birth of heavens”. A name that refers to the 35-mile-long lake that shares the same name as the town. Laguna Bacalar, also known as the lagoon of seven colors, is the second largest lake in Mexico and because of its clarity and beautiful shades of turquoise is considered by some to be one of the most beautiful in the world.
The town was built in the early 1700s along with Fort San Felipe to fend of pirate raiders from the Caribbean. Because of its strategic positioning for trade with Central America, Bacalar was under constant pirate attack for centuries. The fort has been converted into a museum and is one of the town’s most popular tourist attractions. Visitors to the fort can browse artifacts from early pre-historic times through the Caste Wars. The exterior of the fort is surrounded by a four-meter deep moat that has been converted into a garden filled with Mayan and Spanish figures.
Other popular sights in Bacalar include the San Joaquin Church, which was recently restored and the Cultural Center, where poetry, folk dancing, theater arts, and popular dance workshops are held. Because of its proximity to Central America, the town’s cuisine is a unique mix of traditional Yucateco and Belizean cuisines that features a tremendous variety of fish and seafood.
Bacalar is surrounded by jungle, mangroves, and subterranean bodies of water unique to the area called cenotes. The Yucatán Peninsula is essentially a big slab of limestone, a very soft and porous stone. As a result, underground rivers are able to wear down the limestone to create caves and when these caves collapse they create cenotes. Tourists from all over the world come to this part of Mexico to swim, dive, and explore the cenotes.
The Pueblos Magicos program identifies towns that reflect “the culture of Mexico” through attributes like architecture, traditions, customs, music, gastronomy, festivities and handcrafts. There are currently 52 destinations throughout Mexico that have earned the Pueblos Magicos classification.