Cenote Sagrado, or Sacred Cenote, is a noted cenote in the northern Yucatan Peninsula. It is also known as “Well of Sacrifice” for the Mayans. It is located within close proximity to Chichen Itza, which is the most notable archaeological ruin for the history of the Mayan people.
According to history, the pre-Columbian Mayan people sacrificed human beings and objects as part of their rituals. This is their form of worship to the rain god, Chaac.
In fact, there have been many explorations on the area near and in the Cenote Sagrado wherein artifacts such as gold, pottery, and incense (among other things) were recovered at the site. There were also reports of human remains excavated.
The area near Cenote Sagrado is covered with a limestone plain without rivers or ponds. But there are natural sinkholes, known today as cenotes, which expose the water table to the surface. Sacred Cenote is one of the most impressive cenotes you will find in Mexico as it is 60 meters in diameter. The surrounding areas of the cenote consist of cliffs with a 27-meter drop.
There have been many dives conducted here as part of the effort to understand the history of the ancient Mayans and their activities. In fact, the famous Jacques Cousteau has dived this site. Only those with a special permit from the authorities is required. Even swimming is prohibited here.
Even if diving is not restricted, it would be one of the cenotes that would be less popular when it comes to diving. The low visibility in the cenote means that you won’t be able to see or explore much during your dive.
- Opening hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
- Entrance fee: 100 pesos
- Good for Scuba diving: Yes (but must obtain special permit from authorities)
- Good for swimming: Yes
- Facilities: Yes
- Car parking: Yes
Cenote Sagrado (Sacred Cenote) was a place of pilgrimage for the ancient Mayans. There have been numerous archaeological investigations conducted at the site in an effort to understand the practices and worship rituals for these ancient people who lived on the land during the pre-Columbian era.
And these archaeological investigations were quite fruitful as thousands of objects had been excavated by the archaeological teams that explored the site. There are numerous materials excavated which included shells, wood, clothing, gold, and even skeletons of humans. The latter support the claim that there were human sacrifices by the ancient Mayans as they performed their rituals.
The social and religious significance of Cenote Sagrado therefore explains how it got its name. Despite the dark role it played in the Mayan history, it is undeniable that this massive natural pool is a thing of beauty.
The water is tranquil and the limestone cliff that enclose it only adds to its beauty. If you visit the site as part of the tour, the tour guide will provide you with a historical background of the Mayan rituals.
The water on the cenote can reach a depth of 49 meters or more (in some places). Swimming is not allowed in the cenote. Diving is permitted but you must seek authorization from the authorities first. When you walk around from outside the premises of the cenote, you will encounter many important archaeological features such as the pyramid El Castillo.
HOW TO GET THERE
Valladolid is the closest jump-off point if you want to get to Cenote Sagrado. You must travel via Highway 180 or the Cancun/Mexico highway. You will know when you are close to the cenote because you will find the sign posts that lead to Chichen Itza. The total travel time from Valladolid is about 40 minutes.
WHERE TO STAY
Valladolid is the closest major city to Cenote Sagrado. Therefore, this is the best place to start when you are looking for accommodations that will provide you easy access to the cenote, as well as other well-known ancient Mayan archaeological sites.
You can find accommodation of all types and those that are suitable for your budget – whether you are looking for luxury or affordable accommodation.
Experience and get to know the Mayan culture a little bit more. If this sounds interesting, this tour is for you. You will be accompanied by a tour guide who will provide you with historical information about each site you visit, which will include the highlight of them all – Chichen Itza. You will be able to explore the entire complex and some of the notable spots around the temple.
You will also be able to visit the Sacred Cenote, which is a massive sinkhole that is believed to have religious significance to the Mayans.
This 11-hour long tour is a great way to learn more about the ancient Mayan civilization as you will be visiting some of the notable archaeological sites in the region. Visiting the Chichen Itza is one of the best ways to understand and get a glimpse of how the ancient Mayans lived.
As part of the tour, you will also be visiting other notable sites including the sinkholes or cenotes on the region. The tour already includes admission to the Sacred Cenote.