Originally a hub for trade among the Mayan civilization, the El Rey Ruins date back to 1200 A.D. While not as well known as the Chichén Itzá ruins, the El Rey Ruins are an archaeological site worth visiting if you find yourself in Cancun, Mexico. Conveniently located in the popular hotel zone, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy seeing these impressive ruins up close and in person. In addition to its accessible location, the ruins are small enough to be able to cover the grounds in a relatively short amount of time.
An ancient Mayan city existed where the El Rey Ruins are now found today. Archeologists have determined that the Mayan people inhabited parts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador since as early as 1800 BC. The El Rey Ruins at Cancun were once a highly populated settlement, but the site was subsequently abandoned after the arrival of the Spanish. With 47 stone structures at El Rey Ruins, take some time to explore the buildings and try to imagine what life was life for a typical Mayan living in this forgotten city. Wear your walking shoes so you can climb to the top of the tallest building where a Mayan temple and burial site lay.
Within the interiors of some of the ruins you can find impressive artwork left by its former inhabitants. While the detail and colors of the murals have deteriorated over time, you are still able to see images that appear to be kings and possibly other important members of the Mayan civilization. Paintings and murals give us an inside glimpse into daily life of these ancient people. While not as well known as other Mayan cities such as Chichén Itzá, El Rey is a nice location to become familiar with Cancun’s original inhabitants.
Photos with Iguanas
Today, El Rey Ruins have become inhabited by an impressive number of iguanas. The iguanas are very comfortable with people as they have become used to the large crowds that frequent the ruins on a regular basis. Some people even find the iguanas and potential fun photo opportunities as interesting as the majestic ruins themselves. Bring some fruit or bread along with you during your visit as you will have a chance to feed the beautiful reptiles as hundreds of iguanas are on site every day. You may even get one of your best vacation photos with an iguana!
Location & Hours of Operation
You can visit the El Rey Ruins between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and the cost of admission is only 50 pesos which is equivalent to around $2.50 USD. Plan ahead and visit the El Rey Ruins on a Sunday when there is no entry fee for visitors. Make sure to wear a hat and bring sunscreen as there is little shade throughout the ruins. Explore the ruins at leisure, or if you prefer you can arrange for a tour guide who can walk you through the site as well to provide insider knowledge and history. Parking is available at the El Rey Ruins, or you can take a taxi or reach the site via the R1 or R2 bus line.
Next time you find yourself in Cancun, don’t miss the chance to visit El Rey Ruins for a day full of history, beauty and some fun interaction with the local Iguana residents.