Take A Hacienda Tour

Step Back in Time with a Tour
of one of the Yucatan's Historic Haciendas

[History} [Hacienda Chichen] [Hacienda Sotuta de Peon]
[Hacienda Yaxcopoil] [Hacienda Teya]

When you walk through graceful Moorish arches, spacious drawing rooms and elegantly tiled floors on a hacienda tour, you are reliving the romance of Old Mexico when wealth, power, beauty and culture graced the lavish country estates.

The haciendas were symbols of the great wealth that the henequen (sisal) industry or “green gold” brought to the hacendados or landed gentry of the Yucatan.

However, to the Mayan slave laborers who lived in rough thatched huts and who toiled under the burning hot sun in the henequen cactus fields, haciendas were a symbol of an oppressive feudal economy which precipitated the Caste War of the 1800s.


Haciendas in the Yucatan were farming and manufacturing centers which produced meat and henequen (sisal) rope for export to Europe and North America. During the boom years, the henequen cactus was known as “green gold” and brought great wealth to the hacendados or landowner.

In time, the haciendas, surrounded by hundreds of acres of land, became symbols of great wealth and luxury filled with expensive art, furnishings and furniture from Europe.

The golden age ended when sisal rope was replaced by synthetic fibers and many haciendas were abandoned and left to the creep of the jungle.

In the past 10-20 years, they have enjoyed a revival with a number of them beautifully restored and turned into hip boutique hotels. Some are now museums whereas a few have resumed their previous occupation of producing sisal to attract tourists.

Note: Despite this relatively recent renaissance, many haciendas in the Yucatan remain abandoned. You can easily walk around a few of them on a historic hacienda tour – Hacienda Uayalceh is one such place and uninhabited Hacienda Chunchucmil has a beautiful chapel still used by the local Mayans.

But not all haciendas are accessible to the public and those in remote areas may have wild creatures and hidden sinkholes on the grounds.

Although there are more than 170 haciendas in the Yucatan, all roads lead to Merida for a hacienda tour. Here are a few of the more interesting haciendas worth visiting:

Hacienda Chichen Resort

Hacienda Chichen, Yucatan, Mexico Steps away from Chichen Itza, the oldest hacienda in the Yucatan is now an atmospheric and elegant four star hotel with a spa, pool and restaurant. It has a green mission with its own recycling and waste management practices, is fully owned and run by Mayans and has a bird reserve on its extensive grounds.

It rests on a foundation of stones from the ancient Mayan ruins. The 12 rustic cottages, which originally housed the Chichen Itza excavation team in 1923, have been renovated and turned into 29 charming but contemporary guestrooms.

Location and Directions
From Merida, go east on the Hwy 180 and take the Chichen Itza exit towards Piste. When the road ends at Piste, bear left, do not head towards the ruins and look out for the green “Zona Hotelera” signs.

For more information on Hacienda Chichen, visit their website at: www.haciendachichen.com


Hacienda Sotuta de Peon

Witness the life of a henequen hacienda as it was more than 100 years ago. In this working hacienda, sheep graze on the grounds, well-greased centuries old machinery process sisal, and henequen cacti flourish in nearby fields. In the main house with graceful Moorish arches original French tiled floors, antique furniture, graceful chandeliers and paintings recreate the charm of a bygone era. As part of this 2/1/2 hour hacienda tour, you get to swim in one of 3 cenotes on the land. Their restaurant on the grounds serves delicious Yucatecan food.

Location and Directions
45 minutes away from Merida on route 42 South. The hacienda will pick up from all Merida hotels.

For more information on Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, visit their website at: www.haciendatour.com


Hacienda Yaxcopoil

Hacienda Yaxcopoil, Yucatan, Mexico

Time stands still in this well-preserved hacienda with a spectacular double Moorish gateway at the entrance to the grounds. Its Mayan name means “the place of green Alamo trees.” One of its halls has been converted into a museum for Mayan artifacts found in the nearby ruins

At its peak, it covered 22,000 acres and was a cattle ranch before becoming a henequen plantation. The ornate main house has spacious corridors, original mosaic tiled floors, large drawing rooms with painted stencils on the walls, age-old European furniture and henequen processing equipment on display in the machine rooms. It has a beautifully restored 2-bed guesthouse.

Location and Directions
From Merida, take Hwy 180 South and take the exit for Hwy 261 South to Uxmal. Follow Hwy 261 for about 7 miles. This is a 20 minute drive from Merida.

For more information on Hacienda Yaxcopoil, visit their website at: www.yaxcopoil.com


Hacienda Teya

Hacienda Teya, Yucatan, Mexico This is a good option if pressed for time for a more wide-ranging hacienda tour. Previously abandoned, it was one of the first refurbished haciendas to open its doors to weddings and events in its many rooms and lovely gardens. Instead of a dance floor, it has a reflecting pool in the spectacular ballroom.

Location and Directions
Minutes away by car from Merida on Hwy 180 East at the 12.5km mark.

For more information on Hacienda Teya, visit their website at: www.haciendateya.com


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