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La Tumba del Caracol | Cozumel

LA TUMBA DEL CARACOL

Cozumel one of the ten municipalities of the state of Quintana Roo is a Mexican island, the third largest and the second most populated of the country in the Mayan language Cozumel means “Island of the Swallows”, rich in archaeological monuments, product of the Mayan culture, has incredible places for tourists the most relevant are San Gervasio, El Cedral, Miramar, Punta Molas, Celarain and Cinco Puertas on the island of Cozumel and Xel Ha, has historic buildings such as the Public Clock, the boardwalk, the Esplanade of the Flag, the main park, monument to the snail, monument to the diver and the statue of the Virgin submerged in the sea, in June is the religious feast of St. Pedro and St. Pablo, in September that of St. Miguel.

snail's-grave

In June is the religious feast of San Pedro and San Pablo, in September is the feast of San Miguel (the name of the municipal capital is San Miguel de Cozumel), in February or March is the carnival and in May is celebrated in El Cedral the feast of the Holy Cross.

The name of the ruin “El Caracol” was given because of the snails that ornament the small dome that crowns the roof of this small temple, hence the name. It is also known as “Tumba del Caracol”, because of its small size, which resembles a burial mound.

It is certain that this pre-Hispanic complex was built during the late Postclassic period (1200 – 1500 A.D.) and although it is believed that this archaeological site is dedicated to and was built in honor of the Mayan goddess Ixchel, there are no remains to prove it.

The ruin of the Caracol has a west-east alignment towards the islet “Celarain” 550 m. away and you can see the sunrise in alignment with it, on February 22 and October 20. In addition, the observation of celestial movements was of great importance to the ancient Maya.

That is why they developed calendars of great precision used in agricultural and religious activities, and transferred the knowledge to build their cities in harmony with the cosmos and worship the deities that inhabited the celestial vault.

sunrise-appreciation

The main temple is the one that gives name to the zone and it is a miniature temple of vaulted roof and four doors, that later was wrapped in three of its sides by a bigger construction.

On the roof it has a small square temple, with four openings and an upper hole, where a snail-shaped top was placed, decorated with four rows of natural snails embedded in the stucco.

One of the legends that embrace this archaeological zone is that people believe that the wind makes the snails whistle, and that the ancient Maya related it to hurricanes and the cult of the wind.

The singular decoration of the roof of this building is unique in the region. This makes it highly recommended for a visit, which includes an exceptional view of the sea at the southern tip of Cozumel Island.

punta-sur-beach

The Caracol group is located at the southern tip of the island of Cozumel, on the dirt road leading to the Punta Celerain lighthouse, where there is currently a small museum which is in charge of the Foundation of Parks and Museums of Cozumel.

The site is located within the ecological reserve of Punta Sur, administered by the same foundation. From the city of San Miguel de Cozumel, it can be easily accessed by following the perimeter road to the south of the island.

Services available in the area:
The archeological site does not have any. To access the park’s services, the corresponding access fee must be paid.

Hours:
Visits are scheduled upon request to the INAH Center. The park is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 to 16:00 hrs.

Recommendations:
Wear comfortable shoes, water, insect repellent and biodegradable sunscreen.
Since INAH does not have permanent staff at the site, visits should be requested at least five days in advance.

How to get to the site:
It can be easily accessed by following the perimeter road to the south of the island.

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