Exploring the San Gervasio Mayan ruins in Cozumel
Cozumel Island is the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean. It is situated off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatán Channel. The municipality is part of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is home to the San Gervasio ruins which have an important historical-cultural significance on the island.
History of the Mayan Settlement
The San Gervasio ruins have a history which dates back to 100 BC and extends through to the 16th century. This is around the time when the Maya are first thought to have settled in Cozumel. Ancient Classic Olmec artefacts have also been found in more recent archaeological excavations.
It is believed that Cozumel Island was a site sacred to the Ix Chel (Mayan for “She of the rainbows”), the Mayan moon goddess, said to be the deity of midwifery, fertility, medicine and weaving. In the past, many women, from mainland Mayan settlements, made a pilgrimage here to Ix Chel’s shrine in order to receive spiritual healing and be blessed with and in childbirth.
The Mayans: Peaceful People?
Early and ancient cultural anthropologists believed that the Mayans were a peaceful and philanthropic clan of people, who rarely warred on one another and preferred to engage in astronomy, building, spending time in the fields to cultivate land and whose grand urban plazas were visited only for the performance of priest-led rites on special dates.
Recent advancements in the interpretation of stonework and ancient art pieces have changed that view. Depictions of human sacrifice and self-mutilation (in the name of religion) paint a picture of a very violent, competitive and warmongering Mayan culture. In reality, war and warfare was necessary for the Maya for the purposes of capturing enemies for slavery and religious sacrifice, subjugating neighbouring city-states and warding off other enemy clans.
The old belief that most city-states had been unpopulated and empty was snubbed, in the latter half of the 20th century, by archaeologists who replaced it with the idea that they were thriving hubs from which leaders vied in fierce competition with each other (it was never a centralised civilisation). Temples recorded wars, the capture of prisoners, and the necessity of shedding human blood to nourish the gods. Various scenes in Mayan art depict women perforating their tongues and men driving sticks through their penises…
Cozumel Mayan Ruins
Despite the barbarity, the Maya built some of the most stunning and architecturally inspiring building sites that the world has seen. Some of these still remain today.
Cozumel Island is home to a number of ruins, most of them are from the Post-Classic period (1200-1530 AD). The largest Mayan ruins on the island were near the downtown area. In 1518, the first Spanish expedition, led by Juan de Grijalva, arrived on the island. The following year, the Spanish expedition, led by Hernán Cortés, stopped on the island en route to Vera Cruz. They ransacked the island and destroyed many of the religious artifacts and buildings which were present on the island. Following the destruction, Cortés replaced them with images of the Virgin Mary and Roma Catholic artifacts.
In the years to come, further destruction was brought about by pirate attacks, various wars, then in 2005 two Category 4 hurricanes hit the island during hurricane season. In July, Hurricane Emily passed just south of Cozumel, exposing the island to the storm’s intense inner core. Despite Emily being a powerful storm, it was the larger, stronger, slower-moving Hurricane Wilma that caused the most destruction when it hit the island in October
Today, the largest remaining ruins are at San Gervasio, located approximately at the centre of the island.
San Gervasio Mayan Ruins
The ruins at San Gervasio are located within a park. They aren’t as big or as impressive as those on the mainland at Chichen Itza or Tulum, but the park still makes for a fascinating cultural and historical experience.
The most important temples are located in the centre of the square. Nine buildings form an enclosed patio, from which 3 roads lead on to other squares. If you’ve got your wits about you, then it’s fairly easy to navigate.
Different Ways to Experience the Cozumel Mayan Ruins
Once you arrive on the island, pick US – Koox Diving – as your chosen tour operator!!! We offer a huge variety of different packages to suit a number of tastes and budgets. For ease of reference, here a few of the most popular choices:
Diving and Water-Based Courses
We offer scuba-diving, cave-diving and snorkelling courses for all levels, from the absolute beginner to advanced/technical learners to those wishing to become certified instructors.
Here is a breakdown of some of the diving courses on offer:
PADI Discover Scuba Diving
Priced at $149 (USD) per person. This course is suitable for those who are complete beginners and will enable you to explore the clean, clear waters of the Casa Cenote. The dive lasts from 8am – 1pm, so you have sufficient time to swim with mangroves and see the salty and fresh water mixing together – halocline.
The Discovery Dive includes:
- Practice in Casa Cenote with a PADI dive master
- Extra dive in the ocean with a PADI dive master
- If you sign up to this, we also offer our esteemed customers the chance to get PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Scuba Diver Certified by just adding 200 USD extra for the theory and practical exam
- Free Full Dive Equipment Rental & Tanks included
- PADI Certification documents
- Cenote entrance fees
- Transportation from the pick-up point to the location and back
2 Cenotes Snorkel Tour: Dos Ojos & Casa Cenote
At only $99, these two snorkel tours are an absolute bargain for the price you pay. No dive certification is required, which makes it suitable for complete beginners.
Dos Ojos is part of the largest underwater cave system in the world – Sac Actun. Viewed from above, they very much resemble a pair of eyes hence why they’re called Dos Ojos, Spanish for… Two Eyes!
For what you pay, the following is included:
- Free Fins & Snorkel Rental
- Free GoPro & Video lights rental
- Transportation from the pickup point and back
- All snorkel sites entrance fees
- Full insurance for you and your belongings
- Eco soda crystal bottle & Lunch
- Certified dive instructor