Hacienda Mundaca

Ruins in Isla Mujeres

A 19th-century slave trader and reputed pirate, Fermín Antonio Mundaca de Marechaja fell in love with a local woman known as La Trigueña (The Brunette). To win her, Mundaca built a two-story mansion complete with gardens and graceful archways. But while Mundaca was building the house, La Trigueña married another islander. Brokenhearted, Mundaca died, and the hacienda fell into disrepair. Even today, the grounds look neglected.

The ruins are 4km south of town; they're easily reached by bike or taxi.

Some documents indicate that Mundaca died during a visit to Mérida and was buried there. Others say he died on the island, and indeed there’s a grave in the town cemetery that supposedly contains his remains. Despite the skull and crossbones on his headstone (a common memento mori), there’s no evidence that Mundaca was ever a pirate. Instead, it is said he accumulated his wealth by transporting slaves from Africa to Cuba, where they were forced to work in mines and sugar-cane fields.

The complex has some walls and foundations, a large central pond, some rusting cannons and a partially rebuilt house. At the southern end stands a gateway with an impressive stone arch. The shady property makes for pleasant strolling, but watch out for the droppings of spiny-tailed iguanas.