In ancient times Izamal was a center for the worship of the supreme Maya god, Itzamná, and the sun god, Kinich-Kakmó. A dozen temple pyramids were devoted to these or other gods. No doubt these bold expressions of Maya religiosity are why the Spanish colonists chose Izamal as the site for an enormous and impressive Franciscan monastery, which still stands at the heart of this town, about 70km east of Mérida.
The Izamal of today is a quiet provincial town, nicknamed La Ciudad Amarilla (the Yellow City) for the traditional golden-yellow buildings that spiral out from the center like a budding daisy. It’s easily explored on foot, and spiffy horse-drawn carriages add to the city’s charm.