The thing that makes Mexico a tempting vacation option is its accessibility and ease of travel, its affordability, and, of course, its over-the-top attractiveness. Then again, Mexicans can be infectiously friendly. However, aside from all these, Mexico, like a few other countries on the globe, boasts of having quite a number of ruins. Many of these ruins have opened for us a window into the incredible Mayan Civilization that continues to capture our imagination and admiration across extensive time spans. The Mayans are intriguing and unique because, unlike many other ancient civilizations, they rose to dizzying heights from a tropical rainforest, attaining remarkable achievements in writing, science, and language—and then in a whimper—they declined and suddenly disappeared from the stage.

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Fortunately, some discovered ruins have eloquently told the Mayan story. One of these is Polé, one of the least visited ruins in Mexico.

What Are The Ancient Ruins Of Polé In Mexico?

Many people today know it as Xcaret. Probably because these ruins are in the Xcaret Archeological Park, located about 47 miles south of Cancún in the Riviera Maya. The Riviera Maya is a gorgeous stretch of the Caribbean coastline on the northeastern side of Mexico. This is how it all started. About a thousand years ago, probably more, a community settled in what is now a tropical jungle. As would be expected with any settlement, trade would soon become a practical necessity.

As a natural consequence, the settlement would later become a bustling port of trade. In fact, the name Polé actually refers to trade, merchandise, or market. The settlement started to grow in numbers. People were trooping over to eke out a living. But there was another factor, perhaps even more consequential. During that time, temples of the goddess Ixchel had been constructed on the island of Cozumel, located off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. Both the inhabitants of this settlement—and pilgrims from far away—would make their way to the island of Cozumel to pay homage to Ixchel.

Related: Why Honduras' Copán Is The Best Place To Learn Mayan Culture.

The Ancient Mayan Goddess Ixchel

The goddess Ixchel was not just another lesser god. He was one of the most important Mayan gods. This is because he influenced fertility and procreation, some of the most vital aspects of Mayan life and culture. Ladies who were about to get into marriage; and wives, newly married, would seek the blessings of the goddess Ixchel at specific times of the year. According to several accounts, when the Spanish first came to this region of present-day Mexico, they found a ceramic statue of the goddess Ixchel on Cozumel Island at San Gervasio. It was called the Oracle of Ixchel. For pilgrims who were going to pay homage to Ixchel, the bustling town of Polé assumed crucial importance as a layover. This had the effect of fueling the growth and development of the coastal town of Polé. As a melting pot of religion and commerce, the town of Polé would see developments in the organization of society. Well-built structures would soon follow. Archeologists have since discovered such rare objects and precious stones in the ruins of Polé as jade and obsidian, showing the town of Polé had trade links with far-off places as these rare stones are not found within this region.

How To Visit The Ruins Of Pole Today And What To Expect

Today, the ruins of Polé are found within the precincts of Xcaret Theme Park. Unfortunately, because the ruins are located in a theme park, some think the ruins are artificial. However, the truth is that these ruins are just as authentic as any Mayan ruin would be—even if they are not as famous as, say, the Acropolis in Athens. Xcaret Archeological Park is on Chetumal – Puerto Juarez Federal Highway, about 15 minutes from Playa del Carmen, a vibrant resort town in the state of Quintana Roo. However, for one coming from Cancun International Airport, the driving distance, in terms of time, is about one hour.

  • How Much Is The Entry Fees To Xcaret Archeological Park? The entry fee to Xcaret Archeological Park is $124.99 (USD) for adults or those above 12. Children (5-11), however, are required to pay $62.49 (USD) to get admission. For those who only want to visit the ruins, the National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH) offers a significantly discounted package at their booth near the park’s entrance.

Related: 25 Unimaginable Things About The Maya Civilization We're Still Discovering.

There are up to 50 thrilling activities to enjoy at the Xcaret Archeological Park. These include snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, riding speed boats, seeing animals like jaguars and manatees—and watching birds. Other activities include touring a museum, an aviary, and of course, the ruins. While one can plan a visit to this park at any time of the year, summer heat in this region can get uncomfortably hot.

The Mayan Civilization is a remarkable civilization that continues to intrigue historians across the globe. Here’s the good news. A snapshot of their story is available for all to see at the Polé ruins inside Xcaret Archeological Park.