It wouldn't be the first pueblo magico in Mexico to have been known by two names. One of the first areas of the South Mexican peninsular to be adopted by the Spanish during the 16th Century, Palizada remained stuck with the pseudonym “San Ignacio de la Empalizada” until the 1800's. Post revolution, the Nahuatl Chitol settlers once again claimed the town for their own, reverting the name to Palizada in the process. It must be said, the shorter title conveys far more greatly the character of this town, which is coincidentally bounded by tree-hugging terrain along the banks of the River Palizada. In Nahuatl, the phrase “palizada” derives from a local bog wood known as “palo tinte”. Characteristically dark and speckled in appearance, the wood was a primary building material for inhabitants of the agricultural town, influencing the name change.
Modern Palizada remains little altered in character since the 18th Century, save for renovation work to the main plaza – now an enchanting symmetrical garden, decorated with ornamental shrubs and abstractly clipped hedgerows. Settled upon a low lying plain beside the fast currents of River Palizada, the town is the farthest of the Campeche region from state capital Carmen. For years, Palizada remained a picturesque agricultural settlement, home to the largest proliferation of Nahuatl speaking natives in Campeche, sprinkled with a few colonial gems such as the 18th Century San Joaquín Temple and neo-Classical, Franco inspired Casa del Rio – an opulent mansion villa, overlooking the Historical Center.
Ancient attractions abound within the vicinity of Palizada include the ruinous site of El Cuyo, the former settlement of the Chontales people during the 4th Century. Considered the coastal gem of the Yucatan peninsula, it is alleged that the dead return to walk its sandy beaches at sunset and may occasionally be heard in prayer on the wind. Ek Balem is considered a place of vital heritage; a place of ruinous beauty with stunning preserved frescos and a number of carvings within the walled settlement, attracting in excess of 10,000 tourists each year.
Natural heritage remains key to the touristic popularity of Palizada – the town achieving the title of 36th Pueblos Magicos in 2010 for its local preservation efforts and intrinsic beauty, nestled upon the banks of the river. Laguna de Términos lies just 1.5 km to the North of the town, within an area that now represents the largest estuary reserve in Mexico. Encompassing an area of over 705,000 hectares, the Palizada Estuary Reserve has become a major hub for eco-tourism, offering a plethora of wildlife tours and excursions into the boggy and jungle-like wilderness. Cloaked by the verdant canopies of the Campeche National Rainforest, the area is home to an abundance of manatees, pumas and parakeets, along with the renownedly elusive Howler Monkey – a rare and beautiful sight!
Attractions & Things To Do in Palizada
El Cuyo – an archaic maze of ruins housing the former settlement of the Chontale ancestry, thought to date back to the 4th Century. Although incomparable in size to the ancient sprawl of Chichen Itza, the ruins of El Cuyo feature a number of carvings, tombs and archaeological wonders that help to convey a little of Palizada's intriguing past. Open: Monday – Saturday, 8 am – 7 pm.