Day Trips from Xcalak - Convent de San Bernardino in Valladolid
Written by Rob Mukai on Aug. 16, 2018
This is another attraction in Valladolid. Traveling around the American West, you get used to seeing "really old" stuff be from 1800's, and even on the east coast the 1700's. Valladolid is a very different experience. The Convent of San Bernardino is just a Kilometer from the center of town. The building was started in 1552, only 60 years after Columbus first sailed the ocean blue. It was completed in 1560. The church itself was called the Church of San Francisco, because it was built for the Franciscan order. In fact it was the second largest Franciscan Convent in the Yucatan. The convent was 'secularized" in 1755. However, the church is still being used for services today.
Inside the church, there is a large altar and the wall behind the altar has multiple sculptures of saints with fine details. This was apparently installed in the 19th century.
They also built one of the largest water wheels in the Yucatan to draw water up from a Cenote located right below the church.
Part of the history of the convent, was it's place in the Caste wars. Especially at its height in the mid-1800's. The Caste Wars were an attempt by the Mexican Federal Government to assert control over the indigenous Maya in the Yucatan. The war lasted into the early 20th century. Apparently the building was sacked more than once. The bells of the church were actually buried on the grounds to protect them, and many arms were tossed into the cenote.There is a small museum that show some of the items they fished out of the cenote, including some old rifles.
If you are in Valladolid, it is definitely worth a trip. Also there is a light show every Saturday at 9:00 PM in Spanish and 9:30 PM in English. We didn't see it, but reviews are uniformly good.