Riviera Maya Archaeological Sites

Discover the story of the begging of the European invasion

Cabo Catoche

This was the first place where European invaders set foot on the Yucatan Peninsula. Located in the Ekab jurisdiction, in the first days of March of 1517, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba arrived here, signaling the discovery of the Yucatan Peninsula by the Spaniards.

Near Holbox, in the early colonial period, a catholic temple was built. Now known as Boca Iglesia, it is thought to be one of the first Catholic sanctuaries in Latin America. There are no roads from land to Cabo Catoche, so the ruins of Boca Iglesia and Ekab are only reachable by boat.

Ekab o Ecab (mayan: ek cab, ‘black-earth) got its name from the Mayan region in the Northeast of the Peninsula that was baptized by the Spaniards as “The Great Cairo”.

By 1570, Ekab was the most important and largest town in the region, but it was abandoned soon after by the constant attacks by English pirates that drove the inhabitants deeper inland

There was an attempt to populate Cabo Catoche again in 1788 but was abandoned. Later, in 1827, at the dawn of the colonial times, Marshall Governor Juan Maria Echeverria considered using the area as an exit point for goods produced inland in the peninsula, an enterprise that would also justify the economic cost of dealing with the pirate menace, and established the populations of Cabo Catoche and Yalahau, but these, like past attempts, would not flourish.