Cozumel Island is home to numerous Mayan ruin sites scattered all over the island which are both excavated and unexcavated. Among these excavated or partially uncovered sites are San Gervasio, Castillo Real and El Cedral. By visiting these quaint, yet important, ruin sites one gets a better sense of the ancient Mayan history and culture of the island. Make sure to check the Cozumel weather beforehand, as tropical weather can turn quickly without much notice. Sunny and breezy days are the preferred climate for a ruin expedition on the island.
San Gervasio was still a functioning religious site at the time the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century. In the heart of the island, surrounded by lush jungle populated with brilliantly colored iguanas and lush foliage, one can see why no one ever wanted to abandon this beautiful place.
The site was dedicated to the Mayan goddess Ixchel, deity of midwifery, fertility, medicine and weaving. Many women from the mainland Mayan settlements made the pilgrimage here to Ixchel’s shrine at some point in their lifetime. Many statues to Ixchel were found here and are still being discovered at the 40+ temples on the island.
Although the site has not had a lot of restoration, there are numerous structures and beautiful natural settings, which make the visit worthwhile. One of the most interesting buildings is the Temple of the Hands. Inside, numerous small red hand prints are painted on the wall, leading more than one archaeologist to speculate that perhaps this was a daycare center.
The Mayan ruins at San Gervasio are a welcome retreat for those visiting the busy island of Cozumel. A step away from the much-loved cooking classes, amazing Cozumel jeep tours, or going to swim with dolphins. Take the time to enjoy the peaceful setting of the fertile jungle shrine dedicated to the Mayan goddess Ixchel.