Mani, Yucatan

Things to do in Mani, the magical town of Yucatán

Mani is a beautiful and cozy town known for its rich culture, legends, ancestral traditions, colonial architecture, and delicious gastronomy. The area around Mani is mainly occupied by agriculture and livestock raising.

Like many other places in Mexico, the city’s name was due to misinterpretation.

The original name of the town meant “place where everyone passes through” from the Mayan word “manik,” a day in the Mayan calendar related to the deer, which later simplified to “place where everything happened”.

This became a historic phrase due to the events in 1567 when Fray Diego de Landa, a Spanish missionary of the Franciscans, burned all the Mayan codices and books, along with hundreds of sacred figures for the Mayans.

It was an inquisitorial act to publicly punish heretics and to warn the population.

On December 1, 2020, Mani was named the “Magic Town” and in 2021, Mani received the “Best Tourist Village” award. This international recognition recognizes best practices in tourism conservation and sustainability.

What to do and to see in Maní?

There are endless tourist activities in Mani: walk or ride a bicycle through its streets, go to the former convent of San Miguel Arcángel or its artisan workshops, walk in the Xcabachén cenote, and see the harvest of honey.

Ex-convent of San Miguel Arcángel

The San Miguel Arcángel contains a huge 17th-century baptismal font, which, when viewed from the large square with the adjoining former monastery, looks like a fortress due to defensive walls and pointed battlements on its sides.

This was intended to prevent the Mayans from entering the temple and attending ceremonies on the grass, in the open air; they were only allowed access to it until they were baptized.

Discover the Xcabachén cenote

Cenote Xkaabanch’en (Xkabachen) is not like most other cenotes in the Yucatan and can even be disappointing. However, its significance is historical because it played a crucial role in the founding of the town of Mani.

One day, the Mayan inhabitants of Uxmal ran out of water and had to leave in search of a better place to live, and they found it in Mani, where Cenote Xcabachen was an important source of water for consumption.

Legend says when the end of the world comes, the only water left will be in the Xcabachén cenote, and to obtain water, the newborn child will have to be offered to the guardian holding the snake (the god Kukulkan).

Another legend tells of an old sorceress who predicted the arrival of the Spaniards.

Mootsil Kuxtal Garden in Maní

This place is a nursery with local plants where you will find swings, colorful chairs, flower garlands, wells, and ponds, all among profuse vegetation that will help you connect with nature to relax in this green space.

Stroll through the streets of Maní

Another thing you can do in Mani is stroll through its streets and discover why this small town is called a “magical town” as it has photo-worthy landscapes with colorful colonial houses that shine one after the other.

Stroll through the central park, surrounded by palm trees, and listen to the sound of the wind and birds while you relax on the benches in the square, with tranquility that allows you to “reset” to recharge your batteries.

The embroidery technique X’manikté

Don’t miss the textile art workshops where you can see Mayan hand cross stitch and machine stitching, but the most prized technique is X’manikté, which means “eternal”, and is considered the oldest in the Yucatan.

Melipona stingless bees

Tutul Xiu, the ruler of Mani, allied with the Spaniards (now some call him a traitor or a seer) in exchange for certain privileges that allowed them to maintain their customs, one of which was Melipona beekeeping.

Melipona bees are stingless bee breeds that produce honey for medicinal use. Stingless bees do not produce large quantities of honey, but their honey is highly prized for its unique flavor and potential health benefits.

Meliponarios can vary in design and size, ranging from simple wooden boxes to more complex structures with multiple compartments. In Maní they raise their Melipona bees like the ancient Mayans did, in jobones.

What is jobón? Jobón is a thick tree trunk that is hollow inside with two wooden lids located on the sides. Inside it lives a hive with its queen bee, and in the center there is a hole through which the bees enter and exit.

The most Instagrammable places in Mani

Mani never fails to amaze visitors with beautiful backdrops to show off, capturing sweet moments.

Calzada del Amor is a small cobbled street located next to the municipal palace in Mani, where you can take photos in a night romantic atmosphere, in the twilight, in the “Tunnel of Love” formed by heart-shaped arches.

You will also find the “Cage”, a beautifully decorated hanging chair.

The imposing former monastery of San Miguel Arcángel has several angles for beautiful photos. Its construction began in 1549 and ended in 1580, and it abandoned this function and became a church, as it continues today.

Cenote Xcabachén is a postcard-perfect at the entrance and inside.

The botanical garden Mootsil Kuhtal means “root of life” in the Mayan language. This garden has different decorated rooms where you can take photos that will add colors to your Instagram and bring a lot of likes.

The streets of Mani are the perfect place to create the best postcards. There are no ugly places in this quaint picturesque town, you just have to walk around and explore to choose the scene that you like best.

Popular festivals of Maní, Yucatán

A little bit of history

Mani was the third indigenous community in Yucatan where the Franciscans settled.

The first contact of the Spaniards with its inhabitants occurred between 1531 and 1533 when the commander Alonso Davila led his campaign of conquest to Uaymil, Chetumal, but on the way he turned into Mani.

Francisco de Montejo was the son of the first Spaniard who arrived in Yucatan in 1518 with the expedition of Juan de Grijalva and who was allowed by the Spanish crown to conquer the lands of Yucatecan.

When Francisco de Montejo settled in Campeche in 1540, he called upon the chiefs of the entire region to ally with them, and the lords of Mani swore an alliance with the Spaniards, supplying them during the conquest.

In 1542 Francisco de Montejo founded Mérida, where he was visited by Tutul Xiu, lord of Mani.

Tutul Xiu was baptized in Mérida, given the name Francisco de Montejo Xiu, and was appointed governor of the town of Mani, along with other members of his family, who also governed the neighboring towns of Mérida.

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