Birthplace of the Maya – Cozumel and Its Rich and Fascinating History
Found in the Caribbean Sea, Cozumel is a small island off Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. While the fact that it features impressive seaside landscapes and beaches, and that it’s situated only 82 km from Cancun and about 19 km away from the mainland makes it a popular tourist destination, the history of the island is equally interesting.
Cozumel is believed to be the first place the Maya settled in at the dawn of their civilization during the early part of the 1st millennium AD. The island was considered sacred to the Mayan Moon Goddess, Ix Chel, and the ruins of its sacred temples depict that it was an important place of pilgrimage particularly among women.
Even though more than 10,000 Maya still lived on the island in the 1500s, the population was decimated by a smallpox contagion brought by Spanish explorers. The town of San Miguel de Cozumel was later established in 1849, after the location became the place of settlement for refugees fleeing the Caste War of Yucatan.