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Ciudad del Carmen was founded in the pre-Hispanic era and from the beginning, it was an important trading spot for the Aztec and Maya cultures. Later on, during the 16th to 18th centuries, when the City of Campeche turned into the main port of maritime commerce between Spain and New Spain, Ciudad del Carmen was occupied by pirates and used as a strategic point for repairing ships and planning attacks against Spanish galleons and the recently-founded neighboring cities.
The attacks that took place during the 17th century were sponsored by European countries that wanted to upend Spanish power. They lasted for a total of 160 years, forcing the inhabitants of many cities of Campeche to build protective walls, forts, and many other defensive constructions.
Carmen, as it is called by its inhabitants, is a coastal city located in the southeast of the state of Campeche, on the southern tip of Isla del Carmen. The city got its current name on July 16, 1717, in honor of the Virgin of Carmen (who is believed to be the protector of the island), when the Spanish forces, commandeered by Alonso Felipe de Andrade, got the pirates off the island and took back the city after a long period of occupation. Ever since then, at the end of July, Ciudad del Carmen turns into the very center of the region's social, cultural and religious festivities, in a typical town fair that celebrates the island's patron saint, the Virgin of Carmen.
Places to visit
During your Ciudad del Carmen vacations, this beautiful and tranquil tourist destination offers you interesting activities for you to experience. The green area that surrounds Terminos Lagoon and the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve are amazing jungles, great for ecotourism. The white sandy beaches with their calm waters, mostly surrounded by mangroves (where diverse marine species inhabit, such as reptiles, birds and mammals), are perfect for any kind of water sports. Finally, the visit to the impressive archeological zones is an experience you cannot miss.
Some of the most beautiful beaches you can visit during your Ciudad del Carmen vacations are: Isla Aguada, near the Terminos Lagoon reserve; Playa Norte, where you can find a small zoo; and lastly, Playa Maniagua and Playa Caracol, both located on the lagoon. Playa Norte, however, is the only beach with a restricted access schedule, open to visitors from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., every day of the week.
Campeche, like all the tourist destinations of the Maya world, has beautiful and mysterious archaeological sites where you can take a step closer to this extraordinary culture. One of these sites is Xicalango, located some miles away from Ciudad del Carmen and very close to the Tabasco border. It was once used as a commerce center among Mayas, Olmecs and Mexicas and is believed to be the same place from where la Malinche (also known as Dona Marina) is from, a woman famous in Mexican history as being one of the interpreters of Hernan Cortez, who conquered Tenochtitlan in 1521.