Ancient Route

Sacred Journey Route


The evidence shows that the commercial port of Polé, which we know today as Xcaret, was the main departure point for the communities of the Ekab region on the pilgrimage to Kuzamil, nowadays Cozumel. The Sacred Journey route recreates year after year a ceremony that begins with a farewell ceremony to godspeed the brave oarsmen and women, who start a trip to the Ixchel Sanctuary with the first ray of sun.

The importance of the Caribbean Sea in the Sacred Journey

For the pre-Columbian civilization who inhabited these places, the Caribbean Sea had great relevance as a source of food and a means of transportation, besides pointing the entrance to the Xibalbá or underworld, having a simile in the cenotes as a gateway. The Sacred Journey also represents the transition to the afterlife in the continuous cycle of life.


Polé, as the ancient settlers knew Xcaret, receives its name from the root p'ol, which means merchandise or trading with products. In addition, this place was shelter against bad weather and the departure point of the annual pilgrimage to the oracle of the goddess Ixchel.
In the book of the Chilam Balam of Chumayel, Polé is mentioned as the place of departure of the Itzáes or Tantunes, which were ancient priests and merchants who navigated the region. The ethnohistorian and archaeologist Eric Thompson, gave them the nickname 'New World Phoenicians' for the extensive trade routes they developed.


The current island of Cozumel was known as Kuzamil among the former settlers of the Yucatan Peninsula. Many pilgrimages arrived from the continent to visit Ixchel, a goddess associated with fertility, the moon, pregnancy, agriculture, and weaving.


Another departure point for the pilgrimages to pay tribute to Ixchel could have been Xamanhá, which we now know as Playa del Carmen. With the decline of the civilization that inhabited this region and the arrival of the Spanish expeditions, Xamanhá remained uninhabited until it re-emerged as a small fishing village in the early 20th Century.

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