Santa Semana (Holy Week) in Mexico is a big deal, kicked off by Domingo de Palma, or Palm Sunday. So perhaps what better place to be, unplanned, than at the Convento San Antonio de Padua, the hugely sprawling (entirely yellow of course) 16thCentury Franciscan convent in Izamal, around an hour out of Mérida, towards the very heart of the Yucatan. We hadn’t fully realised that this “domingito” (as our driver laughingly called it as we drove there) might result in crowds, but realise it we did as we arrived in town, with throngs of families holding quivering palm fronds, spilling out of the baroque convent church into the vastness of the green-lawned colonnaded plaza which, would you believe, with 75 arches, is the second largest in todo el mundo after Saint Peter’s at the Vatican!
In 1549, the land-grabbing conquistadors destroyed the ancient pyramid of Pop-hol-Chac, using its very stone blocks to build their own temple, obliterating a site that had been in existence for well over a thousand years. But today, 473 years later, this colonial building is a rather magnificent structure – made even more spectacular of course, by its stunning white-stucco tipped yellow archways set against an impossibly jet blue sky, now dominating what has to be one of the most beautiful towns in Mexico, as long as you like yellow that is.