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VILLAHERMOSA

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-The Zona Arqueológica de Comalcalco Archaeological Area. Temples, palaces and pyramids of Maya origins are still standing in this Pre-Hispanic City. Government PalaceA bastion of the Mesoamerican past that presents some rather unique characteristics, because its buildings were not made of stone, but with bricks, mud, sand and sea shells.

The presence of these materials is the main reason for which Comalcalco is considered as the most "occidental" among all of the constructions left by the Mayas. The Archaeological Compound is arranged by three architectonical groups which were respectively baptised as the Plaza Norte, the Gran Acrópolis and the Acrópolis, all of which stand out for its complexity. The approximate 280 buildings comprised in this area served for both a ritualistic and a residential usage, erected with a clear influence from the Mayas of Palenque.

Tabasco MuseumThe Maya Culture got developed between the first Century B.C. and the 9th Century A.D., while its apogee occurred between 800 A.D. and 1200 A.D.. The men of this civilisation had a fluent relationship with the Uxmal and Tikal people during the 7th century and later on with the Toltecs, Náhuas and Totonacas, with whom they maintained regular commercial trade.

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    Park Museum LA VENTA The distance between Villahermosa, the Capital of the State of Tabasco, and the archaeological area of Comalcalco differs from 55 to 89 kilometres, depending on the route elected by the traveller.

    The shortest way goes through the Towns of Nacajuca and Jalpa, while the longest route starts at the Roadway Number 180 until reaching the Locality of Cárdenas, from where the Detour 187 is taken towards Comalco, passing on the way by the Independencia Ranch.

    -The Zona Arqueológica de La Venta - Archaeological Compound. At the top of a natural promontory of almost twenty metres high and with an overall extension of 200 hectares, the natives of the Olmec Culture -the "Mother" of the Mesoamerican Civilisation- set the roots for a well conceived architecture, when they erected several religious and civic-administrative buildings which were based upon highly precise urban concepts.

    Furthermore, the Olmec Culture -predecessor of the Mayas and other important civilisations- also left for posterity several monumental sculptures, among which can be mentioned three huge basaltic stone heads measuring more than two metres high and easily surpassing a weight of twenty tons. This heads assumedly portray with vivid accuracy the faces of the chieftains of this people.

    Their Pre-Hispanic legacy also includes several bass-relief carved slender stones (Stelae) as well as altars provided with niches and some valuable jade offerings.

    A large number of these archaeological treasures were relocated during the decade of the fifties into the Park Museum of La Venta, at the shores of the Laguna de las Ilusiones in Villahermosa

    The decision to change the original location of this historic patrimony was propelled by the poet of Tabasco Carlos Pellicer as a precaution, anticipating the impending start of extraction of petroleum at the neighbouring areas to La Venta, which would have surely endangered the Olmec sculptures.

    A decade later, the University of California would continue the investigative task of the Compound. But since the year of 1985 the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) initiated the Proyecto Arqueológico de La Venta, which consisted in research, protection and restoration activities.

    Resulting from all these research works, it can be concluded that La Venta reached its peak between the years 1000 B.C. and 400 B.C., although its origins go back to circa 1750 B.C. as deduced by the antiquity of some of the vestiges found at this place. It is also a veritable assumption that the surrounding farming lands of those times usually produced up to three crops every year, and also that fishing and hunting were activities of a great importance to these people.

    A point that still remains to be determined is the real name with which the Olmecs identified this place, because the present name of this Archaeological Compound comes from the late 19th Century, when this was an area where the trading of wood usually took place, thus attaining its present name of La Venta (The Selling).

    La Venta is located at a distance of 130 kilometres from the City of Villahermosa, the Capital of the State of Tabasco, and at less than 5 kilometres from the La Venta Village, being accessed by the Roadway 180.

    -Pomoná. A big central square, pyramidal buildings, exquisite bass-relief carvings showing valuable hieroglyphs which allow the understanding of its chronological development, of its leaders and of the close relationship with the close-by Palenque, a City it was dependent of. These are only a few of the attractions proffered by this archaeological centre of Maya's origins.

    According to some researches performed in Pomoná, this ancient City would have been probably constructed at some time between the years of 600 A.D. and 800 A.D., over an area which was a common target of landslides. The Mayas overcame these problem by constructing a well designed system of terraces and high-level fields -among other successful techniques- which allowed the development of their farming activities, thus transforming it into an important area which supported the economical and political welfare of this region.

    This Maya Compound was conformed by six architectonical compounds within an area of 175 hectares. Its visitors can additionally take a tour through a site museum, which contains several objects that were unearthed obtained during the excavations carried out in this site. Pomoná is located in the area of the Tenosique Municipality, at almost 180 kilometres distance from the City of Villahermosa.

    -The Centro de Interpretación y Convivencia con la Naturaleza Yumká Centre for Interpretation and Interaction with Nature. The legends tell that in the midst of the jungles of Tabasco lives a supernatural Grottos of Canicasbeing that looks after the forests and the people who dwell in it. Maybe because of their will to perpetuate this myth, the authorities of this States' government decided to use the name of this famed character to baptise the ecological park and biological research centre that was created in 1993. The name Yumká was given after the Chontal voice used to name "The Being that Guards the Jungle". This is a 110 hectare paradise, whose facilities are devoted to the protection and assistance in the preservation of the many endangered species of plants and animals of the region.

    In this centre for the interpretation and coexistence with the environment, the traveller will be able to walk through paths that are filled with life, to tour around its "jungle savannas" over peculiar chariots or to sail across a beautiful lagoon. Along these routes he will observe a great variety of native animals such as the ocelot, crocodiles, monkeys, deer and manatees. But there are also other animals like giraffes, elephants and rhinoceros.

    In Yumká can be seen more than 200 species of animals and more than 250 species of plants, standing out the palm trees, the orchids and the bromeliads whose green exuberance cram the scenery of the lagoons, the grasslands and the tropical forests comprised by this Park.

    The Park is located 17 kilometres away from Villahermosa, and can be reached by the Roadway 186.

    -Cupilco. This is a town of Náhuatl roots that is located 42 kilometres from the City of Villahermosa and at eleven from the Town of Comalcalco. Its main attraction is the Temple of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción or Church of Our Lady of Ascension, a slender two bodied edifice that stands out for its colourful and picturesque decoration. The Temple shelters an image of the Virgen de la Asunción which, according to a 17th century legend, was retrieved by the people of a neighbouring town from an unmanned boat that was drifting at the shores of the sea.

    They then took the image to the altars of several nearby churches, but throughout night, the image kept repeatedly shifting its position until facing towards the Town of Cupilco, being consequently decided to relocate it in this town. This was actually done, and since then, the Virgin stands in the place which she herself elected.

    -Villa de Tapijulapa - Village. Tapijulapa is a town of colonial architecture. Its white houses are topped by slanted roofs and stand over cobbled streets. The surrounding landscape consists of mountains and jungles, undeniably being a typical town of Tabasco.

    The Town is located at the banks of the Amatán and Oxolotón Rivers, having among its attractions the Church of Santiago Apóstol, which was built in the 17th century over a hilltop.

    At its surroundings can be found the Caves of Villaluz, wherein a stream of sulphurous waters flows. The Cave is the scenery for the traditional festivity known as "Pesca de la Sardina" or the "Fishing of the Sardine", a Pre-Hispanic celebration that takes place on the Sunday before Easter Time (Domingo de Ramos). In the course of the festivities the ancient gods are asked to provide an abundant fishing, sufficient rains and good harvests.

    Its name, of Zoque extraction can be translated as "The Place of the Pitchers", although this village is mostly renowned for their hand-made straw baskets and furniture. It is located at 90 kilometres distance to the South of the City of Villahermosa.

    -The Grutas de Coconá - Caverns. Its name comes from the Zoque voice which means "Deep Water". It consists of a whole system of caves, which served as hiding place to the pirates that customarily attacked the Spanish ships during colonial times.

    The natural formations extend over an area of almost 500 square metres, which are distributed in eight galleries, among which stands out the so called 'Salón de los Fantasmas' or 'the Hall of the Ghosts', owing to the scary shadows cast by the many stalactites and stalagmites when hit by natural light. There is also an interesting and beautiful lagoon, known as 'Cenote de los Peces Ciegos' which approximately means 'Subterranean Pond of the Blind Fish'.

    The strange Caverns of Coconá at the entrails of a mountain covered by jungle, in which live many kinds of animals, among which is the strident mono aullador or Howler Monkey.

    The tour around these caverns has been eased by paths and artificial lights, but nevertheless requiring the assistance of a guide. They are situated at almost 58 kilometres from Villahermosa, by the Roadway 195.

    Galleries Tabasco -Koleem-Jaa. This is a spectacular Ecological Reserve located at the farthest South end of Tabasco, with prodigal flora and fauna and a coarse profile, conformed by striking mountains, waterfalls and rivers. This Ecological Centre, whose name in the Chol language means 'The Greatness of Water', was created in order to enhance the adventure tourist travels and the ecotourism in an area that contains more than 300 species of mammals, insects, and reptiles as well as 300 species of birds.

    Over the surface of 27,5 hectares of Koleem-Jaa has been implemented the Programa de Vida y Desarrollo (VIDE) (Program for Life and Development), which aims to the reforestation of the zone, already having planted almost 22 thousand native plants, as well as creating a plant nursery and a model-garden containing characteristic plants of this region.

    Walks through paths that go across the jungle, rappel descents, drives on mountain bikes and speleological travels are only some of the amazing activities that the visitors are able to perform in this Reserve. Moreover, there is an orchids nursery and relaxing baths in natural ponds.

    To visit Koleem-Jaa the traveller has to first reach the Village of Tapijulapa, in the Municipality of Tacotalpa, from where depart the motorboats to the Reserve. The approximate distance from Villahermosa, the Capital of the State of Tabasco is around 95 kilometres. It is recommended to make previous reservations.

    -Palenque. Even though this important City of the Mayas is really located in the State of Chiapas, it is also easily reached from the City of Villahermosa, the Capital of the State of Tabasco. The distance to travel is of about 120 kilometres. (There is complete information about this place in 'Destination Chiapas')

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