“. . . but the elegant Convento is actually a veneer that hides a violent past that’s not so secret anymore. Hidden in plain sight, it may not be initially recognized but painfully obvious when pointed out. The awkward elevated position of the property looks quite out of place from the town’s ground-level square. The location of the Spanish colonial village of Izamal was once a very important Maya settlement. This settlement was home to the most sacred temple in the whole of the Maya empire, Pop Hol Chac. In an egregious act of dominance, the Spanish toppled the temple and built the Convento on its foundations. Some Maya glyphs were insultingly recycled and put on display in the church walls.
Now the nature of the huge atrium becomes clear as it simply occupies the remainder of the temple’s footprint. The grandeur of the atrium is only dictated by the enormity of temple itself. This could be the most destructive monument of Spanish conquest in all of the Maya empire. Standing as a silent symbol of complete and total domination, those residents who are proud of their city are quick to explain this unsettling history. Our Maya guide spoke of it not bitterly, but almost amorally as an important facet of history and culture – a history that he is dying to share with the world.”