Mayan Archeological Sites in Yucatán
Chichén Itzá – The most famous Mayan ruins. One of the most impressive structures, The Castle, is a 98-foot pyramid crowned by a temple dedicated to Kukulcán. This building is famous for a remarkable phenomenon, which creates a sunlit serpent on the steps in the northwest side of the pyramid during the spring and fall equinoxes.
Other notorious buildings are: the Temple of the Jaguars; the Temple of the Warriors; the Tzompantli; the Ball Court, the largest in Mexico; the Snail or Caracol, an astronomical observatory and possibly the sole round building ever built by the Maya; the Nunnery or Casa de las Monjas; and the Temple of the Eagles. The Sacred Well, a cenote or sinkhole that sits half a mile north of The Castle, was used for human sacrifices. Open daily from 08:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Every night there is a beautiful light and sound show at 20:00 hrs. in summer and at 19:00 hrs in winter, with simultaneous translation available.
Balankanche, is located only six kilometers from Chichen Itza, the cave should be visited for the beauty of its natural stone formations and for its archaeological importance as a ceremonial site for the Maya. There is a light and sound show inside the cave.
Acanceh – In the main plaza there are two buildings that have been restored: the Pyramid and the “Palace of the Stuccos”. Both are part of the Early Classic period between 500 and 600 AD. There are nine sinkholes and two caves. Eastern part of the Main Square is a nice 16th century colonial church dedicated to Virgin Guadalupe. Open daily from 08:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Aké – Some of the most striking elements of this pre-Hispanic cities the complex known as “El palacio” (The palace) and a series of sacbeob (causeways) connected the city with other nearby centers. Aké reached its maximum development in the Classic period. The site also includes two cenotes and the Hacienda of San Lorenzo Ake, a henequen plantation that has continued to flourish thanks to the care of the owners. Open daily from 08:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Dzibilchaltún – The site and the surroundings have more tan 8,000 structures, but the most outstanding is The Temple of the Seven Dolls, an imposing looking building on a pyramidal base with a short tower atop its roof. The doorways of the temple were built in exact solar alignment with the rising sun, such that the early rays pass through them on the spring and fall equinoxes. There is also the Xlacah Cenote, a beautiful freshwater pool just off the side of the main plaza, and the museum full of interesting artifacts of Spanish and Maya origin. Open daily from 08:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Ek Balám – It has a majestic architecture. The main buildings are divided in two squares. The Acropolis is one of the most voluminous structures in Meso-America. It has 45 structures and two concentric walls, which served as defense against attack, surround the layout of the site. There were many smaller walls that snaked through the city as well. Open daily from 08:00 to 17:00 hrs.
The X-Canche Cenote (sinkhole) is located 1.5 km from the archaeological site, with rappelling and zip- line services, bicycle and kayak rental, cabins, dining and sitting areas. To get here there are mountain bikes for rent next to the entrance to the archaeological site. Open Monday to Sunday from 9:00 to 16:30 hrs.
Mayapán – This walled city has 4,000 mounds and several sinkholes. It was the most important center of the Mayan civilization during the 13th Century. It’s the same size than Chichen-Itza and you will find the buildings are replicas of the ones in Chichen, but in smaller size. Some outstanding buildings are: El Caracol and El Castillo, where during the days of the solstice (June 21 and December 21) a light and shadow phenomena can be seen, similar to the descent of the serpent in Chichén Itzá. Open daily from 8:00 to 15:00 hrs.
Uxmal – A majestic archaeological site, considered as the most splendid archaeological site from the Pre Hispanic era on the American Continent, declared World Heritage by the UNESCO. The main attractions in the site are: The Nun’s Quadrangle, The Ballgame Court, The Temple of the Monuments, The House of the Turtles, The Governor’s Palace, and The Magician’s Pyramid, a colossal construction 35 meters height. There is excellent site museum with a nice exhibition of carved sculpted pieces and ceramic. Open daily from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Everyday a light and sound show takes place, telling the legends and history of the site. The show takes place at 20:00 hrs. during the summer and at 19:00 hrs. during winter. There is simultaneous translation available in seven languages.
Yaxunah – The architectonic structures connect this city with the sites of the Puuc style. Besides having archaeological remains and the longest sacbé of the Mayan area, villagers of Yaxunah successfully manage their eco-tourism complex, with few simple cabins with showers, hammocks and beds.
One of Yaxunah’s cenotes is an enormous, sapphire-colored pool framed by exotic vines called Lol Ha ith stone steps. Open Monday to Friday.
X’cambó – This is one of most widely spread areas in the peninsular coastline and its great size buildings are settled on the humid forest by the moor, which is just two kilometers from the coastline. Xcambo counts with 10 natural springs. The nearness to the ocean permitted the Mayans to convert this pre-Hispanic city into a very important center of salt production. The most outstanding structures are: the Temple of Sacrifices, and the Temple of the Cross, the tallest temple in the site. In the summit on a clear day, you can see the coast, about a mile away. Open daily from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Oxkintok – It is characterized for the existence of a labyrinth-like construction named Satunsat, considered to represent a journey to the underworld and it is unique in the entire State of Yucatán. The hieroglyphic inscriptions found contain dates, some of which are the oldest known in Yucatán. It consists of four architectural sets called Ah-Canul, May, Tzat Tun Tzat and Dzib. Open daily from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Kabáh – It is a monumental example of the Puuc style architecture. The archaeological site has two groups of buildings, the Codz Pop, which facade is ornamented with 250 masks of the rain god Chaac; the Palace, characterized for its extraordinary constructions; and the slender stone Arch, which is thought to be the center of the city and the entrance to the “sac-be” to Uxmal. Open daily from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Sayil – Experts believe that Sayil, or “place of the red ants,” flourished between AD 600 and 900. Among the most important buildings are: The Palace, The Ball Game, The South Palace and the Observatory Complex. Open daily from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Xlapak – There are three pyramids in restoration process. The most important is one named The Palace, which consists of nine rooms and a beautiful façade, which is richly ornamented with frets and geometrical figures. The architecture is an example of the ostentatious style of the Classic or Florescent Puuc. Open daily from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Labná – It is outstanding because of an elegant arch shaped construction, a good example of the Puuc architecture. Some other interesting constructions are El Mirador and the Palace, decorated with figures honoring the Chaac God and its 70 “cheltunes” (water cisterns). Open daily from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Chacmultún – The buildings are of outstanding beauty, which are really worthwhile taking the time to visit the site. There are four architectonic groups: Central Group, with the highest and most beautiful constructions; the Chacmultun Group; the Kabalpak Group, with three small constructions; and the ethpool Group. The chambers on some of the buildings display several Mayan murals incredibly well preserved. Open daily from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Maxcanú, it is known as the Gate of the Puuc Route. You can visit the central church and observe its stone-carved walls and the temple dedicated to Our Lady of Carmen, built in the 17th century.
Oxkintok, features an structure known as El Laberinto (the labyrinth), believed to represent a trip to the underworld.
Kabah, the second greatest religious center of the Puuc style, stands: El Arco (the Arch), main door to the city and the Palacio de los Mascarones with an impressive facade composed of 250 large masks of the God Chaac.
Sayil, is distributed in three zones, the most remarkable construction is “The Palace”.
Xlapak, features one of greatest jewels of the Puuc architectonic style, El Palacio (The Palace), has a magnificent facade with geometric elements and large masks of Chaac.
Labná, is made of a set of dispersed buildings, famous for the beautiful Mayan construction carved in stone: El Arco (the Arch) and other buildings, like El Palacio and El Mirador.
Tekax, this place offer caves, colonial buildings and Mayan vestiges. It has a nice main square and you can visit the Ex-Convent and Parish of San Juan Baptist (17th century), the Hermitage of San Diego (17th century), this is a great place to get a good panoramic view of the town, the Chapel of San Francisco, the Chapel of the Eternal Father, and “La Casa de los Tres Pisos” (Three-story House), a unique construction in the area. You can also visit the nearby cenotes (Sabac-Ha, Los Chocantes, Oxpel-Hal and Actun-Hom), however it is always advisable to make the visit with a guide.
Chacmultún, this old city is integrated by four monumental architectonic groups: Chacmultún, Cabalpak, Xethpol and Central together, they cover approximately one square kilometer.
Loltún, this caves will amaze every visitor. At the entrance, is the famous bas-relief carving known as “The Loltún Warrior”. In the diverse halls, galleries and chambers – almost 196 feet deep and extending for almost 2,300 feet- diverse archeological pieces have been found. The two-hour tour will take you for more than 3,000 feet though lighting paths. A special feature is the columns that sound like bells when you struck them with the flat side of the fist. There are also cave paintings. Schedule: Open daily from: 9:00 to 14:00 hrs.
Uxmal, famed for its beautifully decorated constructions bring into life through the light and sound show performed every night; the most notorious buildings are: Pyramid of the Magician, an elliptical pyramid, the Nunnery Quadrangle, the Palace of the Governor, the most famous of Uxmal’s treasures, the House of the Turtles and the House of the Doves.