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Uxmal and Kabah
Uxmal is one of the most representative cities of the Mayan culture. It is 38 miles away from Merida and, at its peak, had a population of 25,000. This impressive city has a particular structure known as Puuc, typical in this area, built following a quadrangular design.
During this tour, we will visit the Magician’s Pyramid, the Quadrangle of the Nuns, the Ball Game Court, and the Governor’s Palace. According to historical references, Uxmal was a walled fortress and the name means “three times built”. The Magician’s Pyramid is 115 feet tall and a legend says it was built in just one night. It is made up of 5 structures from different eras and is the most important edifice of this archeological zone.
Later, we’ll go south to explore Kabah, which means “the lord with the strong and powerful hand”. This city is particularly known for being connected by roads or “sabec,” one of which was popularly used as a path to Uxmal, located 23 miles to the north.
Once in Kabah, we will visit the famous Arch that connects both cities. Then, we’ll walk to the Great Pyramid and the stunning Temple of the Masks. This interesting journey into the Mayan world ends with a delicious lunch buffet style at the Mision Uxmal Hotel.
Uxmal Light & Sound Show
Once at the site we will explore its beautiful palaces declared World Heritage by the UNESCO, all of them built following a quadrangular design and connected by roads. You’ll get surprised admiring its rich sculptural elements as well as with the magical legends about the origins of this city. We will walk around outstanding monuments such as: the Magician’s Pyramid, the Nuns Quadrangle, the Governor’s Palace and the Temple of the Masks
Mayan city of Uxmal:
The zone was first settled in 500 B.C., but it wasn’t until the ninth and twelfth centuries A.D. that it became the seat of Mayan political and economic power in the Puuc region.
It is estimated that a population of around twenty-five thousand inhabitants was distributed throughout a territory of 37.5 square kilometers with enormous agricultural potential, but lacking in permanent water sources. For these reasons the Mayas constructed chultunes, or underground cisterns, and complex drinking water systems, including aguadas and bukteoobob for the utilization of rainwater.
The architecture at this site is one of the most authentic examples of the Puuc style. Decorative features such as the three-dimensional masks of the god Chaac, colonnades, the two-headed jaguar, and other iconographic symbols demonstrate Uxmal’s position in the most important cultural and commercial circuits of the Maya Classic Era.
The walled civic-administrative area occupies an area of one kilometer from north to south and .6 kilometer from east to west. The place-type structures are arranged around courtyards, forming quadrangles. The decoration is among the richest and most varied of all the archaeological zones, including representations of god, animals, dignitaries, and geometric forms. There are also residential structures in the surrounding area.
No doubt, Uxmal is considered as the most splendid archaeological site from the Pre Hispanic era on the American Continent because of the proportions of its majestic constructions decorated with delicate embossment, which are carved with elegance and precision, astounding both, scientific community and visitors, since the Mayan builders had neither metal tools nor detectable means of transportation.
The Magician’s Pyramid, located at the entrance to the site. This colossus stone is the result of five superimposed stages of building, crowned by a temple at the summit, from which you can contemplate the full grandeur of Uxmal Photo by Claudio Contreras Koob
The Nun’s Quadrangle, so-called since the Conquest for its similarity to a convent; comprised of four large structures resting on an artificial platform and surrounding a grand central square, 75mts long by 45mts wide. Decorated with god masks, jaguars, owls, and human figures. This is the stage in which takes place the light and sound show. nun’s quadrangle in Uxmal archaeological zone in Yucatan state, Mexico
This name was given to the VVIIth. century. It is comprised of four palaces placed at different levels, which surround the Patio.
Its construction dates from around 900-1000 A.D. The facades offer a rich combination of decorative motifs such as lattice-work, colonnades, huts, masked representations of the Rain God, Two-headed serpents, owls, Symbols of the planet Venus, geometrical elements, human figures, naked or tied up, either sitting or standing. Quite conspicuous are the representations Tlaloc, The Rain God of Central Mexico.
The Ballgame Court
The Cemetery Group
The Temple of the Monuments
The Soothsayers House, The name of this building comes from a Mayan legend known as “The Legend of the Goblin of Uxmal”. The building is about 35 meters high and shaped like a truncated cone. Up till known, five different construction phases, each with a distinctive style have been discovered.
These modifications were undertaken so as to satisfy the functional and religious needs of each ensuing period. To the Westerly side, one can observe Temples 1, 3, 4 and 5 which are dated between the VIIIth. a century and 1050 A.D. Towards the East lies the access to Temple 2, which dates from the VIIIth. century as does the aforementioned Temple 5.
The Quadrangle of the Doves
The Great Pyramid
The Governor’s Palace. Built on a stepped platform 97.5mts long by 8mts wide and 8mts high; supposedly, the residence of the most important members of the ruling class. governor’s palace in Uxmal/Photo by Alejandro Fernandez The visual effect of movement produced by the rain-god masks jutting out from the friezes is extraordinary, as well as the filigree formed by over twenty thousand mosaics on the facade, is remarkable.
The House of the Turtles. This building is 30 mts. long and 10 mts. wide and is comprised of seven precincts. The decoration is sober and its smooth lower walls contrast with the colonnades that decorate the upper facade, where, throughout the length of the cornice, one can observe sculptures of turtles, who were important animals due to there association with rain and the Earth cycles. This temple was most surely dedicated to Aquatic Cult. The architectural style corresponds to the later phase of Flourishing Puuc or Late Uxmal (900 – 1000 A.D.)
The Old Lady’s House
The Temple of the Phalli (requires guide)
The Chimez House (requires guide)
Mask of Chac, the Rain God,
The Pillory Shrine. This shrine is built upon a square pedestal. There is a truncated cone-shaped monolith emplaced in the center which appears to have been stuccoed and upon which hieroglyphs and symbolic ornamentation were painted. Besides that, it is also known as the Flogging Block. There is, of course, a simplified version in which the stone represents the Central Tree ( “Axis Mundi”), the Ya’ axche Cab. which is mentioned in Maya Mythology. Everything indicates that it was built around the same time as the Governor’s Palace.
Throne of the Jaguar. Each side of the platform is 4.85 meters long and 1.20 meters high. It has steps on all four sides. A sculpture of a Two-Headed jaguar, which served as a throne, is placed in the middle. Diggings made between 1951 – 52 made its restoration possible and also brought to light a valuable offering from its interior. 913 pieces were found, including beads, pectorals, Jade earring, earthenware, Coraline, polished black stone, spearheads, and Flint and Obsidian knives.
Great Pyramid, or Temple of the Macaws. This truncated pyramid is made up of nine sections, built on different levels; the upper part known as the Temple of the Macaws because these tropical birds are depicted in the decoration, together with ornamental frets and fillets with entwined snakes, grotesque animal mask. etc. This pyramid probably dates to the mid 8th Century.