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Why Travelers Should Visit Uxmal in Yucatan, Mexico

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Uxmal is one of the magnificent ancient sites you must visit in Mexico. It’s considered one of the most important and incredible Mayan archaeological sites. Located 56 miles south of Merida, the road is a free highway with almost no traffic. Here are the reasons why travelers should visit Uxmal in Yucatan, Mexico.

Tips for visiting Uxmal in Yucatan

-The schedule of Uxmal in Yucatan is from 8:00 AM  to 5:00 PM.

-If you want to avoid crowds and most organized groups that visit the archaeological site, we recommend you arrive before the time of entry. This site is not as busy as Chichen Itza; however, you’ll avoid the higher temperatures in the day if you get there early.

-At the entrance to the archaeological site of Uxmal, you’ll find all the services you can imagine: restaurants, cafeteria, shops, drink machines, and ATMs.

-The visit to Uxmal lasts about 3 hours, without rushing and stopping to take pictures.

What to see in Uxmal

The buildings of Uxmal, an ancient Mayan city, founded in the year 700 AD, were built based on their astronomical knowledge, with the Pyramid of the Magician in the ceremonial center.  This monument consists of works with elegant strokes and ornaments decorated with symbolic motifs and figurines of the god of rain.

Its buildings are of the Puuc style, a region of Yucatan where archaeological sites have been found, with highly ornamented lower walls. This style of construction takes advantage of the terrain to obtain a greater height. The Governor’s Palace and the Pyramid of the Magician, with its five levels, stand out.

Pyramid of the Magician

It is the largest building in the enclosure, 118 feet high, and considered the most important. It has a feature that makes it unique in the Mayan world: its oval-shaped base. This fact gives it two important faces, the one facing east and the one facing west, the more ornate of the two, with geometric elements and mosaics. On this façade, a staircase was built that ascends to the upper temple, flanked by masks of Chaac, the god of rain. The main access to the upper temple is made through a massive door, symbolizing the open mouth of the god Chaac, highly decorated with tiles.

The Nunnery Quadrangle

The Nunnery Quadrangle is probably the most peculiar construction you’ll see on a Mayan site. It’s a square courtyard built on a vast platform of about 390 feet on each side. Each of the facades has different decorative elements and small rooms. On the north side, the tallest, you can see the Governor’s Palace from the top of its stairs. The Nunnery Quadrangle is a royal palace and the most ornamented of all the buildings. Here you’ll admire masks of gods, human heads, monkeys, snakes, and human figures.

Ball Game Court

As in every Mayan city, there had to be a court to practice the ball game. It’s a smooth terrain where two parallel walls rise, on which a stone ring is placed on top. Each team was arranged at one end, and the game consisted of introducing a solid rubber ball through the hoop, using only hips, elbows, and knees. Although it seems somewhat harmless at first glance, the participants could lose or save their heads, depending on the game’s outcome.

House of the Turtles

At first glance, it looks like a simple temple, which is very well preserved. The interesting thing about it is the decorations that are comprised of numerous turtle shells. Hence the name of the temple.

Governor’s Palace

In the highest part of the enclosure, you’ll find the Governor’s palace divided into three structures, placed on a gigantic platform. A central staircase leads to a large ledge where you can walk, and the three main buildings rest. This building houses the best samples of Mayan sculpture. Look at the figure above the main entrance; it corresponds to a ruler who wears an imposing headdress crowned with double-headed snakes.

This building was the house of the city’s rulers, from where they could contemplate and observe every corner of their domains. In fact, from here, you have the best views of the Mayan archaeological zone of Uxmal.

The Great Pyramid

With nine floors and 98 feet high, the Great Pyramid is one of the structures that has practically not been restored. This is one of the few tall Mayan buildings you can still climb.

Next time you’re in Mexico, book your tour to Uxmal and visit this monumental site surrounded by mystery, myths, and pure history.

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Liberty

Monday 18th of October 2021

If you're in Yucatan state and don't have time to visit all the major sites, I recommend Uxmal over Chitchen Itza. There are more structures at Uxmal and you get a much stronger sense that it used to be a real city that was once lived in by many people. CI (and others in Yucatan, such ad Dzibilchaltun) are still very impressive and you should go to all of them if you can. There are several more lesser known ruins in the south too.