Uxmal Travel Guide

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Uxmal Overview

The Uxmal Ruins which date back to 9th or 10th century and are considered one of the highlights of Puuc architecture. Puuc means “hilly country” in Mayan and the architecture is very ornate with elaborately carved stones all over the multi-tiered buildings. They definitely are quite different than Chichen Itza or Tulum and well worth the visit.

The grounds are pretty vast and you start by walking to Pirámide del Adivino or the "Magician’s Pyramid" which at over one hundred feet is the tallest building at Uxmal. Legend also calls this the Pyramid of the Dwarf because a magical dwarf hatched from an egg and fully grown in just one day reputedly built the pyramid in a single night. The pyramid is somewhat unique in the Yucatan because of its rounded sides, height, and steepness. There are very ornate geometric carvings as well as some diety carvings on lots of the corners, supposedly of the Rain God “Chac” all over the place.

The Cuadranglo de los Monjas or the "Nunnery Quadrangle" was a military academy or a training school for Mayan princes.
Cuadrangulo de las Monjas Uxmal

A big grass lawn is surrounded on all four sides by long, terraced buildings with dozens of rooms on each side, most of them filled with pigeons or bats.A lot of the detailed, geometric carvings are now worn away but you can still see some really nice ones of long serpent tails or the jaguar heads on the rounded corners.

The Palacio del Gobernador is on a small hill with a massive, three tiered building over three hundred feet long and again, richly adorned with geometric carvings. They think the building was administrative but may have some kind of astrological significance to the region as well. The Casa de las Tortugas or "House of the Turtles" is a simple rectangular building on the same raised terrace.

From there you can visit the Grande Piramide or "Great Pyramid" on a lower-level plaza which is over 260 feet on each side. The top of the pyramid has the Temple of the Macaws, three other ruined temples, and some spectacular views of the rest of the site (admittedly after a treacherous and heart pounding climb up some very dicey steps). A nice breeze blasts across the top of the Pyramid cooling after the steep hike up.

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