Ek' Balam the Black Jaguar

Ekbalam Travel Blog

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Ek' Balam "Black Jaguar" is located 114 miles east of the city of Mérida, Yucatan, and can be reached over highway 295 to Tizimin.
Ek' Balam sought and may have achieved a high status in public affairs and preferred trade in the eastern Yucatan based the great investment made in monumental architecture. The first structure you find when entering the
Ek Balam arch that is a four-sided located over one of the sacbes or roads that were used to connect various ancient cities. To the right of this building is the Palacio Oval which is a semi-spiral shaped tower. Another building worth seeing is El Juego de Pelota (Ball Court) and Las Gemelas (The Twins). Visually the most impressive of the monumental structures is the grand central plaza with three massive ceremonial structures.
This complex also features several smaller temples, altars, and elite residences. The main pyramid platform, "The Tower" is comparable in size (100 feet high, 517 feet long, and 200 feet wide) with any Mayan structure in northeastern Yucatan. The central plaza complex that includes 310 acres is surrounded by two low walls.  Conservation work conducted in 1987 revealed a network of sacbeob (white roads), linking parts of this site. some of these sacbe are more than a mile in length. Ek' Balam was first occupied prior to 100 BC. This occupation continued after the arrival of the Spanish. Archeological evidence suggests that Ek'Balam was a dominate power from 400 AD to 600 AD or the Early Classic period. Archaeological evidence suggests that Ek' Balam was subservient to a provincial capital called TIKIBALON ("black tiger"), ruled by Couch Cal Balam ("Everyone's overlord").

Ek' Balam entered a period of urban renewal that lasted from 700 AD to 1000 AD. During this time many older buildings were enlarged to how they appear today. During this time Ek' Balam control the entire region north of Valladolid. Restoration at Ek'Balam has been constant since 1997. The Acropolis is the largest structure to be restored. It measures 480 feet by 180 feet with a maximum height of 96 feet. This structure has been enlarged over time to be six levels. It is likely that the highest ranking people of the state resided in this structure. It is permitted to climb this structure. From the top the entire site can be viewed. The entrance of the Acropolis is guarded by a carved stone monster-like figure that is thought to be from the underworld. Ek' Balam is a joy to visit, because it is never crowded with tourists. The facilities are limited to one restroom and their are no food and refreshment vendors present at the site. So up must plan ahead and pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the site. Ek Balam is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, the entrance fee was 79 pesos. There is an additional fee for tripods and movie cameras. This site was still free on Sundays and holidays.
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photo by: agarcia