Mayapan Travel Blog

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Mayapan "Standard of the Maya",  is a large Maya site in the state of Yucatán, 28 miles southeast of Mérida and 65 miles west of Chichen Itza on Highway 18. The average visit time is approximately 2 hours. At my last visit most temples could be climbed. The only one that were off limit were activity being studied.

Mayapan is reported to have been the political seat of the Maya from the 1200s to the 1400s. Most of the 4 km square walled city was packed with approximately 3,500 residential buildings; Mayapan is estimated to have housed some 11,000 to 15,000 people.

In 1221 the Maya revolted against the Maya-Toltec lords of Chichen Itza.
After a short civil war the lords of many powerful cities and families met develop a new central government to Yucatan. These lords decided to build a new capital city near the town of Telchaquillo, hometown of Hunac Ceel, the general who defeated the rulers of Chichen Itza. This new capital was built with a defensive wall and named Mayapan ("Standard of the Maya people"). The chief of the Cocom family, a rich and ancient family that had taken part in the revolt against Chichen, was chosen to be king. This king asked that each of the noble families and regional lords send a members of their family to live at Mayapan. These family member were more or less state hostages. There presence at the capital would guarantee the loyalty of each noble or royal family. This arrangement lasted for over 200 years.
In 1441 AD Ah Xupan of the powerful noble family of Xiu became resentful of the political power of the Cocom rulers and organized a grand assassination of the entire Cocom family. it is believed that all were executed except one young man away of a trading mission. Mayapan was sacked, burned, and abandoned, and Yucatan fell apart into warring city states.

Today Mayapan is not as impressive as Chichen Itza of Uxmal. There are two reason contributing to this, first Mayapan was not built at the same high quality level as other older centers and the revolt ended with the roofs of every building burnt or torn down. The central pyramide and observatory of Mayapan have survived in fairly good condition and a close copies of the same structures at Chichen Itza. There were a few other moderately sized temples and a palace erected at Mayapan but the majority were smaller and of a lower quality when compared to Chichen Itza and Uxmal.
Very few Maya vaulted ceiling few constructed. most structure carried roofs of perishable materials. The ruins of Mayapan are noted for their colorful murals and original stucco molding and carving.

The Carnegie Institution in the 1950s invested five years of archeological investigations at Mayapan. In 2001 further investigations at the site were made under the direction of Grinnell College.

El Castillo de Kukulcan of Mayapan was documented by Catherwood and Stevenson. This is Stephen description: "It is sixty feet high and one hundred feet square at the base... Four grand staircases, each twenty-five feet wide, ascend to an esplanade within six feet of the top... These staircases are all in a ruinous condition; the steps are almost entirely gone, and we climbed up by means of fallen stones... The summit was a plain stone platform, fifteen feet square. It had no structure upon it, nor were there any vestiges of any... far in the distance could be discerned the towers of the church at Tekoh (Tecoh)."
sylviandavid says:
thanks for this informative blog... very nice..
Posted on: Feb 20, 2009
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photo by: jose28