Izamal Travel Blog

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Izamal is 40 miles East of Mérida, Yucatán, at 20.93° North X 89.02° West. The modern town of Izamal is a small city, with a population of 18,000 individuals. Modern Izamal nick name is "The Yellow City" because most of its buildings are painted yellow. Izamal is also known as "The City of Hills", the hills are not part of the natural terrain, this "hills" are all overgrown ancient Mayan structures. Izamal has been continuously occupied since 2200 BC. Ancient Izamal was probably the biggest city on the Northern Yucatec Plain during the Classic period. It covered more than 25 square miles. Its monumental buildings exceeded 1,000,000 cubic yards of volume. Izamal controlled over 2,500 square miles of territory.
Izamal developed a construction system utilizing megalithic carved blocks, buildings with rounded exterior corners and projected moldings. Izamal was partially abandoned with the rise of Chichen Itza in the Terminal Classic (800 AD to 1000 AD). After the arrival of the Spanish, Izamal was considered a site of pilgrimages in the region, rivaled only by Chichen Itza.   Twenty structures remain of the site from the Classic period, most of these structures surrounds the largest and best preserved, Kinich-Kak-Moo ("The Sun as the Red Macaw"). Kinich-Kak-Moo is the largest and best preserved. This pyramid is 670 feet by 615 feet. The base of Kinich Kak Mo covers over 2 acres of ground and has a volume of more than 710,000 cubic yards.
sitting on top of Kinich-Kak-Moo base is a stepped pyramid of 10 levels.   Four other huge Pre-Columbian structures are still easily visible at Izamal. To the south-east of Kinich-Kak-Moo is another great temple, "Itzamatul" located on the south side of the main main plaza. Another huge building, "Ppap Hol Chak" Partially destroyed when used as building materials by the Spanish to construct the Franciscan Mission during the 16th Century. On the southwest side of the main plaza was another pyramid, "Hun Pik Tok", and to the west is a temple known as "Kabul". There originally where great stucco masks on the facade of this structure. One was still present when Frederick Catherwood visited Izamal in the 1840's. Fortunately he made a detailed drawing. Unfortunately Catherwood did not always accurately depict Maya structures. There are a number of important residential buildings which have been restored and can be visited. They are Xtul "The Rabbit", Habuc and Chaltun Ha. Izamal original spread over 26 square miles. Two sacbe "white road" exit the city for Ake and Kantunil, 15 and 9 miles away respectively. Izamal control more than 2500 square miles of territory. Currently archaeologists at Izamal have documented over 163 archaeologically important structures, and more than 3,000 residential structures.
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photo by: jose28