Sayil Travel Blog

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Sayil is a small Classic Maya Puuc site that is located about 2 miles south of Kabah on the Puuc Route, about 2 miles east of Route 261 at Latitude 20° 14' 0" North, by Longitude 89° 39' 0" West. Sayil is located amongst small hills. It was first occupied prior to 250 AD, monumental building began around 600 AD but was at its zenith between 700 AD and 1000 AD. The maximum population is estimated to have been less than 10,000. It is likely that Sayil was an ally to Uxmal due to its much smaller size and its close proximity.It is also connected to Uxmal with a sacbe (white road).

Structures to visit are El Palacio which is a 3 stories tall with 98 room and it is 280 feet long; El Mirador which is a small 5 room Chenes style structure with a roof comb and the ball court.

El Palacio at Sayil is one of the most beautiful of all Maya structures, this palace is just one step below the imposing Palace of the Governor and the Nunnery Quadrangle at Uxmal. El Palacio is the most important building at Sayil. The building phases for this structure spanned from just prior to 670 AD to around 1000 AD. The long low form set on a large platform just draws you into the site. El Palacio is on three levels and contains 98 rooms. The front facade faces south and looks down on the entrance to the grand sacbe (white road). The first and third levels each have an interior corridor. Both of these corridors were in a poor state on my last visit. The second level, the most highly ornamented of the three levels has two corridors. There is a grand stairway that leads you from the ground to each of the three levels.

The roofs of the first and second levels serve as patios for each level above. The Maya engineers took advantage of the incline of a hill and recessed each successive level back further on the hill to bear the majority of the weight of each level. This is a contributing reason for the fine condition of this large and heavy structure. The exterior walls of the second level with the distinctive columns of the Classic Puuc architecture. The columns are used in a number of way, as supports for all lintels, as decoration (false support columns) between doorways, as frieze panels above doorways and finally as breaks between the large stylized long nosed Chaac Masks and the God "Ah Mucen Cab", the "Bee God" or the "Descending God" that is linked to Venus worship and "Kukulkán" (the feathered serpent).
You should climb to the top level of El Palacio and look down and to the north to see the water system for this structure. You can see several chultunes (stuccoed, stone lined cisterns) used to collect and store rain water. Some of these chultunes are larger than 15,000 gallons. There is a local superstition that El Palacio is haunted. It is said that there is music produced from this structure on every Good Friday.

El Mirador can be found by taking the path leading south from El Palacio for about 1,300 feet. El Mirador was constructed prior to 600 AD. This is a small (5 room) Chenes structure with a roof comb. This is a very early example of a roof comb. There is still red paint visible in some of the recesses of the roof comb. I recommend a telephoto lens of binoculars to see the red paint.

Sayil also has a ball court and several small palaces. On my last visit there had been little to no reconstruction or consolidation to these more minor structures.

There are two sacbe (white roads) to explore. You can follow a sacbe to either Uxmal or Kabah.

The parking lot is adequate and there are a number of arts and craft shops adjacent to the entrance on my last visit.

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photo by: geokid