The Ruins of Uxmal

Uxmal Travel Blog

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Casa del Adivino Uxmal
Monday, October 26, 2009
A short drive later and we arrived at 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 really ornate with very elaborate stone carvings 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.
Casa del Adivino Details 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 - sounds pretty hokey to me.  The pyramid is somewhat unique in the Yucatan because of its rounded sides, height, and steepness.  Workers are currently painstakingly restoring the building which was apparently built on five earlier Mayan structures. When I say steep, I mean steep with uneven, narrow stairs - you definitely don't want to take a header off of this building. 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.

We kind of wandered around haphazardly and came upon the Cuadranglo de los Monjas or the "Nunnery Quadrangle" which was supposed to have been 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 stinky pigeons or bats or some other bird that craps a lot.  A lot of the detailed, geometric carvings are now worn away but you can still see some really cool ones like the long serpent tail in the picture below or the jaguar heads on the rounded corners.  

The Palacio del Gobernador or the "Governor’s Palace" was our next stop.  Climbing up a small hill you come across a flat plain 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.  We walked around the perimeter of the building and then down to the small but cool Casa de las Tortugas or "House of the Turtles" which is a simple rectangular building on the same raised terrace.
Cuadrangulo de las Monjas Uxmal
The temple is named for the carvings of small turtles in procession around the top of building which are kind of fun.

Scrambling down the hill 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 you down after the steep climb and we had the good fortune to spy the emerald green lizard in the picture below which we took as a sign of good luck.  

After admiring the view and catching our breath, we decided we had seen enough ruins to last the rest of the vacation so carefully scrambled down and headed off on the road to Campeche.

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Casa del Adivino Uxmal
Casa del Adivino Uxmal
Casa del Adivino Details Uxmal
Casa del Adivino Details Uxmal
Cuadrangulo de las Monjas Uxmal
Cuadrangulo de las Monjas Uxmal
Cuadrangulo de las Monjas Uxmal
Cuadrangulo de las Monjas Uxmal
Cuadrangulo de las Monjas Carvings…
Cuadrangulo de las Monjas Carving…
Cuadrangulo de las Monjas Carvings…
Cuadrangulo de las Monjas Carving…
Palacio del Gobernador Uxmal
Palacio del Gobernador Uxmal
Palacio del Gobernador Uxmal
Palacio del Gobernador Uxmal
Casa de las Tortugas Uxmal
Casa de las Tortugas Uxmal
Emerald Lizard at Uxmal
Emerald Lizard at Uxmal
Cemetario at Uxmal
Cemetario at Uxmal
View from Grande Piramide Uxmal
View from Grande Piramide Uxmal
Uxmal
photo by: Biedjee