The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Uxmal, which is Mayan for “built three times,” is believed to have been abandoned shortly before the Spanish arrived in the 15th century. Research and restoration work is still conducted to determine historical details, but it appears the area experienced initial construction as early as 850 BC. Uxmal, once a prominent location for the Mayans, diminished as other Toltec invaders and cultures moved in.
Uxmal in Yucatan was once home to an estimated 25,000 people, but those crowds aren’t even remotely seen here today as Chichen Itza, the second most visited site in Mexico, tends to draw more visitors from the nearby beach resorts. What sets the Uxmal ruins apart is the Magician’s Pyramid, also known as the Pyramid of the Dwarf, which rises 115 feet (35 meters) above the surrounding structures. It is believed to be unique among Mayan constructions, with its rounded sides and height, and even gradient, as it towers over the sprawling 150-acre complex. The Magician’s Pyramid is adorned with beautiful temples and decorations, some being built as late as AD 1000.
A number of other fascinating structures litter the grounds and are also worth experiencing. The Nunnery Quadrangle (a possible military academy) and the Governor’s Palace (both named by the Spanish) are two of the most important and worthwhile. Although elaborate carvings and adornments can be found around both buildings, of particular note is the 320-foot (97 meter) long mosaic facade on the Governor’s Palace. It is definitely worth closer inspection, as is the Jaguar Throne (an animal associated with Mayan kings) in the front of the structure. The ceremonial causeway that links Uxmal with Kabah, once a trading centre 11 miles (18 km) to the south, is definitely worthy of a visit.
Some travellers today are attracted to the Mayan sites because of the 2012 apocalyptic predictions from the Mayan calendar. Many historians and scientists argue against the popular culture, saying that there is very little fact indicating such an occurrence. Nonetheless, revitalization in the interest of these places is happening. Now is a great time to take advantage of it and experience a fascinating and exotic place, close to the relaxing resort life, that once held great sway in the world.
When to Go to Uxmal Yucatan
Odds n' Ends
Also, make sure to have a good pair of walking or hiking shoes that you can wear for the day as you're sure to cover some ground. Uxmal isn't small and won't be fun in the flip flops you'd wear to the beach, so make sure to come prepared for the best experience.
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