Location: Yucatan Region in Mexico, between Merida and Cancun
Significance: Mayan ruins, Puuc Architectural Remains, and Pyramids
How to Reach: Uxmal can be approached from both Merida and Cancun. Conducted bus tours are easily available from Merida’s Terminal de Segunda Clase. Reach Uxmal, wander around the site at your own leisure. The bus will pick you up on your way back. The site is about 140 km. from Cancun.
Entry Fee: The general entry fee is around $8 USD. There are different charges for different museums, but you can enjoy free entries on Sundays.
Nearest International Airport: Merida International Airport (MID)
On 25th February 1975, an inexplicable event surprised many who gathered at the historic ruins of Uxmal in the Yucatan region of Mexico. It was the inauguration of the light and sound show, and the audience included noted dignitaries from all around the world, including Queen Elizabeth II of England. It was the middle of the dry season, and the show started off in the most usual manner, till it reached the time when the sound system started playing the ancient Maya prayer to Chaac — the rain god. Literally, out the blue, a sudden torrential downpour started and drenched everyone in the dignitaries. Visiting the ruins of Uxmal can feel you with a sense of deep mysticism and wonderful.
Uxmal is one of the best-preserved Maya archeological sites in Mexico. It has some of the best stone constructions and best-preserved pyramids of the civilization. In Uxmal, you can get one of the best views of the way of life of the ancient Mayas because it is one of the best-preserved Maya sites in the whole of South Africa.
Despite being one of the best-preserved Mayan sites, very little is known about the exact history of this place. Archaeological excavations that have been carried out in this site is considered minimum. There is no clear consensus on when the site was occupied or how many people inhabited it before it fell to ruin towards the end of the 16th century. All the buildings, however, date between 700 and 1100 AD, and there is not construction later than 1200.
According to the Maya chronicles, Uxmal was founded in 500 AD and became the official capital of the Xiu family for generations. In alliance with Chichen Itza, it became of the most powerful site of the northern Maya area. However, its importance started to dwindle after the fall of Chichen Itza, and the shift of the Mayan power to Mayapan. The Xiu family also shifted its capital to Mani, and no Spanish town was built there even after the Spanish conquest of Yucatan. As a result, Uxmal gradually sunk into obscurity. However, this obscurity was the result of the better state of preservation of the Mayan architectures of this region.
Things to do
The greatest attraction of Uxmal is exploring the many Mayan ruins of the region. Some of the most popular sites of Uxmal are:
Adivino: This unusual pyramid has oval steps leading up to the temple, and is probably the site from where the place derives its name. Uxmal literally means ‘thrice built’, and this pyramid shows clear signs of being rebuilt at least three times. This temple was built on a previous pyramid, as was the common Mayan custom. However, it is not built directly on the top but is a little aligned to the east. As such, you can explore both the old pyramid and the new pyramid separately. This strange construction is also known as the Pyramid of the Magician, and evidence suggests that this was a probable place for human sacrifice in Maya days.
Ballcourt: This is the large area used for playing ballgame in the Mayan way. This was dedicated to Lord Chac, or the ruler Chan Chak K’ak’nal Ajaw in 901.
Nunnery Quadrangle: This is one of Uxmal’s most magnificent quadrangles. There are carved facades on both the inside and the outside walls of this building. It is a wonderful specimen of Puuc architecture, with a plane lower base and highly ornate roofs.
There are a number of other important sightseeing destinations in Uxmal. Some of these popular sites are the Palace of the Governor, the House of the Turtles located next to it, and the Grand Pyramid. They are all wonderful constructions in the Puuc architectural style.
Accommodation and Dining
Uxmal may not yet have the heavy footfall of Chichen Itza. However, there is a steady influx of tourists from all over the world, and its popularity is actually on the rise. As a result, a number of budget hotels have actually come up in the city in recent years. There are quite a few luxury hotels as well. However, prior booking is recommended for anyone planning a trip to the ruins of Uxmal. Some of the most popular hotels are:
- The Lodge
- Mision Uxmal
- Hacienda Uxmal
- Villas Uxmal Club Med
- Mision Uxmal Park Inn
Most hotels have quality dining facilities. However, if you are looking for a restaurant, then the Pickled Onion is a great place to eat. The Uxmal Restaurant is also becoming increasingly popular.
Related Links :
http://locogringo.com/past_spotlights/nov2001.html: See wonderful pictures of the main sites of Uxmal and learn more about their history in this beautifully written travel blog. You will also get answers to lots of tour-related questions.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVSUD-PVovI: For views of some of the most popular sightseeing destination in Uxmal, click on this link!