Dzibilchaltún means in Mayan ‘the place where there is scripture in the stones’ an illusion to the numerous commemorative tombstones found in the site. According to the experts there were settlements since 500b.c or possibly before and lasted until the Spanish conquest around the year 1540a.d.
The settlement spanned some 19km2, where they have found around 8,400 structures. The central part is composed of numerous monumental constructions that extends 25 hectares. In the rest of the area architectural groups can be found dispersed with pyramids and vaulted buildings. It is believed that it could have reached a population of 40,000 inhabitants which places it as on the biggest ancient cities of Mesoamerica.
With its closeness to the coast, their economy took advantage of so many marine products from the gulf, producing salt, making tools from shells and consuming food from the sea as well as from the land, planting and harvesting maize.
The steles, where the number 19 stands out, is considered one of the masterpieces of Mayan sculptural art, it highlights ‘true masonry’, which is stones joined with mortar and wedges.
The city conserves 12 sacbes (mayan roads), the majority of which traverse the center and are directed towards the constructions in the outer areas. One of these arrives to the cenote (underground river) Xlakah which in Mayan means ‘old town’ one of the biggest and deepest found until today in the Yucatan and from which a large number of archaeological pieces have been rescued, namely vases. Its crystal waters covered with floating lilies make this place unbelievably beautiful.
The most outstanding building of this zone is The Temple of the Seven Dolls or Temple of the Sun. It is a quadrangular substructure that was once a monumental temple and named by an offering that was found in its interior of seven clay figures with human forms.
The archaeo-astronomical phenomenon of the equinox occurs in Dzibilchaltún on the 21st March and 21st September at sunrise when the door of The Temple of the Seven Dolls is illuminated by the sun on the horizon and in an exact moment, the celestial disc is in the center of the door creating a light and shadow spectacle. On these days you can observe the incredible astronomical precision of the Mayans integrated with their architecture. The Mayans used the sun as a base for the planning of their lives due to the dependence on agriculture. With the spring equinox they would plant and the fall equinox was the harvest.
Dzibilchaltún brings together in one place a pre-Hispanic city, an eco-archaeological park and a museum of the Mayan people which holds Mayan and Spanish relics, from objects of clay to painting, weapons and Spanish armoury, various Mayan stelae, carved stones and figures in excellent conditions. It also has a Franciscan chapel from the XVI century in the middle of the Mayan city.
From the city of Merida, Yucatan, in the direction of the north coast go 8 km on the Merida-Puerto Progreso highway (number 261) and take the deviation that take you to the towns of Chablekal and Conkal, then the town of Dzibilchaltún and take the deviation to the archaeological zone. Visitors can also get there with public transport.
In this zone the following services are available: parking, tourist lookout, guided tours, bathrooms and arts and crafts shops.
Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 4pm.
Read about other mayan ruins here: