Secrets of the Yucatán – Mayan Ruins

mayan1

The Yucatán Peninsula is called the Mayan Peninsula for a reason, since great Mayan cities have been established here. The most famous of those is without a doubt Chichen Itza. But there are many other interesting (smaller) sites, such as the ones listed below.

Calakmul

balamku
calakmul_jaguar

The ancient Mayan City of Calakmul is located deep in the jungle of the Calakmul biosphere reserve, close to the Guatemalan border in the state of Campeche. The so-called Snake Kingdom was really powerful, with a population of over 50.000 people, and reigned during most of the Classic period. Considered an important part of Mayan history, it’s now listed as UNESCO heritage. The site was rediscovered in 1931 and currently consists of 6,750 ancient structures, including the Great Pyramid, but there are still a lot of cities and temples yet to be discovered in this area.

Given its beautiful isolated location it’s definitely worth a visit, so go with us on a 3-day trip to Calakmul.

Ek Balam

ek_balam_pyramid
izamal

Located about 20 minutes north of Valladolid the Mayan site of Ek Balam is rarely visited by tourists and therefore you can find yourself almost walking alone between the ancient temples and structures. Something that’s less likely to occur at other Mayan cities.

Ek Balam was inhabited for a 1000 years, a very long time since the average life span of a Mayan city is about 500 years. Archaeologists believe that Ek Balam was the agricultural center of Northwestern Yucatan. The plaza is impressive and the majestic Tower, El Torre, is one of the largest Mayan structures in the Yucatan. This building is unique, because underneath the first layer of the tower you can see the tomb of the ruler of Ek Balam. The doorway is a large jaguar’s mouth, which refers to the Mayan name of Ek Balam “Black Jaguar”. Even those people who have seen many Mayan ruins already, will be blown away by the amazing figure statues, Hieroglyphs and wall paintings inside the tower.

If you would like to see this for yourself, join our Ek Balam Tour.  

Muyil

ek_balam_pyramid
izamal

The Mayan site of Muyil is hidden in the jungle, a small jewel unknown to most tourists. The ruins are an example of Peten architecture, with steep walled pyramids such as Tikal in Guatemala. Fifteen kilometers south of Tulum, Muyil was located along a trade route on the Caribbean once accessible via a series of canals. They used to trade Jade, obsidian, chocolate, honey, feathers, chewing gum, and salt. Situated on the Sian Ka’an lagoon, it makes a great day trip combining Mayan culture and nature.

We offer a great combination tour to the ruins of Muyil and the beautiful reserve of Sian Ka’an. 

Uxmal

ek_balam_pyramid
izamal

Uxmal is one of the best preserved Maya cities and therefore able to give you a great insight into how the ancient Mayas used to live. The city is located south of Merida and was founded by the Xiu family around the year 500. Uxmal had an alliance with Chichen Itza and used to be the most powerful site in west Yucatan. Because of its significance the city is listed as UNESCO world heritage. The name Uxmal means ‘3 times build’, which shows a lot of work was put into creating this city. The buildings on the site are big and rich in decoration. The Pyramid of the Magician consists of five levels, and the Governor’s Palace covers an area of more than 1,200 m2. Besides the structures are in really good condition and are the best representative of the Puuc style.