Uxmal, enveloped by legends, myths and anecdotes, poetic by name and by nature, is situated within a series of hills known as the “Puuc” or “mountainous area” in Maya. The name was later given to describe the architectural style of region.
Uxmal was probably was founded by the Xiues tribe during the classic Mayan period between 600 and 900 AD; the city flourished, with a population of approximately 20 000 inhabitants.
The surrounding land allowed the fabrication of the chultunes, cisterns ingeniously built by the Maya to store rainwater since cenotes don’t exist in this area. Highly fertile terrain sustained the agricultural activity necessary to support the ancient settlers. Worship of water, the earth, sun and Venus are all evident in the orientation and decoration of the structures in Uxmal.
The city of Uxmal is made up of 15 groups of buildings distributed from north to south over about 2 Km’s. Among the most noteworthy areas are the Pyramid of the Wizard, the Plaza of the Birds, the Nunnery, the Ball Court, the Governor´s Palace, the Great Pyramid, and the Pigeon House; from the northern group the old Woman´s House, the Cemetery and the Temple of the Phalli. The wide variety and quantity of buildings which exists speak of the social complexity and political, economic and religious activities which once thrived here.
The most impressive structure, reaching a height of over 35 meters is the House of the Wizard. According to legend, this pyramid in Uxmal was built in just one night by a dwarf. In reality it was built in five stages, with the staircase facing west, towards the setting sun in the summer solstices. The Convent was not named by the Spaniards for its similarity to a European convent. It was probably used as a school for healers, astrologers and priests. The Governor‘s Palace is an excellent example of the rain God Chaac, serpents and astrological symbols, and is considered the most beautiful construction in Mesoamerica for its style and imposing proportions.
The group of four elongated buildings surrounding the patio is the Nunnery. It is remarkable for its magnificent decoration with motifs, lattice motifs; Lattice-work and human figures alternating with serpents, turtle heads, owls and masks of Chaac.
It’s believed that the downfall of Uxmal was probably due to a social revolt which put an end to the governing elite. There’s a certain refined air about Uxmal that touches visitors from outset.
• Entrance to the archaeological site
Bring hat or cap, comfortable clothes, camera, bathing suit, sweater, sun block and repellent.