Maya // Uxmal
The first in a series of posts about Mayan archaeological sites in North and Central America. After a quick tease from Uxmal — the House of the Doves – I thought I’d start with this grand city in the Yucatán. Of all the Mayan sites I’ve explored, Uxmal holds a special place in my heart. It was on my first Mayan adventure in 2008 when myself, Sandra and Jon travelled the peninsula after a family holiday. We had a daytrip to Chichén Itzá for the wow factor earlier on, then rented some wheels for a trip around the Puuc region – the Yucatán’s only really hilly area – to explore some more off-the-beaten-path sites. More on these in upcoming posts.
Uxmal is an impressive site. First of all, it is massive and features a number of pyramids and temples as well as very large courtyards, roomed quarters, a ballcourt and remnants of the sacbe road connecting with other sites. It’s also practically empty. After the tourist crush of Chichén Itzá (it is a wonder of the world after all), it was refreshing to have Uxmal mostly to ourselves. Aside from the ubiquitous Green Iguana and the odd vulture, of course.
Described as one of the masterworks of Maya civilization, Uxmal features intricate and expansive stonework, unique architecture in the oval Pyramid of the Magician, the improbably steep steps up the Grand Pyramid and the wonders atop, the stunning ruins of House of the Doves, the boggling Nunnery Quadrangle and tributes to Chaac (the rain deity) everywhere. Making use of the hilly landscape, Uxmal will not disappoint even the casual Mayan explorer and it’s hard not to gape at this place, built between 700-1000AD and supporting a population up to 25,000 at the time. It is not to be missed, and a fitting start to the beautiful ruins of the Puuc route just down the road.
Uxmal, Yucatán, México, 2008.