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Location Uxmal Archaeological Site

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Uxmal Archaeological Site

Location: Merida  |  Yucatan  |  Mexico

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Language: Spanish
Uxmal, the largest religious center in the Puuc Region.

The term Puuc (pronounced POOK), which in Maya means HILL or MOUNTAIN RANGE indicates both a Maya region in northeast and southwest Yucatan as well as an architectural style that characterized a series of Maya sites during the late and terminal classic of ~AD 600-1000.

The Puuc as a geographic region is characterized by a steep topography and a dramatic lack of water, even though it does have a good amount of fertile lands. This region saw one of the most important florescence of Maya architecture.

The Puuc style originated in this region and then spread across a wide area of the Yucatán Peninsula during the Late and Terminal Classic. Typical of this style are elaborated stone-mosaics that decorated the building facades with geometric motifs, along with the presence of stone masks, usually representing the Maya rain god Chac located at the external corners of the structures. Inward and outward friezes and mouldings were also used to create light effects.

Description The name “Kabah” probably comes from ancient Mayan, meaning “Strong Hand”.

Uxmal is located south west, towards Campeche, 80 km from Mérida. Known as “The Three Times Built”, is one of the archaeological sites of the Mayan culture whose architecture is the most impressive of Yucatán. Known as “the three times built”, is one of the archaeological sites of the Mayan culture whose architecture is the most majestic of the Yucatan. Its beauty is characterized by low horizontal palaces, set around courtyards or quadrangles, which are decorated with rich sculptural elements and details made from thousands of small stones forming perfectly polished and adjusted geometric mosaics unmatched perfection throughout the area maya.

Make up the city 15 groups of buildings, spread from north to south, in an area of about two kilometers. Among them: The Pyramid of the Magician, with his’ Square Birds, the Nunnery, the Ball Court, the Governor’s Palace, the Great Pyramid and the Palomar, and the North Group, the Casa de la Vieja, the Graveyard and the Temple of Dongs. Uxmal, a city with a certain subtle, that just contemplate, visitors can touch.

Kabah is an archaeological zone located in the Puuc region, in the Yucatán peninsula and it is important because the city’s name is mentioned in the Chumayel’s Book of Chilam Balam. It is commonly believed that the sites in the Puuc region were occupied between 600 and 900 A.D., but it is undeniable that sites such as Kabah go back to at least the early Classic period.

Recent research suggests that Uxmal experienced a boom in the late ninth century AD, when it became a regional capital. Uxmal is connected to Nohbat and Kabah by a system of causeways (called sacbeob) stretching 18 kilometers to the east. Archaeologists associated with Uxmal include J. P. Kowalski, Nicholas Dunning, Franz Blom, and M. Foncerrada de Molina.

The site was connected to Uxmal by an 18 kilometer long and 5 meter wide elevated pedestrian road (sacbé) with arches on both ends.

The zone occupies an area of 1.2 square kilometers and it is believed that the surrounding mounds are structures that have not yet been excavated. Mayan architects raised the large platforms on the hills, on which they organized the open spaces and buildings. Steps had a vital role in the city’s planning, as the Mayans obtained access to public or private spaces through them.

The city is arranged around a north to south axis. The buildings are connected by road. Buildings are grouped in two sections, one to the east and another to the west of the main north-south axis.

The main focus of the western courtyard is the Codz Pop Building, “Rolled up Matting”. The most outstanding trait of this building are the figureheads of Chaac, which completely cover its facades, while the eastern front is decorated with lattice windows and anthropomorphic sculptures which represent king Kabah. In front of Codz Poop is an altar with hieroglyphics relating the city to Uxmal. West of the site is an Arch, which marks the entrance to the site for people coming from Uxmal.

The Palace is a group of about 12 structures, including altars, low platforms, and units with 32 and 36 rooms, in two levels.

The Palace and Codz Poop are so complex that they confirm the theory that Kabah was a city comparable to Uxmal. The archaeological region of which Kabah is part of, includes the sites of Uxmal, Labná, Sayil, and Xlapak, and was declared as World Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO under the name “Pre-Columbian Village of Uxmal”, on December 7th, 1996.

The Pyramid of the Magician, also known as the House of the Dwarf (Casa del Adivino, or Casa del Enano), is one of the most famous Maya monuments of Uxmal, an archaeological site in the Puuc region of Yucatan, in the northern Maya Lowland of Mexico.

Its name comes from a Maya tale of the 19th century, titled the Leyenda del Enano de Uxmal (The Legend of the Uxmal’s Dwarf). According to this legend, a dwarf constructed the pyramid in one night, helped by his mother, a witch. This building is one of the most impressive of Uxmal, measuring about 115 feet in height. It was constructed over the Late and Terminal Classic periods, between AD 600 and 1000, and five constructive phases have been detected. The one visible today is the latest one, built around AD 900-1000.

The pyramid, over which the actual temple stands, has a peculiar elliptical form. Two staircases lead to the top of the pyramid. The Eastern staircase, the wider, has a small temple along the way that cut the stairway in half. The second access stair, the Western, faces the Nunnery Quadrangle and is decorated with friezes of the rain god Chaac.

The Pyramid of the Magician is the first building a visitor encounters entering the ceremonial area of Uxmal, just north of the Ball Game Court and the Palace of the Governor and east of the Nunnery Quadrangle.

Several phases of the temple constructed on top the pyramid are visible while ascending the pyramid from the base to the top. Five construction phases have been detected (Temple I, II, III, IV, V). The facades of the different phases were decorated with stone masks of the rain god Chaac, typical of the Puuc architectural style of the region.

The Governor’s Palace is a long low building atop a huge platform. Built in the 9th and 10th centuries, its 320 foot long mosaic facade is one of the longest in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and features 103 stone masks of the rain god Chac. There is an open plaza in front of the Palace containing the Jaguar Throne, carved like a two-headed jaguar. The Governor’s Palace may have had astrological significance as well. It is slightly turned from the other buildings around it, so that its central doorway is in alignment with Venus.

A large ballcourt for playing the MesoAmerican ballgame is inscribed with hieroglyphics informing us that it was dedicated in the year 901.

Several other temple-pyramids, quadrangles, and monuments, some of significant size, and in varying states of preservation, are also at Uxmal. The majority of hieroglyphics are on collections of stone Stella depicting the ancient rulers grouped together on single platforms.

Unlike most other prehispanic towns, Uxmal is not laid out geometrically. Its space is organized in relation to astronomical phenomena, such as the rising and setting of Venus, and adapted to the topography of the site, made up of a series of hills. The main characteristic of Puuc architecture is the division of the facades of buildings into two horizontal elements. The lower of these is plain and composed of carefully dressed blocks broken only by doorways. The upper level, by contrast, is richly decorated with symbolic motifs in a very plastic style; the individual blocks make up a form of mosaic. There are sculptures over the doorways and at the corners of the upper level, almost invariably composed of representations of the head of Chaac, the rain-god.

From the Nunnery, sober set of four long buildings surrounding a courtyard, will present the spectacle of light and sound, which narrates Mayan legends of the region that gave life to this mystical place. Offered daily at 19:00 during winter and spring and 20:00 in summer and autumn, with simultaneous translation.


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