Uxmal…. City That Was Built Three Times

Ruins of The Americas | | May 21, 2009 at 12:05 am


Uxmal is a large pre-Columbian city of Maya Civilization in Yucatan, Mexico. It is located at a distance of 78 kilometers from Merida. Archeologists have come out with a census that the city was first inhabited as early as 800 BC. The city was abandoned in 1450 AD after the Toltec’s rose to power and established their capital in Chichen Itza.

The city at its peak was inhabited by over 30,000 people and most of the buildings in the site were constructed between 700 AD and 1100 AD. The main ruins of Uxmal are spread over an area of 150 acres and the residential district spread beyond the main ruins.

Unlike other cities in the region which were build in proximity of cenotes, Uxmal is rather unusual. There are many man-made reservoirs and were probably used for storing rain water, one of such cisterns is located just near the entrance of the ruins.

Pyramid of the Magician


It is the tallest structure in Uxmal with a height of 35 meters. It is also called the Pyramid of the Dwarf and is given this name due to a legend about a magical dwarf. It is said that the dwarf hatched out of an egg, growing to his adulthood in a single day and constructed the pyramid in a single night. The pyramid construction was started in the 6th century AD and was completed overtime in the 10th century AD. The pyramid is different from other Mayan Pyramids due to its round sides, its height and its steepness. It also has its door on rather unusual side facing the west. Archeologists have also discovered five older structures under the pyramid. Temple 5 on the top of the pyramid was constructed in 1000 AD and draws it design inspiration from the nearby Governor’s Palace. Below the Temple 5 is Temple 4 and is dedicated to the rain god Chac.

Governor’s Palace


The monument is a long low building atop a huge platform and has the longest facades in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The mosaic facade is 97 meters in length and the building has three levels. In from of the palace is an open plaza and has a Jaguar Throne and depicts a two headed jaguar often associated with Mayan Kings. The central doorway of the building is aligned with Venus.

Nunnery Quadrangle


This structure consists of four rectangular buildings with 74 rooms. The build might have been used as a place to train royal recruits and housed students, priests and teachers. All the four temples in the four buildings are decorated with Chac figures. The building was constructed in four phases in the order of northern, southern, eastern and western buildings.

A number of other temple-pyramids, quadrangles, and other monuments including the North Long Building, House of the Birds, House of the Turtles, Grand Pyramid, House of the Doves, Ball Courts and South Temple. There is a small museum that also has a collection of large number of artifacts found during excavation.

The ruins of Uxmal are a UNESCO world heritage site since 1996 and are located at a distance of 80 kilometers from Merida.


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1 Comment

  1. vareeja says:

    The ruins of Uxmal, located not far from Mérida beside a road to Campeche, has attracted many visitors since the time of Mexico’s independence.
    Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom visited on 27 February 1975 for the inauguration of the site’s sound & light show; when the presentation reached the point where the sound system played the Maya prayer to Chaac, a sudden torrential downpour fell upon the gathered dignitaries, despite the fact that it was the middle of the dry season.

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