Uxmal is about an hour outside of Merida.
After escaping the busy city, a quick drive took me to the quaint, quiet
Hacienda Uxmal hotel right on the outskirts of the archaeological park.
Uxmal was the greatest metropolitan and religious center in the Puuc
hills of Yucatan during the late Classical period, flourishing
between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D., with some 25,000
inhabitants. Uxmal translates as 'thrice built' and, whatever
the actual number, the numerous building phases are reflected in a
variety of architectural styles. The city was abandoned in the 10th
century after apparently coming under Toltec influence.
The layout of the buildings reveals a knowledge of astronomy.
It is also interesting to note that the entire city is aligned with
reference to the position of the planets then known, with Venus
predominating, and that the pyramid of the magician is oriented so
that its stairway on the west faces the setting sun at the time of
Web site with maps and photos
Click on the map to see details
Uxmal is one of the premier sites of Mayan
architecture, rivaled in the Yucatan by only Chichen Itza (and it's a
Heritage site), but seems only lightly visited. There was almost
no one there.
Puuc architecture has several
predominant features, most notably constructions with a plain lower
section and a richly decorated upper section. Carvings most commonly
found include serpents, lattice work and masks of the rain god Chaac.
Chaac figures prominantly in the
architecture at Uxmal. The seemingly obsessive use of
Chaac here is paralled only by the Kodz pop at Kabah.
of the Magician
According to an ancient legend, of various different tellings, a
magician-god named Itzamna was single handedly supposed to have
constructed the pyramid in one night. From archaeological excavation
however, we know that the pyramid was constructed in five
superimposed phases. The legendary association of the pyramid with a
magician may be understood as an indication that the structure, and
indeed the entire sacred part of the Uxmal complex, had ancient and
ongoing use as a mystery school and ceremonial center.