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    Uxmal is about an hour outside of Merida.   After escaping the busy city, a quick drive took me to the quaint, quiet little Hacienda Uxmal hotel right on the outskirts of the archaeological park.

   
 
Hotel Hotel
Hotel Hotel
 
   
   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 summer solstice.

Pyramid of the Magician Pyramid of the Magician Nunnery Quadrangle Nunnery Quadrangle Palace of the Governors Ball court South Temple

   Links 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 Unesco World Heritage site), but seems only lightly visited.  There was almost no one there.

Chaac glyph

   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.
     Pyramid 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.

Panorama of Uxmal
Panorama of Uxmal - facing north from the Great Pyramid
Pyramid Chris
Pyramid of the Magician  
Pyramid Pyramid
   The Pyramid of the Magician, at 117 feet, is the tallest structure in Uxmal.   Unusually built on an elliptical base, this pyramid is the result of five superimposed temples.  

   Pyramid of the Magician, with part of the adjoining temple complex visible (right).

Pyramid of the Magician

Chris

 

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