By now you might well be thinking one of two things; all Richard seems to do is visit Mayan ruins or; there must be a lot of Mayan ruins in Guatemala, Belize, and The Yutacan. Of course you could be thinking both. If you were on an archeological pilgrimage you could possibly spend over a year visiting them all. I cannot help bumping into a few of them as I make my journey northwards from Guatemala City to Mexico City. Mérida is no exception with – Uxmal:
Pronounced OOSH-mahl, this impressive site 50 miles from Merida, easily accessible by public transport, is one of the best restored and awe inspiring archaeological sites in the Yucatán, as captivating as Chichen Itza but without the Cancun crowds – apparently.
This was the main city and religious centre in the region for nearly 300 years in the late classical period 850-925 AD. Its architecture is characterized by low horizontal palaces set around courtyards, decorated with rich sculptural elements and details. There are two pyramids on site, one smaller one in the traditional style that you can climb, plus the unique curved Pyramid of the Magician (115 feet high) that you cannot.
While much work has been done at the popular tourist destination of Uxmal to consolidate and restore buildings, little in the way of serious archeological excavation and research has been done. The city’s dates of occupation are unknown and the estimated population (about 15,000 people) is a rough guess. Most of the city’s major construction took place while Uxmal was the capital of a Late Classic Maya state around 850-925 AD. After about 1000 AD, Toltec invaders took over, and most building ceased by 1100 AD.
It’s easy to get here from Mérida using public transport.