Mayan Archaeology > Top 10

It is located 80 kilometers south of the city of Mérida, in the municipality of Santa Elena, Yucatán.


The most important Mayan city on the Puuc route.

There are two options in Uxmal: getting there early, before visitors start to arrive if possible, or in the late afternoon, when the sun is about to set. Feeling the emptiness allows one to appreciate how Uxmal has not been deserted, even though it was abandoned 1,000 years ago.

The name Uxmal, which means “thrice built” or “three harvests”, is a reference to the complexity of this city, which is located in the Puuc hills, a group of mountains where various Mayan cities were settled, breaking the monotony of the Yucatán plains.

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Its peak occurred during the late and terminal Classic period. It is considered to have been the most important city of the Puuc region, covering an area of 12 square kilometers and housing close to 20,000 inhabitants.

The importance of Uxmal is also due to the enormous amount of work invested in the construction of its buildings. This city was linked to Kabah through an 18 km long sacbé.

It was the headquarters of economic and political power of a vast region, from which the Pucc architectural style spread.

Unlike most pre-Hispanic cities, the layout of Uxmal’s structures does not seem to follow a geometric order; its spaces are organized in a more subtle way, based on two principles. Firstly, buildings are oriented according to astronomical phenomena, such as the ascension and descent of Venus. Secondly, they adapt to the topography of the land, consisting of a series of hills.

The Governor’s Palace consists of three platforms; one of them stands out due to its large dimensions. The frieze, made with stone mosaic, is one of the most beautiful and complex examples of Mayan geometric art. Also noteworthy, are the figureheads of Chac and the serpents; it is possible that the waving movement of the figureheads refers to the apparent movement of the Sun.

To the northeast there is a building called the Nunnery Quadrangle (its 26 rooms reminded the Spaniards of the cells in a convent), which consists of four elongated buildings with a façade carved around a quadrangular courtyard. The group is distinguished for its lattice work decoration, Chac and Tláloc figureheads, and serpent themes.

The most characteristic building in Uxmal is located to the right of the Nunnery Quadrangle, it is named the,House of the Magician or of the Dwarf and it is a 35 meter high pyramid. Its construction began in the 6th Century and it took over 400 years to complete the current structure, composed of the superimposition of five temples. Temples II, IV, and V are now open to visitors, but to get there, one must climb a steep 60 degree staircase, although, the climb, featuring representations of Chac, the rain god, is crowned with an unforgettable view.

Temple IV’s façade, on the upper part of the pyramid, has an expressive portrait or mask of Chac with big rectangular eyes and a moustache; its open mouth and teeth form the entrance. Temple III is behind Temple IV. Temple V is located on the summit, over the cresting of Temples II and III; it seems to be a small-scale reproduction of the Governor’s Palace.

The entrance still preserves remains of an Arch of Triumph, which was 6 meters high and marked the beginning of the sacbé (stucco-coated road) which led to the enclave of Kabac.

There are many other constructions on the site: the Pigeon Coop, which owes its name to its openwork cresting, similar to that of a pigeon coop; the House of the Turtles, named due the frieze of small turtles that surrounds the building, an animal associated to rain.

The Great Pyramid is thought to be similar to the House of the Magician, due to its magnitude, with nine staggered bases. The upper structure is named the Temple of the Macaws, since the main theme of the façade represents these birds, which blend into stands and latticework in frames formed by intertwined snakes.

The Cemetery Quadrangle has buildings on its four sides. The remains of four small platforms with embossing on the sides with hieroglyphics and skulls with eyes and headdresses are found in the courtyard.


The cost of admission for the archaeological zone is 57.00 pesos (plus an additional 60 peso fee on behalf of CULTU.00 pesos (adicionalmente se debe cubrir un cuota por parte de CULTUR con la cantidad de 60 pesos). El total por los dos boletos 111 pesos.


Monday through Sunday from 8:00 to 17:00

How to arrive

Depart Mérida towards Campeche through the southwest city exit towards Federal Highway 180 Mérida-Calkini. 10 kilometers ahead, take Federal Highway 261 Hopelchen-Uman and continue south for 51 kilometers to reach the archaeological zone of Uxmal.



Wear comfortable footwear, preferably sport, which allows you to easily walk and access the different areas of the archaeological site.


Prior to arrival, check the weather conditions and choose the right time by clicking here.


Remember the importance of respecting and keeping the space you are visiting clean.