Uxmal is Famous for its Magical Pyramid

Posted in North America | April 6, 2010 | 0 Comments


Located in the state of Yucatan in Mexico on highway 261 off the way to Campeche, Uxmal is a large ruined city of the Maya empire of the Pre-Columbia. Pronounced as Oosh-mahl, the name is Pre-Columbian, which means Built Three Times; however being under dispute currently. According to the Maya archives, Uxmal was discovered around 500 A.D. by Hun Uitzil Chac Tutul Xiu of the Xiu family. In its time, the site was the most commanding one and was allied with Chichen Itza. All of its current architecture date back between 700 to 1100 A.D. After 1200 A.D., the city saw its decline perhaps due to the fall of its partner Chichen Itza and the transfer of power.

The Site

Uxmal is among a few Maya sites, which was in good condition even before it was restored. This gives you and me a fair idea of how the original site must have been. Most of the structures are built with stones well cut and joined without plaster. The Maya architecture of this site resembles the grace and charm of that at Palenque.

I visited some of the most important buildings. The Governor’s Palace is a long building standing on a big platform exhibiting the longest facades of Mesoamerica. Next, the famous Adivino, also known as the Pyramid of the Magician or the Pyramid of the Dwarf, refers to a stepped pyramid edifice. This differs from the normal Maya structures in the sense that the sketch of its layers’ is oval rather than being a rectilinear outline. Other distinguishing feature is in regards with the common practice in Mesoamerica wherein a new temple pyramid is built on the older ones. In contrast, this pyramid was built a bit away from the old pyramid in east to preserve the temple on the old pyramid on the west.

This pyramid has its name in a famous tale of Yucatec Maya folklore, el enano del Uxmal (the dwarf of Uxmal). John Lloyd Stephens in his book of 1841, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan has mentioned about this story. According to him, the pyramid was mystically erected in a single night while facing many challenges issued by the king of Uxmal to a dwarf, which was a part of a rivaling test of strength and magic devised by the dwarf’s mother against the king.

The Nunnery Quadrangle refers to a government palace that is regarded as the most superb quadrangles of long building among the Uxmal’s several others with richly carved facades on internal and external face. The so-called name of the building was simply a nickname given by the Spanish.

Now, it was the time to explore a large Ballcourt where the Mesoamerican ballgame used to be played in those days. There is an inscription here says that in 901, this was devoted the monarch Chan Chak K’ak’nal Ajaw who was also known as Lord Chac.

Besides these, there are a series of more temple-pyramids, quadrangles, and other structures, some big; while some in good state of preservation. Among these, the tourist attractions, which I could not explore, are the North Long Building, House of the Birds, House of the Turtles, Grand Pyramid, House of the Doves, and South Temple.

An array of stone stelae on a platform is seen that holds maximum hieroglyphic inscriptions.

The stelae reveals the ancient rulers and also indicate the marks of their being intentionally broken and been collapsed in the olden days. However, a few of them were re-erected or were repaired.

Currently, three hotels and a small museum are in their build phase near the ancient city accessed via foot.

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